Reckless Love

Have you ever loved so fearlessly that nothing & no one could keep you from pursuing the object of that love? I don’t know that that’s a kind of love that you have for many people.

As we approach Christmas, I think about a love that makes no earthly sense. A love that a perfect God has for such a broken sinner like me. A love that will pursue me into the darkness & fight until I’m back in the light. A love that would abandon heaven for this fallen world. Because He saw me as worthy. Me. You. Worthy.

It’s a reckless love. And the safest love you’ll ever know. A love that relentlessly pursues, yet never pushes. A love 100% committed fully to me, yet 100% fully to you. Reckless love.

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Veteran’s Day

Yesterday I posted about #veteransday on Facebook, but I have to again today. This handsome young man is my grandpa. He served our great country in WWII & Korea. And he served God every day of his life. He was my favorite person every day of my life he was here. And i think God knew my world just wouldn’t really work without him in it, so he gave me Payne. Payne embodies all of the best things my grandpa was.

Here’s the thing. If you choose to kneel during our Anthem, that’s your choice & a freedom you have. But, to me, it’s a direct slap in the face to this man. This man who lost his father when he was a toddler, spent some time living in a children’s home, survived the Great Depression, fought in 2 wars, actively served in & supported missions work, and tried to right every wrong he saw in this world. He was raised in a generation where racism was the norm, yet NEVER bought into that lie. He sought out the underserved, oppressed & broken and would do whatever he could to help.

You have the freedom to kneel. And you say it’s no reflection of your feeling of the military. But that anthem? It was written DURING war as a tribute to our country, our troops and that flag. So yes, it is about the military. I believe in the causes you are kneeling in support of, but I will not kneel with you. I’ll STAND with you, but I’ll never kneel. NEVER.

As long as that flag flies & that anthem plays, I’ll stand. Probably a little teary eyed, too. Because no matter what all is wrong in this country (and there’s a lot) that flag, for me, represents all that is right, all that have fought to make things right, and those that fight today to make this country a better place.

privileged

Oppression (noun) 1. prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control; 2. the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control

Privilege (noun) a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people

Oppression and privilege. Two words that are prevalent in our country today. Depending on your upbringing, your race, your demographic or your financial status, you probably immediately identify with one of these words.

Me? Privilege. 100%. I am a white, middle class, Christian American raised in the great state of Texas. My family wasn’t wealthy, but we very much enjoyed life. I was raised by parents who made me believe I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. I was raised by parents who set limits & boundaries because they wanted what was best for me. I was raised by parents who supported my efforts, encouraged me consistently and made sure I had a set of core values that could guide me through life.

I was raised by parents who taught me that all people are created in the image of God and therefore all created equally. I was raised by parents who taught me that I was tremendously blessed in life and that because of that, I had an obligation to help those who weren’t as blessed as me. Because I was a privileged, white American I had a voice. And that voice should not be silent.

Here I sit, on a Sunday afternoon, in my comfortable middle class home, still in the great state of Texas. As has been the case for all of the years of my life, Sunday morning started at church, then lunch and now football. And because of football (ok, not all because of football) I have words that my voice needs to speak.

A season or two ago, NFL players began kneeling during the National Anthem in protest against the inequality and oppression that seemed to make headlines all too often. While I do not agree with the method, I do believe that they have the right to peaceful protest. And I believe in what they are protesting. I believe inequality and racism and oppression still permeate our society and bring out the worst in us.

Yesterday, President Trump did what he does best. He took to Twitter (sweet heavens, someone change his password). In a series of tweets, he stated that those who kneel or sit in protest should be fired. Today, the NFL showed up and showed out in solidarity to protest what President Trump tweeted. Here’s where I’m gonna lose some of you (but if you’re gonna get mad at me at least read the whole thing so you know how much you should be mad about).

When someone in power begins to speak the rhetoric of our livelihood being threatened due to the exercise of protected freedom, my voice cannot remain silent. I will never kneel or sit in the presence of our Anthem or flag as a form of protest. That just won’t ever be me. But when a leader seeks to redefine what and how we can peacefully protest, we all have reason to pause.

I still DO NOT agree with a method of protest that comes at the expense of our Anthem or flag. My grandfather was a World War II and Korea veteran. My dad a Vietnam veteran. My cousin a Desert Storm/Desert Shield Veteran. Dear friends who have fought terrorism on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. I see that flag and hear that song and my heart swells with pride. I’m proud of my family & friends. I’m proud of this country where I’ve enjoyed so much privilege. So much privilege. 

But let’s back up. To how we got here today. I’ve never lived a life of oppression. Never. Many who take that field each and every Sunday have lived in oppression. Many who take that field only enjoy some privilege now because of that game. (Side note: if you don’t like how much money they make, stop buying the merchandise, paying the ridiculous ticket prices and buying the brands they tell you to buy. They make that money because we, the American people, open up our wallets without hesitation.)

I’ve never lived a life where my skin color has put me under a microscope. I’ve never lived a life where my zip code, religion or heritage has made me have to fight harder to receive equality. Millions in this country do. Every single day.

It’s easy to fool yourself into believing those things don’t still exist today when you live in privilege. It’s easy to find ways to justify things you see on the news, happening outside of your community, as being the extremes when you live in privilege. It’s easy to be comfortable in your privilege and walk through your life denying the reality, especially when you’re someone who genuinely loves all people and have never been guilty of those things yourself. Because the second you’re willing to really see what reality is for so many, you have no choice but to speak. And when you speak, those living in blind privilege hear you. And when those in blind privilege hear you, they’ll be uncomfortable. Some will be uncomfortable then add their voice to yours. Some will be uncomfortable and double down on the reality they choose to live in and criticize you for making them squirm. Sometimes living in privilege without blinders can become lonely because it’s not popular.

Y’all, Jesus wan’t about being popular. He was about speaking the truth in hard places. Our country is in a hard place. A very hard place. Folks, Jesus would call the oppression & racism & inequality by name. Because it’s all real. He would sit down with those who have battled it and speak love and value over them. He would set a table for those who have struggled every day because of a broken thought process that makes them feel less worthy. He would invite brave voices who have worked tirelessly within the confines of the law to make the voices of those marginalized heard. Jesus would come and shake up our privilege in a way that would rock each & every one of us to the core. Not because we are privileged, but because we’ve chosen to live blindly there instead of using it as platform to bring change.

Do you want the NFL protests to stop? Work with the youth in your community who need to hear someone say, “You are worthy. You are capable. You are created for greatness. You are not a statistic.” While they are children, show them that those who don’t believe in them are irrelevant and those who will believe in them will speak louder. Do you want cries of racism to stop? Sit down with a few who look nothing like you. Seek to understand a struggle that you know nothing about. LISTEN. Don’t try to make your reality theirs. Acknowledge their truth and stand beside them in the face of injustice.

Do you want things to change? Speak. When it’s not popular, when it’s not easy, when your words will be lost on some. Speak. Even if your voice shakes. Listen. We can learn so much from each other.

To those who my voice reaches who battle oppression, inequality and racism in your every day life: I see you. You are not lost. You are not alone. Your voice and your life have great value. I stand with you. To those who my voice reaches that stand: Thank you. I see you. I stand, arms locked with you, just naive enough to believe that we really can change the world if we have just enough courage. Just enough to step outside of our privilege.

 

#HurricaneHarvey

Hurricane Harvey. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last week, you’ve heard about Hurricane Harvey. He brewed and churned in the Gulf for days. Then made his grand, unwelcome entrance on the Texas coast on Friday.  Everyone knew he’d be trouble. Everyone knew he’d overstay his welcome. But I don’t know that anyone knew how much damage Harvey would continue to cause.

Our first thoughts were with Rockport. We have family with places there. They got their homes boarded and grabbed possessions and evacuated. But have no idea if there are even homes to return to. Or how long it will be before they can even access the area to find out.

Then our thoughts were on our own area. Just over 200 miles from where this massive hurricane made landfall, we initially had some potential for some pretty nasty flooding. Then the storm shifted. It’s funny how the shift that saved us, put my parents and so many friends directly in the path of massive destruction.

A shift I should be so grateful for because we got some rain, and we needed it. We cooled off by about 25 degrees and that makes this fall loving girl happy. But it’s so hard to feel grateful knowing that the flood waters are just yards from reaching my parents’ backyard. Knowing that over a dozen tornadoes have touched down, some less than a mile, from my parents’ home. It’s hard to feel grateful knowing I have friends who are already flooded out of their homes. Their workplaces are flooded. Their schools are flooded.

Texas is in a catastrophic way right now. And it’s nowhere near the end of this mess. It’s hard to watch. It’s helpless to watch. But ya know what else? Texas is strong. Texas is resilient. It’s something built into us at birth. When life hits, Texas hits back. Hard. Seeing the best in people who are donating, sending supplies, coordinating volunteer efforts. Businesses who are swinging their doors wide open so people have a safe place to retreat, grocery stores bringing food to the people (I love my HEB). In these last 3 days, we haven’t seen Republicans or Democrats. We haven’t seen race or religion.  We haven’t seen position or financial status. We’ve seen people. People.

