Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sitting in Saturday

Some of the most sound advice I've heard as of late about sharing what is going on in your life publicly was from Glennon Doyle.  She says to speak from your scars, not from you wounds.  So thus, I have been relatively quiet.  The wounds have been brutal.

There's a lot going on in our lives though.  Our kids are changing schools and we are changing churches.  These both come from (very different) places of brokenness and hurt and attempts at reconciliation that aren't happening in this current phase of life.  We hold onto hope that they will.  But sometimes before you can come to the table and process steps forward, you have to take time to heal your heart and soul.  And you have to make decisions that are painfully hard because you know, deep down, what you and your family need, so you don't shy away from walking through the valley.

And yet life still pushes forward.  One child tests out of an IEP while we begin evaluations on another.  The baby learns to walk and how to get into everything.  Scott has half the month of May booked already for work travel.  I continue to volunteer with CASA and the parent committee at school.

In the meantime, I've started doing some sub-contracting work for Be the Bridge, and its brought me so much joy.  Being able to write on a topic I love is life giving to me.  It brings some change to the day to day mundane of childcare and keeping up on the house and life.

Now seemed like a time to say something, albeit vague.  But sometimes simply typing out words is what I need to do so that I can release them from the tumult of my brain and take a deep breath again.

Which brings me back to were I started.  Words from Glennon.  She also speaks of this time of Good Friday to Easter in a way that makes where we are right now not seem so overwhelming.  These trials we face are much like this calendar season we just exited.  Good Friday.  The death.  The hurt.  The broken.  Saturday.  The waiting.  The wondering.  The mourning.  Easter Sunday.  The rising.

We sit in a Saturday state right now.  We are mourning and unsure.  But there is peace in knowing that at some point comes the rising and breath of new life.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Malachi - 1!

Our sweet, big bundle of love is ONE!

He's still going strong in the 90th percentile for height and weight at almost 25 lbs. and 31".

He's started walking.  WALKING.  Just 1-2 steps at a time, but I give it a week before he takes off.

Talking is his other strong suit.  He will even copy two word phrases, say "poopy" when he needs a diaper change, and "snack" when he's hungry.   Most his chatter during the day is babble though with "tucka-tucka" being his favorite phrase.

He's in 18-24 month clothes and moving up to size 5 diapers.

He takes one 3 hour nap a day and sleeps 11-12 hours straight a night.  Glory be.

We are trying to wean him off the bottle, but he doesn't agree with this plan.  He likes to pound a 10 oz. bottle several times a day on top of eating most everything we eat.  His favorites are peas, beans, scrambled eggs, chicken, and carrots.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

19 Must Read Books and 3 Must Watch Documentaries To Understand

If nothing else, I hope that last post helped stir up a sense of empathy and understanding for the depth of the divide in our country. Perhaps it also made you realize that the version of American history you've been given is not only incomplete, but perhaps deceptively Whitewashed.  

So how do you start to undo that? There isn't a simple article to read or movie to watch, just as your understanding of White American history didn't come from a quick read, understanding the nuance of race in America won't be quick either. But if you want to start digging in, here's your chance. Because ignorance isn't helpful to anyone; we owe it to those who have been marginalized for centuries to do some work so we can make some change.

These books are the 19 that have been most formative for me. Some eye opening, some infuriating, some energizing; but they all have served a vital role in where I am today. If you prefer book club style reading, I lead book studies through a group on Facebook called Be the Bridge to Racial Unity that you are welcome to request to join and hang with me on Facebook live discussing this goodness.

Amazon links are not affiliated.

Divided by Faith by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson
Trouble I’ve Seen by Drew Hart
Let Justice Roll Down by Dr. John Perkins
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Rage by Carol Anderson
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Shame of the Nation by Jonathon Kozol
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

And for some movies:

Race: The Power of an Illusion

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

13th (Available on Netflix)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Didn't Feel Welcome at the Women's March, Conservative White Women? Let's Chat.

It's been a week.  No adjective needed, just a week.  And my inbox and text messages have been full. The reality is that a lot of people want to engage culture and current realities, but all seems so hard and divisive that where do you even start and is it even worth it come up a lot.

