Jesus Doesn’t Want You To “Eat Mor Chikin”

Toddlers and Tiaras.  Oil and Water.  Ammonia and Bleach.  JESUS and HATE.

Some things just don’t go together, y’all.  They just don’t.   Add one more combo to the list:  Chic-fil-A and my money.

from gawker

I normally like my blog to be a place of fun, happiness, passion in proper doses… but today it’s taking all the restraint I own not to go thermonuclear red hot Sicilian on everyone.  Let’s get fired up! 

(This blog will probably go down smoother if you crank the Gaga and let her pulse pumping melodies take you to that happy place of tolerance and dance moves)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Chic-fil-A is a homophobic company.  A company based on Christian ideals, but one that is ultimately homophobic and comfortable announcing such vile hatred to the country at large.  The mostly-Southern chain famous for slinging delicious fried chicken sammies and breakfast biscuits has been embroiled in a homophobic slurry for years.  This is not new news.  I’ve been on a permanent “boycott” of the establishment for a while now; in 2009 they gave nearly $2million to anti-gay groups and funded politicians of the same credo.  Based on a recent statement made to the public by CFA’s head honcho – new flames of fury are being stoked, fresh eyes are opening to the hatred, and more people are newly becoming aware of what is going down.

CFA isn’t all bad.  Duh, I know this.

Their food is beyond dope.  It’s some tasty chicken, y’all (let’s just be real).  And I am super aware of the local good they bring to the communities in which they’ve established restaurants.  CFA has a pretty open door policy about helping local groups of all kinds fundraise using their goods and facilities.  I know so many people who’ve personally said “our school band wouldn’t exist without CFA,”  or “the scholarships they offer employees put me through school.”  I know that they do good works.  And fundamentally, I’m cool with a company that has a religious background and works to keep those ideals intact.  CFA has never been open on Sundays, and I respect that choice.  Heck, I even admire it.

Here’s what President Cathy had to say about CFA’s religious affiliation, from the NY Daily News:

Despite a corporate statement declaring that the purpose of Chick-Fil-A is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” Cathy told the Baptist Press that it isn’t a Christian business.  Christianity “is about a personal relationship,” he said. “Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are. But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/chick-fil-a-cops-anti-gay-guilty-charged-company-president-article-1.1116841#ixzz214cv2oRi

But telling the whole world that gay ain’t okay is the line in the sand.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the Internets:

CNN Blog: CFA and Gay Marriage = Media Storm

Daily Mail UK:  Anti-Gay Stance Sparks Protest

Huff Post: Chicken with a Side of Bigotry 

Facebook has been a flurry of debate since the newest set of statements coming from CFA’s top dog went viral yesterday.  Also making news this week – the Boy Scouts of America went ahead and chimed in to the national debate of gay rights by letting us all know that they’ll be upholding their ban of gay kids.  It’s enough to make a gal sick.  But crumpling in defeat in the face of hate ain’t my style.  When the going gets tough, the tough get blogging.

Last night I made a pretty passionate Fb Status:

Attn America: The Boy Scouts and Chic-fil-A want you to make SURE that you know how evil homosexuality is, and thus, in the year 2012 they’re randomly issuing statements to go ahead and inform of us their bigoted positions.

Methinks this is another stunt from the Romney propaganda machine. I mean, he got the NAACP to boo him on purpose to help increase votes in racist areas.

The debate that sparked was pretty intense.  You can check out my profile to see it all for yourself!  I’ll also be posting a part two after this with some of my favorite talking points – in case you find yourself asking questions and/or ensnared in vitriolic discussion.

Last night and already today, I’ve been jumping into debates here and there – I’ve also gotten some PMs asking me to explain my beliefs.  How is it that I can be openly Christian, a Bible-believer – and still support gay rights?  The answer, dear reader, is easily and readily.

I am a Christian Who Supports Gay Rights. 

I believe in a Jesus that exclusively taught love.

I believe that the Biblical use of words that “support” anti-gay rhetoric are misinterpreted.  For more clarification and get my POV – check this link out.

