Monday, August 25, 2014

Left in a pool of blood

Dear Christian brothers and sisters,

Where do I start so that you can hear my heart? If we are a family made by Yahweh, it should be simple answer right?

  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Gen 1:27 (Complimentary creation)
  • For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body ...and all were made to drink of one Spirit....For the body does not consist of one member but of many....But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?...The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”... that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:12-16 (One body, many parts)
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (Shared suffering)

Yet, because you can see my skin color I have to start somewhere else I suppose.


  • My first interaction with a gun came from a police officer when I was around 40 weeks inside my mom's pregnant womb. He had a gun pointed at me, and this was the impetus for my mom to follow his order. My mom, and I certainly, wasn't at fault but when your dad acts against the law there is consequence on the whole family.
  • The gun in the holster of the policeman who was called out for my runaway call, but checked my back for bruising, and allowed me comfort to stay the night at a friends house instead of going right back home.
  • The 4th of July when I was 16 years old I spent watching movies all day, until my face was green, after escaping our house with my mom at gunpoint from my step-dad.
  • The gun in the house when I was 17, when I left my little brother in a locked room while I jumped the fence to call for the police to help.
  • The possibility of a gunshot (so you move behind a couple of walls to help stop the bullets) with the arguments heard in the broken apartment complex I rented as I put myself through community college.

In case you need to know more of my presuppositions:

In the last few years, my husband and I have BOTH been pulled over at gunpoint due to someone else's crime. I shoved my hands against the window and complied with every word. My husband was similar, but had to throw his keys out of his car, was taken out, handcuffed and placed in the backseat of the police car until his was cleared up. This strangely wasn't the only time he was held at gunpoint either. When he was younger, his friends accidentally knocked out a window in the church and rather than leave shattered glass dangling, he climbed up to take the shards out. This caused a break-in call to the police and my husband's face in an oil stain on the parking lot at gunpoint. (He has other non-gun-in-the-face stories too- interesting guy.)

My husband is also a firefighter. He wears a bullet proof vest. There is sad reason why a firefighter has to wear a bulletproof vest. Know that every time he is not home, or I don't hear from him, within an hour of being off shift, my heart sinks and I am putting on the news. Know that what you see on the news is a very minute percentage of the daily tragedy in our world.

Can you relate to me now?
What if I tell you how prison and jail relate to me?
Have I transcended your presuppositions of me and my skin color?
Can we be in space together to grieve yet?

SESAME STREET WON, OR SO I THOUGHT

I am a west coast child of the 80's & 90's, watched Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, TGIF, had babysitters in love with Prince (and being with a single/working mom I spent some time with babysitters), danced to Kid n Play, played "Parents just don't understand" on repeat, saw the east coast/west coast hip hop scene play out, and sang "We Are the World" while holding "Hands Across America". I never saw myself as anything but included in the broad sense- this is my history. Now, being an optimist, I am still shocked every time I see separation. I mean, didn't they also watch Sesame Street? Kansas City and Chicago, visiting these places made me frustrated and sad.

YEAH, BUT...

Yeah, but my stories are trivial in comparison to real desperate hopelessness of some in worse areas. I may have had strife, but my family had work- even if we had to move every school year growing up (sometimes twice in a year). What if there's no work? What if the entire family, and friends, and neighborhood are so riddled with crime and drugs and poverty, and this has happened from one generation to the next? Where is the hope?

BUT NOW WHAT'S WORSE?

What is worse is the perpetuation of hopelessness. The opposite of a 1 Peter 1:3- living hope. The opposite of a Romans 5:5- hope that does not put you to shame. The opposite of a Jeremiah 29:11 that promises hope. The opposite of Hopelessness is death. Watch this. I was brought to anger and heartbreak and tears by this child and town's hopelessness.

WHERE ARE THE TRUTH TELLERS?

