5 Things I want our children to learn from #ferguson

I have three kids. They are blonde-haired and blue-eyed. And they have no idea what that means in this world today. All three of my kids have friends in their life that are not blonde or blue. Some are tan, some brown, and some of various shades in between.

My oldest daughter’s best friend at school has tight black ringlets all over her head and beautiful big brown eyes. She’s been teaching my daughter how to do back flips at recess. They pass notes and exchange drawings with each other. They have no clue what a friendship like that means…but soon they will! They hold some pretty significant power by sticking together, and helping each other master those back flips.

Life is full of back flips, isn’t it? Here are 5 things that I want my kids to know as they learn about the back flips of racial injustice.

1. Don’t let the things of this world distract you from the people of this world. Power and greed are the most enticing fruits you will ever come across. But they only offer corruption if they become your sole purpose in life. May you always put love first, humanity over possessions, relationships over prestige.

2. Don’t be quiet. Stand up for those without a voice. Speak out against injustices beginning with those on the playground at recess. Your heart and your kindness towards others can make the biggest impact.

3.Brave doesn’t equal tough. Bravery means going last, serving others, listening to the compassion in your heart when it prompts. You don’t have to grow giant muscles or react with violence to be heard. All you need to do is remember to breathe and take the next right step.

4. Listen. Your story matters, but only if you are able to listen to the stories of others. It is in those sacred spaces that we are able to weave one to another. We are able to learn about the world in different ways and from new perspectives. And after you listen, weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh. Connect to the people in this world. I pray that you will be blessed with people who will offer this same care in return.

5. Bring the Kingdom. In the kingdom, every life matters. Nobody is left out. Open your hand to the hungry. Offer your coat to the naked. Do not look away from injustice. It is painful and it will hurt you to the core. Let it hurt, but let that pain move you deeper into your walk with Jesus. Search and dig out the actions He is calling you to.

My children, you have been given privilege just by being born white/Americans. Be wise. Be kind. Be humble. Never assume you fully understand what any other life is like other than your own. If you walk in love and humility, you will never have anything to be ashamed of. #lovecanchangetheworld

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Judas, Peter, and hope for the rest of us

I have been really searching for the end of the rainbow lately. I suppose the light at the end of the tunnel would be a better way to put it. Just when I thought I was through the worst of it, I find myself relapsing into a world of fears all over again.

Fear is interesting. Without fear as an emotion, we would succumb to some form of self destruction one way or another. Fear is our body’s way of telling us to seek safety, fix what is broken, or move out of the way. When I have some moments of clarity, I remind myself to thank my body for working properly, for taking care of me even when I’m not certain of what it is I am being warned against. It’s a signal that more healing needs to take place in areas of my life.

Working through fear, exploring the warning signals our bodies give us can be difficult, but are also the only way to find resurrection on the other side. In my first post I talked about Jesus facing his suffering in the garden and then making his way up to Calvary. Jesus is our prime example; the One we are to strive to follow after. But I have also been thinking about two others that weren’t divine like Jesus which may make their stories more relatable.

I have been comparing the stories of Peter and Judas and their actions leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. Have you ever noticed how much they had in common? Both were followers of Jesus. Both had doubts. Their stories diverge in how they handle these doubts. Judas joins forces with the enemy, while Peter shuts his ears to the message Jesus had been trying to share with him all along.

We all know what happens. In the garden, some serious events unfold. Judas shows up with the Romans to arrest Jesus. His betrayal is completed with a kiss. But then Peter also shows some of his true colors. He reaches for the sword and is ready to do battle (violent battle at that) with these fellas. The beginning of Peter’s undoing happens when Jesus heals the guard whose ear was sliced off by Peter and his sword. Jesus was not who Peter thought He was. Later, Peter goes on to deny his relationship to Jesus three times, the rooster crows, his eyes meet Jesus’ eyes and Peter has now completed his own failings of betrayal.

Two men. Two “friends” of Jesus. Both turn their backs on him. And then Jesus goes to the cross and dies. Can you imagine the torment???? The finality these guys must have been feeling as they sat with their decisions. I know this feeling all too well. I think it is one that we all will/must face to some degree in this life. We are going to fail. We will find ourselves acting on our own whims, trapped in sin, betraying loved ones and hurting people.

