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Archive for April, 2007

Stupid!

If you are a married person, you know what I am talking about. Those stupid, asinine fights over stupid, asinine subjects. But for some reason, they just get under your skin and you can’t let it go.

My friend Ellen wrote this on her blog a few days ago, and I just had to quote it this morning. Sometimes I have this tight ball of anger in my gut and although I KNOW that I am stomping and yelling and lacking the self-control that I should be exercising–especially with the one I love more than life–I still can’t stop the abuse. I was not careful with my Love this morning–we fought about whether or not I heard him say he had replaced the kleenex box in the kitchen. SO STUPID. And instead of letting it go and moving on, I kept on kicking and spewing and expecting him to be my whipping boy. What is wrong with me?

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I must confess I haven’t blogged lately due to the huge response to my ‘body image’ post. It seems silly, but I’ve intimidated myself. It seems I’ve hit a nerve and I feel I won’t write anything else read-worthy again. I talked to a writing friend of mine, and she said she has a contract for several books after her two are published this year and next respectively. She has the same fear–that she peaked, and may not have any more good ideas left. For myself and for her, I know this is irrational. But there it is, anyway.

Since I did get such a great response to that post, I’m going to bring it to my writer’s group and see what we can do with it and what it’s possibilities are for publication. I’m still quite surprised, since I’ve never written anything that seemed to touch so many people. Thanks for all who commented on the post. I really appreciate it.

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Three Year Old Slo-Mo

“I’m not a diwee daddler” shouts my three year old Sadie. (She is four now, but three at the time of this writing…) We are on the way (late, as usual) out the door and I’m trying not to just pick her up and toss her into her car seat. Sadie, yes, you ARE a dilly dally-er. Now hurry up and get in your seat!” While I am nearing the Bleeding Ulcer Stage, she sees a piece of popcorn—kettle corn to be exact—from last year’s Dogwood Festival and placidly puts it in her mouth.

‘Wait, Mommy! I see som-ting else.” My teeth are throwing sparks, clenched and grinding with impatience. “Sadie, we can look at that L A T E  R. Just please get in your seat. Get into your seat. Please Sadie, get in your seat.’ This last time I know I sound like a serial killer, but we’re running late and Sadie has decided that she’s going to crawl as far under the front seat as she can get—there is an archaeological dig under there where she keeps turning up kettle corn. I try to keep my voice steady but I crack and I scoop her up and plop her into her car seat none too gently.

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I’m trying to organize all of my piles of writing. So I’m going through paper files and computer files to see if I can come up with something to put together to send out for publication. Along the way I’ve found some interesting things I had forgotten I had written. Here’s an essay I wrote for my writer’s workshop last year:

To The Woods

I bring a small pocket knife when I walk in the woods. It is yellow and has within it a corkscrew, scissors, a nail file, a serrated blade, and a sharp regular blade. I keep it in a leather snap case at the bottom of my backpack, and I carry it because of an illusion I have about it keeping me safe when I go out into the woods alone. As if an attacker is going to pause while I say, “Wait a sec–I’ll defend myself from you when I get my knife out–need a corkscrew? A nail file? Oh here, I’ve found my most menacing blade…” I know it’s silly, but it helps me get past that quick pang of fear that hits my stomach when I first get out alone in the woods.

My dad and I used to take walks in the woods too. “Get your specs!” My dad hollered everytime we were getting ready. I carried my binoculars around my neck in hopes of catching the red flash of a  hawks tail, or the graceful flight of a Great Blue Heron. We brought Audubon books to identify the insects, the birds, and the wildflowers. Once we saw a yellow spider as big as my hand; its web as intricate as the lace my grandmother used to crochet. I stared and stared at it–so beautiful and amazing I could hardly breathe.

The woods feel like home to me–and so they were growing up at the edge of the Allegheny National Forest. Whenever God feels far away from me now, and I’m craving a connection with Him, I go to the woods. He shows me things then: fossils with sea shells(at the top of a mountain?), a bug greener than spring leaves and spiders of every stripe. I like the rocks the best because they remind me that my time is a small dot on the time-line of the world. I like to know that I’m a teeny part of something bigger. I ask Him questions out loud, and build altars of pebbles in honor of Him. I ask Him for protection.

Though possibly dangerous, I am compelled–no propelled to get to the woods on a regular basis. I go when I need perspective–when my unforested world feels out of control. I have to go. And I bring my yellow knife just in case.

