dear good man

This whole post was edited to be more clear about the point I intended to make in the first place but failed to communicate well.  I hope this is better.  Let me just be very clear about what this post is not.  It is NOT a claim that men are perverts.  It is NOT a claim that every woman has experienced some form of sexual abuse or misconduct.  It is NOT me saying that I hate men and think they’re all evil.  It is NOT me saying that men are not entitled to an opinion.  I don’t want any man to read this and believe they have no voice about women’s issues.  I know it’s an unpopular notion within feminism (like many of my personal convictions) but I believe dialogue is important between the sexes–really all people in general–and I always welcome it!  I love to flex my brain muscles in that way!  So, thank you for reading and for giving me the opportunity to redeem my poorly communicated post–not that I gave you much choice.

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Recently I’ve been completely leaving my wheel house of quippy stories of motherhood and loving Jesus in a foreign state.  This has been relatively uncomfortable for me but I’ve felt there are important things that need to be said and I have a voice to say them.

So brace yourselves.

I’m a woman.  I’ve lived through most of (haven’t been old yet but I’m working on it) the stages of female.  Baby.  Toddler.  Little girl.  Teenage girl.  Adolescent girl.  Young woman.  Woman.  Now, here I am 33 (soon) living this woman life and loving it.  Truly.  However, even though I’m a woman, have been my whole life, I’ve never felt like I fit in with any feminist movement.

I’m a Christian–like the hardcore sold out for Jesus kind–and though at this point my leanings are of the liberal persuasion (sorry dad), something about mainstream feminism doesn’t quite jive with the bibles call to be a submissive wife (a widely misunderstood notion, if you ask me).  I believe abortion is never the answer and have done my best to counsel friends–without judgment–toward taking other routes while loving them fiercely.  I have grieved.  I have deeply mourned when the choice they made was not the one I prayed for.  I don’t have some high powered career.  I don’t have any career.  I’ve made the choice to not only stay at home with my four children but to also homeschool them.  None of these things seem to be accepted by many feminists, at least not the ones who speak the loudest.

For a great many years, though there are things I do agree with inside the feminist movement, I stayed away.  I didn’t speak much about my own experiences as a woman and I definitely did not call myself a feminist.  After all, they wouldn’t want this stay at home mom of 4 who submits to her overlord husband speaking on behalf of women everywhere.  I’m totally kidding about my husband.  He makes submission really easy 99% of the time cuz he’s a good one.  But recently the whole #metoo thing has struck a chord.  It has triggered some memories in me of not so great experiences with men and I’m at a point where I can’t ignore them.  So I started thinking about how I define feminism (see top of page) and decided I would indeed speak up.

I had a conversation with Paul last night about some of the things that have happened to me in the workplace, in school and out publicly–things that are not great.  I realized that I really need to be talking about these things with my husband because it’s men that need to know.  We know.  Women know.  We know where we’ve been used and abused and marginalized and devalued and taken advantage of.  We know it all.  The men who are the problem, they don’t listen to us.  They don’t see us.  They won’t hear us.  They don’t care.  They don’t see themselves or their way of thinking as problematic.  These men believe it’s all in good fun or they’ll say they’re “just kidding.”  Man, have I heard that one a lot.

But to the good men, they’ll hear you.

So this is my plea.  If you are a man who values and loves the women in your life, if you believe we were created as your equal in every way, if you believe that we were created in the image of God just like you were, then please, open up dialogue with other men.  Be willing to do this work.  This is not about gender roles or about roles of women in the church.  This is about a woman, being able to smile at a man out of kindness without that man seeing it as an invitation to look her up and down and lick his lips like hes preparing for a meal.  I didn’t just make that up.  It happened to me at the gas station on Monday.  Forget the wage gap (though that’s important too), this is about a woman being safe at work and not being asked by her boss to flash him her breasts or having to deal with hostility from male coworkers because she’s taken initiative or because she knows things they don’t (God forbid).  Those are true too.  I have so many more, some even worse.  If you ask your wives, sisters, friends and even daughters, they will also have these stories.  They will.  We all do.  No matter which side of abortion we’re on, whether we love Jesus or not, we have these stories.  God help my daughters.

