Messy Grace – Caleb Kaltenbach

Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction – Caleb Kaltenbach

Messy Grace book review - Kaltenbach, the author, has an interesting dilemma. His parents are both gay, and he has a newfound faith in Jesus Christ. I found it a really informative glimpse into his life and struggles with loving his parents/friends despite their lifestyles now that he had chosen a separate path.

First let me say that this was an informative, enjoyable read. It had Bible verses throughout, and used those verses to support thoughts and opinions stated in the book. However, Kaltenbach has a phrase he uses constantly – “the tension of grace and truth”. The first few times he used the phrase it was okay, but the repetition quickly got irritating. He also used the word “messy” frequently, but it wasn’t as annoying as the “tension” phrase.

Kaltenbach brought to the table some thoughts on how to react to people from the LGBT community as a Christian, and for the most part they seemed like good, informed ideas – especially since he was raised in the LGBT community, and thus has personal experience to speak from. For instance, Kaltenbach tells us that the best reaction to someone ‘coming out’ as lesbian or gay is to thank the person. He goes on to tell us that this is a very personal confession, and that the person coming out to us is revealing an important part of themselves to us – a part that they would not reveal to just anyone. He tells us how not to react as well; such as, “don’t look disappointed” (pg. 109). By telling us the best way to react, we have a better idea of how to reach out to the people in our lives that identify with the LGBT community.

Messy Grace is also filled with personal stories, both from Kaltenbach’s own experience and his retelling of stories from people he knows. This book will be helpful in reaching out to those that are LGBT, and will allow us to be more informed.

One of my few complaints with this book is that the first five or so chapters are somewhat misleading. Since they refer solely to Christians that mistreat, treat differently, or otherwise insult those in the LGBT lifestyle, Messy Grace would lead us to believe that all Christians act that way toward people inclined towards LGBT – which is not the case at all. Rather, from personal experience, I would say that the Christians discussed within those chapters do not represent the majority of us. Yes, they may be the more outspoken Christians, but that does not mean they are the only Christians. In fact, I would hesitate to refer to people who would treat other people in such a way as Christians, but that is a whole other topic.

If you are curious about Christianity as it relates to the LGBT community and how to act around those in such a lifestyle, read this book. It is filled with informative stories and information, and comes from a Biblical standpoint.

Note:

Before picking up Messy Grace, I was concerned that Kaltenbach might be a Christian who tries to teach ‘Biblical’ acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle, but he does not. My fears were misplaced. He only teaches the hard Biblical reality – otherwise known as living in the “tension of grace and truth” – so don’t let that concern keep you from reading this book.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Mental Illness versus Demons

Considering my stance that having a mental illness does not mean the sufferer is possessed by demons, I thought providing some support for my belief would be helpful.

Aren't you tired of hearing that you or someone you love is demon possessed simply because they have a mental illness? Let me give you some back-up, both through Scripture and common knowledge, about why mental illness is NOT demon possession.** NOTE **

While I only included the relevant parts of these verses, I highly recommend reading the background of the section for context.

Here are some traits of demon possession:

(as based in Scripture)
  • Cannot exist in the same body as the Holy Spirit
    • Mark 9:25 & Matthew 17:18
      • the disciples were not able to cast the demon out, but Jesus could.
    • James 4:7
    • 2 Corinthians 6:14
  • Not treatable except by prayer/casting out
    • Mark 9:29
  • (Might) Have strength beyond the normal human scope
    • Mark 5:3-4
  • Cannot act normal
    • Mark 5:5
    • Mark 5:15
    • Luke 8:27

 

Here are some traits of mental illness:

(based on Scripture, some scientific knowledge, and also personal experience both with myself and others I know/have known who suffer with a mental illness)
  • Are able to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
    • Ephesians 1:13
    • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Treatable by medicine and therapy
  • God sometimes allows Christians to suffer
    • 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
  • People with less severe forms can act like they’re not ill (seem normal).
  • There are those suffering with a mental illness that become highly religious or obsessed with the Bible
  • King Nebuchadnezzar suffered possible mental illness symptoms and says, “at that time my sanity returned to me …” (v.36)
    • Daniel 4:33-36
    • Speaks of sanity returning in v.34 as well.
  • For “wickedness” and abandoning God, the Bible says various curses and punishments that will befall the person (or people), including “madness” and “mental confusion” (v.28)
    • Deuteronomy 28:28
    • If this “madness” could happen to non-Christians it can happen to us because sin is in the world.
  • David pretended to be crazy
    • 1 Samuel 21:12-15

 

A little more on demons (or lack thereof) …

Seizures:

It is also noteworthy that seizures are easily explained (for the most part) scientifically today – most people do not connect seizures and possession by demons at all. If you read Scriptures, though, there are cases in which seizures were caused by demonic possession:

  • Mark 9:20
  • Matthew 17:15

If not all (or even most) cases of epilepsy or other seizures are caused by demons, why would we think that all (or most) cases of mental illness are caused by demons?

