About Me

My photo
My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Psalm: A Lament

Last week in Sunday School I taught on the book of Psalms using the music of U2. The main point was that even though the Psalms are known as a book of thanksgiving, at least 1/3 of the Psalms are classified as laments.

We talked about how the Psalms help us to bring our whole human experience (the good stuff and the bad stuff) before God in raw honesty. I ended the class by asking them to write their own Psalm beginning with their own personal lament of "How long. How long must we sing this song", and ending with thanksgiving by saying, "I will sing, sing a new song". (U2 fans will recognize those lines. ;) )

I too participated in writing a Psalm of my own. I will not share it here (I'm not a good writer) but I will share what my lament is....

I often wonder "how long" until the church finally grows up and becomes "the Church". I see so much self-indulgence and materialism in the body of Christ - the place where it least belongs. I've often talked in Sunday School about not allowing our culture to affect our faith, but rather to let our faith affect our culture. Unfortunately, I think it is often the other way around.

This is a problem in all parts of the body of Christ, but I see it more acutely in my own congregation because that is where I spend my time. It troubles me to see so much self-indulgence in the church and especially in my own church, among the people that I love. There are people in my church who go on lavish vacations. Now, I have nothing against vacations. I hope to go on one myself next year, or if not then, the next. The world is wide and I believe you should see as much of it as possible. And we all certainly need time to "get away from it all and relax". Not thing wrong with that. I encourage it. God certainly gave us a beautfuil world and we shouldn't offend him by not enjoying it.

What I have an issue with is that some people go on two or three of these vacations a year. I watch as money is spent on "self" while we have a Youth group, a mission trip to Haiti, and a mission trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that are hurting for lack of money. We have a choir that takes one or two "choir trips" each year. Sometimes they sing in other churches, but some of their trips can only be described as lavish vacations. They travel to Nashville and stay at the Opry Land Resort, see shows, eat out, and shop till they drop. They do fundraisers at church to pay for this and it irks me to no end. They rationalize that if they have devotions every day then it's a "retreat". If I participate in their fundraiser (I don't) I am basically paying for their vacation. All the while I cannot afford a vacation of my own. That is one thing, and only a minor thing, what is not a minor thing is that we have mission projects that suffer because of it.

We also have a number of people with expensive "toys". Hobbies. Again, not a thing wrong with that. I happen to love Harleys and ride them whenever I get the chance. I would own one if I could afford too. It's not that they have things that bugs me, I have a few hobbies too, it's that they have SO MANY and other people in other parts of the world have so little.

I am not offended simply becuase I happen to head up one of the mission projects. I would feel this way if I were not directly affected. I just think it is wrong to lavish ourselves with all of the best of everything while others struggle for basic needs. I know of no nicer way to say it - it's just wrong.

Haiti is one of the poorest places in the world and Pine Ridge reservation is located on the 2 poorest counties in the U.S. I've been to both. I will never forget waking up in Haiti every morning. I slept on the roof of the compound. There was a 3 ft. wall around the roof and a big crack in the portion of wall I slept near. Each morning as I lay in my sleeping bag waking up I would look out that crack and see two little Haitian kids with dirty bare feet and their little donkey that was really just a sack of bones. I would finally get out of bed thinking, just another day in paradise.

The human suffering was immeasurable in Haiti. Walking through the clinic I was mobbed by people needing medical help. One day as I was pushing my way through the mob I was grabbed by a rather determined mother who pointed to her little daughter, a girl that was maybe 7 years-old. She had a huge tumor growing on her face. It broke my heart but then, my heart was broken many times in Haiti.

Another memory is of traveling to The Far West in the back of a dump truck full of beans and rice. When the people heard the truck coming they would run, sometimes for miles, behind the truck in hopes of getting a small bag of beans and rice. I will never forget the look of sheer desperation in one mother's eyes as she held her child on her hip and ran after the truck. She knew if she did not manage to get a bag of beans and rice, her child would not eat.

I remember comng home from Haiti and going to the grocery store. I felt the sting of injustice as I stood in the store thinking, "my God, we have 300 differnt kinds of cheese". A week before I had watched two twin babied die because there was not enough oxygen. In the States, they would have been fine but in Haiti there is not enough of anything - not even enough oxygen.