Christians, where are the truth tellers?
I know that deep hurts can last generations.  A few months back I spent 30 minutes with an elderly lady who came here as a young girl when her mom fled her country in wartime. During a time when the soldiers of Japan were raping women. She told me about those accepted atrocities and the philosophy of Japan in comparison to the philosophy of Germany, and how the philosophical differences between the two countries left her in a place of forgiveness of one, and mistrust of another. 30 minutes. With a complete stranger. Hurt is a lasting legacy if not covered over with hope.

Christians, where are the truth tellers?

  • Why are we okay with this child and this town and our country dividing itself? Why are we okay with letting him believe he has to graffiti or loot or riot to be heard? Do you hear his hopelessness?
  • Why are we okay perpetuating that Trayvon was killed by a white guy for no reason and got away with it because of a corrupt society against black kids? Where does that leave this child?
  • Why are we okay letting him believe that Michael Brown was shot with his hands up, in an execution style murder for walking in the street and being black? Who is guiding that narrative? How has that guided his narrative- where is the hope in him trying if this is where we have left him?
  • Why are we okay with posts that express our grief over being racially targeted and at the same time lay guilt on a man of murder with no due process?
  • Why are we okay with posts that express ignorance in teaching our kids social normative behaviors? Do you want to be the parent that is saying- I never thought...? Is that a Job response or one of his friends?
  • Why are we okay with posts that express ignorance on law enforcement or forensics?
  • Why are we okay with calling our brothers and sisters "unable to understanders" because of our skin color? Or probably worse- because of their Uncle Tom-ness?
  • I haven't seen any, but I'm sure they're out there-Why are we okay saying someone "got what they deserved"?


Where are the people saying-

  • We comply with the police because of the sin in this world. (Blogs saying "I'm tired of being pulled over, so I resist." Is not the answer here. Please gain some civil servant friends so you understand better.)
  • If we run into what we think is corruption, we heap hot coals of ever-loving kindness on them.


Does not sharing an article which displays one of the hopelessnesses I have mentioned make me lose empathy to another child lost? There is reason my husband leaves his work at work. Our world is terribly broken.



LOOK AT THE NUMBERS in that link

What are the dangers of stopping this video after you hear the difference of white america vs. black america? You don't hear the part of the video where having Married Parents, or going to College is equivalent to an "Opportunity Utopia". (Married parents. Interesting stat.) So, if you are basing your arguments with "privileges", and asking me to check mine, should we pull out this number sheet and compare beginning quintiles, or compare our given factors of social mobility? Will that place us in equal space to grieve then? Christian, is that the area we are told to meet in?

What if you pull out a quantitative statistic without the qualitative background to it? It might sound impressive, but can that statistic be broadly used? No! But, it's the good start of a different conversation.

AND THAT'S THE REAL ISSUE.

We are talking side by side, not together. We both want the same Micah 6:8 conversation, but we can't meet in a space with each other that takes sides. I want to share my grief that I too feel my son or brother or I could be one wrong decision away from a life-long mistake. I want to share my grief that- up against sin, up against bottom quintiles, up against hurt- life is a struggle. But more than anything Christian I want to share Christ. Don't you? If so, then post that. Post the life giving, hope filled, breath of fresh air, and living water into this child, into this town, and into our own church body. Don't just post- go, speak, do. Don't let our side by side talking separate us. Don't let perceived special suffering allow you to think you're alone...

LEFT IN A POOL OF BLOOD.

When you leave the conversation on the table of anything but truth you allow space for hopelessness to settle in and root down. One of the cries was that Michael Brown's body lay at the scene for hours. (I am not a crime scene specialist, but I do know my husband can get stuck on scene for hours sometimes, and that's just the fire side.) Let's lay the details of analysis needed aside, and place ourselves in that community. Not understanding how a scene is worked, or why he had to lay there, imagine hearing the wails of a grieving mother. Imagine knowing your son is friends with him. What hope is there looking on him left there? Christian, when you purpose your messages with anything but the gospel you are leaving your brothers and sisters lying in a pool of Christ's blood at the cross, rather than pointing them to the road at Emmaus. Be a truth teller. It has the power to change narratives.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dear Governor Brewer,

Don't sign.

