Rearview

I struggled with even deciding to write a year end/new year blog. I don’t have a lot of positive feelings about 2017. My most positive thought about 2017? Thank you, Jesus, that it’s over!

We rang in 2017 leaving Urgent Care with Addison. And that was just about how the year went. Hard things. Unexpected things. Loss. Change. Struggle. Heartbreak. Lessons. There were times that felt like not even God was still present. Times that felt like the most heartbroken prayers fell on completely deaf ears.

And then there were moments. Moments sprinkled in during the hardest times. Moments that became life preservers. If I’m being totally real, they aren’t moments that erased the hard things. Or that even outweighed the hard things. But they made the hard things survivable. A tear filled lunch on a cold, rainy day at Chick-Fil-A with a dear friend. New opportunities to serve that spoke life to my weary soul. New friends, each with a unique gift in their friendship. Reconnecting with old friends. Watching my kids have God moments. Growth, even though it was painful.

Moments that served as reminders that even in the hard places, God still works. Moments of reminder that my plans aren’t always what God has planned. And even though what God has planned might hurt, might just plain suck for a time, it’s still better than my plans. Moments when the great depths of my flawed self were seen by friends, who didn’t even bat an eye. Just loved me (and probably were mentally patting me on the head, thinking bless her crazy heart).

Putting 2017 in the rearview is not something I’m sad about. There’s still plenty I don’t understand, plenty I don’t like. But as I look in that rearview, I’m eternally grateful that God gave me the moments. I’m eternally grateful that God gave me MY people. I’m eternally grateful that God gave me the grace…even though I’m sure I lacked in that more than once.

So as I head into 2018, I’m choosing to focus on the moments of 2017. And I’ll look harder for the moments in 2018. Looking back, I can see more clearly than ever that moments are there. Not always in great abundance, but always at the right time. Maybe that’s my one word for 2018. Moments.

Happy 2018, y’all. Praying you see the moments this year.

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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.

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.