And we have choices. Sometimes, the easy choice is to ignore it. We put on a happy face, we skip the suffering and/or grieving of our actions, shout “oh well, Jesus loves me anyway” and we carry on. All the while, the wounds remain unhealed and resurrection is still far off in the distance.

Others may feel we don’t have a choice at all. The ugliness is staring us in the face. Maybe we can’t escape the pain or the guilt. It surrounds us and we enter into our own walk towards calvary so to speak. Even on this path we have choices. My heart breaks for Judas. The pain was too much to bear. His choices, his actions, his failings ended the life of his friend. Just pause and think about that for a moment. I don’t know all of the ins and outs of Judas, what he was thinking when he made that bargain for silver. There are books all about what may have been going on in his heart and mind, but clearly he saw the error of his ways. And it overwhelmed him to the point where he felt that the only way out of his misery was to end his own life.

But Peter. Peter gives us hope. At the moment his eyes met with Jesus’ eyes, he flipped out! He knew. It was all coming together. All of the things Jesus had been trying to prepare him for were starting to become more clear. And there he was left with himself. Forced to stare at the ugliness of who he was, what he had done and never a chance to make it right with his best friend.

Sobering, isn’t it?

These two men, who blew it BIG TIME… Their stories have helped me understand Jesus a little more intimately. As Peter’s story continues, he goes back to fishing. And after the resurrection, Jesus shows up on the beach. He prepares some breakfast for his friends and as soon as Peter sees and knows who this person is, he runs like he has never run before. He runs to his friend and the next thing is the coolest part of the whole story.

They have a conversation.

They talk. Love and forgiveness are exchanged and Peter becomes a new person. Resurrection hasn’t just come to the Savior of the world, but it has come for Peter as well.

We know from the rest of scripture that Peter’s life was devoted to spreading the gospel, building the church, and living for Christ to the very end.

What I find so interesting and what I hold onto and believe with my whole heart is this: I think that Judas would have been given the same grace had he been able to walk through the pain he was feeling. Please hear me. This is not a message about suicide. There is no judgment on my end for the pain that runs so deep for a choice to end ones life to be made. I have felt that pain and I get it. The good news is Jesus is not only on this side of life, but He is on the other side as well and I will let Him work those things out how He chooses to, without coming to any ignorant conclusions on the matter.

What I am trying to offer is HOPE! No matter how ugly or bad things get, new life is waiting for us. We can draw from the strength we have in Christ, we can stare down that ugliness, walk through the fire, the pain, guilt, hurt and He will see us through. And not only does He see us through, but we transform. We heal and the things that need to die, die. And we are then raised to new life.

Choosing to allow the suffering to exist in our lives is hard. It can feel unbearable. But Jesus offers us hope. Don’t give up. Take each step one at a time and trust that restoration will come.

speak it out loud

When I was in 9th grade, I spent a good part of my second semester going to parties. This was my first experience with alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. It was an experimental time in my life. One that I think many kids go through.

I grew up in a religious home. My dad was/is a pastor. We went to church every Sunday and I attended youth group every Wednesday. I knew what was right and what was wrong and my parents trusted me.

Once the “party phase” began, so did the double life. I was living one way with my friends and a totally different way around my family and church. Living a double life isn’t easy. In the beginning, there was the thrill of it all. I felt excited to “live on the edge” and venture into a more “grown up” world. Ha!

But over time, I began to feel guilty. I knew my parents loved me and were so proud of me and here I was lying to them, sneaking around, and it hurt. Why? It hurt because I was actually very close to my parents. We had a great relationship where we talked about just about everything. They really trusted me and I was completely betraying them.

I remember making the decision to leave the “party” scene. I decided that I was no longer going to live a double life. I needed to choose one path, decide who I was going to be and I wanted to be someone of integrity. Don’t get me wrong, I was/am still human full of new mistakes to be made down the road, but I couldn’t handle the double life anymore.