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Body Image

I’ve been struggling with body image lately. I’m the heaviest I’ve been since I was pregnant–quite disheartening with summer and pool season coming on. But I found this rough draft essay that I wrote a year ago that encouraged me.

The Time Before Knowing

My daughter Sadie looks at her naked body proudly in the mirror. She bends this way and that–hands on hips, now twisting from the back, seeing how her budda belly looks from all angles. She looks closely, curiously, then she pinches her nipples and laughs. She runs through the house joyfully yelling ‘naked baby, naked baby!  She is three years old and doesn’t know that she is supposed to hate her body.

******

I was running at the community pool. I was wearing my crinkly purple swimsuit, my favorite because of its texture and the round neck—you could pull it tighter and tighter and it became a smaller and smaller O and the strings made a V and tied around my neck. I was running unaware—running after Patrick Bush because it was the summuer after 5th grade and running was fun and fast. I was running through the grass, near the fence, not quite catching him, now closer, laughing laughing out of breath. Then he turned and ran after me. I circled around the slide and the diving boards, then he said it. “Wow. You have Thunder Thighs. Maybe you shouldn’t be running around the pool like that that.”

I stopped.

I stood there, hunched and humiliated—awakened to reality like Eve—realizing there was something to be ashamed of. I was no longer an innocent child, running for the fun of it. I was a flabby girl, a fat thing with thighs.

I used to think that every pair of pants that showed the shape of my thighs was off limits for me. I have thought about my thighs once a day (or more) everyday since I remember that day in the purple swimming suit. It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to see myself realistically. I used to see myself as this little head/big bottom disproportionate freak-a-zoid. I wore my hair long in some psychological effort to bring the attention away from the hideousness that was my bottom half. I also developed a shoulder hunch. As if by bending forward a little bit would wrap myself around the offending parts.

I see now that I am a very small person. Small bones and small frame. Yes, I do have some thighs to speak of , and yes, when I run even now there is quite a jiggle-fest happening down there. But I look back at pictures of me when I KNOW I thought I was fat, and I can’t believe it. All those years of size 8. Size Eight. BELOW the national average of women’s weight. I thought I was fat. I volunteered to be the bottom of the pyrmid in cheerleading because I felt large—like I should be holding someone up instead of being on the top. I didn’t deserve the higher spots, I was so monstrously huge.

I looked in the mirror just now and I’m wearing a pair of pants that I would never had allowed in my wardrobe when I was younger. They have a flattering drape and yet still show the outline of my thighs. I look and think—not bad for almost 35. I’m trying to embrace my curves. Allow my body some room to be; to breathe; to be what it is. I want to thank it for serving me well, for walking, running stretching, all of it. For being healthy and able. For putting up with my ingratitude for all these years.

I knew a guy in college from Peru. A girlfriend of mine and I went to his room on open dorm night and somehow the conversation turned to weight (as it usually does when two women are together—no matter how many males are in present company…an aside—womeon can also be counted on to end up talking about hair too, but that’s for another essay. ) I said something about my own self-loathing of my thighs. Carlos said Oh, no—you have the perfect body shape for peru. We love women who have something to shake. Then he started doing some sexy salsa dance that showed me what he was talking about. I have wished since then that I could have been born in Peru, where I would look at my body and say ‘how sexy! How desirable!’ and then I would shake it for all I’m worth.

This damn American body ideal. The smaller the better. The more bones you can have sticking out of your skin, the better. Mary-Kate or Ashley—emaciated, wearing huge clothing but sticking out bones everywhere. Kate Moss. Jennifer Aniston. Curse you Hollywood. Curse you Madonna having given birth to TWO children, but have a personal trainer and the  TIME to spend  oh, what, 6 hours a day working out???Curse you Elle magazine and Cosmo and Helen Gurley Brown.

I say everyone woman should stand  naked in front of their mirror, and have another one handy so they can see their backside. I say look and Love it. Love what God has given it. Then think about getting healthy. Not thin. Not firmer or toned. Healthy. Let’s all get off the self-hating diet wheel. Lets stop offending our bodies. Stop the ungratefulness. Stop the ingratude. Look and Love. Look and SEE. See what an amazing thing God has given us.

