I found time this afternoon to sit on my porch listening to a gentle rain and soft sounds of windchimes, watching the trees dance and feeling the breath of a breeze kiss my face, delighting in the bright rich colors of gold and violet pansies and enjoying the sweet smell of the wild roses at the edge of my woods. Joy surprised me in a memory of Julian wrapped in his comforter of silence savoring the wind and rain. It was a time for thanking God for the grace of being loved by Julian and family and friends. And a chance to treasure the new stage of my journey with Jesus.

A half of a century ago I danced in joy as I experienced the overwhelming tender Love of God fleshed out for me and all humanity in Jesus. I treasure every moment of awareness of that Love that began to free me from my self-contempt over my many faults and failures. I have celebrated that love in the good and with grace eventually even in bad times. I have pretty much just “wallowed” in it like a happy little pig! To my surprise, I’ve realized that in the last year, I have become more focused on loving Jesus than on his loving me. I have begun to really recognize his humanity and how he grew as a human who was open to the Love/grace of God that nurtured him through so many human stages that challenge us all. Instead of just dancing in the delight of being loved, I am now often just thrilled in amazement and warm tenderness at how Jesus worked at keeping open to the Spirit of God. How he opened his heart to the Roman enemies of the Jews, to the Samaritan heretics, the unclean woman., And how listening to the Spirit gave him the grace to keep on Loving and persevering through all the challenges and trauma’s of his human life. It even carried him through to saying on the cross, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

He didn’t say, “Throw them in jail. Kill them. Don’t let them into the Kingdom of heaven.”

Oh my! How humanly vulnerable, how aware of human sin, how tender in forgiveness, how infinite in his love. He is the Love of God fleshed out for ALL of us, not just when we are being or even just thinking we’re the good guys. As I write this I rejoice and celebrate the Love of God fleshed out in Jesus. Thanks be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The Paradox of Doing Evil in the Name of Good

I struggle with open season on the unborn, but I can’t buy into indiscriminate punishment of young girls, some even preteens now able to become pregnant, rape victims, women in danger of death in delivery, mentally handicapped women, and emotionally unstable women now knowing early in their pregnancies that their baby may be seriously deformed in inoperable ways.

 I have been horrified over my fifty years of being a part of numerous Christian women’s groups at how many middle-aged, middle to upper class women have been sexually abused at early ages by fathers, uncles, older brothers, friends of the family. Many of the abusers were regular church attendees. I began to hear their stories in the 1970’s and 80’s in Scripture, Prayer, and Sharing groups. None of the women had ever told anyone, not even their husbands.

This all or nothing approach to law is simply terrifying. What a reasonably stable, mature Christian woman with enough means to take care of a child can do knowing grace will be available is a whole different ballgame from many others. I almost died having a child, but I was in my thirties and had experienced a very powerful conversion that gave me a source of strength, so that when there was total chaos in the delivery room because I was hemorrhaging so badly after a C-section, I was at peace. But five years before that, before I had any faith, there is no way I would have made it through the pregnancy or the panic during the delivery.

God did not create cookie-cutter people. We are not all playing with the same cards of health, mental acuity, emotional maturity, family support, financial resources, protection from sexual harm, and strength of faith. It is not a level playing field in almost any way.

Wake up Christians, your vote may make you an active partner in incredibly un-Christian harm to innocents. We have to find ways to protect not just the unborn, but preteens, teens, the mentally handicapped, the emotionally disturbed, incest and rape and other innocent victims. And for every pregnant woman there is a partner in crime. No virgin births in over 2000 years.

There may not be a perfect answer, but there has to be a better one than punishing victims, the crippled, the vulnerable and helpless.

Fight now to force legislators to recognize what harm they will be doing and challenge them to work toward a reasonable and humane solution to this conflict of values.

To Believe in God We Have to be Able to Imagine Something Infinitely Bigger than Ourselves or Else We Cut God Down to Our Tiny Understanding.