Hypocrisy is not okay:  Leviticus is not a substantial reason to be anti-gay.  If you’re still wearing poly-cotton blend, eating shellfish, touching a woman when she’s on her monthly, if you don’t stone to death adulteres… you’re not upholding ALL of Leviticus.  The Bible ain’t a grocery store, you don’t get to pick and choose.  Furthermore, Leviticus is from the OT.  If you’re NT kinda Christian (which, technically, you must be – right?) using one odd phrase from the Old Testament to fuel your hate is (more than) a stretch.

Furthermore… the very same parts of the Gospel that speak against “homosexuality” also speak against a host of other human sins, some that I think are important and others that I don’t. If you want to go the Levitican route, it seems so silly to uphold just that one teensy clause when so many Christians are allowed to wear cloth made of mixed fibers (poly-cotton blend is against the Bible, you know). You can eat shellfish, touch a woman within eight days of her period and refrain from stoning to death known adulteres, all without condemnation from Christians… but but… if you “lay with a man” you’re evil?

It’s all or none. And I can’t stand the hypocrisy of picking and choosing.

In other sections of the Bible that speak to homosexuality, it speaks to sexual depravity – and again, I evoke the translation error.  Jesus speaks SO MANY times at lengths about things that are important to Him. Where in the Bible does Jesus actually address being gay?  NO WHERE.

Love each other. Be patient. Take care of one another. These are the things that Jesus took the time to teach us about….  He never ranted and raved about the evils of being gay the way today’s big time super conservative preachers do.  I think its a misuse of power and persuasion to throw the church and God behind an ideal that’s clearly political and of our own culture.

There’s always the idea of hating the sin, but loving the sinner. While I think that’s pretty lame and not embracing gay people and their rights in a full context – it’s better than being all around hateful. I suppose by that same mentality people can hate adultery, but still love adulterers.

But beyond all of this – I truly know and believe in my heart that people are born gay. Sure as I was born heterosexual, I believe that others are born gay. And thus, I must accept and know and trust that God created these people this way.  And it’s neither our place or God’s desire for us to be the ones who judge them. Not at all.  Love is love. People are people.   If two people love each other and want to love each other, and that’s what makes them happy – then I am so all about it, 100% flying (rainbow) colors in support of it.

Jesus taught us to love. 

This is something I’ve just known in my heart of hearts, and something I’ve had reinforced for me via prayer many times.

that’s me! (photo cred)

So there you have it folks.  In case you didn’t know – now you do.  I am a Christian and I fully support gay rights.  I’m a straight ally, and I have been for a very long time.  Even back in my UNF Student Gov’t days, I was an ally (before I even knew how that term applied to this issue!).  I used to always be the Senator to introduce/sponsor bills from the PRIDE club – they even gave me an award my junior year for being such a fervent supporter.

If you’re a reader with a difference of opinion – please know that I respect and appreciate all sides of an issue, as well as your right to your own beliefs and ideals.  I’m a true American in that spirit and proudly embrace the freedoms of choice that we all have.   Hopefully, this post serves as insight into my belief structure and not as a form of antagonism.  If you have ANY questions or want to hash this out more – just reach out to me.  I’ll try my best to get back to you in a timely manner.

I will publish that second post of links and quotes in a hot minute too.

Edit: Here’s the second post, it’s up now! 

AS ALWAYS – Thanks for reading y’all!  This is a biggie and an important one, and even if all you did was read this and then decide this blog isn’t for you – I at least appreciate your time. 

xoxo, hhr 

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Retreat IceBreakers – Copy, Borrow, Steal!

This past weekend was the annual Women of Hope retreat.  140 women gathered on the beautiful North Shore at  Camp Mokule’ia.  I was invited to be on the ministry team for the event, and it was my pleasure to help out.

photo courtesy of robyn pratt - to give y'all an idea of the cafeteria we were in all weekend, this is where we played all of the ice breaker games.

One of my roles was to come up with and lead some icebreaker activities.  A lot of the women were new to retreat and new to the community.  Hope Chapel has multiple services and campuses, so even women who’ve been attending for years may not have had the pleasure to cross paths.

