Category Archives: current events

New Seasons, Shifting Sand

dpp_0055.jpgOceans lovers like myself know what it is like to feel wet sand being displaced under your feet as the underwater current urges waves forward. We continually have to lift our feet and reset them for firmer footing, lift them, reset them, lift them and reset them.

Such are the seasons of our lives.

This last day of August 2018 offers both a “finally” and a “beginning”, a lifting and a resetting. School started a few days ago and since after 20 years, I am no longer a home educator, I find myself settling into another season journeying with the precious parents at our small Christian private school. I must say, parental involvement in this top-notch school is noteworthy — here are working and stay-at-home parents that give their time to help the teachers, encourage the administrative staff and join hands with each other in friendship. God will bless this, indeed.

For most US communities, personal lives are dictated by academic schedules. So like millions of other parents I now exhale summer activity, spontaneity and Southern humidity, and inhale reflection, coffee shops, after-school schedules and vocational duties.

I’ll be honest, August has been tough until today.

I exhale loss and sadness and inhale hope and promise. The stain of death and two older kids leaving home for higher education made sleep difficult. My dad died in August 2017. Another friend died in August 2015. Two families I know had sons killed in August 2018. (sigh)

I inhale God’s comfort and I exhale the difficulty of shifting sand under my feet that makes me lift and reset, lift; reset. Underneath this metaphorical sand is a very real rock: God’s Truth which is my foundation.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. (Psalm 16:7-8)

August was ironic. I drove to some of the highest peaks of my life….traveling across theLake Tahoe nation to luxurious and amazing destinations like the Rocky Mountains and Lake Tahoe. My heart soared and my eyes absorbed the beauty of God’s creation. God kissed me through this trip. I remember driving through Kansas on I-70. It’s not the most scenic route and I kept watch of the dark clouds to the north, but for a few moments, I was overwhelmed at God’s goodness. I teared up. This bucket-list trip had happened! Joy in the midst of a challenging month.

Beauty in the midst of pain. Hardship in the midst of hope.  Newness in familiarity. I encourage anyone who, like me, is experiencing a shift in their lives to imagine your hand reaching and holding the Divine hand.  My personal picture is me grabbing God’s hand with all of the strength that I have! He holds on just as intensely.

Friends, we are loved by a faithful and devoted God, who created us with good reason and profound intent. Yesterday I heard a pastor say this (my summary) “Our heavenly Father is SO good at taking tragic situations and events inspired by pure evil; reworking their consequences for our good….(in order that we grow through them), that we often begin to believe that he actually authored the events.”

The Lord says of us:
“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15)

14446133_1189737564418217_4322761516211056887_nMy soul rests while I regain my footing because I am loved by God who takes challenging events and uses them to cause me to seek his comfort. He teaches me how to get through earth’s journey triumphant rather than beat up and disillusioned. He wants to do this for all of us.

Do you need to exhale your yesterday so that you can inhale your present and your future? As you lift your feet under the ocean water of your life, remember that the current of God always has new sand for you to reset your feet on. Lift, reset. Lift and reset.

Beneath seasonal sands is a sure foundation.

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“I Just Can’t.”

You’ve seen her.

Cozy cardigan over a cotton tunic, skinny jeans and name brand running shoes. Hair combed just enough for the messy look to be fashionable. Just enough makeup to not feel insecure in the morning drop-off line at her kids’ school.

But you really haven’t seen her.
Because if you did your heart would break. 
Last night’s argument with her husband ended up in a sleepless night. A few hours later the toddler woke up crying. Another fever. That morning, her tween greeted her with silence, unfinished homework, and an unsigned permission slip for the field trip that day. The smelly sink disposal called for white vinegar and the main bathroom hamper overflowed with clothes. She forgot detergent during her last grocery trip.

She drove away from drop off with a beautiful smile and a wave to fellow parents while inside her soul was crushing her to death. With each heartbeat, the deep, torturing pain of hopelessness pounded against her dream of a life she would enjoy. A tear fought its way to the surface, only to be interrupted by the toddler’s feverish whimpers.

What would you say to her? What thoughts would you have when she is at the point where she whispers “I. Just. Can’t.” No religious verse can take away her present. A gentle squeeze of her hand may offer needed human touch, but still her present remains 11as it has for a few years.

 

The tragedy of emotional pain can happen to any of us. Unknowingly we have walked by the young woman whose boyfriend abruptly ended their relationship or the woman who finds herself in a place where her native tongue isn’t widely understand causing her to wander through her present all alone.

The dark night of the soul is an experience that lasts too long for most of us who’ve been in these shoes even for a moment. No matter what the status-single, married, with kids or yearning them, life can be difficult. When the fabric of our soul sheds, the danger signs appear but are unfortunately invisible unless we….unless she lets someone look deeply into her eyes.

How can we as a company of sisters help each other not fall into a living hell? Even the medical community recognizes that a prevention ethic is best. What can we do better so that one of our sisters knows that they don’t have to hide behind a smile and a wave?

Ruth 3:1  Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?

The words “seek” and “security” give form to our compassion and empathy. Seeking involves deliberate action. I picture a person holding a telescope looking into the distance on behalf of someone else. The picture reminds me of Isaiah 21:6 which says: “Go, set a watchman, Let him declare what he sees.” Let’s discover the next steps of our sister’s life! Whether by prayer or research, we can find opportunities that our sister can take hold of to find or rediscover her value. She must realize that her present narrative is a roadblock versus a foreshadowing of her future.

