Archive for the Culture Category

My Body, My Choice

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2019 by paulthepoke

BeautyBeyondBones

https://beautybeyondbones.com

In recent days here, in light of Alabama’s recent Human Life Protection Act, there seems to be a caustic energy that is sweeping the world.

Celebrities like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Pink, Reese Witherspoon, Cynthia Nixon, Rihanna, Courteney Cox, Kylie Jenner, Emma Watson, Karlie Kloss, Hilary Duff, Gigi Hadid, Diddy, Ellen Degeneres, Ariana Grande and countless others, have joined in the outrage of our neighbors and former classmates on Facebook, shouting “Men Shouldn’t Be Making Laws About Women’s Bodies.

They’re doxxing the people who voted in favor of the bill. And Alyssa Milano has even gone so far as to pledge a #SexStrike in protest of the prolife legislature that is “robbing” them of their “bodily autonomy.”

Well tonight, instead of joining the argument about this deeply emotional issue, I instead wanted to offer a different perspective on my own relationship with my body, as someone who has had to live with the results of my choice for the last 11 years now.

If you were to ask me, when I was in the throes of my anorexia, I would have shouted from the rooftops: “MY BODY, MY CHOICE.”

Because that’s exactly how I was living: I was choosing to destroy my body through starvation, obsessive exercise, insomnia, and other destructive manifestations of my eating disorder.

I did not want ANYONE to have any say over the way I was choosing to treat it. I wanted to destroy it as I so pleased, and there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could say or do otherwise about it.

And in fact, as an 18-year old high school senior, no one could. Because I was legally an adult.

And so even though I was clearly a danger to myself, and was wasting away to 78 pounds, my parents, legally could not force me to go to inpatient treatment. Because it was…my body, my choice.

And even though I would have never said, “I want to die,” that’s exactly what my actions — my choices — were not only communicating, but successfully manifesting.

You know what my choice got me? 
Osteopenia at 18 years old. All my hair fell out. I never got my period, and even to this day, I still have only menstruated thrice. 
My circulation, even to this day, sucks. 
I suffered from edema for six years, even after recovering. 
My relationships took a huge hit. 
I had to drop out of college. 
And I can still struggle with feeling unworthy of love.

I wish I could just go back in time, and shake that strong willed, hurting, and terrified young girl and say, “Your choices are killing you.”

I would hug her so tightly and not let go.

There’s so much I wish I could tell her. So much perspective that I would share, now -as a whole, healthy, and healed young woman — that I so desperately needed to hear back then.

Because the only way I have been able to embrace recovery, and leave those destructive behaviors behind, was to realize that — my body was not mine to destroy.

Yes, it was my body, but my choice? Not quite. My body is a gift – on loan to me by the Father. And you know what, yeah that might seem a little bit “out there.” But take it from someone who was literally knocking on death’s door — there are certain things you wake up to when you’re teetering on the edge.

When I realized and embraced that I was a child of God, and handmade by the Father, it suddenly became crystal clear that my body was a temple. It was my act of worship. The instrument through which I am to glorify and honor Him who gave me life, and saved it.

It was no longer my choice. It was my responsibility. It was my privilege. It was my beautiful vessel to honor Him with.

I think we can get so lost in our pride, our ego, our autonomy. I know I did. My body was mine to deprive nutrients. It was mine to kill with olympic caliber workouts on no sleep and no fuel. I could berate my mind and spirit with flagellating, critical thoughts, and isolate myself so that no one could tell me otherwise.

But in the end, a life of striving for autonomy led me to the brink of death, literally.

And I’m still paying the price for my choices.

As someone who lived the most radical, and most extreme manifestation of “My Body, My Choice,” I want to just leave you with one final thought.

We all have that fundamental human right over our bodies. That’s absolutely true – and as I found out – up to and including autonomous choices that lead to self-demise. For better or for worse, that is the prerogative of each and every person.

But that human right, is not actually what is coming under “attack” in these profile legislations. Because that autonomous choice to self-destruct is our fundamental right, UNTIL it threatens the life of another person.

That’s why a person is free to drink alcohol to the point of passing out, and yet — if that same person gets behind the wheel of a car, it’s illegal. Why? Because all of a sudden, that choice threatens the life of another.

Which is exactly the case with abortion. Because those choices now involve another person. And now, it’s no longer a human right, but a civil right.