What I can also guarantee is, no matter how good a man you are today, a woman somewhere has one of these stories about you.  You may look at your past and think, well I wasn’t that bad.  But you don’t get to decide that.  You don’t get to decide how your actions effected someone else or made them feel.  That’s for them.  What you can do is acknowledge this pattern. Acknowledge that even if its not your current behavior, you see it!  Just because you have a wife or a daughter that you’ve always treated respectfully, doesn’t exempt you from this conversation. If anything, it should motivate you to speak up for them.  Change is in order.  Opening up conversation is in order.  Men, please do the work.  Do it for your wives.  Do it for your daughters.  Do it for your sisters and mothers.

Now I’m not making some huge blanket statement that all men are sexual deviants or perverts.  Two of my three examples were sexual in nature because that’s what the majority of my experiences have been.  It’s not my intention at all to make it seem that men are all disgusting toward women.  However, it is my intention to reframe your thinking.  So for clarity’s sake, here are some examples of how men–often without even thinking about it–marginalize, belittle and devalue/undervalue women in (relatively)non-sexual ways:

-when a woman shows any type of emotion, rather than hear her out, you are dismissive and call her crazy

-if a woman is exerting authority in the workplace you think of her as bossy (or worse) and overly aggressive, where you’d see a male counterpart as strong, commanding of respect and productive

-you consistently dismiss female opinions (even your wife’s) because “what does she know?” or because you’ve decided they’re dumb or–the male favorite–overly emotional

-you give your wife a hard time when the house isn’t clean but she’s been home all day–the “what did you do all day?” mentality

-you weren’t appalled by the Serena Williams media coverage and the cartoon that followed

-you believe without exception, a woman’s place is in the home

-you make lude jokes about women or laugh when other men do

-you think that women hate men because they sometimes have negative opinions about male behavior

-you make comments about how women are bad drivers (even though Men cause 6.1 million accidents per year and women cause significantly less at 4.4 million per year)

-there are career choices you believe are for men only

-you don’t trust the word of a woman until a man–or google–can confirm what she said is true

-it doesn’t bother you that there’s roughly a 20 cent on the dollar wage gap between men and their female counterparts

-you’ve assumed a female doctor was a nurse

-if you responded to a “for sale” ad and instead of speaking to the woman who answered the phone, you asked for her husband

-you’re the man, so what you say goes and you make sure she knows it

-you’ve called a woman a slut

-you’ve called a woman fat

-you’ve judged a women based solely on her attractiveness 

-you feel you’re entitled to opinions about a woman’s weight, height or general physical make up and you’ve told her so

-you hear the conversations of men who think, feel and act many of the ways listed above and instead of defending the personhood of women, you choose not to engage with them

This is in no way an exhaustive list of ways men treat women as inferior but I think it makes the point.  And I’m not saying that because on some level every man is guilty of this, that somehow makes them evil or bad.  If you really want to go down that road (which I know you don’t), I believe we’re all completely depraved and desperately in need of Jesus, that includes women.  But anyway, I’m just saying that y’all need to be aware, these lines of thinking are harmful.

I’m not claiming that every single woman out there has the exact same experiences.  What I am claiming is that we all do have experience–even if many of us choose not to communicate that.  Or sometimes we choose to communicate, but we fail to do it in the most kind way so we’re dismissed by men as being too angry or aggressive.  I’m not claiming that some of this stuff isn’t horribly uncomfortable and even offensive for some men.  But push passed the offense and hear whats being said.  You’ll always be able to give examples of women who lied about abuse or who use their bodies and sexuality to get ahead.  But lets just admit, that’s not the norm.  The norm is women who have been hurt, and even if you don’t like their tone when they give words to their hurt, it doesn’t negate their experience.

