Archive for August, 2019

I have had some people, especially family, ask why what’s going on with the current presidency matters so much to me. They say their 401k is doing great and that’s what matters. Besides, they say, what’s going on with the border, what’s happening with race relations, what’s happening with trade – none of anything that’s going on for people that are different than me makes a difference in my life, so why does it matter?

Here’s why:

I am a follower of Christ. I believe that what Christ says about how we are to treat the poor, the refugee the stranger and otherwise disenfranchised is gospel truth. Christ commands us to do this. Therefore, it matters to me. I believe it should matter to all those who profess to be a Christian. It deeply troubles and confuses me when fellow Christians view the status of their 401k to be more important than how others are being treated.

The things the current president says also deeply trouble me. The things he says are vile, racist, sexist and bigoted. Some may say that he’s just calling it like it is and they like it. But it is so wrong. It is not something a Christ follower should say or condone. Again, it deeply troubles and confuses me when fellow Christians view the status of their 401k to be more important than what our president says.

Another thing that deeply troubles me is that our president is in denial about what is happening to our climate. There are more floods, fires and other extreme weather events than ever before. The Amazon rain forest is burning down. The icebergs are melting. Coastlines are being swallowed up by rising ocean levels. This is real. Call it climate change or whatever you want but it is happening. Protections for wildlife are also being stripped away. God called Christians to care for creation. It deeply troubles and confuses me when fellow Christians view the status of their 401k to be more important than fulfilling a duty that God gave us in the first few chapters of the Bible.

The only Christians who support our president right now with whom I can find common ground are those who are anti-abortion. They believe lives are truly at stake. I have come to find some respect for that position because I too believe lives are at stake. People are actually dying because of our president’s words and actions. The dignity and respect we should have for all people as Christians has apparently become optional for so many followers of Christ and I just can’t wrap my head around how this happened.

All of this matters to me. It does affect me personally because the marginalized are so close to my heart. They are who I serve everyday as a social worker. These people matter more to me than my 401k. As a social worker, I am ethically, and in some ways legally, bound to have my priorities aligned in this manner. As a Christ follower, I am biblically commanded to have my priorities aligned this way.

And it truly scares me when I see the opposite as true to other Christians.

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My Week in Haiku

If the morning sucks
I wear my t-shirt that says

Usually it helps
But on Wednesday it didn’t
Was a cluster f***

Beds bugs are awful
And creepy too when they are
On my client’s shirt

Said hard things to Dad
We used to fight all the time
Now it’s truth in love

The psych ward can help
But when you have to go back
To real life it’s hard

She was so anxious
I hope I helped her calm down
Will find out Monday

Smoking is quite bad
So I put a patch on my
Left arm hope it helps

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What I Do

So I tried to be a pastor once. It just didn’t work out. I drink, smoke and swear. Sometimes I do all three too much. Plus I’m a woman and therefore not welcome at many a pulpit. To top it off, I have bipolar disorder which means I had Sundays that I was full of gusto up front, able to spur the congregation on to praise and thanksgiving, able to open the service with the kind of energy the pastor and worship leader were looking for. Other Sundays, I was melancholy and invited the congregation to reflect on their struggles and cling to the cross as they sought out help, mercy, forgiveness and lifeline. Those days I brought a somber soul. Somber wasn’t what they were looking for. Needless to say, I didn’t feel all that welcome, so I quit being a pastor.

Now I’m a social worker. A mental health and substance abuse case manager to be precise. At any given time, I am serving close to 45 clients who are looking for housing, trying to get clean, battling the court system, and striving to understand and cope with their mental illnesses. Their substance abuse issues and mental illnesses range in severity, but no matter where they are at on the spectrum their disorders are debilitating and most are unable to hold a job. They struggle even to get along with other people and to understand societal norms. They all live in poverty and to be honest, have very little chance of getting out of poverty. They are engaged in their recovery at different levels of commitment as well. Their commitment levels range from, as we’d say clinically, precontemplation to action.

I love my job. My clients are tough. Some are tough because our personalities simply clash. Others are tough because they come to me with problems that truly have no good solutions. But they’re also hilarious, good people who have good stories to tell (some true, some based in psychosis, some straight up lies) and they all deserve respect. They’re all short on money, but they’re running even shorter on respect.

Found a song this week that completely describes what I do and the how’s and why’s of what I do. It’s by Fort Minor and called The Name.

You ready?! Let’s go!
Yeah, for those of you that wanna know what we’re all about
It’s like this y’all (c’mon)

This is ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

Not exactly bullet points I’d put on my resume. But that’s how I pull off what I do every day. And I do it because the people I serve deserve to be remembered. They deserve to be respected. I also do it because I have my own struggles and can very much relate to where they are coming from. But the biggest reason I do it is because I am a pastor at heart and I believe they all deserve to have someone in their life who can find that piece of gospel dwelling inside of them, call it out and cultivate it.

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So as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been listening to a lot more music lately. I am hooked on Macklemore. Today I heard “The Magic” and it just caught me off guard and gave me something to reflect on for the rest of the day.

And then I remembered the magic
Forgot that you can’t plan it
It’s always there in front of us
Just trust and it happens
And the star dust from the universe of this planet
I just get stressed when I try to understand it
And then I remembered the magic
Forgot that you can’t plan it

Dan is gone. For the fifth time in the last 7 weeks. I am a hot mess when Dan is gone. I just barely qualify as a “good enough” mom. The kids eat. Nobody dies. I pay a babysitter to give my kids bath once or twice while he’s gone so I can go out and get a beer.

Not today, people! I made pancakes for dinner. I did laundry. I snuggled. I watched Dinosaur train for over an hour. I didn’t scream at my kids. There was magic there today. Definitely didn’t plan it. I can’t say I was trusting, but it totally just happened.

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