Sitting here today, I’m just so grateful that my family and loved ones were able to get through to me that my choices were not only killing me, but deeply hurting the ones I love most. And thank God it wasn’t too late.

In my recovery, I’ve vowed not only to never return to that way of life again, but that everyday, I will make the choice, to honor my body, and use it as the instrument of peace and hope God entrusted me with.

And to those saying that Men Shouldn’t Be Making Laws Against Women’s Bodies – I say, you’re right. And further, Women Shouldn’t Be Making Choices to Destroy Their Child’s Body.

**NEW: Stand in the gap and use your voice without saying a word with my new, “I am Prolife” tee. Available in a wide variety of colors for both men and women. **

I am Prolife tee shirt by beautybeyondbones.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ezekiel 37:5

https://beautybeyondbones.com

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Stranger Danger

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , on May 18, 2019 by paulthepoke

Sometimes what you think is true, what you think is safe and good, is actually evil in disguise. Evil is so enticing, so deceiving, that you don’t know it’s evil until it’s wrapped you up and caressed you as a lover. You gaze into its eyes, enraptured by the pretty words whispered softly in your ears, realizing too late that the pretty words were all just twisted lies. —Quinn Loftis, Beyond the Veil

From birth, children are taught what looks good. They happily respond to the soothing voice of their caregivers; the caregiver’s smile comforts them, and they see that smiles are good. Smiles mean safety. They draw us in, allowing us to put our guard down. As beneficial as this reflex is in the right relationships, it is equally dangerous when we come across the soft–spoken guy with the puppies, or the guy with the lost kitty, or the individual behind the mask of a computer screen presenting himself or herself as a youth so the targeted victim is willing to meet in person.

I believe one of the largest injustices we can commit in this day and age is teaching our children a stigmatized version of “stranger danger”—the version in which we caution them to steer clear of the greasy–haired, yellow–toothed creepy guy who must intend great harm, or the white van version in which vehicles like that snatch children who are never seen again. Why is teaching them this a great injustice? Because individuals who intend to do harm have evolved so that they often don’t look like bad guys. We must do the same in our teaching of what to look for in a bad guy.

One thing I learned from my time on the streets is that most of the time, a bad guy will not act like a bad guy right away. Bad guys spend more time looking like good guys so that they can create the opportunities to be that bad guy. Smiles, eye contact, clean–cut faces, and kind voices are the façades of these individuals. After all, our children and even adults are busy steering clear of the beer–bellied, snaggletooth bad guy with creepy eyes. Their prey is unaware; their opportunity is primed.

Like an animal that lies in wait for its prey, today’s bad guys are deceptive, cunning, and intentional in their actions to do harm. Instead of black ski masks, they wear masks of smiles and charm. Instead of guns and knives, they bear weapons of manipulation and coercion. They are human predators, seeking, waiting, and hunting their prey.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Singling Out Sin… Michael Stone

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Michael Stone with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2019 by paulthepoke

According to the Bible, the God-breathed Scriptures, practicing homosexuality is a sin. Let’s not stop there. Before we start judging others, let’s ask Holy Spirit to search our hearts. The list of sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God isn’t limited to homosexuality. Not even close. We are wrong to single out just one sin. Many of us are guilty of one or more of the following sins, and many have yet to repent (turn away) from their sin, justifying their behavior in one way or another. Before we start pointing out the specks in the eyes of others, we need to deal with the planks in our own eyes. We ALL need to repent, “since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [by perversion], nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers [whose words are used as weapons to abuse, insult, humiliate, intimidate, or slander], nor swindlers will inherit or have ANY share in the kingdom of God. And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Dear Christian: Starting Today – Starting With Me

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Michael Stone with tags , , , on May 1, 2019 by paulthepoke

Featuring Michael Stone

The words ring in my ears sometimes. “You need to write!” I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve heard that over the past twenty five years. I probably even heard it a lot before that, but those years are so much of a blur that I wouldn’t recall.

From time to time I’ve actually tried to write, then lost focus and just quit. I’ve done it on paper in a spiral notebook, on our laptop while on the road in Kenya, and again in Kansas City, and again in Charlotte, and again in Orlando. I even copy and pasted what I wrote while in Orlando on an online message board. Every single time that I’ve tried to start writing, I’ve also abruptly quit writing. Now I’m inspired to try it here on the God In A Nutshell Project. We’ll see if I can be disciplined enough to follow through this time and actually write whatever else Divine inspiration brings to mind.