The theme of the ice breakers was to connect the women.  Our goal was to foster friendships, highlight commonalities, encourage teamwork.  Basically, it was all about bonding and creating a stronger sisterhood.

Annmarie, my dear Irish pal, was my co-leader and we had a blast all weekend!  We’re both pretty funny (if I do say so myself) and we were able to inject a lot of banter and jokes into our on-the-mic time.

here's a pic of annmarie - with her hubby vic. i snagged this off of her fb!

So, since I helped create all of these games, with lots of borrowed common ideas and a little bit of my own creativity – I’ll be the first to encourage any readers to go ahead and re-use them.  Borrow these ice breakers for your next retreat, workshop, classroom, whatever.  And if you do, let me know how it goes!

Stand Up / Sit Down

I’ve played variations of this game tons of time, in all kinds of group settings.  Since the idea was to connect women, we came up with this idea in a planning meeting for the event.  We drafted a list of categories to call out, some serious and some fun.

How to Play the game:  Basically, Annmarie and I read a list.  We told the gals, if what we read applies to you – stand up.  While standing, look around and see who else is standing with you.

For the first night it was a good way for the women to get a feel for who they’ll have things in common with – who’s going to be up nice and early, who will stay up late.  For the newest members, finding out commonalities is a great way to start a conversation.  It’s also a gentle way to start things out, no one had to do anything crazy or super outgoing.

The list had administrative items like “first time at a retreat,”  “if you’ve been to five or more retreats,”  we listed out all the church services HCKB offers, we asked about what campus they attend, if they’re visting from another church.  Morning people and then night owls were asked to stand – this was all so people could find a familiar face, so newbies wouldn’t feel alone.

We had a lot of silly items, “love sushi,” if you “like rock’n’roll” please stand up!  Dog lovers, cat lovers, parents, married, single, and so on.   Oh, and we called out for “motorcycle owners” knowing durn well it would apply to a specific person, and it was so funny!

Pros: it was easy, fun, our jokes made it funny, and people seemed to have fun when something they liked or included them was called.

Cons: it was simple, possibly kinda boring, and it doesn’t really work if it goes on and on forever.

I didn’t hear any negative feedback on it, in fact people said it was fun.  I know it sounds like it would be really boring, but when you actually do it – people get pumped.

Things in common game! 

I’ll preface this game by saying that when everyone checked in to camp, they were given a yarn tied around their wrists.  Groups who came in together were told to get different colors.  We had pre-cut a pile of them, seven different colors.  Then, during the event when we needed to break up into groups – using yarn color was the easiest way to go.  By breaking up people who traveled together, ladies were forced to make new friends and get out of their social comfort zones.

How to play the game:  Teams were given five minutes (or was it ten?) to brainstorm a list of things they had in common, every single one of them!  Team with the most commonalities, wins.  A prize will be given (we used a paper bag full of candy and treats).  The catch is that if other teams also listed the same thing, they’d cancel each other out.

After time was called, we went one team at a time and they read their lists, if others heard something called out that they had written down, they’d cross it off.

It went really well.  They ladies had to get creative, clever and learn about each other very quickly.  The ONLY way to succeed was to find things out about each other.   The pressure of the timer helps everyone to bond by coming together.

I created this game based off some similar ones I’d seen online.  I really loved it.  The winning team had 37 items!  Examples ranged from “we all love chocolate,” to listing anatomical consistencies, “we all have boobs,” “we all have hair” being some (it’s easier for a same-gendered team to play if you go that route!).  Some answers were really sweet.

Pros: Players get to know each other, it was fun, the sillier the answers – the more everyone laughed.  It got the teams working together, competing.  It was everything an ice breaker should be.

Cons: I think it could get a bit boring during the reading.  Since there’s only one list, a lot of people just had to listen and hang out during the reading phase.  It could be hard to figure out things you have in common, especially if they were more meaningful things/less superficial.

Mad Libs-styled Skits

skit performance - this one took place in narnia!

We ran this game in three parts – so it helped to fill a lot of time, and the opportunity for teamwork was immense.

How the game is played: 

every team did a great job!