A few months later, I found myself crying in my bed, unable to fall asleep. It was as if the choice to live a life of integrity wasn’t enough. The final piece in order to find healing was confession.

I will never forget that night. I woke both of my parents up. We went out to the living room and sat on the sofa together. And then I told them everything. The partying, the drinking and smoking, the lies… It was tearing me apart inside.

But then…they both put their arms around me, loved on me, forgave me, encouraged me. Im sure they were shocked, hurt, and disturbed that I had been dishonest with them for so long, but they were also quick to forgive, quick to extend grace.

There is something about confession that can be so healing. It exposes the ugly truth for what it is, but also allows others to enter in, offer grace, and perhaps share their own stories of failures. I learned something so sacred that night. I learned that confession isn’t scary, it liberating. It heals wounds, it gives relationships a brand new start; one that’s based on honesty, grace, and sincerity.

When we hold onto our ugliness and we allow it to eat away at our insides, we are harming our souls. We prolong the healing that God has to offer. Be brave today. Go and find a trustworthy friend and share with them the things that are keeping you in chains. Allow the spoken words to unlock those chains so that you can be free.

I am not saying that confession alone will heal you completely, but its a start. Its the first step and from there, we can bravely take the next right step and the next one and the next. Its what begins the process of finding our own resurrection.

I’m on my way…

speaking of dying…the physical kind

Brittany Maynard has been all over my Facebook feed. If you haven’t heard her story, first of all where have you been? But secondly, you can check out the latest here. The controversy over the thought of assisted dying has fueled a huge response to Maynard’s own decision to end her life. She passed away yesterday after being diagnosed and suffering from brain cancer since January.

The first word that comes to my mind (as well as many others out there) when I think about Maynard’s story is Bravery. No matter where you fall on this subject, making the decision to shorten your life is brave.

Its funny how my post from yesterday was all about facing our suffering head on and now I find myself commending the “suicide girl”, although I personally wouldn’t refer to this situation as suicide.

When I was a junior in high school I took a speech class. We were at the point in the semester where we were learning about debate and persuasive speech. Our teacher chose random controversial subjects out of a hat and assigned each of us not only the subject, but also what position we would be arguing from. It just so happened that my topic was assisted suicide.

It’s a tough decision that Brittany made. I have heard many out there call her decision ‘cowardly’. But I wonder how cowardly it is to face reality head on. How choosing quality over quantity might sound pretty and flowery, but its also very real and comes with some devastating realizations. Staring at the number of days you have left, planning your last moments, saying ‘goodbye’. None of those things are easy or free of suffering.

We tend to spiritualize these types of things as if God isn’t powerful enough to intervene. There are many that feel that this type of act is sinful because only God should be the author and finisher of life. But how does this make Him any less? What kind of sense does that make? God gives us choices in every situation. He lets us be human. He gave us intelligence and made us capable. And this is how the world works; the world He created.

I have watched physical suffering. I have followed suffering all the way down to the very end where it finally steals the last breath of life. And you know what was so interesting about it? It wasn’t worth it. My mom suffered from cancer and chose to fight. She chose her own kind of bravery and do you know something? We never had a conversation about her dying. She refused to acknowledge it. When the doctors said there was no hope, no chance of beating the cancer and when they sent her home and hospice moved in, and when she fell into these long coma-like states that lasted for days and weeks… she would wake up, eat and the talk of her not being here with us was never mentioned.

“I’m not going anywhere”, she would say. Yes, she was brave in her own way. But there’s something about watching someone suffer, deteriorate down to bones and slow shallow breathes that hurts us. We want to do everything we can for one another, don’t we? Brittany Maynard didn’t want to die anymore than my mom did. But what she chose to do was to take control of her end; plan out her last days with her loved ones. And she was able to live out the rest of her life in grace and with dignity.

In my season of letting go, grief has its place. In fact, anytime I experience a new kind of loss whether its the loss of certain aspects of faith, leaving certain phases in life, watching my kids get older, I grieve. And when I grieve, the first and strongest thoughts that come to mind are of my mom. Sometimes I miss her so much I think I might suffocate. But its not the missing her that bothers me the most. I do miss her and I wish she were here walking me through life, holding my hand, kissing my kids, etc. But what bothers me even more than all of that is the fact that we never had a ‘goodbye’.