I have a dear, dear friend who is one of those people where you can call each other out and say what you need to say without qualifiers and they add them in for you and love you just like you are.  What a gift, right?  Gracious.  And that friendship is so beneficial to me.  It sands down my rough edges, sharpens my intellect, and draws truth out of me in ways surface level friendships never can.  Bless. It.

So we had a big ole discussion via text the last couple of days, because we both have a gaggle of children with a variety of needs and attempting to talk on the phone is a joke and who am I kidding, I hate the phone.

At the end of the conversation she said, "I need you to write this stuff down online so I can share it because my White heart needed to hear it."  I said ok, knowing that right now I have a million reasons that I have no time to write, but that now, more than ever, we need to speak and speak boldly.

So you know, the conversation started with talking about how the Lord created Xanax and mojito recipes are straight from the angels.  This is the kind of spiritual guidance we all need in our lives.

The meat of these discussions (as I've had them with lots of people the last few days) came down to this though, how can conservative Christian women who identify as pro-life, are in traditional marriages, and want equal rights for women engage in our current culture where you seem to have to have one full set of values or another without crossover.

The answer is that there is no simple answer.  But I do know this.  I don't need to fight to defend my heterosexual marriage.  No one has ever tried to make constitutional amendments against it nor have they used laws to try to nullify it.  I know that for the 400 years since Pilgrims landed on Plymoth Rock my Whiteness has never worked against me and my ancestors.  I know that no one in power is trying to keep me from being able to adopt, have children, or practice my religion.  So while my rights matter, they are not under attack.

But lets talk a little more about this divide.  Conservative Christian pro life women are not generally well received in the circles such as those represented at the Women's March.  In many cities they marched openly without issue, but there was hubbub before the march about a pro life group and their participation.  To many, that looked like the organizers of the march drew a line in the sand.  But I want to point something out.  They didn't draw a line, the line has existed for 400 years and was drawn by the White Church and we have to acknowledge that.

The history of the Church in America in regards to civil rights is horrifying.  Slave auctions would be held on Sunday afternoons so that church goers could easily attend.  Christians owned slaves.  Christians fought against abolitionists.  Christians would fight in the Confederacy to uphold state's rights to keep slavery legal.  Post-emancipation, lynchings would be held on Sunday afternoons so that church goers could partake and take photos and send postcards of the event to their friends.  White Christians would not allow Black Christians to sit next to them in pews or lead them in worship to the point that Black people had to form their own churches.  White people have tagged, shot up, bombed, and burned down those buildings.  White Christians started suburban private schools because they didn't want to participate in school desegregation.  They became associated with the Republican party at that time because the party promised to fight to let them stay segregated.  Years after the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, the same group that rallied Evangelicals around school segregation would start to lose their grip on the group, so they changed the platform to be a version of pro-life that said the only moral, ethical, and Christian opinion is to want to make abortion illegal.  And they succeeded in keeping their new voting block in the Republican party.

This is our history Whiter Christians.  So, White Conservative women have a lot of work to do before they will be safe to invite to marches such as the Women's March.  There is so much warranted hurt.  Imagine a man cheats on his wife and abuses her for 50 years.  Slowly, he decides to let up on that abuse in some areas.  Do you think she should now actually trust him?  Should she actually believe that he now wants to seek her good?  It won't be until he completely empties himself of his own desires and works for her best for years and years that she will maybe, slowly be able to believe that he might be safe.  Church, you are the abusive husband and our sisters of color, our LGBTQ sisters, our undocumented immigrant sisters who were marching on Saturday are the abused wife.

So when I say we have work to do, its no joke.  We still worship and live and go to school in segregated and unequal spaces.  81% of White Evangelicals voted for a man who confessed to sexual assault and then denied it happened, called immigrants from Mexico rapists, wouldn't allow Black people to work for him in positions the public could see them, called for increased militarization of police forces in minority communities, and vowed to remove provisions that have kept our most vulnerable populations able to access healthcare.