We all desire to see positive change in the world. What do we do about it? The Holy Spirit tells me that it starts in my heart, in my mind, with me – with me allowing Him to mold me into who I was created to be. I will be changing the world – starting with me.

“If MY people who are called by MY NAME will humble themselves and pray, and seek MY Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 (my paraphrase)

Notice that Scripture states clearly that GOD is calling HIS people to turn from their wicked ways, to humble themselves, and to pray. In this context HE’s not speaking to the lost, but to those of us who call ourselves by HIS NAME. “Christian” means “like Christ”. I don’t know about you, but I’m nowhere near like JESUS the CHRIST. I mean, I’m a man, I have a heart, a spirit, flesh and bones, and a desire to serve HIM but, like most of us, I believe, we sever more than we serve. We’re so spiritually dyslexic that we see the letters, transpose them, and cause more division than unity. 

Our first and most important commandment isn’t to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News…”, as much as we’d like to think that it is. Our first objective, and the only commandment that JESUS the CHRIST gave was to love HIM with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength, then to love one another….AND to LOVE OURSELVES! 

We have this self-pleasing culture here in western civilization. I’ve even seen it in 3rd world countries, so it’s a human thing. We may see it as self-love, but it’s a poor substitute for love. It’s not love at all. It’s just selfishness. It’s pride. Pride in no way can be compared to love. The verse from 2 Chronicles that I mentioned earlier calls us to humble ourselves, not to be proud. When we are humble, we can actually receive all that the LORD has for us…INCLUDING HIS LOVE. The whole key to the world changing and turning right-side-up is for GOD’s people, people of THE WAY, “Christians”, to humble ourselves and fully receive HIS love. Only then will we truly love one another. The Bible even tells us that our love for one another is how the world will know us. Only then will we serve instead of sever.

I love how Donald Miller puts it in his book, “Blue Like Jazz”. “I AM THE PROBLEM!” We look at things in our republic, and in the world, that do not at all line up with TRUTH, and we attack those things in our self-righteous indignation. There’s no love in that. We have to deal with our own hearts first. We need to let the HOLY SPIRIT move in and clean house. We need to totally receive the LOVE that the LORD has for us. When we do that, HIS love will just naturally pour out of us, and things will change. It starts with me. The problem isn’t abortion. The problem isn’t the homosexual agenda. The problem isn’t anything but my heart. Attacking symptoms of the worldwide lack of love will not change anything. I need to start with my heart. We all do. Nothing miraculous comes from activism. Miracles come from love, and that’s an action worth taking. 

“Receive, receive, receive the love of JESUS. Wrap up in HIM. Wait on HIM. Become intimate with HIM. Get to know the true love of the FATHER. Let the HOLY SPIRIT speak to you. Be still and wait.” I just keep hearing those words in my spirit. I pray that I will finally be able to pick up that simple key of love. It’s not enough to know it in my head. I need to KNOW it in my heart…to intimately know the love of the FATHER. ABBA…Daddy GOD. I need to intimately know the fear of the LORD. YHVH is as terrible as He is loving. Like C.S. Lewis put it, He is dangerous, but He is good. In JESUS’ name, FATHER, please help me receive all that You are. I’m so empty and lost without the fullness of YOU!

You know, I could read an article by someone else, and totally want to write to that person and try to help them receive GOD’s love, the whole time not knowing it myself. That’s so sad. I honestly believe that, for the most part, the Church is in the same position. We all want to help, but we’re not fully equipped, because we rely on too many other things other than JESUS in our daily lives. Our jobs, our bank accounts, our cars, our pickup trucks, our hobbies, our “stuff”. All of that crap violates “have no other gods before ME” when we allow it to consume our time, our priorities, and our lives. Most of us would say we’d surely die for JESUS, but we fight kicking and screaming if we lose any of our “stuff”. How can we die for HIM when we are so selfish that we won’t even live for HIM unless we can have our “stuff”. What a total chaotic farce.

I want to lay it all down. Whatever HE wants to give back to me is fine, or if HE gives nothing back, I want that to be fine as well. HE knows what I need. I really only know what I want. I put GOD in a box way too much! HE’s not my little “jack-in-the-box” that I can crank up when I need HIM, then shove back down and close up when I want control. Why, oh why do IDO that??!!??

OK, this is the start of the journey. I need to be in the Light. We all do. We’ll see how this goes. I truly do purpose to intercede for the world… as well as for myself. JESUS is at the right hand of the FATHER always interceding for each of us. HE sets the example. I need to follow HIS example. I believe that we all do…starting today.

