Monday, November 30, 2015

Morning Tea

This morning during my hot tea, a friend texted me this link 

It was a great wake up read.

Some things that struck me right away were the similarities I found in his description and how I felt while "under authority."  Here are some excerpts from the blog post.

He domineers by misinterpreting and misapplying to himself the OT command: “Don’t touch God’s anointed.”

I covered this one over at Take My Spear Please!
A pastor domineers whenever he uses slick verbiage or eloquence to humiliate people into feeling ignorant or less competent than they really are.
He domineers by building into people a greater loyalty to himself than to God. Or he makes it appear that not to support him is to work at cross purposes with God.
The feeling of incompetence, and KP as "Superior Super Spiritual Father" were rampant. Just recently my former neighbor posted to my Facebook account how he needs a spiritual father because he's so far below the rest of us. This is the kind of thinking that puts people on the throne and dislodges God from prime importance. It's so sad when this happens to us, (myself included).  I wonder will there be a promised crowd of people in Heaven thanking me for my service? Or will God say What? you expected props for that chaff? Sorry that was done in your own strength. Sometimes I wonder, Did my service count? Part of me declares YES! it must, I did it to serve the Lord, and part of me says it was done to serve man in idolatry.   Forgive me Lord for my weakness. 
A pastor domineers whenever he presents himself as super-spiritual (his views came about only as the result of extensive prayer and fasting and seeking God. How could anyone then possibly disagree with him?).  
I still see his face, claiming he went up on a mountain top and fasted and prayed, and asked God to forgive him over the Diaspora issues. Since he had Gods forgiveness, he needed no one else's.  The Spiritual Father has absolution from God he needs not apologize publicly. He did call people on the phone. One friend I know said she received an odd call where he apologized to her privately but told her she could "talk about it" as if encouraging her to spread the word, hey look world "He said he was sorry to me!"  
He domineers by establishing an inviolable barrier between himself and the sheep. He either surrounds himself with staff who insulate him from contact with the people or withdraws from the daily affairs of the church in such a way that he is unavailable and unreachable.
During the time before the big move, I could see he was so afraid. It is one of the reasons I started to pray secretly.  He often said how he wanted to be in India rather than in America. He was worried about what would happen when he got us all on campus.  It looks like it was a self fulfilling prophesy. When I think of all the families that have left in the past year.  I have so many bittersweet emotions, Sad my beloved ministry is so broken I wonder if it can ever be repaired, and relived so many are no longer walking in the shadow of idolatry. 
I know K.P. has an open to all email address, I sent him many emails, trying to encourage him in 2013 and 2014. When I recognized him to be afraid, I hoped he would be encouraged, but I believe now, his fear was real. The Diaspora was a threat he could not control.  He never once answered my emails or acknowledged them. Of course I was sad he didn't, but I "understood" he had so many more important people to communicate with. He claims to have an open door policy, but in reality over the years I have observed my husband needing to set up an appointment to actually see him. 
I used to observe Gisela at meetings, I was sad for her she seemed so separate. It reminded me of my mom. How she felt she had to stay apart from the crowd to protect my father as an administrator. She never wanted to be a point of weakness for my dad. I saw the same thing in Gisela.  Tho as my mothers child I was often burdened by her need for friendship from me, because her friends were so few.  I wanted my Mom to be my Mom not necessarily my friend, this led to many conflicts. As I matured and placed healthy boundaries in my life it got so much better.  My Mom and my Dad were so tight, the best of examples of how a great marriage looks. Yet when Mom got sick and I asked Dad for a list of friends we could tap as his support team for moms illness. The list only had 2 names on it.  
I had to ask myself, is this the price of leadership? or was this self imposed exile? With hindsight I can say I'm sad for my parents that they did not have a wider range of friendships. I believe that one can be friends with co-workers, tho it is more difficult with "subordinates." I believe with the right balance of boundaries in our relationships we can have healthy friendships with co-workers. 
I was reading today about Jesus and how he took the lowest position that of the slave and washed the disciples feet. I think back to all the work parties where KP if he did show up didn't stay. Mandatory work parties didn't apply to KP was it because he was too important to waste his time planting more than one tree?  The "real" work of the ministry pulls him away he has things to do and people to see. Totally explainable but in my mind, not following Christ's example.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Church Last Sunday

One of the things I'm dealing with as a ex-staffer of GFA is how different the mindset of GFA really was. Our life group kinda joked about Sunday's sermon as one of the pastors "go to" sermons. I found it rather refreshing and I'm glad he covered it again. It was mainly about how to grow in Christ. The expectation of this body of Christ, is 4 fold. They expect you to seek God daily in prayer and bible reading. They expect you to be involved with some group (a care group, a life group, a bible study etc.) so you can be with others to spur you on in accountability and growth.  Come to church even when you don't always feel like it was number 3 and 4 was Give back to your community on a 3 fold basis your church, your community and the world. Oh and there is no joining the membership roles, but rather come and be included is all you need to do to be a member.

As of late I can't help but compare where this church is at, as opposed to the teachings at GFA. The pastor really brought about the fact that personal growth in Christ happens when you are participating in all 4 activities: one on one, In a small group, corporately, and giving back.  He didn't approach it as a formula, but rather as an organic thing that happens when you are well seated in the body of Christ.

Now I can't speak for the school of discipleship I do believe they did local evangelism, but I don't know if they participated in community service. I'd love to know if they had* see comments!  I can say after the Diaspora letter, GFA eased up on the "Don't participate in church rule." there were a few and far between events that did give back to the community.  But not many... I always felt discouraged by this.

I recall a local church wanted to start a community garden to help the locals and provide produce to people who had a hard time paying for food. I really wanted to participate in this! I got the contact information and talked at length with the lady in charge of the idea. It fell flat on it's face as the person who they thought would supply the land would not also supply the water.  The lady asked me if I thought GFA would let us use part of GFA's property.  My heart sank... would they? That would mean non GFA staffers coming and going on the campus, if GFA supplied the land and the water. Even if we used the back 40 where few people went, what about the liability insurance? I knew in my heart of hearts if I asked the answer would be no.  I pretty much shook my head and said I don't think that would ever happen, sad because a community garden is something I so desired to participate in, but my desire to have a community garden wasn't enough to make me ask the question to leadership or make waves.

I justified being chicken and not asking with these thoughts:
1. It would be a distraction from the mission field.
2. It would divert money (water/ irrigation costs) from the work overseas.
3. Liability! injuries, or accidents. (That is why we can't have a pool right?)
4. We don't want just anyone walking around on campus because it's a peaceful closed community, think of the children!
5. I didn't feel I could bring a community garden up after KP's question & answer session pre-campus of a few years ago, where he didn't understand how it worked and said people would squabble over it, he didn't want to introduce a community garden or family garden boxes on campus.

I do know from personal experience small groups of any sort were not encouraged at GFA.  I never was sure why, but we felt alone, disconnected from people in general. I think this is the root of that belief I came to have, that GFA friendships can be a one-way street.  Staff who are trained to put all above family can always justify placing work above friendships. One complaint a friend of mine gave me was she would plan a dinner well in advance, buy special food, prepare the food, and upon the flimsiest of excuses GFA staffers would cancel. "Once happens." When it becomes a repeating pattern you know there is a deeper issue. I know we eagerly awaited a friend to come to dinner, planned down the finest of details of bacon ice cream sundaes. The person kept us waiting for 2 hours.  Why so late?  KP held him in a meeting, the sad thing was we waited and waited no text or call "I'm running late." was forthcoming until we contacted him asking "Where are you?" Somewhere along the line manners got discarded when in the presence of His Eminence.  You can walk out in the middle of a conversation/ meeting/ dinner because the KP called you. He is more important than the person/spouse/children front of you.  I see this as an example of placing work over family mentality the Diaspora accused GFA of, if it was only once in a while... no big deal. We all have times where work may trump family and family trumps work that is work life balance. No this was deeper mindset that I see now as people revering KP and those in leadership, Like they are better than us, we were not equal.

Contrast this with the here and now for our family. I desperately needed my husbands input on the septic situation... we were talking about a decision that could cost us thousands of dollars for what he wanted. I wasn't sure was it worth that much money, or should we loose part of the back yard to the system and save money? Since what he wanted actually couldn't happen anyway and we needed part of the back yard already? I needed to give the planner an answer so he could move forward with the drawing. I called. No answer.  I called again no answer... his phone is on DND so I called again knowing even if it is on DND his iPhone will ring.  He was in a meeting with his boss. On the third time it rang and didn't buzz. His boss said who is it? It's my wife... well answer her, was his immediate response.  No issue with not being respectful to him because work was more import than family, but rather a balanced approach.  If she's calling that much it must be important, and more of a why didn't you answer it the second time she called? I can't picture this scenario taking place at GFA. Last week the founder of HFTH introduced herself to me. Talked to me about my husband and listened to me, with wisdom in her eyes. It was not hurried, condescending, or odd, she was normal. How refreshing.

As staff our focus was always the lost overseas, not the lost in our home town.  Personal bible study was often subtly put down as not as important as a strong prayer life. For years our family struggled with go to church and not give back, or participate in being "just a taker." Sometimes we would just stay home and have home church, a prayer time, or watch pod casts of our sending church. I'm amazed at the isolation this created in our family.  My kids had no friends outside the ministry. I made only a few friends outside the ministry.  It was not balanced in the way the pastor spoke about today. We have not been participating fully in all 4 aspects of our life in Christ.  I drew on my notes a diagram of how GFA emphasized only certain aspects of this ideal.

Instead of a square it was a thin oval, I'm sure this stems from the reaching the lost at any cost mentality, the subtle pressure to only participate in sanctioned GFA activities, the focus on prayer over study, work over family, prayer meeting rather than fellowship of the body of Christ in a church setting, worship in prayer meeting or alone, but not in a church service.*  Serving sacrificially to each other, but not meeting together in small groups, and sadly KP sermons were often more like 10 point lectures with a bible verse or 2 thrown in to satisfy those who asked why he preached without referring to the bible. I always struggled with why do we teach our missionaries line by line expository bible teaching but really do we ever get to hear that kind of preaching at GFA? Prayer meeting is not a service, so I could always justify it in my mind.  

