Thursday, August 28, 2014

First Day of School 2014

Look at these sweet little things!

They were both so excited about school starting.

One full week of classes and they are still willingly getting up in the morning, dressed, and out the door.

They are both doing full day classes this year and come home wiped out!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Complilation of Thoughts on Ferguson

My mind has been racing these last couple of weeks.  Deep, painful thoughts.  Outrage.  Hope.  All mixed up in there.  It's been overwhelming really.  Trying to embrace the reality of what is happening in our country and how the reactions to it show how far we have to go still as a nation and as a church.  

My cry at the end of this is to read these articles.  Read what other braver, smarter, and wiser souls than I have to say about it.  These are voices worth listening to.  Perspectives worth giving credence to.  This is a discussion worth having.

A White cop, a Black kid, and a crime 

You can't have it both ways. You can't lean on statistics that claim black men are more likely to be under-educated, under-paid, or engaged in criminal activity (in order to prove they probablydeserved to be shot), and, then, not conclude that our black baby boys are being born into some kind of serious systemic disadvantage.

After a Traffic Stop, Teen Was Almost Another Dead Black Male

Alex Landau, who is African-American, was adopted by a white couple as a child and grew up in largely white, middle-class suburbs of Denver.

Still, "we never talked about race growing up," Landau tells his mother, Patsy Hathaway, on a visit to StoryCorps. "I just don't think that was ever a conversation."

"I thought that love would conquer all and skin color really didn't matter," Hathaway says. "I had to learn the really hard way when they almost killed you."

It's Time to Listen

Over the years I’ve been challenged by my white brothers and sisters to just get over this. Their refusal to attempt to see things from my ethnically different perspective is a subtle, stinging form of racism. What’s more is that it hinders true Christian unity and fellowship within the beloved body of Christ.

Is it "Goodbye Evangelicalism" or "We Join You In Your Suffering"

Around the country evangelical leaders participate in “racial reconciliation” conversations and repeatedly ask, “How can we diversify our church?” or “How can we attract more African-American members?” Why would diverse groups want to belong to an evangelicalism that does not acknowledge their diversity where it hurts when it matters? You want diversity in your membership roles? How about forgetting your membership statistics and further diversifying the picket lines and protests thronged by the disenfranchised in their just fights? We don’t want to be your statistics—whether wrongful death statistics or church membership statistics. We want a living, breathing, risk-taking brotherhood in the gospel lived out where it matters. Until evangelicalism can muster that kind of courage and abandon its privileged, “objective,” distant calls for calm and “gospel”-this or “gospel”-that, it proves itself entirely inadequate for a people who need to see Jesus through the tear gas smoke of injustice.

America in Black and White: Why So Many of Us Respond to Ferguson So Differently

White Christians trust too much their initial feelings, not realizing that feelings are shaped by understanding. I do not say that black Christians do not have the same temptation. I am speaking, however, as a white Christian preacher, trying to model ambassadorial effort. We have to understand that our instincts and knee-jerk analyses are products of our culture.

A Cops Take on Ferguson

But here are a few things that I do know. I know what it's like to walk around in a Kevlar helmet, gas mask, shield, and baton dressed in riot control gear. It’s hot, it’s frustrating, and most of the time you are just standing around waiting.  I know that Protests and Riots are not the same thing and just because someone is protesting the police does not make them a "thug".  I know that the criminals that are using this situation to loot and cause havoc should be arrested and prosecuted period.  I know that whether you are a rapper, a teacher, a nun, or a congressmen you should have the same rights. I know that if your police department continues to let the community’s questions go unanswered for days while you post armored vehicles and snipers in their neighborhoods you might not get a very positive outcome.  I know that if your unofficial departmental policy is to ignore the underlying problems in a community and never address their actual issues don't be surprised if protests become riots.

For Weary Friends

Don't let them take away your humanity. Feel. Expect. Hope. Pray. Mourn.  
Feel every emotion as it courses through your body. No apologies for feeling feelings. 
Expect America to do better, churches to do better, people to do better, police to do better, politicians to do better. Your expectations of being treated as fully human is not setting the bar too high. 
Hope for better, even as you prepare your children for a world that fears them. Hope for better even as you delete the hateful comment at the end of your post. Hope for better as you work. For this is what the ancestors taught us to do. 
Pray. Remembering a God wrapped in flesh, executed unjustly, knows your pain.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's Not One or the Other

I can love doctors, while still not trusting every word of advice they give.  I can love them while not standing behind those who don't treat their patients well.

I can love attorneys (let's hope so!), while fighting against those who seek to use their power to hurt or take advantage of others and commit malpractice.

I can love landlords who provide safe and stable homes for those in need, while still railing against the ones in my neighborhood who leave their tenants in lead-filled homes that are desperately in need of repair while over-charging those who depend on them.

I can love pastors who shepherd and guide those entrusted to them while having righteous anger toward those who use their position of authority to abuse those in their care.

I can love police officers, I can call them to my home when someone is trying to break in, I can introduce them to my children as people who are here to help, I can feel for their them and their families and be thankful for their service and their willingness to put themselves in harms way while also fighting hard against those who abuse their position of power and against the institutionalized racism that exists in our justice department.

It's not one or the other.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Annie's 4th Birthday Interview

I forgot to do this!  Whoops!

So a few days late, here are Annie's answers to her birthday interview questions.

Who is your best friend?


What is your favorite color?


What is your favorite animal?


What is your favorite thing to do?

Eat cake.

What is your favorite thing to wear?


What is your favorite food?


What is your favorite show?


What is your favorite thing to do in Iowa?

Play with my cousins.

What is you favorite thing to do with daddy?

Go on a special walk with just me and daddy.

What is your favorite thing to do with mommy?

The dishes.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A princess.

What do you want people to know about you?

That I have long hair.

I would add that information that you are beautiful inside and out, Annie.  You truly love life and are easily thrilled by even the smallest gestures of love.  Especially if those gestures involve sugary treats or frilly dresses.  You can throw down a tantrum with the best of them, especially if you are tired or hungry.  You and your sister adore each other and spend almost every waking moment playing together.  This was hard for you last year when she was in school, but you are so excited that you get to go to school too this year.  I have no doubt that you will make lots of friends because you tend to be a fearless, social butterfly.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Annie is 4!

Just ask her!  She comes out of her room in the morning now and announces to everyone, "I'm still four!"

And we celebrated in Frozen style, because that's your party theme this year if you are between the ages of 3-8.  It's the only option apparently.

I may have gotten a little excited about using quotes from the movie for the food table and gone a little overboard with it.  And then claimed it was all for Annie, you know, the one that can't even read the quotes on the table.

Goody bags of snowman parts.  Some of the kids took it literally to try to build a snowman with them.  Note to self, include toothpicks or something next time.

This sweet girl spent the whole day squealing over it all.  She made everyone's day with her reaction to opening her Elsa and Anna dolls.  I think the whole neighborhood could hear her.

Meanwhile, big sis learned a new trick to scare her mother with.

Abe and his best friend Mo from next door.  And he's wearing an Olaf shirt because he loves Frozen as much as if not more so than his sisters.

In case anyone's wondering where I get my weirdness from: this is my mom.