Pleasure is very fleeting. Joy is a whole other ballgame. It leaves a permanent imprint. The greatest joy comes from love. To me, God is Love. The scriptures were written by humans evolving from tribal to universal. They were created by people with different kinds of minds, from literal to metaphorical. They are the footprints of the human journey. From the accounts in the New Testament, you can see Jesus evolving from tribal to universal. I see Jesus as a unique example of human evolution. Some get it, some don’t. Those that do, have a God that is universal and in everything and everyone. God doesn’t need praise. But I have found praising God brings joy and connection to something greater than us. It could be that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. If we ever recognize that love involves more than loving others as we love ourselves, that it involves loving others more than ourselves, then we’ll know what Jesus learned and did and calls us to do. I think Jesus was a leap in human development, a prototype for the spiritual journey. I think the God within us as humans, the God in every cell of the universe, the God in Jesus are all the same and greater than the bread boxes religions try to contain God in. I don’t think truth or God are limited to Jesus, but I think Jesus finally “got it” and his actions speak louder than any words. He’s my “guy” and to me he embodies both the feminine and masculine. I believe that the spirit of God that was in Jesus lives in all of us. But we evolve by inches like inch worms, seeing through the glass darkly, learning to love slowly and painfully. Prayer is a form of caring. Caring matters, particularly when there is nothing in our limited skill set to do to help. It’s not a substitute for doing what we can. It’s a focusing together. I’ve witnessed and even experienced the power of it. See the blog. Laughter: Carbonated Grace and scroll down for a series on experiences of God being in the timing.

I wrote this in response to reading Spinoza’s view of God, some of which I understand and believe. But I have personally experienced more. And I pray to continue growing both in understanding and ability to love until the day I die. Then hope to explode with mind blowing joy right after that.

DeathandResurrection Should Be One Word

Dying is messy. Most people don’t manage to die with their hair styled or tidily in their best suit and tie. Looking good isn’t what death is about.

Dying is often painful, both emotionally and physically. Even those, who find peace from acceptance or joy from a sense of God’s loving presence, struggle before getting to that point. Dying isn’t comfortable.

Dying is not a social event. It sometimes brings feelings of rejection, because some of our family and friends aren’t ready to face the reality of death, so they may get very busy elsewhere.

Dying is scary and lonely. Only a few have lived to tell about it. And though our loved ones may hold our hand, we know we must go alone.

Dying is an experience of total helplessness. No matter how rich or competent or powerful we are in life, dying wipes out the last illusion that we are in control.

Dying is the final cross. Not one we carry, but one we hang on, suspended between heaven and earth wondering if we’ve been abandoned on both sides.

Yet dying is the doorway to life. It’s a very narrow gate and it’s the only gate out.

The true Christian life (not the insurance game or the private club versions) is a series of deaths and resurrections that prepare us for that final one.

Deaths and resurrections such as:

Letting go of our need to look good by hiding behind masks: becoming free to be our truest and fullest self.

Letting go of our illusion of security from belonging to the right group: finding brothers and sisters where we never thought to look.

Letting go of our anesthetic of choice; work, competition, television, twitter, legalism, consumerism, food, sex, alcohol: by allowing ourselves to feel deeply the fears and sorrows of our lives, becoming capable of joy and love.

Letting go of our dependency on others: parents, spouses, friends, or anyone else for validation; recognizing the Spirit of God within our own hearts.

Letting go of needing talents, ministries, and achievements to feel valuable: finding inner peace from the unconditional love of God expressed in Jesus.

Letting go of everything as Jesus did:

“Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.” John 12:24-26

So, this is where it both ends and begins for us, on the cross with Jesus, being taken by Him through the doorway of death to eternal life.

The City of God

I think this post connects to another one Death and Resurrection……which I will post after this one.

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Once, in a dream                                                                                                                                    I found myself in a coat,
– nothing else.
I had no money,
credit cards or credentials,
not a single clue
to my financial status.

I had no memory
of friends or family,
if I was loved by many
or by anyone at all.

I didn’t even know my name.

I was standing alone
at the gate of a golden city
full of sunlit buildings
on an ocean’s edge
of clean white sand.

Inside the city
friendly faces welcomed me
lavishly…

View original post 59 more words

Gender

In four years of medical school, three years of residency training, and nearly 30 years in practice as a family physician I have never been asked “what is the definition of a woman?”

Seems obvious that one could just look at the genitalia. You’re either a boy or a girl, right? Well, not always. Although it is rare, many people are born with ambiguous genitalia. The OB/GYN and the pediatrician are simply unable to determine the sex. Historically, in consultation with the family, a sex would be assigned. Turns out that often as not the child would ultimately identify with the sex they were not assigned.

So it must be the chromosomes. The 23rd pair in humans is designated XX in females and XY in males. The Y chromosome determines male characteristics, so you are either a boy or a girl, right? Well, not always.

In embryology the default setting is female. The Y chromosome normally triggers male development. Ever heard of testicular feminization syndrome, now more properly referred to as androgen insensitivity syndrome? A normal XY baby is born with essentially normal female external genitalia. The body simply does not respond to androgens associated with the Y chromosome. As the child grows and enters puberty there will be normal female breast development and other feminine characteristics. Unless genetic testing has been done at some point, the abnormality is not discovered until the teenage daughter presents to the doctor with concerns that menstruation has not started. Examination will reveal that the vagina ends in a blind pouch, no uterus, and undescended testes. They are often very feminine – cheerleaders, beauty pageant contestants, etc.

Nearly everybody is a normal XX or XY, has anatomy to match, and is perfectly at peace with themselves. But not everybody. Several studies have identified how the sexual diversity between men and women does not exclusively involve the genitals, but also the development of different brain areas. And just as genitals can be ambiguous, or not match what XY would predict, so can the brain in some instances develop in a different direction than the genitals. Animal studies suggest this is likely due to atypical levels of sex hormones in the womb.

Studies in the human brain have involved an area of the limbic system known as the nucleus of the terminal stria. The volume of this area appears to be influenced by the stimulation of sex hormones during brain development, and in men the volume of this area is greater than in women. Scans of this area in transgender women (genetic/anatomic men who identify as females) resemble that of non-transgender females. In this matter gender identity develops from the complex interactions between sex hormones and brain during its development; moreover, this appears to be genetically predetermined and is not influenced by hormonal stimuli during the adult phase.

Gender dysphoria often begins in childhood and can lead to severe distress, depression, and suicide. Treatment includes thorough psychological and medical evaluation and psychotherapy. Hormonal treatments in children are designed to delay puberty until decisions about appropriate gender characteristics can be made. The treatments are not permanent and are REVERSIBLE. Sex change (gender reassignment) operations are not done on children. (Rare exception might be in the case of ambiguous genitalia where surgery may be done to make genital appearance more consistent with the genetic sex).

Unfortunately, there are many people who cannot or will not understand that someone different from themselves might really be different for a real reason. I recently watched a video of a Fox News personality guffawing, in an arrogant and grotesque display of not knowing what one does not know, about how “woke liberals” were looking into the science of what makes someone a man or a woman. I hope the information provided here explains why that question is not quite as simple as it sounds.

It is also unfortunate in Texas that people with political power seem to think that trans people just want to get on the girls’ track team

to win a lot of medals or get in the girls’ rest room to watch them pee. Governor Abbott, Lt Gov Patrick, and AG Paxton have shown profound ignorance and cruelty in decreeing treatment for these kids to be child abuse. Even right-wing columnist Mona Charen called Abbott’s behavior “malice masquerading as policy making”. It is no different than lunchroom bullies knocking the food tray out of the little autistic kid’s hand and having a big laugh over it. And the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, AMA, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Endocrine Society have expressed outrage.

I would hope that someone will share this with a conservative friend. For most of us it seems ridiculous that a guy would think he is a woman, or a woman to think she is a man. The human brain and human body are complex and wondrous and get it right almost every time, but sometimes they get it different. And different should not be wrong, and different people and their families should not be attacked by their own government.

– Joe McCreight, MD

Family in Ukraine’s Story

A story from a personal friend’s daughter-in-law whose family lives in Ukraine.

My grandma in Tryskavets got her 2nd Covid shot on Monday, she feels fine. They had multiple air raids in that area, but nothing serious. Grandma, aunt, and cousin in Chernigiv have limited water, food, but electricity is working now. All fine. However, when the Russians were leaving the city they put mines everywhere so it’s very dangerous to go anywhere. They even put those on dead bodies so that people couldn’t bury them. It’s dangerous to go into the city.

I met today with A’s parents who flew to US last week. They were so thankful for all the prayers and messages. They told me their story. It’s terrifying and I’m just so glad they are safe now.

My aunt’s mom Dina came into the US a couple of days ago. She is in shock but my aunt told me her story today as we met to somewhat celebrate my mama’s birthday. 

“The Russians came to their house (my aunt and uncles house) 3 times. The first time they put a gun to her face and told her not to be afraid and that they will just check around. She was sheltering a young pregnant girl 24 years old and she was hiding as they were looking for whom to rape. They went around the house, she was silent in the attic, so they didn’t find her. Then they came back again and told her to open the door or else they would break every door and window. She asked to put the dogs away, they let her. She opened the door and stood outside. They stole everything that was in the house that they could take in 6 large black bags that looked heavy. She said they stole even a small printer and the dogs’ house. They stole all the food including cans, literally everything, clothes, etc. Apparently there is a deficit there in the russian world. After this she decided she needed to get out. That’s the time they bombed the bridge. So the only way out was to climb down from the bridge and walk over the ice cold slippery water for like a mile to cross. She said she felt like she was walking on ice that’s how slippery it was and she is elderly. She made it to the other side then volunteers took her to Kiev then to Lviv and from there she went to Poland where my aunt met her to take to her to the US 2 weeks after she had her vaccination.  

