Redeeming Cinderella’s Stepmother

Today, I am honored to be guest posting for Rachel Held Evans. I am sharing my thoughts on faith and step-parenting. 

Redeeming Cinderella’s Stepmother

Summer by Mark Askins

No little girl ever wants to be Cinderella’s stepmother. We dream of princes and balls and weddings and babies, but all of those things would belong to us first. We would mother our own biological children, not someone else’s. No one wants to be a stepmother.

 

The Bible doesn’t offer us a shining example of a stepmother. We could posit that Sarah was the stepmother of Hagar’s son Ishmael; however, she forced both Hagar and Ishmael to leave after the birth of her son, Isaac. Not the best pattern to follow. Literature isn’t kind to us either. We give away poison apples, prey upon feeble-minded men, and force servitude upon the stepchildren. Even the Greek playwright, Euripides said that “it is better to be a serpent than a stepmother.”

 

I am stepmother, not a stereotype.

 

To read the rest of this post, please head over to Rachel Held Evan’s blog. I’m part of her series Faith in Parenting.

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My Body is a Battleground

Dear God,

My body is a battleground. 

All round  sirens blare,

Words drop like bombs.

Boots laced, shield ready,

I wait for the next assault–

A war, You never intended.

My body is a battleground.

Shoved into the back room

Painted with animals,

Like a naughty child

Or a POW–silenced.

My body is  a battleground.

 

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There is No Peace

If peace were a place, it would be near the ocean. 

Ocean waves roll in, tides change. I sit  under navy umbrella, toes buried deep in the sand. Another wave creeps closer to my beach chair, my half-read book, my utopian afternoon. The constant breeze, the lull of soft water, the giggles of children splashing in the surf. The smells of salt and coconut oil and water intoxicate us. We who line the shore like a bright rainbow share this long spit of sand, and together we drink in the moment. Breathe in another memory, peaceful and unbroken.

But peace doesn’t live everywhere.

Thousands of miles away, Syria punctuates its people’s life with bodies filling long trenches, babes crying out for dead mothers, daughters with missing fathers, sons burying younger siblings baptized in tears and blood.  Bags and blankets cover those once living, breathing in life. Now, they lie down in death’s violent peaceful slumber. Arabic words fly untranslated by international reporters. There’s no need. Sorrow transcends our cacophony of words. I watch the small television screen as buildings crumble from another blast like some spoiled child kicking over another’s sand castle.

Screams and sirens blare as if they want to grab the attention of the world. To jerk our head over to see beyond diplomatic rhetoric hurled from all sides, to see the man and girl laid upon the UN truck begging the world’s eyes to open. There amid the wreck, sorrow still speaks in her universal tongue. Look here, see us. The hurting, the helpless, the lonely, the scared.

Again, the earth jerks and rumbles and creeks swallowing up villages whole. The eerie sounds of  Italian ambulances careen past cameras and more reporters hoping that the mangled roadways will still hold while the earth trembles beneath. Searching for life  and counting the dead,holding out hope for the missing. Voices silenced too soon. Another tremor, another building falls, another scream, another panic attack.

The camera pans out away from the faces to empty streets. Centuries of church building laid waste in a moment. Bare bones of worship stand like lonely cloisters amidst the wreckage. Blue tents lined up, little shelter to the toppling granite, edifices meant to last forever. Now gone. There amid the wreck, sorrow still speaks in her universal tongue. Look here, see us. The hurting, the helpless, the lonely, the scared.

It seems like another world so far from my beach and waves and peace, but it is there. Ugly and tragic as the ocean is beautiful.

But I sit in my beach chair unaffected by tragedies beyond the Atlantic. My worst fears are jelly fish and rip currents, not bombs or quakes or angry militias. I don’t know how to piece together what I feel or what to say or how to fit all of this violence under the auspices of a loving God. A God of Peace when there is no peace. Not yet. Words jumble together and sound trite and so Western compared to those slinging the dead into mass graves, those searching for the dead amidst earthquake rubble. But I pray for peace, for comfort, for those of us with Western eyes to see.

Today, I’m linking up Joy in this Journey and Life Unmasked. Come join us in writing naked.

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To Touch the Words

Today, we celebrate the National Day of Prayer. I pray in poetry–the only way, I know how. May our words be clothed in grace and practiced in love.

My hands must touch the words.  

Your words inked out on gossamer thin paper.

The vast whiteness of page, filled with You, the Word.

Yet, the more I touch these words–paper and ink–

The less I feel You, the Word, the Word of Glory.

Perhaps, You couldn’t live in the abstract words either,

And You broke free from the prison page.

Clothed in human hands and feet–to mingle and live

With humanity.

 


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If I Had the Evangelical Time Machine….

Church brings some crazy thoughts in my head. time machinephoto © 2011 DeLerkim | more info (via: Wylio)

These usually occur whilst sitting in Sunday School, listening to the teacher drone on like the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. So of course, my mind naturally wanders to time travel and how evangelicals could benefit from time travel. I mean, doesn’t yours? Seriously, evangelicals could totally benefit from a time travel machine. Just think of all the great evangelical catastrophes, we could avoid. Such as….

 

First, let’s tell the well-meaning people in the choir robe and pastoral robe industry that polyester is a REALLY BAD fabric choice especially when those robes have more fabric than most small tents. I guess the preacher was a bit dull that week so the choir robe makers needed a new game: taking bets on how many choir members will faint during the service in the polyester saunas. To make the game more fun: let’s shine 300 hundred bizillion watt lights on the choir and clergy to encourage a few fainting spells. Extra points if the choir member takes down more than one choir member. Double those points if the choir member takes down a member of the pastoral staff.

 

Next, the evangelical time machine would prevent church groups from purchasing stock in any and all denim factories. Looking back over past issues of fashion magazines, denim jumpers and long denim skirts were never in style. But my fashion magazine reading was limited to the teen girl magazine Focus on the Family put out monthly. Yeah, I saw lots of denim jumpers and long denim skirts in that publication. And I kinda feel a a bit brainwashed into thinking those evangelical clothing staples were fashionable. Oh, wait, all of my friends—since I only had Christian ones—wore denim jumpers or long denim skirts. I could see how I could mistake this fashion no-no for a fashion trend.

 

Thirdly, we could prevent the car bumper billboard trend also known as parking lot spirituality points. The more bumper stickers featuring political candidates endorsed by evangelicals or slogans promoting new church programs the better. All spiritual points are tallied when everyone in church rushes out of services to be first in line at Golden Corral. The church goer with the most evangelically endorsed bumper stickers wins for the week. The prize: lording his or her spirituality over all the other church goers.

 

And sadly, this is why we need the evangelical time machine. We wouldn’t be so focused on finding the one political candidate who fills all of our evangelical needs, wants, wishes. Our churches wouldn’t be so focused on a misplaced sense of modesty or fighting against the fashion industry. Instead, we would be out amongst the poor, the needy showing God’s love. Our hands would be dirty in the business of loving each other well. Our love would radiate through out the community, reaching its long arms towards the world. We would be known not for our crazy politics, weird fashions, but our love.

 

Too bad, we don’t have an evangelical time machine to help us undo some of the evangelical greatest mistakes. Like polyester choir robes…but I’m sure the lack of love is a bigger issue.

 

Question: What would you do with an evangelical time machine? What problem would you fix before it happened?