Cutting:

Furthermore, this post would not be complete without mention of cutting. Yes, cutting has been associated with possession by demons:

  • Mark 5:5

 

The Bible also specifically addresses cutting as something to avoid:

    • Leviticus 19:28
    • Deuteronomy 14:1-2

 

Cutting being addressed so specifically is important, because someone who is demon possessed would not be able to follow such a command. The demon within the person would be making the decisions. Would a demon even read the Bible? For the most part, demons wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Frequently when Jesus interacted with demons, we see them asking Him not to torment them:

  • Matthew 8:29

 

Hopefully this (very long) post has addressed any questions or doubts you might have had previously. While I’m sure this is by no means an exhaustive list of differences between mental illness and possession by demons (or a listing of all possible Scripture references), maybe having it out ‘there’ will clear up some confusion.

 

Nicole

 

Exercising Memory: Chicken Egg Rain Dream

Certain mental illnesses are known to have an adverse affect on memory. For instance, “Cognitive impairment in schizophrenia is stable and lifelong. It does not remit, even if other symptoms like hallucinations and delusions are significantly attenuated” (“Cognitive Impairment,” n.d., Does cognitive impairment section, para. 1). Problems like this are great reasons to exercise the memory we do have. Remembering what you dream isn’t exercising memory in the typical way, but it still works your memory. Dreams tend to fade the longer we are awake, so if you really want to remember them it would be a good idea to write them down. I like to try to remember dreams simply because they are so interesting – having my memory improved by remembering is just a bonus!

Some people are really disinterested in what others dream while asleep, and other people are fascinated. I fall into the fascinated category. How about you?

Sometimes people have some really wonky dreams. They don't make much sense, but are funny and interesting to hear about. Even if you don't analyze dreams, you could find out if other people have dreams as weird as yours (or not)!

While I don’t analyze dreams, I do write them down in a ‘dream diary’ app – this was a dream I had about a month ago.

The Dream:

We were in my parent’s front yard. Eggs were falling from the sky like rain, breaking on the ground or on the many people in the yard’s heads. We were supposed to catch and collect them before they broke. I pulled one off the crape myrtle tree by the driveway; there were many more growing on the tree, but that one was ready.

I kept looking at the sky, watching the eggs get larger and larger as they drew closer, trying to avoid having an egg fall on my head. We had to go back to school after collecting eggs, and the only reason I would allow an egg to fall on my head was if I was permitted to shower afterward. If I showered afterward though, everyone else who had an egg fall on their head would want to shower too.

Refuge:

After narrowly dodging a few eggs, I found a clothesline hung between the loquat tree and the rain tree. There were towels hung on it. I went behind the line, and found a few other people also hiding behind it. I continued looking at the sky, but no eggs seemed to fall in this little section. The fence was behind us, so we pressed against it, and waited out the storm. Our teacher tried to persuade us to come out, but we refused. I was so happy when I got through the storm without any eggs falling on my head!
After the collecting, I decided to make eggnog. I filled a pitcher with the eggs, and then poured milk over them. Apparently I’d forgotten to crack the eggs, though, because they started cracking and shells started floating to the top. Straining the eggnog to get the shells out of it, the contents of the eggs came out of the pitcher – several dead chicks. Some of the eggs had been fertilized.

There was a little more to the dream, but since it was kind of gross (it involved the bathroom) I didn’t include that portion.

Have you had any interesting dreams lately? Feel free to share below 🙂

Resources
Cognitive Impairment: A Major Problem for Individuals with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2016, from http://mentalillnesspolicy.org/medical/cognitive-impairment.html

Self Therapy: Saying Goodbye

Regardless of mental illness – when a pet dies, it’s completely natural to feel sad. A big chunk of our lives is now missing. We might not have even been able to say goodbye. We just have to be careful that when we feel sad, we react in a way that won’t harm ourselves or anyone else. People with a mental illness tend to be more susceptible to stronger emotions, and more led to react to how they feel in a less socially appropriate way. It can be really hard to maintain healthy control – pets that have been around for a long time tend to hold onto a major piece of our hearts and lives. I’ve been there before. This time, though, I dealt with my sadness in a much healthier way.

My betta fish, Pendragon, died a bit ago. I hadn’t had him very long, but I was still very upset … so I told him goodbye.

I used to have a betta fish named Pendragon. Even though I hadn't had him very long, I still wanted to send him off properly - so I got creative. I think he would have liked his goodbye.

 

To send him off, I drew him in the environment I thought he would be happiest in. A big, open space with lots of plants and some rocks for him to nudge around.

This was his goodbye:I used to have a betta fish named Pendragon. Even though I hadn't had him very long, I still wanted to send him off properly - so I got creative. I think he would have liked his goodbye.

A short time until goodbye:

While I had him he would sometimes get startled (or maybe it was excited?) and swim back and forth in his aquarium so fast I thought he would crash into the walls. He didn’t, though. He would nudge the rocks around, seemingly looking for food – and he was a picky eater.

