Rally

Today had lots of not-as-planned moments. Nothing bad, just lots of on the fly adjusting. As 6PM approached and I STILL hadn’t made it to the grocery store, I started to feel frustration with the day. The last thing I wanted to do at 6PM was go to the store. But for some reason these people that live in this house expect meals. And toilet paper. So to the store I went.

As I walked up to the cart corral (is that really a thing? I don’t know what you call it), a sweet young mom with 2 small children approached. I stepped back to let her get a basket. Because a mama with a 5ish year old and 5 or 6 month old wants to be done with that nonsense even faster than I do. I commented on how cute her little guy was (because y’all, he was beyond) as she placed his carrier in the front of the basket, then turned to get my cart.

Tonight I didn’t bring my purse to the store. Not at all normal for me. Just my wallet, phone and keys (this really is an important detail). As I pulled my basket out and turned to head into the store, it happened. That carrier holding that sweet baby boy flipped right out of that cart. As it hit the ground on its side, that precious baby fell out onto the ground.

Baby screamed, mama screamed and I apparently threw my wallet, phone & keys on the ground and abandoned it all to run the few yards between me & them. Mama had scooped baby up, I started gathering blankets that had fallen and an older woman inside the store came over and picked up the carrier. As I tried to comfort that sweet mama, I made eye contact with a scared & confused big brother who had no idea what was happening. I called him over to be by his mama. We all moved into the store and a little more out of the way. I stood and cried with that mama because my mama heart immediately imagined it being one of my babies when they were that small.

Within a few short minutes, that felt like hours, the baby had gone from crying to smiling. Somewhere in all of that, a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder. He must’ve seen all that went down as he walked through the parking lot because he had my basket, my phone, my wallet and my keys. Another few minutes passed as we all calmed down then all went our separate ways. I had to take a minute to pull myself together.

As I started my shopping, a few things occurred to me. Crisis, whether national or in the grocery store, can be an immediate unifier. I thought about the handful of people involved in this little crisis. Each one of us that pitched in was a different race than the mama & her babies (and were all different races as a group). Because a mama’s heart doesn’t see race, it sees a fellow mama in crisis and connects to that. No one criticized that mama or tried to tell her what she did wrong. Because every one of us as mamas has had that moment when something went wrong and we beat ourselves up with guilt. A man, who had no obligation to me, took the time to gather up my stuff, grab my basket and bring it to me. Because good people still seek to do good.

Crisis is one of those things that has such amazing power to bring out the best in all of us. Today, perfect strangers rallied around a mama who was in crisis. No one asked what they should do. No one questioned if they should. Everyone just rallied.

Can you imagine what life would look like if we didn’t wait for crisis to rally around and circle the wagons? What if, in the every day, we just loved each other in a way that always left us feeling supported and cared for? Conflict, complacency and so many other things can put distance between us and those we care about. Distance that sometimes is only bridged when crisis hits. What if just decided today to rally? Just because we love each other.

That sweet baby? I ran into them a bit later. That sweet baby boy smiled & laughed at me as I talked to his mama & big brother. He’s no worse for the wear. And thoroughly enjoyed that his mama never put him down after that scare.

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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.

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.