Part One: Every team takes out a sheet of paper.  Annmarie and I give them six categories, they must come up with something for each one.

Our’s were:  a location (anywhere – real or fictional), a date (day, month, year – past, present or future), a food, a celebrity, a Bible verse, and an Olympic sport.

The teams filled in the lists and then we collected them.  And of course, we redistributed them so each team had a list they didn’t create.  The instructions were that each team must create a performance using ALL six elements on their list, each one must be incorporated somehow.  We told them they could write a song, put on a skit, anything really!

amanda on the guitar as her team sang an original, and hilarious, song!

 

i loved watching all of the performances

Part Two: We just gave them all 20 minutes to practice.  Practice during free time was encouraged, but just to make sure everyone did a great job, we opted for practice time instead of doing a different ice breaker.

Part Three: Performance time!

This was so fun.  Our lead pastor, Tami, was in tears watching the show.  She was so impressed at the great job every team did.

Groups were judged on creativity, humour, thoughtfulness, fact accuracy, props, energy and using everything on their lists.  Prizes were given to first place and two runner ups!  Picking the winners was about impossible, each team did an amazing job!

Pros: LOTS of bonding time.  We saw so much teamwork and creativity.  Groups spent a lot of time together.  Women who usually stay behind-the-scenes totally got up on stage and gave it their all. New friends were made, people had fun, it was fun for the audience to watch.  Since our retreat was faith-based, having a Bible verse in there was a good way for them to incorporate the Word into the project.

I just heard rave reviews about the skits, everyone seemed to have enjoyed it very much.  By creating the mad libs style lists, the skits were wacky and funny!  Since they had no idea they’d be doing skits ahead of time, they didn’t really have props, so it was fun to see everyone come up with stuff on the fly.  We had a lot of musicians at camp, with instruments, so the music abounded!

Cons: I used Curling as an example of an Olympic sport, and I’m pretty sure five out of seven teams used it, so that was kind of a bummer.  I’d caution anyone using this activity to limit the number of examples you give.   It was a time-consuming activity, a lot of the groups needed much more than the 20 minute allotment to put it all together.

The idea for this game just came to me Friday night during the teaching.  I quickly scribbled the rough idea down, then Annmarie and I hashed out the details.  I’m really quite sure the inspiration was Devine – it just popped into my head out of no where.  So praise God for the spurt of creativity!

So, if you were at retreat – what did you think about the ice breakers?  Annmarie and I really tried to give everyone activities that would encourage friendship, sisterhood, and bonding.  Mostly, we wanted everyone to just have fun.

If you’re going to use any of our game, please let me know how it goes and what modifications you make to suit the needs of your groups!

as always, thanks for reading!  xoxo, hhr

Whew. What An Amazing Weekend – Women Of Hope Retreat 2012

I spent this past weekend on the North Shore with 140 of God’s LOVEliest women at my church’s 2012 women’s retreat!

the women of hope

I’m fired up, filled to overflowing, loved, happy, encouraged, humbled, grateful, and … exhausted!  Hence, this post isn’t the actual rundown post.  No, this weekend was so full of post-able pieces of wisdom, insights, joy, fun, photos, and good ideas it’s going to take me a hot minute to compile it all together.  I think I’ll actually make a few posts.

I was so honored to be on the ministry team, working at the event.  I was in charge of the tie dye event and I came up with/led some ice breakers.  I want to post about the group bonding games we did in hopes that others could take the ideas and use them for their own events (Annmarie and I co-led the ice breakers and we are oh so clever, we invented our own games for the ladies to play!!).

The ministry was amazing.  We had devotionals, testimonies, teachings, praise and worship, prayer, prayer and more prayer.  Eight women were baptized in the ocean! EIGHT! Countless women had their faith renewed, re-ignited; sins were purged, the enemy was attacked, others were forgiven.

ocean baptism - amen!

The theme of retreat was LOVE.  We are Lovely, Overcoming, Victorious, and Eternal.

I learned so much, I just feel so pumped up.  I’ve been falling off in my obedience and commitment to God, and this weekend really gave me a chance to dig in and reconnect.  I was able to lay a lot of my own junk down and serve my God, happily.