Glimmers of Hope

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2019 by paulthepoke

Hope simply deals with possibilities. If something is still possible, even in our wildest dreams, if there is still a glimmer of hope, it is worth hanging on to for as long as it exists. —Peter G. Doumit, What I Know about Baseball Is What I Know about Life

In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable to illustrate the kindness and compassion He wants His followers to extend to those around them, particularly those who are often invisible in society. He says, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40, NLT)

Who are “the least of these” today?

Not much has changed since Jesus spoke those words. There are still the “invisibles” around us. They aren’t truly invisible; we just make excuses and justify our choice not to look.

Photo: Shutterstock, Pikul Noorod

“The least of these” could include a good friend who you know is struggling with something, but whose struggle you’ve not wanted to wade into with them. However, “the least of these” may also include a whole population of society you may not interact with often, or perhaps you only interact with professionally.

Jesus’ expectation of us is to be so full of His love that we love like Him by default. That means we allow our eyes, as well as our hearts, to be moved by compassion to action. Feeling sad or feeling sorry isn’t enough. We must be moved enough to be His hands, His feet, His smile, His words, His deeds.

Compassion is free, except that it demands what’s most valuable, our hearts. We must be careful to not close our hearts off to what we don’t understand. Sometimes the very thing we have guarded and protected most is the thing God purposed for us to share. Perhaps the thing you have tended with care and passion is meant to give hope to someone else.

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

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“Religiosity”

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2019 by paulthepoke

Mark 8:22-26 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Christine McDonald recently spoke at First Baptist Church North Kansas City. She spoke about Jesus, the blind man at Bethsaida, and “Religiosity” in the church. Click on the link below for her presentation.

http://www.fbcnkc.org/files/3-31-19.mp3?fbclid=IwAR1dOUwFJE_k-jstzX2tJSbruCvTH_tGNHykEVw9psFSph4tY8kZbTd2GTE

Bravely Awards

The Bravely Awards have been established to honor individuals or organizations that have strengthened our community by bringing attention to social justice issues including sexual exploitation, abuse and addiction. Awardees have demonstrated the highest level of commitment and dedication to the mission and vision of Bravely and furthered our cause through their life’s work. The inaugural honorees include Rev. Traci Blackmon, Joan Lipkin, Christine McDonald and Aisha Sultan.

Bravely is a residential program for women who have survived sexual exploitation (prostitution and trafficking), abuse and addiction.

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Read more at…

Leaving the Street… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2019 by paulthepoke

I rarely share this experience, as it haunts me today in a variety of ways. It is not like the physical trauma that haunts me, such as some of the violence I endured, or the mental anguish of starvation, or the sheer exhaustion of being homeless and the need to continually be on the move. No, this is so different for me.

There was a time in the early ‘90s in Kansas City when I attempted suicide. I was back on the streets, hopeless, and in despair. This was one of my last attempts before I realized I just couldn’t take my own life.

I joined an outpatient treatment group. As part of this program, I would be given an apartment if I went and stayed in a mental health respite home. As you can imagine, drug addiction was really the least of my many demons.

Reuters, Claro Cortes IV

It is difficult to be off the streets yet not have money to get a soda or eat. When providing for yourself is within the scope of your ability, it is hard to refrain from exercising that ability. I had dealt with hunger for such a prolonged period of time because of drugs and poverty. I had lacked the freedom to eat whenever I was hungry, so hunger was something I wanted to avoid at all costs.

I wanted to feel free. I now had a place to sleep and shower daily. Even though meals were provided, having even a couple of dollars in my pocket felt empowering. Just knowing I could buy a soda if I wanted to, or purchase a snack if I was hungry, felt so, so good. It was natural to turn to what I knew so that I could have those dollars that gave me that freedom. For me and others like me, the ability to buy even little things for yourself is a new freedom that, when denied, becomes a trigger, making you desperate to keep that freedom and the ability to choose.

Plus, my value as a human being had been tied to the money I earned as a prostituted person for so long. My only sense of validation of worthiness came from the purchase of my body. As I tried to move beyond shame and find other things to validate my existence, I faced a twisted, deep, internal battle. People wonder why a prostituted person would willfully turn a trick when she finally has food and shelter at her feet. Yet the world of commercial exploitation is multifaceted, and leaving it is more complex than most people could ever possibly imagine.

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Read more at…

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