Why does it take a Cat 4 Hurricane to get us here? I think it’s a little because this catastrophic event doesn’t see those things. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care. So while this storm keeps pounding Texas, Texas will keep pounding back. We’ll keep showing that we’re stronger than this storm. We’ll keep showing that we’ll bounce back and we’ll do it well. We’ll keep showing that we rally around our people. And if you’re Texan, you’re our people.

While we wait for this to pass (we still have DAYS of this non-sense) we covet your prayers. As we come to the place where we can take action, I’ll be sharing on my Facebook page ways you can give, contribute, participate. As you watch this unfold on the news in front of you, know there are real people, real stories, real lives represented in every one of those stories. And know that every.single.one of us are #TexasStrong.

In the waiting…

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I’ve often wondered if Mary would look at our “holiday” of Good Friday and feel pain in her heart for what she went through on that day so many centuries ago. It wasn’t a good day for her. Obviously I’ve never met her, but I feel I can confidently say that this day that we refer to as Good Friday was the worst day of her life.

She endured a pain that day that no mother should ever feel. She witnessed a horror that no human should ever be subject to, much less watch that horror unfold on her first born child.  History shows us she was a woman of faith. The fact that she was chosen to carry, birth & raise the Messiah should speak enough to her relationship with God.

Mary witnessed the growth of her son. His growing into a man and growing into His calling of Savior of the world. She was a first hand witness to His first miracle. And I’m sure was witness to many others. Can you imagine the conversations when Jesus would return from long journeys with His disciples between the mother & son? I’m sure her heart filled with joy to hear her Son tell of living his life so completely surrendered and carrying out God’s plan here on earth.

But did she always have in the back of her mind that knowing of what was to come? She knew she birthed a child that would ultimately experience the cruelest of deaths to save the world. Did she ever have secret conversations with God asking him to spare her precious son? Did she ever want to interfere and maybe try to redirect Jesus knowing what he would face? We mamas always want God’s best for our kids. But if we knew that God’s best was what Jesus would endure, would our faith stand? Would our trust waiver?

I know that in the deepest part of Mary’s heart she knew. She knew that God’s promises were true. She knew that Jesus would do what he said he would do. But as that day approached, did her heart want to just steal him away to a place where no one would find him? Did she just want to save him? He was 33, but he was her baby, her first born. That instinctual thing that we mamas have to protect our children…did that kick in for her? How hard must it have been to fight that instinct and trust!

As Jesus went before Pilate and he took the coward’s way out, turning Jesus’ fate over to the people, did she begin to experience the deepest grief a mother can feel? As He began to receive the beating, as the heavy cross dropped on His weakened shoulders, as the crown of thorn was driven into His skull, did she begin to question God? Y’all, I’d have past questioning God about the time Pilate acted a fool and Peter denied knowing Him and been so angry with God by the time that long walk to Golgotha began. How did her mama’s heart feel?

As any loving mama, she pushed aside the pain watching Him suffer & die would bring her and stayed with him until the end. Until he was wrapped in the shroud and placed in a borrowed tomb, she stayed.

In her heart, I believe that she still clung to just a thread of trust that God would redeem this. I believe that to somehow numb the pain & grief of what her son went through she HAD TO BELIEVE that Jesus would rise on that third day. She had to or she surely would have become completely overcome by grief. She waited, in hiding with Jesus followers, wondering if their lives would be next. God never promised them safety from those that placed Jesus on that cross. They spent those days in grief and fear for what was in store for them.

I know that nothing most of us have faced (or will face) in life compares to watching your first born child beaten and hung on a cross to die. But all of us go through the hard things. The things that either we bring on ourselves or life just deals us. There’s a waiting between when that hard thing is placed on us and when we see it redeemed. In that waiting we have a choice. Are we clinging to the promise that God redeems the hard things like Mary? Or are we acting on our own to redeem it our way?

It’s hard in the waiting. We know that our redemption is coming, but what we wait through to get to it is hard. It can strip the life right out of us if we let it. It can rob us of joy and cause us to forget that God is good. It can cause us to forget that, if we can just hold on, when the hard thing is redeemed we experience our own kind of resurrection.

Jesus didn’t just go to the cross and WIN to only gift us heaven. Our redeeming comes in the every day.  In the dream fulfilled after struggle and loss. In the relationship restored after pain and separation. In that hard thing that makes no sense until you walk out on the other side and see how God redeemed it.

If you’re living in your own Good Friday right now, where it’s hard, it doesn’t make sense, where you wonder if God really does see where you are and have a plan, where tomorrow seems unbearable…you have a resurrection and redemption day ahead.  Just like Mary, cling to the thread of hope you have left until you see that hard thing redeemed. It may not be in 3 days, but it’s coming.