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Essentials of Evangelical Theology
04/19/07

Olson 15 Letter

Dear Toni and Denise~

I was a little intense in high school, wasn’t I? Do you remember the night I invited you guys over to watch that ‘end times’ movie A Thief in the Night? I want you to know that I only wanted to introduce you to Jesus, but I think I ended up scaring the daylights out of you instead. I want to apologize for any fear such a hyper-sensationalized movie may have caused you.

At the time, I truly believed that the events surrounding the end of the world were going to happen in that specific way. I was sincere in my hope that if you knew what was coming, you would choose Christ and be saved from the pain and suffering of the tribulation.

Although I still pray that you have met Jesus and have experienced the joy of knowing him, I realize now that I was using evangelical scare tactics by showing you that movie. The truth is, I don’t exactly know how it is all going to go down in the end. One of the major church fathers, Augustine, believed that many of those events were already happening in this current age (Olson, 339). Other liberal branches of Christianity believe that the apocalyptic literature of the Bible is the stuff of myth (Olson, 340). I was surprised to learn in my Theology class that ‘the rapture’ “is not a part of the great consensus of Christian belief (Olson, 345).”

One thing I do know: Jesus is coming back. And when he does, “every corruption of creation will be healed and God will be all in all or everything to everyone (Olson, 356).” Instead of focusing on the terrifying events that movie predicted, I want to instead believe in the “promise of peace and reconciliation, love and justice, abundant life and fulfillment (356).” If you know Christ, the future will hold wonderful things for you. We will all dwell with him “in a new heaven and a new earth for eternity (356).”

Peace, my friends.
Love, Shelley

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The Baptism in the Holy Spirit

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful “than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt. 3:11 NIV)

Dotted across the hillside, sitting on blankets, all forty thousand of us listened to Marilyn Hickey speak as the sun was setting over the Jesus festival. I listened to her talk about the Holy Spirit, and how you must experience his Baptism to receive more of God. I was twelve, and couldn’t understand why I was weeping. “If you want more of God, if you want to be baptized in his Holy Spirit, then come down to the front,” she said. My pastor came over to me, and with a loving arm around my shoulders, urged me to go to the front. “Do you want all God has for you?” he asked me. I nodded, unable to do much more than cry. I truly did want more of God, I wanted him so much to fill my life. I wanted to serve him and witness for him in my school and love him with all that was in me. But I was afraid of what was going on. People around me were raising their hands and speaking in tongues, swaying and kneeling and shouting. Thousands were making their way to the front. I knew I needed to go forward too, even if I didn’t know what I was in for. So I went.

“Raise your hand if you want to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. When you are filled, you may begin to speak in other tongues. Oh, let the Spirit have control,” Ms. Hickey said and then began to speak in tongues herself. “Be filled!” she shouted, and I felt an electric sensation run through my upraised arm. I opened my mouth and started saying something that I couldn’t recognize and felt the Spirit hovering over me like an umbrella. Later that night, in my tent, I hugged God like a teddy bear, close to my chest. He felt near, and good, and warm. Something had changed in our relationship.

Later, after years of leading my friends to the baptism, laying hands on them and hearing them speak in tongues, I married my husband who said he had never had this second experience. He said he had no need, since he was filled instantly with the Spirit at his conversion. I couldn’t argue with him—I was seeing fruit in his life in his ministry to his floor as an RA. This was a spiritual earthquake to me. It went against all my beliefs about Holy Spirit baptism. How could he be using the gifts of the Spirit with out the baptism?

Today, I am not sure I really know what the baptism in the Holy Spirit is all about. I know I experienced something at the Jesus festival, and I know that many Christians do not believe they need a ‘second experience’ after salvation to minister fully to others. And then, many Christians have experienced an ongoing filling of the Spirit. In this paper, I want to investigate what the Bible has to say about this phenomena, as well as what has been said about it historically and theologically. I hope to come to an understanding of my own experience within the broader context of Christianity.

In Acts 1:4, Jesus commands his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift his father promised: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” He repeats it again in verse eight when he says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” This event happens in Acts 2 when the disciples were “all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2: 1-4 NIV) This ‘second experience’ also happens to new believers in Samaria when Peter and John laid hands on them and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17 NIV), as well as to Cornelius’ family while Peter is speaking to them (Acts 10:44-47 NIV). Paul find some disciples in Ephesus who had never heard of this baptism, only the baptism of John. “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:1-6 NIV).” The Spirit is manifested in many ways in the book of acts, including giving power, bringing others into the faith, and enabling disciples to do signs and wonders.

Many Christians since the early church have claimed a distinctive experiential baptism in the Holy Spirit as well. The Pentecostal Movement in the United States is one example of a group of people that believed in this ‘second experience,’ though “there is some disagreement among Pentecostal scholars as to where, when and under whose leadership the…Movement began (Nichol, 1966, 18).” Some say it began in 1896 with a revival in Cherokee County, North Carolina led by layperson William F. Bryant. There, according to Charles W. Conn “’Worshipers were so enraptured with the one to whom they prayed, that they were curiously exercised by the Holy Spirit’ speaking in languages unknown to those who heard the ecstatic utterances (Nichol, 1966, 18).” Usually, though, most connect the beginning to the Azusa Street Mission, “where for three years without interruption, prayer meetings took place with speaking in tongues, singing in tongues and prophesy (Hollenweger, 1972, 22)” One near legendary story of the 1906 Azusa Street Revival is told like this: “They shouted three days and three nights. It was the Easter Season. The people came from everywhere. By the next morning there was no way of getting near the house. As the people came in, they would fall under God’s Power; and the whole city was stirred. They shouted there until the foundation of the house gave way, but no one was hurt. (Hollenweger, 1977 ,23.)” From the turn of the 19th century to today, “every Pentecostal believes in the reality of a present-day experience for believers such as was received by the early disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Nichol, 1966, 8).”

While no one can argue that the term ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ is in the Scriptures, many Christians disagree with the Pentecostal interpretation of Acts chapter 2. John Stott says in his book “The Baptism and Fullness of the Holy Spirit” that “what is described in scripture as having happened to others is not necessarily intended for us (pg 9). He believes that “a doctrine of the Holy Spirit must not be constructed from descriptive passages in the Acts. It would be impossible to build a consistent doctrine from them because there is no consistency about them (pg 18).” Sinclair B. Ferguson agrees. He says “several elements of Pentecost clearly belong to its significance as a once-for-all event. The waiting of the disciples belongs to this category, as do the physical manifestations of the sound of the rushing wind and the tongues of fire. These are not repeated even within the book of Acts itself. (Ferguson, 1996, 88.)” Regarding the Baptism as a second experience, Stott believes that the instances of those receiving the Holy Spirit in two separate stages are rare, but the instances of people receiving Jesus and the Spirit simultaneously are numerous. (Stott, 1964,17).

To sum up these two views, “most evangelical Christians today think of baptism in the Holy Spirit in one of two ways: either Christians receiving the spirit at conversion (the typical Reformed position) or Christians receiving a special empowerment after conversion (the usual Holiness or Pentecostal position) (Keener, 1996, 20).” Keener goes on to say that the New Testament teaches both views—for the simple reason that different texts employ the phrase “baptism in the Holy Spirit” in different ways.(pg 20­) He feels that since most Christians agree that we can be filled at conversion AND need the Spirit’s filling for our daily lives, the debate may be purely semantic. From my research, I agree with Keener. It seems that there must be a both/and in this issue, since the Scriptures talk about receiving the Holy Spirit as a one time event, (Acts 2) and also about being filled with him on a regular basis (Eph. 5:18).

Recently, I was driving in the car by myself and was caught up in the beauty of the fresh green trees. Like a bubble coming up to the top of a stream was the joy that filled my heart. Without even realizing it, I began to praise God, whispering in a language I didn’t know. I’ve wanted to forget about my charismatic experience and upbringing for many years. I’ve been confused about things of the Spirit. But I can’t decide what God can and cannot do. I believe that I was filled with the Holy Spirit in a real way that night at the festival, and that I also need the Holy Spirit to fill me every minute of my Christian life. I could not follow Jesus without His filling. Instead of blocking those years out of my memory, I want to look at my experiences and cherish them as an acts of grace—even if I’m not laying my hands on people to received the baptism of the Holy Spirit any more. I want to ask anew what it means to live a ‘Spirit-filled’ life, and to receive all that God has–our generous, broad God who gives us everything we need to serve him and love him.

Works Cited
Ferguson, Sinclair B. The Holy Spirit. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-varsity Press, 1996
Hollenweger, Walter J. The Pentecostals. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1972
Keener, Craig S. 3 Crucial Questions about the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996
Nichol, John Thomas. Pentecostalism. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.
Stott, John R. W. The Baptism & Fullness of the Holy Spirit. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1964

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