I would put his pellets in the tank, and he would take one in his mouth and then spit it out again. A few minutes later, he’d come back and actually eat the pellet. Maybe it was too big for him .. I tried Pen on a smaller pellet, but he didn’t seem to like that too much either. The first food was a food all of our betta fish growing up had loved. Oh well.

Pen was fun to watch. Sometimes he would just sit on the bottom of the tank, and sometimes he would swim to the top and blow a bubble nest.

When he died, my husband took care of him for me. I was too upset.

I miss him.

 

*update* a cat that I grew up with (which had been a member of my family for about 16 years) recently died. We don’t forget them simply because they are gone. You are not alone, even if your pet (of any species) has passed on. This was not the first pet that I’ve loved that has passed, and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. We can make it through this.

How do you say goodbye to your pets?

Exercising Memory: Acorn Pancakes

With the impaired cognitive functioning that often comes with certain mental illnesses, exercising our memories is a good idea. Much like the acorn squash bread you may or may not have already seen, making these pancakes requires a bit more attention than your typical pancakes. If you have already made the bread, though, you’re golden – because you can use any leftover acorn puree for these pancakes. Making acorn pancakes exercises your memory because you have to keep up with the steps – and if you decide to break it into two days, then you have to remember where you left off. Pancake time!

Acorn?

You must think I’ve lost it … but we’re not talking about the acorns that fall all over the ground from the trees. We’re talking about acorn squash. It’s just much easier to simplify the name to ‘acorn pancakes’ rather than ‘acorn squash pancakes’. Not to mention, the name is attention-grabbing!

Squash is good for us, but it doesn't taste that great. At least, it didn't ... until we put it in pancakes! Transform your boring (and not so yummy) squash into something slightly sweet and definitely delicious - acorn squash pancakes! (Don't worry, it's easy - and your taste buds will love it :)

 

They were really an experiment. I had some acorn squash in the refrigerator, and I wasn’t sure how to use it. For some reason I thought I’d make a puree out of it, and substitute it for pumpkin in pancakes. Pumpkin and acorn are both squash, right?

I made the puree, and went to make the pancakes .. but we didn’t have any eggs! We’d used them this morning. Oops. Well, I could send my husband to the store, or I could make-do. Guess what I decided?

You guessed it! These pancakes do not use eggs. *See note below for potential vegan option*

For the puree:

  • 1 med sized acorn squash*

Cut the squash in half from stem to bottom, and scoop out the inner goodness ***

Place cut side up in a baking dish with about an inch of water in the bottom. Cover with foil, and roast until easily pierced with a fork in a 375 oven. Roasting two took me about 1 1/2 hrs. If you’re only roasting one squash, I’d start with 40 min and add on from there. The squash should be very soft and easily mashed. When cool, scoop out the squash, and dispose of the outer peel.

  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 3 tbsp butter (or a non-dairy milk if you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp nutmeg

Mash the squash before adding the ingredients .. Our squash was so soft after baking that I didn’t actually have to mash it, I just stirred all of the ingredients together. Voila! You have acorn squash puree – perfect for your pancakes!

For the pancakes:

 (loosely based on this pumpkin pancake recipe from Cooking Classy). I’m sure they’re good with pumpkin puree too!

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

(for the salt and spices I didn’t measure, just used a big dash of cinnamon and some small dashes of ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Whether or not you measure is up to you. It’s really to-taste!)

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

(back to following measurements here)

  • 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup acorn puree *recipe above*
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 tbsp oil (I used olive, but you could use vegetable)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk all of the dry ingredients together, then add the puree, buttermilk, oil, and extract. Whisk together. There you have your batter.

Do we need to discuss actually cooking these babies? They cook just like a regular pancake (and look just like normal too).

Acorn Pancakes (1)

I’d heat the griddle up to at least 350, but no higher than 375 (unless you’re going to turn it down once you start cooking). If you’re using a skillet, put a small splash of oil in the skillet and heat it up on about 5 or 6. When a splash of water dropped in the skillet sizzles, it’s ready – before you start cooking, turn the heat to about 4 (medium).

They are ready to (carefully) flip when you see small bubbles rising up on the surface (especially the middle) of the pancake. Cook the other side a minute or two more (until golden) and enjoy just like you would any other pancake. We ate ours with butter and maple syrup.

 

* for a vegan pancake, I think it would be okay to leave out the butter in the puree, and use cashew or almond milk in place of the buttermilk. Vegan Food Addict has a recipe for making buttermilk out of non-dairy milk. I haven’t tried it, and the flavor would probably be somewhat different, but let me know how it turns out if you try it!

** I used two squash, and have more than enough … which means acorn puree for something else! Hopefully another ‘acorn’ recipe will be coming soon using the remaining puree.

***You can roast the seeds just as you would pumpkin seeds – spread them out on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. Roast at 350-375 (hotter works better for us) until golden brown (about 10-15 min give or take .. I didn’t really time ours)