And at the Pine Ridge reservation it is better, but not by much. Yes, there is alcoholism on the reservation. Lots of it. And becuase of it, there is child abuse and hunger on the reservation. Last year we were all shaken when we saw some of the kids taking scraps from the plates of other kids and putting them in their purse or pockets so they could take it home for their family to eat. The thing that strikes you there is the complete lack of hope. You can even see it in the smallest child's eyes. It is like they know that life will never be any different than it is.

I know there will always be the injustice of poverty and diesase in the world. And I'm fully aware that we can't change the entire world. It just makes me sad and it frustrates me to see the degree of materialism and greed in the one place where it should never be found - the church.


Bar Bar A said...

This is an incredible post. I had a similar conversation with a pastor today.

Thanks for your prayers, I am drained but coming out of my dark days.

bjk said...

alot of passion......

Lloyd said...

Thanks for reminding us of what the church is all about: Our participation in God's mission.

Gary Means said...

You are such an inspiration to me. I can't count the number of times I've commented on your heart in the past seven years.

I have never seen real poverty. Not even in Seattle or Tacoma. Just pictures.

Friends of mine, Dan and Jean, visited the Dan's sister, a nurse serving in a clinic in Haiti. Even though Dan grew up in Bolivia, he was still deeply affected by the extreme poverty of Haiti. It was a culture shock to fly back to the U.S., stopover in Miami, where they ate at Denny's, then to fly on to a family reunion in Texas - a HUGE BBQ, where the food thrown away could have feed scores of people.

Thanks for sharing from your heart. Your passionate voice is a welcome reminder.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

Amber - I am really, really touched by how simply and how graciously you said this. I want to bellow, I want to roar and yet I have not experienced the depth of poverty you have witnessed in Haiti and Pine Ridge.

I'm pretty much attending church for the sake of my wife, who enjoys it very much. (Though I do love our pastor and respect him a great deal) My wife is still a normal person; not all bent out of shape like I've become. I just can't connect Sunday morning worship with Monday morning at the Mission anymore - I just can't do it.

I really appreciated this post, and wonder if there was no small amount of risk for you in posting it. Perhaps you are a prophet.

Bar Bar A said...

Amber, I just read your post on my blog about women/men. Did you read my answer to that question?

I feel the same way for the same reasons. God bless you, sister.

Dionna Sanchez said...

We really are so spoiled aren't we? I try to remind myself of that when I whine about not being able to afford something. My husband went to Africa two summers ago and Peru. We both went to Belgium last summer and worked with refugees. It changes you. I can't imagine if I went to Haiti or Africa - how I could stop from crying or throwing up. I sponsor a little girl in Haiti - and I wish I could do so much more for her.

David said...

here as a friend of Layla,

Amber said...

Thanks for all of your comments. I can really get on a soap box about this.
Lloyd - thanks. I know you have a heart for missions and for seeing the church become what we were supposed to be.

RWK, I often want to bellow and roar too. ;) And I want so badly to remind people of the scriptures such as Matt. 25 that point out with chrystal clear clarity how Jesus feels about us helping the poor.

Dionna and David - great to meet you. A friend of Barbara's is a friend of mine. :)

Barbara - yes I did see your answers and thought "Oh wow". Maybe that is why we have so much in common. :)

lovthyself said...

I was moved with your narration. If you believe me, I am one who has seen both the good (not best) and the worst of the western and eastern world respresentations.
I am one who lives frugally for self; a torn garment or half a loaf of bread is enough to satiate my needs, though I think I make a decent living for my dependants.
While on the the topic, I wonder about God. I fear Him. So much disparity in levels of sustenance!! We can talk of Him and think of Him because we can afford to indulge. What about those who are fighting for their basic necessities of life? They either indulge in 'thoughts' of God and 'belief' or in the fire in their abdomen. What is more important? Their 'God' or their 'hunger'?

Amber said...

lovthyself - I've often wondered this too. It's a bit difficult to think of God when you're hungery.

maverick said...

Without much luck, I was searching for blogs about Sports Memorabilia when I happened across yours. It's a cool blog. Evidently you like telling it like it is! I have a really great ebay website that is easy to use that you may like. If you get a chance, check it out www.licensedbrandsclub.com.

newloghere said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested