Monday, May 15, 2017

Why I am Politically Conservative

Why do you believe what you believe? 

That question, and its answer to follow, is just as important to me as what you believe. 

That's why I love apologetics and the ministry of evangelism.  Both give opportunities to go deep in conversations and really learn about others, to challenge and be challenged.   And asking that questions is a means of constantly ridding ones own heart of judgement.  How often I assume my friend believe one thing only to discover how wrong I was.  Or perhaps I was correct in assessing the what, but the why was totally different than I expected.  

As part of my study in the RZIM Core Module, we were asked to do regular interviews with friends who held a different worldview.  The interviews were based on the 4 points that define worldview: 

Origin
Where do we come from?

Meaning
Why are we here?  Why do we have life? 

Morality
Is there right/wrong good/evil?
If so, how do we know what defines right/wrong? 


Destiny
Where do we ultimately end up?

These interactions were one sided in the sense that we could press issues with further questions, but we could not answer in return.  This wasn't practice on arguing a point, but rather on listening and hearing the heart of the person, because as Ravi Zacharias says, "Behind every question is a questioner."

This was my favorite part of the course, as I loved engaging with a few of my friends on these issues, and learning more about how their worldview formed.  Sometimes I was quite surprised by their answers, such as one friend who expounded hard on why she believed in evolution, but then followed by saying "but behind the events, to have all the factors interacting, there is some strong force - a strong might - something miraculous."  And another friend on that same question, first acknowledging that our origin is "probably evolution" followed with "But there are questions evolution doesn't answer.  I believe in healing, for example, and the power of thoughts or prayers..... Animals don't have a healing capacity like humans, so there are some things that evolution doesn't answer." 

Other times I was saddened by how closed the heart of one of the ladies was, though I thought she was much more open.  About Yeshua, Jesus, for example, she said, "I just don't think I can believe in him, because in Judaism, God isn't a human.  He's sort of like an energy."  I had no idea until that point that she was intellectually wrestling with that issue, and rejecting the Messiah based on her own religious background that she had also reject. 

When you stop and listen, you learn.  What I learned from these ladies didn't change my own biblically based worldview, but it did change how I saw each of them, how I pray for them, and it tore down preconceived notions I had about that why question behind the what.  And mostly what I learned is that:

Judgement is shallow.

It takes time, care, and humility to dig beneath the surface, and to get over the self that makes assumptions. 

***

We are at one of the greatest partisan divides in history, I believe.  At least in recent history.  And lately, as I gauge where we are as a body of believers based on reading through the social media posts of my friends, this divide is no less evident in the church. 

Having spent 9 years in liberal arts universities, a good many of my believing friends from those years more so identify with the Christian Left, or claim an apolitical position.  Honestly, as someone who is conservative in both how I view God's word, and in my political worldview, I feel rejected by a lot of my friends from that persuasion.  And its not even necessarily direct, but its the general statements of negativity toward anything conservative feel as just what I said above, shallow judgements.    

Thus, I decided to share with you all why it is that I'm politically conservative, and the answer might surprise you.

 I'm a conservative because.... 

I'm a real living and breathing human being. 

That's why. 

I have a lived experience.  One that has involved parents who passed down values, pain and suffering, joy and pleasures.  I'm a thinker, a reader, a researcher - a student of God's word, an honest lover of the Yeshua, Jesus.  I'm someone who prays over the media I see, the experiences I live.  As a designer, I seek the Lord about solutions and what works best. 

A Native American friend once prophesied over me, based on knowledge that my mom's family has an Iroquois Heritage, "You have a great love for government and peace making."  He said a little more than that, but he encouraged me to receive these gifts as my inheritance, and he was so right on.  My peer group at the time seemed to be holding the Christian left as more freedom based, and the apolitical as the Politics of Jesus (even though under the surface the apolitical worldview isn't really apolitical at all- more on that some other time!).  I couldn't fully reconcile either of these perspectives with how I understood scripture and the US constitution, yet often I sort of kept it to myself in the friendship context.   On top of that,  I've loved civics and government for as long as I can remember. The first notable drawing I made as child was the White House when I was in Second Grade (and I grew up to be an architect).   I needed his encouragement to embrace that love as something God nit into my being.

Since it is fun for me, and I have embraced it,  I invest spare time in studying how this world works.  I do this simply because I'm me, and I enjoy it.  (I also really like reading up on what's going on at Disney World, so I'm a nerd on all fronts, forgive me.)

Now living in Israel, I have that many more interests to explore, in the study of how this parliamentary and multiparty system works compared to my beloved US government and constitution.  On top of that, there's the UN, and international law.  My brain gets its fair share of work, and I like that.  You don't have to, but I do!  I try to represent my variety of interests in my media outlets, posts about my kids, what I ate that day, ad even politics and government included. I'm a whole person and this is part of my passion.  On top of that, I live in the land of loud opinions in Israel, and so I'm not only engaging with my western friends who don't get it, but also my Israeli friends who do.   You don't have to love what I love, or use your media outlets like I do, and  I certainly never tried to tell anyone otherwise -- how to run their tweets, Instagram, and Facebook status. 
 
But in addressing statuses and clickbate article titles that I see often...

No, I'm not conservative because I think God is a Republican. 

No, I'm not conservative because I'm a closet legalist.

No, I'm not conservative because I'm doing what the Christian Right is telling me to do.
 

No, I'm not conservative because I haven't considered the other perspective.
Did I cover all of the rhetoric? 

It doesn't really matter. 


I'm conservative because I'm me...  and real person...  with a real heart and mind. Someone who has sought answers, weighed evidence, and thought through beliefs and solutions.   Someone who left home at 26 years old, and moved to the Middle East.  Someone who was deeply affected by the choice of abortion by a loved one... Someone who is raising children in a broken world where the blood of my neighbors runs cold in the street due to terrorism and hate.  Someone who spent 9 years of my life immersed in the left leaning worldview of the university system.  Someone who had a brain tumor.  Someone who was raised between the celebrity subculture of professional baseball and the rural South. Someone who's parent's divorced, and merely 7 months later, who's grandparents were killed by an illegal immigrant driving under the influence of alcohol. Someone who's had to learn forgiveness and love. Someone who's had to see my own sin on the cross.  Someone who's had to repent. 

When all of these experiences, merge with study and prayer, I veer toward the right.  If its interesting, I can break it down more nuanced in the future. 

I would appreciate being afforded that honor of acknowledgement, though, the one that realizes I'm not a machine or someone who follows a movement blindly.   One that recognizes that I'm a person, and my choices have meaning, history, and thought behind them.  And maybe even for someone to occasionally ask me about the why.

But isn't that what we all want?  Just to be treated as... living?


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Discipleship of Cleaning

Life with three babies hasn't left much room for writing - or really much of anything - lately.  Nap times are not coming so easily, and because of that I've felt as though I can't take charge of my days. My house seems to dictate my days, and I've been drowning in my regular chores.

The Lord has been ministering to this area in the last few weeks, however, as I've learned some root causes and solutions to the battle of keeping an orderly home.  Today I'll share about solutions, and later on (if I can keep enough order to have time!), I'll share about the root problems I've struggled with.  This might seem backwards, but in this case, implementing the solutions is the best way to attack the root.  More about the 'why' behind that later!

Thinking and praying through solutions to living in survival mode became a concern of my heart several weeks ago, when during a moms' group that I attend, a friend shared that even though her mom was great at keeping the house clean, her mother didn't teach her how to clean. I realized that was the same in my home growing up, and two women in our mothers' generation shared with me the same thing about their mothers!

I simply can't be the only one who keeps house.  I. Just. Can't.  And that means that I have to get my kids moving on the cleaning.

What I'm understanding, however; is that there is a general idea that simply enforcing a clean house is enough to pass on the practice of keeping house, but oh my, it is not.  Holding to this approach has led to much more yelling and threatening to give things away than I care to admit, and has generally made cleaning days tense.  At these ages (6, 2, and 3 months), it would be easier for me to simply do everything on my own.  I could get it done faster and without pulling my hair out. But that is a short term solution, and I want to parent with godly principles that last for the long haul, for their benefit and for mine.  I don't want to be cleaning up after teenagers, and I want them to be motivated people.   

And here is the truth:  Housekeeping in an art and one that needs to be taught with intention, even as an act of discipleship.  I can't just shout out commands like a, Mefaked, a Drill Sargent.  I have to work with them so that they can find their own solutions to a mess, growing a character that helps them persevere rather than becoming overwhelmed and shutting down.  We want to make overcomers, after all, even when it comes to tackling the house.  They won't get it if I don't instruct, which means I've had to be still and search the Lord's heart for order. 