I know why this bill came about. I have seen the 1st amendment rights taken away from people across the country. Some taken away because of a simple friendly email. Unlike Kansas' bill which tried to narrow it to celebration of marriages, this bill is a reiteration of the 1st amendment. It shouldn't be needed, but you see the government using compulsory force on people, stripping away their religious freedom, and I agree- that is power the government should not have.

I know it is only meant for people who have sincerely held religious beliefs, and the burden substantial- great, call out the charlatans.

However, as State Rep. Kate Brophy McGee from your own party, who voted against this bill, said; "This bill led people to all kinds of conclusions, which whether or not they were true, created the perception that no matter what side of the bill you were on, you were under attack, and no good comes from legislating out of fear."

Have you seen those conclusions?
One of my friends responded, "I'm not afraid of Gov. Brewer." 
A lot of my friends on facebook have posted pictures of signs in windows, and are suggesting that people will use this bill to not serve regular meals at restaurants, coffee, dry cleaning, etc. They are worried people coming for the Super Bowl will wander in for a meal, and be pushed out. I know this is not the point of the bill, but that's what is being portrayed.

While I disagree on the use of  "gay being the new black" and I believe in religious freedom, I can't ask you to sign this bill when I see how friends and family are taking it. Maybe the media has won by perverting the nature of this bill, and maybe people haven't seen what has been happening across the country. Or maybe they have and they're in agreement with the 1st amendment rights being taken away from some people. Even so, I can't ask you to sign it when the retaliation to it is creating a wall.

If 1st amendment rights are attacked in Arizona please stand up for them, but until then err on the side of people being more protective of everyone's rights here.





Sunday, October 6, 2013

Have you grieved? "Race" Talk Sparked From the Martin/Zimmerman trial

Did you read this? Should We Move On? (From the talk surrounding the Martin/Zimmerman Case)
Did you talk to your friends that disagreed with you on the verdict? I did. I grieved.
Just like Trip Lee says, my friends grew up hearing how to behave a certain way because this was their parent's world, and behaving in a manner that was not walking on eggshells could mean harm.
On top of that, they grew up hearing there is no justice for them, so the verdict- already believing only one possible direction for the circumstances because of multiple media representation and even the president's emotional appeal prior to there even being a trial- was again making their worst nightmares a reality. I grieved. If you look at this trial as a young, innocent boy who's only "crime" was wearing a hoodie, snacking on skittles and being black, then was stalked, attacked by a brutal man with intention to kill, at first- not get a trial, then when the trial is brought about by pressure, it is still a not-guilty verdict. THAT IS INJUSTICE. Have you grieved over this?
(Before you discount my writing, please keep reading. I understand some will think that I can only see this one way because of where I am at as a white female. It is not my aim to talk the case points, I can in another place though.)

While I don't agree with everything Trip Lee says in his post, I do agree with his point from a layman's perspective:
"We never have the right to draw unwarranted conclusions about a person—even if they do turn out to be troubled.
These kinds of assumptions are disgusting and false. God made all human beings in his image with value and worth. Yet all of us are sinful and fail to display God's image as we should. Every single one of us can turn from our sins, trust Christ, and be made right by our Creator. But racism picks and chooses which people these truths should be applied to. Racism says, "I'm valuable and good, and all of those people are wicked.""

Following the verdict, I have had friends and family misunderstand, get hurt, and lash out over differences surrounding the verdict. The same root that has caused generations of division is continued. This has not only been in blood family, but in the family of Christ. Racism says, "I'm valuable and good, and all of those people are wicked," and so does pride.

I have never felt separated or classified away from another human being in my life, until now. I am grieving.

(And now you're thinking- ok, now she's gonna gloss over all this real racism and real injustice with some Polyanna response. I am in no way discounting the very real injustice that is present in our world.)