*In closing I have to give the caveat that you could worship around the "fellowship camp fires" run by GFA. They did try. Once things started to fall apart they started scheduling "fun stuff" and fewer work parties to bring cohesiveness to the community, I fear it was to little, to late.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Words Are Not Actions

One of the red flags that flew over my brain was an email from leadership detailing how to mow our lawns properly, how to weed them, with photos of how a lawn should not look. It even went so far as to tell everyone to mow their lawn that night.  I hated how I felt we were being treated as children. Oddly this email corresponded to right before KP was due back after an extended stay in India and had not seen the campus as an actual working entity yet.  Funny why was KP not around for the packing up and moving bit?  Ya know that just occurred to me...  

Anyway back to lawns, let me picture it for you, to save on overall costs they did not overlay turf on the whole lawn but rather did the perimeter to save on erosion and seeded over the yards with rye, which was quick growing and would cover the mess of dirt till it was the right time to plant the real grass seed.  These lawns were pretty sad can you picture the "dust in drought," "mud in rain," "house just built" yard.  So can you see it... nice grass around the edge and tall weeds and sporadically clumps of grass (mainly rye and crabgrass) in the middle... not much you can do to make it look good. My kids and I had already spent hours de-weeding our lawn and we were helping others on our street by pulling weeds before they got to big to pull out easily. My kids and I had been fighting the battle of the sage brush for a month, prior to others moving on campus, we didn't just do our lawn. We had the attitude of if you see a need take ownership of it.

I typically used a reel mower for my old postage stamp yard in Carrollton.  I reelly (get it) couldn't start our power mower.  Sadly at the time of the email the rye was too tall and sparse for the reel mower to cut effectivly, and our power mower would not start... Yup my yard did not passed muster.

Now in my old neighborhood, my male neighbors often took matters into their own hands when they saw me struggling to mow a lawn my hubby was too dedicated the reaching the lost at any cost to mow. My momma raised me well and to tell the truth He likes doing dishes, *shudder* I like out door work... For example I cut down a tree today, we are well matched.  Yet the pesky mower often would not start for me. Many a time my neighbors started my mower for me after I refused all offers of allowing them the joy of mowing my lawn for me. They often would do the trimming when my back was turned.  I was always grateful and paid them in homemade cookies.  On campus only H's boy ever offered to help me when I was obviously struggling.  What caused me pain was as I was struggling to mow my lawn, the man who wrote the "how to mow your lawn" email was out in his yard. Did he miss the fact I was fighting a loosing battle with the mower? He didn't offer to help and well he's a senior leader I'm not going to "bother him."  Yet in the email we were encouraged to help each other, if you see a need help out.  Actions speak better than words or emails.

That email upset me enough to mention it to the sender. I didn't say much something along the lines of  "Hey your email made me cry." (Bye the bye thanks for the new lawn mower that was very kind).  There was a part of me that thought if they want it to look nice and perfectly groomed why are they not hiring it done? Why not turf all of the lawn not just the edges, if keeping up appearances is so important? Is this really what we should be focused on, the outward appearance of the campus, uniform mailboxes, uniform days to mow, all the housing looking the same with no personality. Gardening in garden beds only unless you were willing to put it back exactly how you found it. I was so tempted to put a garden in my back yard where the seed just would not take. It was a mud pit for months. I thought I can take a picture of the mud, then put up a garden box.  If I ever move out I can return it to the mud pit state... *giggle* I never did that, just giggled over it.

How could I not but compare my "New Community" to my old neighborhood.  One where I intentionally cultivated my neighbors, got them to talk to me and each other.  Where we helped each other without someone needing to ask. It was a good street to live on.  How odd is it that I felt more fellowship with the bachelors, the librarian, the cop, the teacher, and the common law family than I did in a community of my fellow christens and co-workers?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Christmas Hats

Well during the heavy rains we discovered the septic system doesn't work, which means we will need to replace said system. Which led to most of my christmas budget getting earmarked for working toilets. The toilets are working for the moment Praise God. At least it happened when fleece was still $2.99 a yard at JoAnn's.

Here is a quick crafty hat to make and then as you will see, I recommend personalizing the hats in some way. 

I used this pattern  but modified each hat to hopefully reflect the receivers personality. 

I cut out a pattern and cut the fabric to match...  

Make sure you have the stretchy part along the bottom edge, and oh look my sign is missing a t. 

Fold outside flaps in and sew the outside edges. 

Then match up the seams and pin the edges, and sew them together. 

Now your basically finished. If you like you can stop at a plain beanie 

Now I thought I'd geek up the hat. I cut 2 eye's and one mouth piece

You will also needed a strip, you can just press down with a ruler to get a line 

Cut the strip with a rotary cutter. 

Sew the pieces in place to make a faux storm trooper hat. 

Here is my mixed media Vulcan Storm Trooper. 

Here I added a Pom Pom and a Batman Logo. 
(sew in a strip of fleece when you do the final seam and use that to tie the pom pom in place you can see that in the photo below)  

I found out there are divergent fans among the cousins.  Some poking around the internet found me Tris's Tattoo Birds which I traced on the hat and embroidered over the line with a chain stitch.  

Little Miss Sunshine was effusive in her praise.  "Mom it's sooooo cool." 
I'm going to have to make an extra one for her. 

You can get 4 hats out of one yard of fleece with some left over for 1 eight inch scarf. 

So thread... I have plenty so $0.00
Fleece 4 hats and 1 eight inch scarf.  $0.60
Embroidery thread $0.09 cents  

Total price  $0.69 
And time to make and embroider the hat 2 1/2 hours. 
Time make just a hat no embellishment 10-30 minutes. 