It’s time for some repentance and redemption.  Ask God to show you your sin, show where you’ve failed to value us as equals, as image bearers.  Ask Him to remind you of the times in your life where you have personally treated a woman as less than you.  It’s scary.  It’s really scary.  But its beautiful.  You will be better for it.  You will be a better husband. You will be a better father.  You will be a better man.  Then go talk to your buddies.

These days, I spend most of my time in my home, with my kids–safe.  My home is a safe place from these types of behaviors (now).  But many of my sisters are not safe.  It’s not acceptable.  It’s just not.

Good men, we need you…

american idol

Dear Church,

I know we’re not perfect.  I know we make many mistakes.  I’m including myself in that “we.”  We all have individual struggles with sin and then corporately we have struggles with sin.  Our leaders are imperfect and those of us with a denominational bureaucracy, the guys up there aren’t perfect either.  I can personally say that every church I’ve attended has wronged me in some way–not the kind of wrong where just my feelings were hurt, but the kind of wrong that is plain biblically wrong.  I’m at a new church, and she hasn’t disappointed me yet, but give it time.  The point I’m getting at here is, I’m not blind to the dysfunction of the church.  I’m not.  My eyes are open to it.  There are times where I see dysfunction and know that its not my place to speak up, or, I know that it’d be a plank/speck situation.  I’ve  recognized over the years that pointing out sin is left to the Holy Spirit.  Unless I have a deep and intimate relationship with the person caught up in it, my mouth is to be shut.

Since I am the church, since you are also the church, since it takes an entire world full of us to make up this one body, I’ve realized this is one of those places where I should open my mouth.  There are parts of this body that aren’t functioning properly and its effecting the rest of us!  More importantly, its effecting the Kingdom.

I’d like to ask this question.  And I’d like for you to really think about it and be honest with yourself for a moment.  When did America become your idol?  When did she become so important that you started caring more about your flag than the people covered under it?  Our troops have not put their lives on the line to fight for a flag or a land mass, they fight and sacrifice for PEOPLE.  Every. Single. American.  I’m not saying this because of patriotism or because of Donald Trump.  I’m saying this because of the Church.  She is floundering and she is failing because many of us have decided that before we are followers of Jesus Christ, we are American.  And some of us have gone further and decided that before we are followers of Christ, we are whatever political party we identify with.  It boggles my mind when Christians confidently sit on either side of this political fence.  There is so much wrong on both sides–so much that is anti-Gospel.  But this isn’t about that.

Most of us were born in America.  Some of us have family who we know came from other countries, but for most of us, we inherited our citizenship.  America is a home we were given.  It didn’t take much.  One day, we were born–we were born American.  Lucky us.  But really how lucky?  Because speaking from a Christian standpoint, we are seriously lacking in our faith department.  When you look around at other countries and see how the Holy Spirit is working, you can’t help but notice, that’s not prevalent here.  If we read about the Chinese church, or the Indian church, we will see miraculous things happening over there–people being healed, prophecy, words of knowledge, demons being cast out, radical conversions and so many amazing things.  Over here, we’ve got what, like two guys operating in that kind of power regularly? And most of us think they’re frauds!  That in itself says something about us.  We’re so unaccustomed to seeing the miraculous, that when it happens, we doubt its authenticity.  We’ve become so jaded because this land of opportunity has afforded pastors on our TV screens the freedom to  abuse “power” for financial gain.  American Christianity is missing something.  A BIG something.  Now don’t get me wrong, miracles happen.  I’ve seen them, I’ve been told by people I trust of their own experiences with them.  But then it trickles down the line.  And it becomes something that’s so unbelievable, people stop trusting the information.

In America we have freedom.  Freedom has left us to many distractions.  Comfort, I think being the foremost.  For me, that’s my number one.  If I had to name an idol in my life, that’d be the one.  It’s such an idol, that God often sees fit to completely uproot me from where I’m comfortable and plant me somewhere else completely.  What can I say, it’s a blessing and a curse.  Even writing this blog post–and the last one–is completely outside of my realm of comfort!  Walking in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit in a way that is effective, is also extremely uncomfortable.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve said “no,” out of pure discomfort when the Holy Spirit has prompted me to speak.  I’m learning to say “yes” more.  Part of American Christianity’s problem is that we idolize comfort–it effects how we see Christianity and it effects how we see each other.  We’re not willing to look weird or strange to others and in turn, we quench the Spirit.