Until the Church can say, "not on my watch" for years or maybe even generations, little will change.  And those we have abused do not owe us safety at their marches.  We have to take a long suffering view on this.  Reconciliation may not happen in our lifetime, but if we don't lay serious groundwork now, our children will be fighting these same battles and seeing the same lines drawn in the sand.

Righting those wrongs might not mean attending the Women's March for you.  Which is fine, really!  Make that choice, but please don't respond by further building walls and considering yourself as discriminated or persecuted against for not feeling welcome.  There are lots of marches and rallies and community events to attend that work to bridge these divides and you are welcome to participate however you can.

For me though, I chose to march.  And I choose to speak out.  And that has meant being ostracized in some of my circles, but giving up a little bit of my privilege and comfort so others can have fundamental rights is not a price to pay, but an offering to give.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Evelyn - 8!

She turned 8 in September.  It's 30 minutes until January.  The end of this year has been the famous dumpster fire of 2016 though, so we aren't going to talk about that.

So here is her birthday interview.

Who is your best friend?  Nikyla, Mae, and Paige

What is your favorite color?  blue, yellow, and green

What is your favorite animal?  big cats

What is your favorite thing to do?  gymnastics

What is your favorite thing to wear?  shirts with skinny jeans and sweaters

What is your favorite food?  salads and hamburgers with french fries

What is your favorite show?  gymnastics movies

What is your favorite thing to do in Iowa?  play with my cousins

What is your favorite thing to do with daddy?  go on dates

What is your favorite thing to do with mommy?  snuggle

What do you want to be when you grow up?  an art teacher like Ms. McGrath

What do you want people to know about you?  I like to do gymnastics.

Our big second grader is growing by leaps and bounds.  She loves her siblings dearly when she's not trying to injure them.  She's a really great help with Malachi and loves playing house with him as her baby.  She's pouring her heart into gymnastics, getting fluent with reading, and is a social butterfly always wanting to hang out with friends. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

In Which I Attempt to Respond to the Election

We live in at minimum, two Americas.  I've known this to be true since the time we started truly delving into what life would be like for us to raise a Black child, but I've never seen it so clearly as I do this week.  And it is a strange reality to have one foot in each of these worlds, particularly in the Church.  Because if the division is clear and decisive anywhere, its in our churches.

This is most clear this week as we watch the response to the election results and having to say the words "President Donald Trump".  On one hand I see White Evangelical Christians.  This is the group I grew up as a part of and still have plenty of connection with.  They overwhelmingly voted for Trump, some estimates say numbers as high as 80% did.  And these are direct quotes from some:

  • We need to look 'em in the face and laugh.
  • You guys lost.  Learn it, love it, live it, and leave us alone.
  • The Right has seized their chance to take a stand - speak against the righteous accusations founded in "social justice".
  • A vote for Trump was a vote for the freedom to promote truth.
  • Thankfully there will be more babies to adopt now.
  • The media has painted him only one way.
  • God cannot bless our country through Hillary.
  • We cannot pre-judge Trump.

And I read these words and see these responses over and over and over in various forms and levels of vitriol on my friends and families social media comment sections and I want to openly weep.  And I do sometimes.  Because how in the world does any of that represent Christ?  How does any of that speak to the hurting, the broken, the beaten down, the marginalized, and the forgotten?  How easily and quickly do we forget the very words of Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed."

And thus I come to the two Americas.  Because you know what I don't see from any of the people of color in my world who are believers?  ANY OF THAT.  None of it.  I see mourning.  I see prophetic lament.  I see willingness to step into the pain and brokenness and sit with those who are afraid and lonely and oppressed.  This is what I see:

  • White evangelicals, you could have stood up and said that following Christ and the body of Christ is greater, but you chose to pursue power.
  • When you say let's move forward without even a hint of an apology for all that has been said and done, you are re-traumatizing people of color.
  • Until the White church is ready to have internal dialogue about the idol of "whiteness" they will fail to have a credible Gospel witness.
  • Stop telling people they'll be ok.  There are a lot of people in this country that Donald Trump, himself, has promised won't be ok.
  • Division isn't healed by ignoring issues, but being honest about what divides.