When she was in Poland, the Russians went back to my aunt and uncle’s house and destroyed it after they finished stealing what they didn’t get the first time. They almost shot their neighbor for not being willing to open the door. 

I didn’t see her today, but she is in shock and sleeping most of the time per my aunt. 

We are praying that an answer about a visa will be given soon for my grandma, so we can bring her here. She has had her two vaccinations. She is there all by herself. I pray that the operation to get all the mines in Chernigiv will conclude soon and they will be able to evacuate.

EASTERis About a Guy Who Used His Power For Instead of Against.

Look at the big picture! The mystics of all religions say the same thing. We are One. Jesus warned his best buds, “Whatever you do to those you consider least, you do to me.”  We are all part of one whole.    Jesus grew from tribalism , his people were God’s only people, to universal love. From thinking he only came for the Jews to, “Go teach all nations.” Jesus grew from violence against the money changers to loving his enemies, even those that tortured and killed him, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus grew from doubt to acceptance, “My God why have you forsaken me!” to “Into your hands I put my spirit.”              Aren’t these part of any spiritual journey?                                                                                  I’m in a class at my church where we discussed whether our faith would be shattered if the provable bones of Jesus were found. Mine wouldn’t, because I have experienced the presence of Jesus and his overwhelming love that gave me incredible joy even though I was in excruciating physical pain. While praising God with joy though still in pain, I fell asleep and when I awoke, I was healed.            Jesus is my way.  In my fifty years of a relationship with Jesus I have experienced numerous miracles of answered prayer mixed with times of great heartbreak in between. I have experienced forgiveness and love beyond understanding. I have experienced the presence of Jesus several times. But as I have grown in my spiritual journey there have been changes in both my understanding and in my faith. Times of pain unhealed and my mother’s dying by inches for fourteen years with Alzheimer’s have challenged me to trust without seeing. But I can also look back to my years of agnosticism and see the footprints of God. There are people obviously filled with the spirit of God who do not experience Jesus as savior, like Mahatma Gandhi.  But he not only valued Jesus, he actually followed his way. To me if someone follows God’s way that was fleshed out in Jesus, they have let him be Lord, which is a lot harder than accepting him as Savior.  I personally was very needy and I needed to experience Jesus as Savior, for the grace to grow into letting him be Lord.  I’m still here at eighty-four perhaps to share my journey, but probably to grow better at letting him be Lord. I’m old, but God isn’t finished with me yet.                                         The spiritual journey, whether with Jesus or not, is the same. None of us know the whole truth, nothing but the truth. That would make us equal to God! We all have some of the pieces to the puzzle. It’s tragic that we can’t put them together. The Jewish prophet, Micah, says: “What does God require of us? To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  Many agnostics do justice. Many believers love kindness. Some of each do both. But all of us have trouble with the walking humbly part.

Love and Death

I’m hoping dying is like the oneness I experienced with Julian one time when I didn’t really feel like having sex, but realized he’d had a bad day and needed that physical kind of affirmation and it became an amazing experience of a body, mind, spirit oneness with him that morphed into a oneness with everything.  There were also two times when alone in the awesomeness of nature, I experienced the sense of being one with everything in the cosmos.  I think that the point of love is becoming one or actually just recognizing that we are all one.  Most of the mystics and those who started religions have sensed that oneness with all as the underlying reality of our existence.  Jesus warned his disciples that whatever they did to the least, they did to him.  Sometimes, I think when the greed, hate, and violence in humanity builds up to a boil is when we have tornados, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis.  Abusing nature because of greed is part of that, but we may all be contributing. I do think often when we know we are dying, we become able to let go of everything, which frees us to become one with what is both the freedom of death and the Love of God.

The Wondering of Memories

I treasure the memory of my child-self’s favorite escape from our cramped seventh floor apartment, Sunday evenings’ outings to a majestic three-tiered fountain amid flower filled terraces surrounded by groves of the stately trees of Forest Park

It’s the soft edge of the evening as I run ahead to the flowing layered fountain. The breeze sprinkles fairy mists on my happy face and thirsty heart. I pause to listen with delight to the gentle staccato of the tiny splashes of the falling droplets. I watch mesmerized as the silent pool swallows them with quicksilver circles of welcome. In the faded light of dusk, they have become one with its dark mystery. I wonder if dying is like this, just melting into a vast welcoming ocean of love?