Now, to my point.  We are so distracted by comfort that we are more inclined to be angry at the NFL, or cut up our Nike socks than LISTEN to a fellow brother in Christ!  Colin Kaepernick.  He started something to bring attention to a major problem within our American system.  But I think he unintentionally brought to light a major problem within our church.  Seeing all these posts about how awful Kaepernick and the NFL are actually grieve me.

I have to believe that all you out there so opposed to his PEACEFUL protest of the national anthem, must to be ignorant to what hes protesting.  Because as a Christian, if you knew, you’d kneel with him!  If you’re an irate veteran, THIS is what you fought for!  An Americans right to be free!  You fought for every man, woman and child’s right to stand up against a government that is flawed, to fight for change using the platform we are given.  Colin was given a highly public platform.  He’s using it.  And I believe hes doing Gods work.  You can see from all he’s lost and all hes willing to lose.  Doing whats right always costs.  If Jesus were to come down from heaven for the NFL season opener, do you think he’d be standing pledging allegiance, yelling “‘MERICA!” or might he be down on the field with his children quietly bringing to the surface all that is wrong with our system.  Might He be weeping over the division in this country, not just politically, but spiritually.  Might he be tearing down the idol we’ve made of this country.

We look at a man like Tim Tebow, a man vocal about his faith, and we eat it up!  “Ohhhh look at Tebow, he prays and doesn’t care about what other people think.  He stands up for the poor and the marginalized.  Hes wonderful!”  I’m not saying hes not.  And I’m not saying that the things hes doing to make this world better aren’t worthwhile.  He IS indeed a godly man.  But now we have Colin Kaepernick.  He is also vocal about HIS faith.  He is also standing up–or kneeling–for the oppressed and marginalized in this country.  Why is he so demonized, not only by the public, but by fellow Christians?! Both of these men love and serve the same God you do.  They are both our brothers.  There’s a difference though.  And it can not be ignored.  Tebow left football because he wasn’t great.  His career didn’t tank because of his faith, it tanked because he couldn’t hack it in the NFL.  Now, he plays minor league baseball and still has positive headlines in the media.  We all feel hes a “good guy.” Kaepernick on the other had, a talented black quarter back with so much promise–a man who led his team to the Super Bowl in his first year as starting QB–is quite literally out of a job.  Let me just remind you of some of the things Colin has publicly said.

“God has brought me this far.  He has laid out a phenomenal path for me.  And I can’t do anything but thank Him.”

“My faith is the basis from where my game comes from.  I’ve been very blessed to have the talent to play the game that I do and be successful at it.  I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me get to where I am at.  When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field.  I think if I go out and try to do that, no matter what you do on the field, you can be happy about what you did.”

In reference to his many scripture tattoos:

“I got them for me and this is to show people this is what I believe in.”

“Basically, it’s saying the Lord is giving me the tools to be successful, I just have to go out and do my part to uphold that.”

If you’d like to know what scripture is inked on his body, a quick google search will yield images that clearly show the words.  If you’re lazy, I’ve linked the search results here for you.

Mike Frost said it best in his article title, “A Tale of Two Christianities on it’s Knees,”

“It seems to me that Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick represent the two very different forms that American Christianity has come to.

And not just in America. In many parts of the world it feels as though the church is separating into two versions, one that values personal piety, gentleness, respect for cultural mores, and an emphasis on moral issues like abortion and homosexuality, and another that values social justice, community development, racial reconciliation, and political activism.

One version is kneeling in private prayer. The other is kneeling in public protest.

One is concerned with private sins like abortion. The other is concerned with public sins like racial discrimination.

One preaches a gospel of personal salvation. The other preaches a gospel of political and social transformation.

One is reading the Epistles of Paul. The other is reading the Minor Prophets.

One is listening to Eric Metaxas and Franklin Graham. The other is listening to William Barber and John Perkins.