So, there is MUCH to share, much to say and much to show.  Just give me a few days to collect my thoughts (and notes – I used like seven different notebooks, so everything is all scattered and out of order)… and a series of posts will ensue!

camp mokule'ia is amazing.

If you have any requests of stuff you’d like me to talk about, lemme know.

Oh, and the location!  The location was epic.  Camp Mokule’ia is peaceful and amazing.  The new direction of the facility is to live and run the operations of the camp in a way that is most kind to the land it’s on.  Sustainable living is totally promoted with a new gray water system, aquaponics, composting, gardening, and beefed up recycling.  A hippie like me couldn’t be more excited, especially because Camp management bases all of their green-inspired efforts in Scripture!  I’ll be interviewing the owner of the Camp and giving a full explanation of all their new eco-friendly installations, what the impact has been like, the theological inspiration for the efforts, and how camped have been responding.  So rad, right!?!?

I’m excited to get cracking.  Love to all of my sisters – thank you for a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

being grateful for grace

So, I’ve been a bit of a derelict.  In adjusting to my new job, getting through the holidays, adding a lot of working out into my schedule, and any other excuses I can think of – some things have slipped a bit.

I haven’t been crafting as much lately.  I’m behind on my TV shows (tragic, I know).

And sadly, some aspects of my Spiritual Life have slipped. 

Around the time of making New Year’s Resolutions Goals, I decided to make my prayer life, and time spent with God, more of a priority.  It seems kinda lame to slap “pray” on a to-do list; shouldn’t prayer be constant, readily on my mind, and a must-do kinda item (not something that can just get dropped to make time for other activities)?

But I’m not perfect, and so I am literally making it a goal, I am slapping it on my to-do list (well, maybe I’m gingerly placing it there).  I want to work more on my relationship with God, making time for Devotion is a priority for me. 

yesterday's sunrise, as seen from my front yard - a beautiful brand new day, an awesome symbol for starting fresh

Duggs and I go to Church. we’re great about saying Grace before meals, and we have our bed time prayer.    But I used to wake up and pray, do some yoga and thank God for the millions of blessing I experience daily, play worship music while cleaning, driving or working out, Bible study or focus on a devotional just about everyday, and so on.  I used to make time to focus on thanksgiving, on praying for others, on just being with God all the time.

I miss the priority that my walk with Christ used to be. 

So, I’m making the effort to get it back. 

My Dad’s friend Amy gifted me this amazing book: “Praying God’s Word” by Beth Moore.  Every time I crack it open, Beth Moore seems to speak straight to me and she facilitates the devotion I need, when I need it.  The book is divided into different obstacles we need to overcome – like overcoming sadness, or overcoming deception.  Whatever need the occasion calls for, I’m able to just flip to the chapter and find all these applicable verses.

I’ve been feeling guilty for my lack of prayer life.

I turned to the chapter on Overcoming Feelings Of Guilt, and the most perfect verse was just right there waiting for me:

Father, I thank You that You’ve had mercy on me according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion You blot out my transgressions.  You can wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin … You can create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirirt within me. (Ps. 51:1, 2, 10)

Amen.

The most perfect Word from God comes at the most perfect time; that’s how He works.  His grace is perfect, and it’s for all of us.  Just when I’ve sinned and I feel bad about it, and I’m sorry… here comes His most perfectly fitting forgiveness.  His grace washes me clean, gives me that clean slate, and helps me to honestly start fresh.

He blots out my transgressions.  He washes away my iniquity. 

It’s okay that I’ve slipped, because He is there to catch me. 

I’m so happy to have found this word and I know it’s a prayer I’ll be re-visting more than once.  It’s simple, beautiful, and just leaves me feeling clean and refreshed.  A power washing for the soul.

I feel totally picked up, dusted off and set back off in the right direction.

Thank you Lord, for your Grace.  For giving me second chances, not allowing me to wallow in shame, self-pity, or marinating in guilt when I’ve messed up.  You offer me a chance at earnest sorrow and whole forgiveness.  Thank you God.

Back on the To-Do List: Do this more often.

as always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr