Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Of Sex and Cheesecake

He mentioned it casually while he was lacing up his shoes on a red hallway rug, and I can't remember how it came up.

"Why doesn't the Church talk more about sex, Mom?"

My twenty-one year old had to leave for work so our conversation was short.

"Well, your dad and I do, and our church does, but apparently not enough, if you're not hearing it. You're right: it needs to be talked about more."

He's not alone in thinking that. Running into women when I speak, or in quiet conversations across loveseats, I hear it. "We need safe places to talk about sex and to hear a Christian perspective." 
Photo Credit: Flickr user Capture the Uncapturable, Creative Commons cc license
So, to my twenty- and thirty-something friends -- actually to all of us, older and younger-- can I apologize? And let's jump in, shall we? This is the first in a series on Let's Talk about Sex.

To answer briefly for now, may I say that sex is fabulous? It's so fun, and it grows and improves with time. It's a great invention by God.

But I think it's like cheesecake. We married ones remember that -- if you're single in your twenties and thirties-- you're probably trying to avoid sex until marriage. So our talking about sex too much right now feels like eating cheesecake in front of someone on a diet. And we understand firsthand usually the fallout of sexual activity outside of marriage-- often we're still unpacking our baggage from years earlier.

But in our desire to not awaken further hunger in you, we have just muted our voice. Our recent silence has done you a disservice. Lest you wonder or doubted, God made sex and he talks about it. It was his idea and he called it very good! Sex is a gift in marriage.

Like any good thing in our melting world, however, we've warped sex, distressed it, and twisted it, and our baggage builds up through the years. Cycles of hurt and misinformation coil throughout generations of families until sex becomes a topic people are afraid to talk about, don't know how to talk about, and think they can't talk about at church. We're mistaken.

Indeed, God talks bluntly, unblushingly, and often about sex in the Bible, and he calls it undefiled and good. But that's for another post.

Bottomline: God invented sex. He made us, and he has plans and guidelines for you to have a fabulous sex life.

Can we talk more next week?  (Feel free to share, forward, or post this.)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

For When You Don't Feel Like You Fit and You Just Want to See the Cover

A cement mixer rumbles and churns on white-washed sidewalk. Grey rivulets swirl silver along the gutter. I step off the sidewalk, afraid of falling stone, and sidle beside trucks and cars parked out from the two-story metal scaffolding and men in hard hats, until I reach Spyhouse Coffee's entrance.
Photo Credit: Flickr user Neil Moralee, Creative Commons cc license
Photo Credit: Flickr user Adelie F. Annabel, Creative Commons cc license
A hot Honduran coffee scalds my tongue and condenses droplets beneath a plastic lid.

He had said it to me and you this weekend in a wooden chapel filled with four hundred squirelly middle schoolers and their coffee-toting leaders. Flashing photos on the screen of his little seventh grader self, and displaying an email from his seventh grade teacher who had found him just recently, youth speaker Cesar Castillejos spoke to you and me as he spoke to my teens too.
God will use everything in your life to make you who you are. Cesar spoke of growing up Filipino with a Latino name in a white suburban American school. He spoke of not feeling like he belonged; of divorce; of senior year basketball captainhood ruined by underage alcohol at a party; of a lifelong love of words; and of his seventh grade-heart's hope to help kids see their value and potential.

"Oftentimes we see the puzzle pieces of our lives, and we just want God to show us the cover," he said.

"I was praying for you," his seventh grade teacher told him in that recent email, and Cesar looks back with new eyes at his middle school and high school years.

God sees your puzzle pieces, my friend. He is shaping and molding all the circumstances and experiences in your life -- even the hard ones. He is crafting, cutting, and creating your passions, heart cry, and skills. Weaving in invisible people who pray for you and invest in you, God is at work. 

"Now, I get to speak to and teach teens, and preach at a church on Sunday nights, and do some writing too," Cesar said, smiling wide, and his heart for teens to hear the truth that they're valued and loved by the Creator of the world has been obvious in each chapel session all weekend.

God clicked Cesar's puzzle pieces into place throughout his life, creating beauty and purpose, and he is clicking your pieces into order too. 
At Spyhouse, I sip my Honduran coffee and notice the walls. "You changed the art," I crowed to the barista handing me change.
Photo Credit: Flickr user Clint McMahon, Creative Commons cc license
"Yeah, we do that every month or two," she said as I dropped my change into the blue jar.

Through double-wide open doors, warm October seventies air flows in, unscreened. Two coffee house employees grin and waddle past, hefting a large barrel container of flowers between them. Setting it on the sidewalk, they mark the boundary of their sidewalk terrace, while the cement mixer churns half a block away.

Spyhouse's street signage is not back up yet on the bare-faced stone building where mortar waits to be chinked, but progress is being made. Bare brown bricks stand two-stories tall with gaps for next week's mortar, and beauty remains.

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