One is rallying at the March for Life. The other is getting arrested at Moral Monday protests.

You can see where this is going. The bifurcation of contemporary Christianity into two distinct branches is leaving the church all the poorer, with each side needing to be enriched by the biblical vision of the other.”

I love this excerpt!  There is a real problem within our faith when we pick and choose sides–especially when both sides are good and right!  Abortion is an easy one for the white man to stand against.  Its a great one!  Pro-Life should be the stance of every Christian, white, black, male or female.  However, when we are pro-life that means we are pro EVERY life.  The ones who can not speak for themselves AND the ones who ARE speaking.  And lets be real, for the white Christian man, facing the reality of systematic racism would mean battling their own demons rather than someone else’s.  So instead, you get on board with one and offended by another.  What we’re failing to see is that BOTH need to be fought for.  Both need the Church to get behind them.  One is not more important than the other.  And if God has called you to be an advocate for the unborn, that doesn’t mean you get to ignore the other.  God calls us to different things.  That’s how all the kingdom work gets done.  But those of us who aren’t called to be voices for the unborn don’t by default become pro-choice.  We’re still very much aware of the problem with abortion.  In the same way, whether you become an advocate for racial reconciliation or not, you don’t get to sweep the problem under the rug.

By ignoring Colin’s point, and instead focusing on our offence, we are not only robbing ourselves of freedom from our idol worship–be it comfort, America or self–we are also robbing the church of unity.  I’m not asking every single person to immediately drop what they’re doing and join Black Lives Matter.  But what I am asking is that you would shut your mouth and LISTEN.  We have a real listening problem in this country.  Lots of opinions and lots of talk but no one is listening.  Colin’s hope was that his peaceful protest would open up dialogue about race issues in this country, specifically those resulting in the death of black men, women, and children at the hands of our law enforcement.  He knew the risks–hes paying the price.  But you know what, the players in the NFL are almost 70% black.  This isn’t going to go away.  They have the majority there.  They have the platform.  And I believe God has been building that platform for such a time as this!  We need to start having conversations about race in America and stop instead talking about how offended we are that the black community would have a problem with our ignorance.  They need us to fix this.  They need us to see!  Less than 13% of the population is black.  They need our numbers if there is any hope for change.  What better way to get our attention than through the National Football League, where 77% of the viewership is white!

Boycotting the NFL does nothing but show your ignorance and your privilege.  Even for me, a white woman, I’m still not the same amount of free as a white man.  I can’t even count the amount of times my voice has been silenced by a man in the workplace or the times I’ve been sexually harassed or times a man has felt he has a right to my body.  Even within some denominations of my faith, my knowledge and ability to teach would be ignored because my voice is female (which I strongly feel is unbiblical).  Now I’m not trying to go on some feminist rant or diminish the greater injustice felt by people of color.  But I AM trying to point out that full freedom in this country is dependent on gender and the color of your skin.  And even our American feminist movement leaves behind our sisters of color–going all the way back to suffrage.  If you still think that America is an equal opportunity country and that there is no need to care about the voices of our brothers in Christ, then I admonish you–please do the research.  Learn.  Let voices of those on public platforms be ones that you actually hear.  Stop thinking about yourself and your comfort and LISTEN.  When you ignore this, what you are saying to the black community is that they cannot be trusted to accurately express their own experience.  THAT is offensive.

We have got to lay this American Idol down and remember what freedom means!  Love God more than you love your country.  Be a follower of Jesus before you’re a fan of football.  Stop focusing on the problems you see within the Black Lives Matter movement and instead focus on your own heart!  Remember the greatest 2 commands given to us by Jesus Himself, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.  All the law and the prophets hang on these two commands.”  We are failing at our faith when we fail to do the latter.  And if we’re honest, we’re failing at the first if we’re failing at the second.

We cannot separate loving others from loving Jesus any longer.  It’s time to lay down this American idol.

Sincerely,

Kelley–your sister who loves you fiercely!