What would she say to me if she had spoken out loud of her end approaching. What would she want me to know? What advice would she have given me if she had simply viewed our moments together as her last ones with me?

Brittany Maynard was able to give her family and friends a gift. The gift of a peaceful end, the gift of a last meal, last words, a final kiss and hug. And I think it was a beautiful thing.

everything has changed

so i have this computer. its an imac which is supposed to be pretty sweet. yeah, my husband bought it for me eight months ago. he bought it so that i could use it to promote a makeup business i was hoping to start. he bought it so i could film makeup tutorials and build a website and network and all of the other sorts of things people do when starting a home business. eight months later…

i used to write. a few years ago i had this blog and i wrote every day. i loved it. i love writing. its the being vulnerable part that gets to be tough. i mean, in my ideal world everyone is vulnerable and real and we all empathize and relate and we always understand where the other person is coming from. in my ideal world there are never any miscommunications and we all just get each other. but that isn’t reality. fortunately and unfortunately, vulnerability is just in my blood. it doesn’t take much for me to open up and share my life’s story with just about anyone. and for some odd reason, i felt like writing again.

what’s different this time around? my computer, for one. and my desk is now downstairs and i can look outside the window as i write. and i’ve changed a lot since a few years ago. i’ve learned some things. i’ve healed old wounds and am healing some new ones. i’ve settled on some soul issues and have found new questions to explore.

in a sense, everything has changed. you know those times in your life where you cross over some sort of line? those moments where the world opens up and you know you can’t ever go back to how things were before? for example, the first time burning yourself, or losing a loved one, seeing your first rated R movie, or drinking your first beer? its these moments that make up real life, i suppose. its when just a little bit more of your innocence gets tossed out the window.

the other day i read this quote,

“Some people think that going through the losses or crises of life are the exceptional times. I see it differently. I see the times of calm as the exceptions. Life really is going through one loss after another, one crisis after another.”                         -Dr. H. Norman Wright

sounds like great news, right? i don’t know if this is completely true, but i will say that i think life was meant to be eventful. seasons end and new ones begin, good and bad.

as someone who tries her best to follow Jesus, i have been learning a little about death and resurrection lately. like Jesus, we all die. but i don’t mean in a physical way. yes we all will die someday, but i don’t want to talk about that in this post. lots of things die in our lives- relationships, ideals, false beliefs, career paths, dreams of the future, etc.  some of the more spiritual people out there might call these times of pruning or refining. i’m not sure what exactly it is…or maybe i’m just not that spiritual yet. what i do trust in is the new life on the other side of these hardships.

in order to welcome in the new, it is almost always required that we say goodbye to the old…to the stuff that has to die.

saying goodbye stinks! it’s hard to let go of things. the older i get the faster life changes. my kids were in diapers yesterday, i swear! and now they are telling me stories about the drama in the cafeteria and what Everafter High is.

yeah, life is moving fast. so fast that i recently suffered from a nervous breakdown. the rushing by of time… the fact that we don’t get any do-overs. life is tough. the thing that i am realizing through it all is that you can’t get around the dying process. i wish there were a way to get around it. remember Jesus’ prayer in the garden just before he was arrested? he prayed that this cup of suffering would pass from him…if there were any other way…he prayed this while having the worst anxiety attack ever. but then he got up. he took one step in front of the other…and he made it up the hill to calvary…and the thing that needed to die…the One who needed to die…died.

when we face the dying head on, when we purpose to walk through it, new life awaits us on the other side.

so things are dying right now. it’s autumn. the dying outside looks beautiful. i wish suffering looked as good. and the time it takes for stuff to die can seem like an eternity. but i’m purposing to trust. i’m choosing to wake up each day, even in fear and trembling, allowing whatever needs to fall away, fall away. and i’m searching each day for that resurrection…for my resurrection. and on this amazingly shiny eight month old imac, i’m taking note of it all.

psalm 71:20 “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.”