I am a Christian. I believe in common grieving for the sanctification and shared comfort of the believers. Your suffering is not meant to be taken alone, and neither is mine for me. Withholding, separating or elevating your thought-to-be specialized suffering is hurting the body. How foreign the idea of common suffering would have been to a new church of mixed gentiles and jews, slaves and owners, women and men. So foreign that we see unification taught again and again.

We have a universal God. He teaches what is good; to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with him. We cannot walk humbly from a standpoint of separation. We cannot do justice without knowing the injustices that are happening- not only to one group, but to all groups. This takes a loving kindness towards all people- not separation.

We have examples of people groups around the globe and throughout history who have made the choice to continue the separation or not. If you need examples, look at the history simply of the Gaza Strip, colonization effects in Africa, sexual assaults during war. The world will give us plenty of reason to separate and hate until we see ourselves as a whole.

Surviving Genocide is a radical video. Listen to the reporters shock as he hears about forgiveness versus retribution. Hear the man's story of the murderer he used to be.

People have said some strange things to me over the years- "I love black people" or wanting to "be around black people", chocolate babies, marshmallow white people- if this is you, I am not saying I am offended- this type of talk just sounds alien to me. I was lovingly called "Weda" in my family, so I understand it somewhat- but for some people, speaking of someone based on their color just sounds weird and will always sound weird. What pushes the "talk" to separation is saying I will not be able to empathize with someone else because we have a different skin tone. That is not the commonality that Christ speaks of. That is cause for grief.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I never got tested.

All pregnancies we refused the testing the doctor offered for potential problems with the baby. My friend had actually received a false positive test for Down's syndrome in her baby, and through more research I had found this to be a common thing, and our course of pregnancy wouldn't have changed regardless of the test anyways. I also didn't want to worry about what knowing in advance would do for my process in creating the kid; there has been much research done which points to constant stress in utero affecting the baby the same as drug exposure. So, a few weeks before the baby was born, the time when your doctor starts telling you to count the movements to make sure the baby is still moving inside of you, all of the unknowns start to resurface as well. 
That same joy, love and anticipation mixed with a pinch of fear and anticipated heartache is the same every time we open our home to a new foster placement. Here I wait, wondering what this beautiful face and skin and hands will look like, at the same time feeling a deep spot somewhere in between where my lungs expand and heart beats, that is yet to experience the unknown. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

War

I checked the home; walked through the kitchen, the family room, and the bathroom. The newly completed home smelled of new carpet and cabinetry. The light tan glow of the backyard dirt reflected light into the unclothed windows. I circled back to the front and started up the stairs. Again, I checked the bathrooms, the bedrooms, looked in the master bedroom and was amazed, as usual, at the size of the sleeping quarter. As a new home salesperson, I was charged to look over the newly constructed homes each day before going to the office. Nothing was as surprising as the day I found water spilling out of the front door on a home where the copper had been stolen. It was a good policy and I followed it. It also helped me to remember which home faced what, which one had views from what windows, which one had good pool sized yards and which one had the brown tile.
I was almost finished with this home. I peered out one window to see if the mountains were in view. I walked into another room and looked down into the backyard of a client. They just moved in to the home I had sold them. He was back from the war on terror and he was a translator for the US. I suppose he could have helped in hopeless situations; translating plots and leaders and locations from people who may or may not have been coerced into admission of these facts who may or may not have been in the greatest of locations. I suppose he could have translated from men, women and children who may or may not want to help, who might have been scared or terrified, angry, neglected, hurt or harmed. I can at least imagine rations of food, the quality of showers and bathrooms and rest, and endless time away from his beautiful family. Since he never told me his actual role, I can only gather from the weariness I saw deep in his eyes. The kind of weariness that lies past the laugh lines, slightly joy-filled tilt in the center of the eyebrows and smile on the face; the one that rests deep inside a corner crease of the eye and finishes into the center depth of the pupil. The way he stared that morning into a spot in his yard with his elbows resting on his legs and his hands in a slight clasp, told me that he hadn't been translating messages over a transmission. I peered at him, wondering how long he would stare at that spot, knowing it wasn't really the view of his yard that was passing through his head, but the replaying of his past, like a video on endless looping, hoping at some point the picture would morph into a different reality. I wanted to tell him it was ok if he wanted to cry. I wanted to open the window of the bedroom overlooking him and tell him he could shout.
I wasn't too afraid of him seeing me as he was ensnared by his thoughts, although this moment of watching him ended as I turned away and walked out of the house.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A day

Baby wakes up and spanks E's booty, thinks its hilarious.
Crisis with getting dressed. I mean- emailing and calling to find out how to ever avoid this happening again crisis.
Get 5 kids to school.
Take 3 kids out to mommy-boy breakfast.
Do History lesson at table while lady looks inquisitively at why I'm talking about Babylon to a table of babes.
Go to Grandma and Grandpa's house to drop boys off.
Go to amazing shop to get donated bags of clothes, blankets for our newest foster kiddos.
Pick up 3 kids. Baby spanks my booty.
Go to Target for pajamas and pants for my oldest (and growing out of his clothes) boy.
Pass Liberty Tax man on corner- "Mom, why is he dressed like that?" "That's advertising- remember what we talked about with advertising? He wants you to come use his services. Does he make you want to go use him?" "No. Maybe if he had an Angry Bird costume."
Come home, gather mail and bag of frozen soup my dear neighbor left this poor flu stricken momma, snack, rest for 5.
Finish reading Alice in Wonderland Chapter (at this point my son and I don't particularly like the book- in fact- we don't like it- with it's contrary-minded characters.)
Do science experiment (yay, we filled a balloon with gas--of course, talk about making gas in other ways boys find humorous), clean up.
Work emails.
Pick up 2 children from school.
Chaos ensues.
Try to manage the chaos with games.
Amazing grace again, my friend brings dinner!
Try to manage the chaos with food. (Dinner)
Clean up time.
Shower time.
Hammer time?
Reading time. B and E read their first word! "At" (Big stuff, yes)
Baby spanks B's booty, boys get in a booty spanking game (should this be okay?).
Bedtime.
Bedtime.
I said Bedtime!
Baby crying for me (Gotta be strong, gotta break the habit from the teething-flu-cuddle-don't-let-momma-sleep few weeks we had.)

type, click, click.... click...

Recently I ran a 9k (6 miles). I didn't prepare for it- I'm not a runner. I wasn't really even tired at the end of it. Sure, my legs were a little sore the next day. I honestly think being a mom (and today wasn't really that hard or lengthy- but if you saw the stains on my outfit you would know I was up to something) is like running a mini-race every day. Am I right?

now to work on those prayer cards.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to know?

I was making spinach pizza dough or the first time off of a recipe I found on Pinterest. As usual, I didn't have all of the necessary ingredients but as I have cooked and bake for a while now, I've learned how to improvise. As the dough was starting to take shape- or not- I added a little more oil, or water, or flour, until it started to look like "dough". I was so thankful that I knew what dough looked like. I was so thankful that I had opportunity to bake often enough to know what it needed to get it to form. I thought about my friends who have mentioned struggles in cooking or baking, and even my own struggles- after all - baking is science. I remembered that even with a recipe sometimes it is hard to get it to the finished product without knowing what it looks like.
Then I thought about foster care and the reasons why some kids are in it. How it is a generational offense that it repeated because the parents were never shown what parenting is supposed to look like.
I thought about some people's aversion to Faith in god, to Christianity, to church, because they've never seen what it's supposed to look like.
I recently ran across some old flute music from college. In it was a handwritten song my instructor arranged. On the bottom was written the reason for the arrangement - her freedom in Christ. I never knew of her faith- obviously I had this song, but I didn't remember that writing and we never talked about it and although she was a great person- I didn't see her faith.
Everyday I'm not alone- I have opportunity to share. Sometimes I'm not the best model of faith, but I should always be ready to tell why I believe. He gives me enough reasons to tell about.