But these are not the voices that the majority of White Christians are listening to.  And you know why?  It goes all the way back to post-slavery America where White Christians refused to let Black people have a non-marginalized place in the church, so they left and formed their own churches.  And still to this day Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week.

So not only were the voices of the marginalized not heard by the majority of White Christians before the election to have that influence how they viewed the candidates, we had White pastors around the country championing Trump's cause.  So Christians of color in this country are crying out in lament with good reason while White Christians are quite literally telling others to laugh in their faces.

White Christians are proclaiming "God is on the throne and is in charge!" while Christian immigrants are wondering how to keep their family together when Trump starts his mass deportation plan.  They proclaim "Give him a chance!  Pray for him!", all while refusing to fully step into mourning with and praying for the children who had to go to school this week and read, "go back to Africa niggers!  Trump is making America great again!"  They say, "well at least we will have conservative Supreme Court nominees to try to overturn abortion!" while the woman who just got pregnant is looking at her insurance being stripped away when the ACA is repealed and knows she can't afford to sustain her pregnancy if that happens.

Meanwhile the biggest pushback I get from trying, begging, pleading with White Christians this week is that they aren't racist.  So be it.  Stand on that ground if you want, but you have to deal with the implications of your vote, White church.  You have to deal with not only your vote, but your leaders championing him and refusing to speak against his bigotry, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia.  You need to be protecting and housing Muslim families that are living in fear of being branded.  You need to be covering the costs of the pregnant woman who would rather not chose abortion but feels like she has no choice (and not just cover those living costs if she chooses adoption).  You need to be physically standing in the gap for our Mexican brothers and sisters who are afraid to walk out of their homes right now.  You need to be a safe place for the woman who is sexually assaulted and doesn't know who she can trust because her president and the pastors who championed him don't seem to care about the bodily autonomy and safety of women.

Stop trying to justify your vote as not racist, and see the far reaching implications that it had.  Then work your ass off to fix that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Annabelle - 6!

My sweet, sweet Annie.  I can't seem to quit calling you Annie even though at school you are firming in camp, "My Name Is Annabelle."

You are my feeler of all the feelings, shedder of all the tears, and lover of all the tiny things.  You gush over me washing your favorite dress for you and cry when you can't have the snack you want.  You are learning to read and write, so now that amazing mind of yours has started creating stories on paper.  How well your day at school went is firmly planted in how much recess time you get.  Not because you run around a whole lot, but because you spend your recess heading up the "Nature Club" - of which you founded - or finding small trinkets and garbage on the ground that become your beloved treasures.

My new, absolute favorite Annie story happened today.  I was trying to shoo you and your brother and sister out the door for school.  You came randomly wandering back into the house and I spun you around to send you back to the car.  In that moment you found a tiny potato on the steps to the back door.  When I continued to direct you toward the car even though you now had a potato in your possession, your eyes lit up.

This is because, my sweet lover of all the tiny things, your imagination sees life in everything.  And you saw life in that potato.  You named it Baby Potato.  It sat on your desk at school, it went out to recess with you, and took a nap on a bed of feathers under a tissue during art class after spending some time sunbathing in the light from the window.  My child, I could not make this up if I tried.  But to you there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about making a pet out of a potato.

Without further ado, Annabelle's 6-year-old interview. 

Who is your best friend? Julia.

What is your favorite color? Pink.

What is your favorite animal? Meerkats (she pronounces it meer-uh-kats) and cheetahs.

What's your favorite thing to do?  Snuggle with mommy and eat donuts.

What's your favorite thing to wear?  Dresses.

What's your favorite food?  Ice cream...and CAKE!

 What's your favorite show?  You know, Elsa and Anna, so Frozen.

What's your favorite thing to do in Iowa?  Get a toy with grandma.

What's your favorite thing to do with daddy?  Go to the donut store and go get pizza.

What's your favorite thing to do with mommy?  Snuggle.

What do you want to be when you grow up?  A ballerina teacher and a singer.

What do you want people to know about you?  Well, I have a lot more favorites than those things.  I have favorite toys and favorite other things too.  I like to play Barbies.

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