And I have prayed.  I've wanted to rise above the crazy cycle of boundary pushing and power struggles, and really enjoy family life. 

As I've been praying about this, how do actually be a clean and oderly person on my own, and then how to disciple in this area,  the Lord has given me two strategies (though I'm going to share three) for my kids. These are straight from Him to me. Not something I found on pinterest or learned from a book.     The great disclaimer here is that I'm not sharing because I'm an expert who has a super clean house (I don't), but because it really has been helping us take charge over our home, taking authority over our space, rather than being ruled by bad habbits and too much stuff.  So...  This is what we are doing: 

1.  Keep a Weekly Routine

I like to clean on a weekly schedule, giving myself one big chore a day outside of a few normal things such as dishes, counters, and the general pick up  that happens every day.

Friday is the Big Bedroom Clean Up (BBCUP) for the kids since Aviel (age 6) is home from school that day (Israeli schools are Sun-Thurs). We do a really focused job on their shared bedroom after breakfast, before mini pizzas.

I've already been intentional about teaching them this rhythm, and talking through the week about how if we put things away, it makes the BBCUP shorter and easier.  This is a principle of reaping and sowing.  If they sow tidiness during the week, then they will reap easier effort on the BBCUP.  It has taken about a month, but they are finally getting it. 

Now for the the new ones.  They overlap so the ordering here is mostly about an easy read and not necessarily a rigid way of getting things done. 

2. We work "Big to Small." 

Whether we are doing the BBCUP,  the living room, or laundry, we start with the big stuff, and work our way down. Big to Small is an easy visual concept that even 2 year old Lydia can grasp.

I ask them, "What's the biggest thing in the room?"

For our bedrooms, its the beds, so that's where we start. We change sheets every other week, so we'll either do that, or we'll simply make the beds on off weeks.

Then they identify the next biggest thing, which is usually clothes and coats, and then shoes... so we put all of that away (more about that in number 3).

Then its toys, again by size.

In the living rooming, we fold throw blankets and put them in the baskets, and then do the pillows on the couch- because the couch is the biggest thing in the room. Books and DVDs are almost always second, and then toys.  Sometimes, though, a certain toys can be the next biggest, like when the Duplos are out -or tracks of any sort.

They help me with laundry, too. Sheets and towels are the biggest... undies and socks are the smallest (more about that in the next category).

Interestingly, the kitchen we work Small to Big, taking care to put away utensils, then cups, then plates and pots and pans, before wiping the bigger areas such as the table and counter tops.  Even though its opposite, it works out logically as its easier to clean the pots and pans when the sink is empty.  They get it, so we go with it. 
 
3.  We Organize by Category 

When there is a so much stuff that its hard to get started, we use the Big to Small method, but we pause before putting things away, and first put things in piles.

We stack all of the books, and all of the DVDs.

If people did not put clothes in the hamper, we put them in a pile.

All of the Hot Wheels cars together, baby dolls, markers, etc.

Then we work Big to Small based on pile size.

Aviel's bed is in a loft in the kids' room, which requires climbing a ladder.  He can get his bucket from his room, put his pile of Hot Wheels in the bucket, and then carry them up the ladder all at once. Instead of doing tons of trips back and forth, sorting by type and putting them all in together consolidates effort! This works both for living room clean up and the BBCUP. 

Sorting and organizing  also works with laundry

I have them sort the clothes according to who they belong to.  Every family member gets a pile, and then we fold Big to Small for each family member. 

Again, first we do sheets and towels (the biggest overall), and then we choose the biggest pile in the family, which really changes with every load, and start there. Abba's is usually biggest with lights, Aviel's with darks, and either of the girls with colors. 

We use the same strategy of sorting and organizing clothes types (shirts, pants, socks, undies, etc) and then fold Big to Small in each pile. 

These methods are bearing fruit! 

The underlying idea is to give them an intentional strategy so they don't look at a mess and feel overwhelmed, but rather have a method that they can use to tackle the mess. It gives them a problem solving tactic that they can apply each time, rather than me micromanaging, and threatening with consequences the entire time we are working. It helps in our relationships, but also, I hope it is something they will carry with them through out life, so that they can grow into orderly and efficient workers in their careers and callings, as well as their home life. 

I hope this helps some of you, and if you have strategies of disciplining in the area of house work, then please share in the comments!