*****I would like to personally thank Colin Kaepernick–who will most probably never read this–for his strength, for his courage to kneel when everyone around him stands, for his willingness to enter into the darkness and bring it into the light.  I see you.  You have been heard.  Though there are still many who stand against you, some of us have been brought to our knees–both in support of true freedom for our sisters and brothers of color and also, before our God in repentance for our sins of ignorance.  God has used you powerfully, to stir something in us that desperately needed to be stirred.  For that, I am so grateful.  You have sacrificed and lost much for this.  Do not be discouraged!  God is moving.  Be reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”  Press into Jesus and keeping doing the hard things.

 

Hey White People

I haven’t written in quite a while and what is going to follow is weighty.

I’ve been going back and forth with whether or not I should write this.  Then once I’d made the decision to write it, there was a great deal of time spent trying to figure out how to effectively and carefully approach this subject. Let me be clear here, my concern is not for my white community. I was concerned with whether or not I could do justice to the message Black Lives Matter (and many other activists) has been screaming at us for years.  I do not want to let my brothers and sisters of color down any more.

I don’t use the word “screaming” to imply aggression on the part of black activists, I say it because we as white people can be so dense to this issue, we have actually tuned out all the noise!

Noise is being made.

It’s time for us to open our ears and actually hear what is behind every protest, every news paper article, every voice for change.

For a long time I was the person going, “Well sure there are still people who are racist, but I’m not.” Or have you ever heard this one?  “Slavery is over, the civil rights movement is done, what more do these people want?”  More often than anything else, I hear people say things like, “I know there are issues with race in this country, but they’re going about this all wrong!”

Lets unpack these statements.

The “I’m not racist” argument isn’t good enough, and here’s why.  You ARE.  The problem is so deep and has been coursing through your veins for so long, you can not possibly just decide not to be racist.  It takes work.  How do I know you ask?  I know because I’m in the work stages.  I’ve started to really think about what inside me causes the urge to cross the street if a black man were approaching me at night (unless of course he were in a suit, then I might stay on the same side of the street).  The honest truth is, NEVER have I been accosted by any black man.  No black man has ever put his hands on me in an inappropriate way.  But can I tell you, I have a looooong list of white guys who have hurt me, both physically and emotionally.  If we’re really getting into it, lets just go right out there and say, the majority of rapists are white guys.  52% to be exact.  You can find some rape statistics here if you’d like.  If you’d like to dig a little deeper, you can head here to check out the FBI crime numbers from 2012.  So this begs the question, why?  Why do I instinctively feel the need to protect myself from black men?

What I found was, the black “thug” image goes deeper and farther back then I ever thought.  It was an INTENTIONAL picture painted by those unhappy with the growth of freedom and wealth within black communities.  You can find a wonderful article about the image of the black man throughout history here.  I hope you read it, it’s eye opening.  And I hope by now you’re starting to get angry!  Because you’ve been lied to and you have been an unknowing pawn in a much bigger game!

Now, you can see how simply claiming not to be a racist isn’t enough.  We have to quite literally reprogram our thoughts and remove all the garbage we’ve been fed our entire lives–a repentance of sorts.  For the Christian, we have to take captive every thought and submit it to Christ.  These are our brothers and sisters–men and women carrying the stamp of the Image of God on their souls.  Jesus was for the oppressed and marginalized and we should be too.

This leads me to the next statement white people make.  We can not choose to assume that because slavery is over and the civil rights movement appeared to be successful that there is no more work to be done.  I hear us white people make the assumption that black men, women and children and other people of color, have the same opportunities we do–I used to make the same assumption.  Some people go even further to say that they have MORE opportunity because of scholarships and affirmative action.  This, again, is a lie we have been fed.  It’s untrue.  What is most sad about this lie is, a simple google search would prove otherwise.  At this point, our ignorance as white people is sinful.  The information is there, how dare we ignore it.  For instance, a quick google search yielded information on the enormous wage gap between black and white employees who are doing the same jobs with similar education levels.  You can find that study here.  Another quick search yielded a study that shows how black men receive more jail time for crimes than white men who have similar criminal histories and were charged with similar crimes.  You can check that one out here.  If you’re not convinced, here is another article about people of color and our criminal justice system.  And just for the heck of it, here’s an article about the sale and use of drugs according to race.  Spoiler, white people use and sell all the drugs too.  In fact, more white people use drugs than black people and as far as sales go, that’s split right down the middle.  Yet, black people are more likely to face prison time.