Don't worry the only member of my family that reads my blog is my sister... 
so Sis~ text me, if you want something special embroidered on your hat.  


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Adoption Tailspin

Well my husband got to the adoption story before I did, but I figured you would like to have both sides of the story, so here goes...

We had put off the adoption for about 1 year. We had made intentional choices to prepare ourselves for the work involved in caring for and healing a hurting soul. My husband informed leadership prior to our adoption start. I do believe it would be at this point that if GFA had a problem with our family adopting again this would be the moment to bring it up. Nobody said nothin... 

We started the paperwork and went to training, we held off on handing in our paperwork till we had moved into the new house. Tom was then approached by K.P. and had that discussion which you can read here. He came home and shared with me K.P.'s words.  I was devastated, all sorts of things ran through my mind. I never ever wanted to leave the ministry before this moment in time.

Was I that bad of a mother? Did he not trust us that we were following The Lords leading? If we adopted would my husbands career be adversely effected. If we adopted would I then be shunned while working in the ministry because I know the blame always lies at the feet of the women. Would we be asked to leave our beloved ministry because we did not obey? I felt like I gave my word to Gladney that we would adopt, is he asking me to go back on my word?  If I had gotten pregnant would this be acceptable behavior?

I struggled the most with "Do we need to be obedient to his request? If he is the bishop of our Religious Order am I required to obey his every whim suggestion?" At this time K.P. was still very upset at the Diaspora letter and was preaching obedience, when you could hear him in the fellowship hall.  I distinctly recall him telling us all to re-read his book Touching Godliness Through Submission.

I tried but I just couldn't get past Chapter 6, somewhere before Chapter 6 the author states that not hearing from the Lord means we are in disobedience to Him.  Tom and I took this request very seriously. Tom knowing that leadership would come after me if we talked about it; ordered my silence. Often I would sit in prayer meeting not really praying, not getting up and moving around but rather sitting in one place trying to pray, but my mind whirling.  If K.P. thought an adoption would be distracting Not Adopting was far more distracting and pulled my heart way from the ministry.

But we hid, hid our pain, hid our feelings, one thing I know is if you're in the hands of a manipulator don't hand them the knife to cut you more. For months we prayed and fasted. The hardest part was telling people the adoption was on hold, it felt like a lie of omission. I found later lies of omission became easier and easier to not tell. This bothered me greatly. The Lord was silent.  I cannot tell you the pain, the sorrow, that fell upon our family. How do I answer the children when they ask when are we getting a little brother? It was awful.

This request as I have mentioned came upon the heels of the Diaspora Letter where they expressed that GFA prioritizes the work over family. This is one of the reasons K.P. gave as to why he advised us against adopting.  What about your Work? This horrified me, if he was as he declared taking the letter seriously and repented of this type of behavior, why is he doing it again with our family?  Unless of course he never thought he was in the wrong?

In hindsight I see the Lords hand in remaining silent, I needed to see my sin of placing K.P. on Gods throne, I needed to see that the call to obedience to a man was idol worship. I needed to realize I cared more about K.P.'s opinion than Gods' and that was wrong.   I desperately wanted a second opinion, did we have to obey his request? My dear hubby actually went so far as to call in to a local Catholic radio show.  After explaining our situation being in a Religious Order, being under authority, should we obey? The answer was rather interesting, we had to go back to GFA rules, was there anything in them that required absolute obedience (as in the Benedictine Order).  If so, yes this leaders request needed to be obeyed because of our vows. Thankfully GFA's written rules do not require absolute obedience.  We won't mention the unspoken rules nor had my husband been ordained under Believers Church.   That was a breath of fresh air. My brain got off the treadmill of thoughts that were getting me nowhere.

I actually broke my silence and shared my heart with a few friends.  The day Gale Erwin came to investigate I really really wanted to share this issue with him. Yet I never saw him alone, I didn't dare seek him out, I didn't dare email him my heart either. I knew if I did, leadership would see it and sadly I no longer blindly trusted leadership. Words on a page are no match for face to face conversation. So much heart ache, so much pain, I felt I had to keep it hidden, a secret. With one friend I shared this agony and her response was for me to trust K.P. He knew what was best for me, and he was right I had no idea how hard it was raising 4 kids.  I should just obey and not have any worries.   She might as well have patted me on the head saying don't worry your pretty little head.

It seems so strange that in a community of believers, where one should be able to share the burden of sorrow and pain, the secrecy needed to protect oneself was so necessary. How can he preach transparency to us when we feared our pain would be a tool used against us? I wonder how many more stories out there are like ours?  Silent because of fear? Silent because we have bought the teaching we are the problem?  Silent because a burden shared is only brought back on your own shoulders to bear?

One would think that in a place where we have Bridge of Hope, Boys and Girls homes, where GFA in India helps children abandoned on trains find their families again and then supports those families so the children won't be sent away again... How can such a thing as "don't adopt" fit at GFA? The bible states, true religion is to care for widows and orphans.  Why would we only be allowed to care for them at a distance? Can we not do both? Is there only one call and no others can sing in harmony?  So many questions, that I no longer need an answer too.

I Am Free.


Tongue Tied...

Right before the letter to CC pastors came out I was writing a blog post about how I felt when GFA leadership started saying things along the lines of  "we didn't communicate well" "We're poor communicators" to us during the eye opening transparency meetings.

Oddly the post didn't save and got lost in the cloud somewhere.  I'm glad it did, It should have been 2 posts, the David post is better as a stand alone.  I enjoyed writing it. It helped me get back to basics of trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal to me what is in God word instead of trusting man.

Then the CC letter came out and Wow I can show you exactly what I mean, you can read the letter at the link there if you would like to see it in context.  This is a paragraph from the letter.

We thought we were communicating effectively to you regarding these changes made to Believers Church and the reasons for it. We put up numerous pages on our GFA website. We hosted many, many Calvary pastors on the field and never hid our church from anyone. With some pastors we spent hours explaining the reasons for these changes; and we thought it was understood. However, we now realize, by comments made to us, that we did not communicate as effectively as we thought we had. We are truly sorry for this. Please know that it was not intentional. In the future we will work harder to communicate better.

As you can see it's main point is communication. It's interesting I have heard this so much during 2015, this idea that those in GFA leadership are poor communicators.  Hanging heads, twisting fingers, sorry, we messed up we will try harder. I can't believe they are still beating this drum.  Multiple times they have communicated that they are poor communicators to us between Jan-June 2015.

I might not be the sharpest arrow in the quiver, but if these guys are that bad at communicating how come we sent them week in week out to conferences and churches? How come they were so successful at getting people to sign up for an ongoing donation? Why send people who can't communicate to speak and represent the ministry?  How can you say on one hand were really bad at communicating but on the other put me behind a table so I can share about the ministry at a pastors conference.

*puts tongue in cheek* Oh wait I get it! How could I have missed it. They must be bad communicators but they are so spiritual that when they speak to churches the Holy Spirit pours out of them.  I  keep forgetting that ongoing teaching that; One can be pitched forked in to a job you have no training in, but that is an opportunity for the Lord to do it all for you...  That must be it. *wink*

I wonder why didn't the Holy Spirit choose to pour through them when they needed to communicating to staff? These men used thier position in leadership to tell people they knew what was best for them all the time. Wouldn't that be an opportune time for the Holy Spirit to manifest himself?

Could it be they did desire to speak of the things that they were doing but were prevented because of obedience? I wonder do they too, cry alone in their bedrooms at night? My hope it that they did not do things out of malice but rather out of misguided obedience to a charismatic leader. I hope they too wonder how they fix this mess man has made of Gods ministry?  My hearts plea is still YHWH-Rapha.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

One Step At A Time

Things have been changing slowly in my mind. We checked out a life group last Sunday, and boy was it fun, homeschooled kids, foster parents, people we really could connect with. It was pretty awesome. As I'm going to homeschool park days, taking my kids to social events and classes, meeting people who I don't have to explain what a cob house is... I'm finding my mind has been so narrow so limited.

"Reaching the lost at any cost" as given me such a limited viewpoint. At the bible study we were discussing Proverbs 29:18 the verse about "without vision my people perish." It really struck me forcefully. Do I have a vision? For 12 years my mindset has been "I'm a lifer, I'll be a missionary till I die. Serving God and having purpose in my life."  But what about now... I actually broke down in the meeting. I have been so focused on the here an now for the last 6 months, do I have Gods vision for our future? I can look back and see Gods grace in having me be right where I am supposed to be.  But what is it the Lord has for me going forward?

Today the homeschooling adoptive parent and I planned on a park day for the kids, but alas the light drizzle altho warm, made us not want to hang out in the wet. So we went to Starbucks.  I love the free refills, our kids took over a table and played some game involving slapping cards. Sweet Potato kept winning... I suspect collusion on the part of her new friends. She was engaged and happy without texting. My kids are so happy they have  found a "normal" to us family that really enjoys spending time with them.

The mom and I had a good talk, but mainly I listened, so many similarities in our lives.  She too has been hurt by ministry... given an unrealistic time line to move out of ministry provided housing, experienced prejudice because of the families race, as well as completely able to commiserate on the foibles of being an adoptive mom.   I'm so blown away that God is giving me this opportunity to connect with someone who is hurting in the exact same way, but is further along in the healing process.   After 2 hours that seemed to fly by, we had to go and buy food for dinner, the kids hugged we talked about Sunday and went on with the rest of our day.

I feel a bit like Samwise Gamgee, unlike Frodo he didn't have a quest, he was pitchforked into the fellowship because he was in the right place at the right time. Where is my life going? What is the plan?  I am probably over thinking it and I just need to wait on the Lord.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Now For Something Completely Different.

One thing I did right away was plant a garden. The house came with lovely boxes full of dirt and happy flowers already there. Taking care of the garden has always brought me joy. The last 2 years I really couldn't have a garden. Now here in the new house I have ready made boxes. 

I planted radishes because they have a 30 day to harvest. I have been picking them for a week. Look at that crisp redness mounding out of the ground. Yum!

Next up is butter crunch lettuce I'm just picking it as it gets leafy and big enough to eat. 

In this box I have Kale, and Bright lights Swiss Chard, these were bought at Home Depot, in the "sad section" of leftover plants from summer. But once planted and watered they took off and started leafing out. I'm hoping for a mild December so I can pick these for another month or so. 

These two cuties are the latest additions to the menagerie, Little Miss Sunshine named them Ink and Athena. Ink is a Havana bunny and is a picky eater but he will eat anything out of my garden.   Athena we believe is a Hare/Havana mix such a pretty mix of sliver grey and tan. She eats anything we give her, and is happy and gentle.  She is munching on dandelion leaves. There were no dandelions in the yard.  I saw one growing in the garden boxes and like the settlers of old that brought them to this country I'm actually cultivating it, as rabbit food. They love the leaves. I pick them down, and boom a few days later more appear! It's fantastic. I'll do my best not to let it flower and seed... 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

But! He Was a Man After Gods Own Heart.

Last year after the Diaspora letter and the Warren Throckmorton blogs started appearing, we on staff started to get bombarded ok it just felt like being bombarded with some of the same messages. Mainly about leaders, one was they are untouchable, another was hey I'm as good/bad as this hero of faith.

I can't remember what prayer meeting, was it a Friday or a Tuesday night?  The message was I recall from DC but it was repeated so it could also be attributed to other leaders as well.

The crux went like this: David "A man after Gods own heart" was a leader and a sinner too so even though "leadership" has transgressed, you need to be Christ-like and forgive us.   I was feeling ironic on the inside, the first time I heard this message and that feeling led to cynicism every time it was repeated.  While I agree wholeheartedly with the concept, Hey guys in leadership I forgive you. There was my brain saying something was missing.  Like the rest of the story... did they think we didn't read our bibles? What about the consequences of Davids sin? One shouldn't just cover the highlights of "Hey we are human like this great hero of faith, God forgave him with all his flaws, so forgive us," all the while ignoring that God also chastens those whom He loves.

Lets dive into Davids life by taking a look at 2 Samuel 11 -12 where we see Davids humanity so clearly. Oh and for the record I'm not teaching with "authority" so all you males can also read this, this. Remember this blog is my journal, my journey, what the Lord is showing me. You can read it if you want to, be forewarned it is from a female perspective. 

It's spring and love is in the air, well actually war is, so David hangs out at the castle and sends of Joab off to war.  I wonder was David tired of fighting? Maybe he was bored. They have already sang songs about his killing 10 thousands... maybe he was resting on his laurels, I don't know. What I do see is David is not at the head of his army, he's delegated an underling to lead.  Further on Joab is so devoted to David when he actually gets to the point of breaking the siege, wait I digress, we will get there...

We all know the story, David is not content with one wife already has more than one, not to mention a bunch of concubines, over looks Bathsheba on the roof while she is bathing, lusts after her... and has her brought up to him.  The text also mentions she was ritually clean... *Gross alert* this means she had her period for 5-7 days. Then she was "ritually unclean for an additional 7 days."  Only after she's had her bath is it safe for a man to have sex with her. (If the neighbors find out you have been having whoopee while your wife is on the rag the poor husband can get flogged... what fun!) The author has to put it in to save David from even more condemnation than mere adultery and conspiring to murder.  Oh and lets point out a womans most fertile days are days 13-18 counting from the first day of her period.  Can you add? yeah so can I...  David David David... didn't anyone teach you family planning.

Now there are rules concerning adultery and I'd like to point out the text mentions nothing about Bathsheba yelling.  If a woman in the city doesn't yell "rape" then it's considered consensual sex and both of them should get stones thrown at them... really think about the Context here... Is Bathsheba a victim and felt she had to obey the king? Was she afraid? Was she unhappy being married to a Hittite? All she had to do is yell real loud and David would be in trouble. Aren't all his servants and loyal guards off fighting... or was she in a loveless marriage?  Seriously, later on when Uriah comes home and deny's himself the pleasure of his wife attentions, because his buddies weren't getting any it seems sad. Ever get the feeling he was a bit honor bound, (a Hittite among Jews), and determined not to have special favors? Did he know Bathsheba was up to something and suspected?  So much food for thought but sadly I have no answers, just speculation.

David and Bathsheba "hook up "It was only a one night stand!" right??? Don't you wish you could be a fly on the wall when David got that fated message "I'm late."  Do you think the ladies got the family planning lessons?  If it was a few weeks that passed... but maybe it was months, anyway they try to get out of the unexpected pregnancy by bringing home the Man... but as we have covered he didn't go hang with her... I wonder was he outraged at his king?  "No, I won't go home to the little woman, when everyone else but you my king is off fighting a war!"

Then look what happens David gets the man drunk... isn't there something in the bible that says drunkenness is sinful... the king is leading him into sin! Drinks him under the table so to speak... and the back up plan, backfires... Uriah sleeps it off in the servant quarters. Ugh, David must be so frustrated. He sends a message to his loyal Joab basically making sure Uriah gets killed. Joab seems to be a yes man. He's also a shrewd man knowing David would get angry over Abimelech's death. He makes sure the messenger knows to tell David, "Uriah is dead." when he reports the loss of this other guy so important he gets a mention in the bible. 

Creepy! Look at the ripple effect this hook up is causing: a HUGE amount of grief. What happened to Abimelech's family?  Did he have family, a wife, or a girlfriend, a baby at home??  So sad other unintended victims are being caught in the need to coverup and do damage control! Nobody can find out about the bun in the oven. David doesn't freak out over Abimelech's death once he finds out Uriah's not coming home, instead he sends encouragement to Joab. Creepy! Is that the kind of well done good and faithful servant message you want to get?

David and Bathsheba do the the whole shotgun wedding routine (avoid the possible stoning) and the child is born safely within the bounds of marriage. I wonder if she likes the whole sister wives thing? 

But the last verse of chapter 11 is ominous. God is not pleased.

Next on the scene is Nathan, basically exposing Davids sin to him. Yes, he wrapped it up in a pretty analogy, got David pretty angry at this man taking a poor mans sheep. I think God also gives us insight into Uriah's character. The sheep owner cherished his sheep.  David basically declares a death sentence on himself.  Nathan speaks up for God and points out Davids wrongs...  and some pretty hefty promises no one wants applied to their life:

1. The sword will never be taken from your house, you have despised the Lord.
Oh the humanity of it all, don't we make mistakes because we put our selfishness over Gods' ideal?

2. Someone from your own house (one of his 10 sons) will openly lie with your (many) wives in the light of day... Everyone will be in on this juicy gossip.

That bit got David's attention, He admits "I have sinned against the Lord."
But no I have sinned against any of the other players in this tragedy.

3. Then Nathan takes away Davids' judgment on himself, and says your not going die, but your child will.   The child is ill for a week and David fasts, prays, and hopes God will be merciful to his child, it's so sad.  David the man after Gods own heart, knows how good and merciful God is, begs and fasts for the life of his son.

His behavior when he finds out the child has died shows acceptance? callousness? practicality? or sheer numbness that he stops being upset? I'm not sure, But David eats and moves on with his life assured he will see his son in the afterlife. David and Bathsheba have some "comfort sex" and Little Solomon is conceived. But let's face it, NO parent wants to outlive their child. Such pain, so sad it is a tragedy!  David is hurt, Bathsheba is hurt, and their child is DEAD.

Meanwhile back at the Ranch... I mean the city of Rabbah.  Joab is about to break the siege and sends for David to come in "last minute" and get all the glory and honor of defeating the city... Wait what??? Yup it's in there. *shakes my head to clear the fog* Yup Joab the Yes Man brings in the Figurehead king of the army and he gets to fight one battle of the war and wins it! Woo hoo David the great warrior gets to fight at last.  How convenient...

Lets not forget the many sons of David, if you read on you will see Gods word through Nathan come to pass, it's not pretty, in fact his sons get down right icky, ugly, and even more creepiness happens if you choose to keep on reading. Davids sins were forgiven but his kingdom will be in chaos for a quite a while.

I wonder when GFA leaders were tossing these examples of Davids humanity at us. To help us along in the "right thinking" of forgive and maybe hopefully forget the indiscretion of sending tours with envelopes full of money, of personal hurts we experienced because of coverup fallout. The mystery of the 19.8 million Gift I mean er um "Loan", when KP said "We will never take out a loan for the property," anyone catching the weird parallel here? David could say "I didn't killed Uriah, an arrow did." But it was his actions and Joabs blind obedience that caused Uriahs death. KP can stand there and say "Believers church wanted to help us, to give back after so many years of support." But is it possible KP actions as Metropolitan especially if you have surrounded yourself with Yes Men could influence the decision, all the while saying he didn't make it.

I remember KP saying he went to fast and pray on the mountain retreat after the diaspora letter.  How he said "I repented on the mountain top with God" I look back and think did we see real repentance? Can we even judge?  Though the Tuesday Gayle was at GFA "investigating" there was lots of crying on KP's part. Maybe I had become cynical at the time?  I felt, this is just for show because Gayle is here. It felt wrong, like tears my daughter produces when she thinks they are appropriate, and will get the response from Mom she desires.   Not repentant tears but rather manipulative ones. It was hard to watch, I wanted to give the man the benefit of the doubt, yet his actions in the weeks following reflected an unchanged heart.

Is it any surprise to GFA leadership that people are jumping ship?  When we dig in deep to the word and really look at scripture, this story of David Is So Heart Breaking. Showing us, coverups have unintended victims, ruin families, puts cities in chaos, and eww, his sons become abusers  just one chapter over (this is not a threat or even a suggestion GFA has the kinds of abuse mentioned in the next chapter), and one of the sons kills the the other. Tho I kinda feel like he deserved it.   Eeeeeeeeeep runaway! All that messiness and ugliness out in the open for the whole world to see, still happened.

So yes David repented he was forgiven, but what a price he paid for his sin.    I repeat it's heart breaking. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

A New Perspective

I'd like to Introduce you to my friend Beth, she joined Gospel for Asia (GFA) about the same time as we did, she was my respite care giver when I needed a break from parenting. I often think of her, because before she left, she helped me with a project. It was a mirror for my bathroom, so everyday I look in that mirror. I think of the joy I had making it with her. It was such a gift, this fond memory I have of her being intentional about our relationship. I missed her when she left GFA. The following is her story.

Beth Writes:
I have never been asked to guest blog before. 
It sounds so official. 

In reality I am simply one of many voices.
One of many who used to serve at Gospel For Asia. 
One of many who left family, friends, and church to move to Texas.
One of many who believed wholeheartedly in what we were doing.
One of many who bonded with others who did the same things.
Unfortunately, one of many adversely affected by my time there.  

For those of you who don't know, my family did not leave because we disapproved of what we saw. 
We left because I wanted a divorce. 
And they kind of frown on that. 

Sara has been doing a lot of healing blogging. 
Healing to her.
Healing to her family.
Healing to others of us who left the ministry. 
One of her recent blogs highlighted some of what women were told at GFA.
All of her blogs have been important (repeat: healing)
but that one really underscored some of what I felt was so wrong 
at the ministry, and something that deeply affected my marriage.

A couple things we were told:
Wear a head-covering. It will show your devotion to God and submission to your husband.
Wives are often the reason their husbands leave the ministry. 
Don't be too vocal or ask too many questions.
But I am vocal.
I like to converse, discuss, think through.
However, at GFA that was seen as a problem.
My thought processes and intelligence were no longer virtues, but detriments.
Whenever I questioned things,
Or even simply did not agree with opinions,
I was told, in no uncertain terms, how unsubmissive I was.
Eight years of that takes a toll. (But really, it was more than eight years.
It just got worse during those eight years at GFA).

In case I am misunderstood, I must say in no uncertain terms that GFA did not cause my divorce.
We had problems before we ever even got there. 
My ex - for as long as I've known him - has been an all-or-nothing man. 
A lot of law, not so much grace. 
In fact, one friend said about him, "He's the most legalistic person I've ever talked to." 
I only tell you this to let you in on a little of what went wrong. I don't want to speak ill of him. 
When I debated writing this, one man encouraged, "I would love to hear your story, Beth...I think it also helps with healing to know that the problem was not with us." 
Believe me, a lot of the problem was with us.  
But I would be remiss if I didn't say GFA had a lot to do with it, because of their emphasis on submission. 

So I cannot just write a post blasting GFA.
I actually don't have issues with how I was treated while I was there. 
Unlike many - especially those who have left more recently (as I hear things have gotten much worse) 
I didn't experience poor treatment or fear while I was there. 
I was not afraid to ask questions. 
I was not intimidated or pushed aside by KP. I actually felt very close to him. 
I feel like I was granted an audience with him whenever I wanted it. 
Rather, my reason for never asking him, or other leadership, about things I disagreed with or questioned was because I believed I was doing the biblical thing. 
What I was supposed to do. 
I was submitting.
A quality held in such high esteem at GFA
That it is, in fact, what I feel has led to what is happening now
(many staff leaving, board members resigning, losing their ECFA membership, etc.)
It is also what contributed greatly to the downfall of my marriage. 

I know this may be just my personal opinion
Based on my personal experiences, 
But during our time there it seemed as if submission became the highest-held value at GFA. 
It was as if the heartbeat of the ministry that once was the steady count of souls being saved 
Had been replaced with the focus of how well its members were submitting.
And it only served to follow that if they weren't submitting enough, more control needed to be exerted.  
Wouldn't it make sense, then, that some people might start requiring that of their friends, spouses, children as well? That some people, who have difficulty with moderation, might be prone to go "full throttle" in their enforcement of the issue? 

On the surface GFA hedged their teachings with love and mercy, 
but in practice it did not come across that way. 
Wasn't "full throttle" the level GFA required?
All-out for the lost?
The enemy of the best is the good?  
The dreaded, "Maybe you are being led elsewhere..."
That became the tag-phrase consequence for less-than-total submission.

I wonder if things would had turned out differently -
for my marriage and the ministry that has now lost many amazing staff -
if, rather than so much focus on "don't get involved in other things (church most of all),"
There had been more "practice the art of balance." 
Instead of so much "Come to us for permission" 
There had been more "pray about what's' right for you." 
Instead of "Don't question it. We're asking you to do this so it's obviously from the Lord" 
There had been more "Talk this over and do it if you feel led to." 
And, for me especially, instead of so much "wives submit" 
There had been more "Husbands, here's how you love your wives {as Christ loved the church}." 

No one at GFA is responsible for how {I feel} my ex took one of their teachings - 
which is a biblical one - 
and destroyed my sense of worth and value and self with it. 
But I want to give an example for how I do think they are responsible - 
And this is my main reason for writing this.

Sometimes when I ask one of my children or students to say they're sorry for something
They respond with, "But it was an accident!"
Like that makes it OK to not apologize.  
So I give them this example:
No one hits another car on purpose - cars are extremely expensive. And we need them. 
But if I were to run into someone with my car, I would especially {among other things} apologize.
In the same way, people are precious. We need them. 
So when we cause injury, we apologize. And then {hopefully} drive more carefully. 
This is what I feel GFA has not done. Not only have they not apologized, but
They continue to insist that they didn't wreck anyone's car. 
The hurting {and caring} voices of former staff have not prompted them to drive more carefully.
Many people who left have left damaged in some way. 
Left, if you will, with a car that doesn't run as well as it did before they worked at the ministry. 
Not that an apology from leadership would completely repair things, but it would help. 
I personally do not need an apology from them.
Like I said, I didn't have an issue with much while I was there -
I was *simply* affected by it.
But there are certainly some former staff who deserve an apology. 
But more than that, I just want to see GFA leadership change how they "drive", so that future staff that pull out of GFA leave better than when they arrived. 
And I think it is safe to say I am one of many who feel that way. 

So, yes, my hurt was different.
Not completely caused by GFA, yet certainly exacerbated by them.
But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be counted with the others. 
I am still one of many.
One of many saddened by what GFA has become,
One of many who hope someday those still serving there will see,
And those leading there will repent.  

So many hurting, {caring} voices cannot all be wrong.