Similarly we can carry vision for our sister’s life. This carrying is more than verbally affirming dreams lost by the wayside. It is stewarding her vision when she is down. The day she rises she will take it back. Ruth of this Old Testament story  was a young widow. She was in a place of transition after the death of her husband, who was Naomi’s son. Ruth was personally aimless but relying on the strength and wisdom of her mother-in-law, who was also in a place of grief and transition. Age and experience is valuable. The years in which Naomi accumulated wisdom and understanding gave her the strength to carry vision for her daughter in law’s life. In current times, this means that older mothers should remember what life can be like for a younger mother. Altruism involves prevention. No woman ever has to get to the point of giving up. Ruth was childless and a widow. She had no acceptable status in her culture. We must be proactive with checking in with our sisters with words of encouragement and offers of practical help. If they can’t find a sitter, we can bring the coffee or tea to them. We need to discard pleasant surface conversations and sit in front of them at a function and say, “How are you doing with the things on your plate?” or “Is there anything that I can pray for you about?”.

Security is essential to wellness. We can guide our sisters to a secure place. Newness can make life topsy turvy for any human being. Is our sister newly married? What about in a new job or fresh out of college? Is she newly divorced? Let’s anticipate her struggle for this segment of her journey. I don’t mean suppressing her natural emotions or allowing her to become codependent on you. A listening ear is like a soft pillow to someone who feels like the foundation is shifting under her feet. Similarly, well-timed words are described in Proverbs 16:24: Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Every mother experiences something new every few years, a birth, entry to the school phase, puberty, leaving home. Too often, we, the sisters, wait for our churches, schools and community organizations to offer classes or events . We can be the class or event on cloudy afternoon if we shift our schedules and make space to serve and be what God envisioned for sisters to be. We must protest the dividing lines of economics,race and education and be a company of sisters. Even shared faith does not matter. Life challenges all people.

If we make this a part of our lifestyle, then we won’t see her, the one with the tear finally falling as they teeter on the brink of giving up everything on this side of heaven. Her pain and her woes don’t have to be medicated with the secret stash of liquor, drugs or the darkness of her bedroom. Sisterhood was created to keep our chins up when they begin cowering, our eyes fixed when they begin to wander and our hearts strong when weariness comes close. If you are Naomi, go find a Ruth and if you happen to be Ruth, don’t hide behind a smile and a wave. Let us see your eyes.

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Believe You are Threatened? – The Crime of Belief

via Daily Prompt: Believe

Public schools today are on lockdown in Charlottesville, Virginia. My children’s private school headmaster sent an emergency email to parents about an hour ago regarding what media is calling “a social media threat”.

images (3)This threat comes because some human being believes that the massacre of Las Vegas needs to be duplicated here in Charlottesville. Apparently this human is upset about the recent Lee Statue debate and the city decision regarding it’s removal.  Our nation’s racial history is the centerpiece.

What one person believes threatens us all.

Be sure, I’m a believer… of good health and wellness, in racial equality…in Christ. I believe in home cooked meals and a daily dose of dark chocolate, as well as the freedom of speech and the freedom to peaceful protest. Keyword: peaceful. Some of my beliefs threaten someone, somewhere. For example, statists despise my belief in parental rights and those who are pro-choice are dismayed that I am a pro-life African American woman.

Does belief have to threaten at all?

As a Charlottesville resident, I’ve written posts in the past two months centering on the problem and my solution for those who feel threatened by someone else’s belief system.

“Let’s be neighbors and respect each other’s individual intellectual property when it comes to belief and speech. I learned the importance of this at a very young age as a young black girl living in a mostly white suburb.” Respect the Rules of My House

“Some whites sincerely didn’t like the end of slavery, go figure. They really believe that they are being taken over by other ethnic groups. I don’t get it, but it’s true. They’ve suppressed their anger and fear until now. Likewise some black and other minorities are tired of not only systematic and institutional racism, but also of individual encounters with these white people. Some of these white and black Americans, have stayed segregated and have no one of another race to call friend. Some don’t want that blessing.  They just want to unleash their suppressed anger.

1 John 2:11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

If we truly believe that humanity is a band of brothers of every tribe and tongue, then there is a disconnect between our belief and reality. While there are those in our present day who would say that some humans are genetically inferior than others, most of us shake our heads and ignore their utter stupidity and warped need for self-adulation.” Who Let The Dogs Out?

What you believe doesn’t have to threaten or offend me.
IF you are a white supremacist, I’m okay with you. I have my own belief about the reason why you believe what you believe, but I’m not bothered by what you believe about my racial identity.

IF you are atheist, I am not insulted by the nonexistence of your spiritual belief.

The issue for all of us is when belief becomes action. From proselytization to Las Vegas shootings, protests, demonstrations to political legislation, we are afraid of the consequences of individuals putting their beliefs to action.

The problem we face, collectively, is that we cannot control what others believe. We despise this reality. But belief is innate to our human species. We can prosecute crimes when they come against our life or liberty. But we cannot, and I pray that we will never be criminally punished for believing what we choose to believe.

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