These few articles don’t hold a candle to the amount of information out there.  Yet, in these few, you see unarguable proof, there is an oppression happening right now–don’t believe me, keep digging.  A systematic oppression.  I know you’ve heard these words.  And you’ve likely rolled your eyes.  You may have even thought at one point or another that you’re actually the one the system oppresses because all the jobs and all the funds for education go to minorities first.  But this is untrue.  You see now–this is untrue.  Don’t ignore this!  It’s going to take some time, and it’s going to make you uncomfortable and angry.  But be careful who you’re angry at.  The black community are not the people who have been lying to you, and they are NOT our enemy.  Our system is broken and it’s leaning hard in our direction.  We ARE and HAVE BEEN privileged.  White privilege is real.  It doesn’t mean that we’ve never struggled or that life for us has been one large ball of sunshine an rainbows.  There are things that every human has to endure at one point or another.  I am not trying to take away from your personal pain and loss.  What I AM saying is, black men and women and other people of color go through ALL that humanity has to go through in this life, while also dealing with not only racism but an entire system that favors one race as superior to another.  Our system has gotten good at doing this discreetly.  There’s an eye opening documentary about this on Netflix called 13th.  It’s incredible and everyone should watch it.

The last thing I want to cover in this–much too short to say everything that needs to be said–blog post is how we white people think we can tell black people how they should respond to the oppression they’ve been dealing with for generations.  This was my go to argument–well maybe people would actually listen if you didn’t break the law and get all aggressive about it.  This argument is disgusting and I’ll tell you why.

I didn’t want to start with my personal journey of navigating through this, because frankly, it’s not about me.  However, I think it’s important that you know where I used to be and how I used to think.  It’s even more important for you to know why I don’t think this way anymore.  The three statements I chose to unpack were intentional.  They were chosen because not only do I hear them all. the. time. but I used to use them.  It is important for you to know why I will not ever use them again.  That’s why I wrote them down and presented evidence to prove them weak, feeble, ignorant arguments.  This last one really gets me though.  It’s what I used as a cop out for a very long time and I’m ashamed of that.

It’s a typical log/speck situation.  If you have any knowledge of the bible, you probably know this verse, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5.  I had been so critical of the speck, while ignoring my own log!  When we use this argument–when we try and tell our black brothers and sisters how to respond to the things we are ignorant of–we fail to see the big picture.  The log.  There is an giant log coming straight out of our eyeballs and we continue to ignore it.  How can we expect any person of color to trust us when we have been quite literally keeping them down for centuries now.  They do not trust us!  Put in the same situation, would you?  We have so much work to do.  There is a long process of plank removal that NEEDS to happen before we can even think of touching the speck in anyone else.

For me, I saw the plank for the first time when Colin Kaepernick chose to sit during the national anthem at the start of a football game.  I saw it.  The reason I saw it was because I was angry with even a peaceful protest–how dare he disrespect our nation–and the Holy Spirit would not let me ignore the why.  I can not adequately express to you how deeply this change in me is rooted in my faith.  The more I learn who Jesus is, the more I see how we have chosen to ignore so much of what the Christian life should look like.  Ignoring oppression is the same as being the oppressor.  I have come to realize, it’s not the method of delivery that bothers us–its this message.  We will always be able to find a reason to object to the cause because of the delivery of the message.  We object because it’s not easy to hear.  It’s never easy to hear there is an issue with yourself.  No one likes that!  But it’s GOOD!  It’s so GOOD!  It means we can get better.  We can be better.  That’s part of the sanctification process.

So what do we do?  We listen.  We learn.  We learn without requiring our sisters and brothers of color to teach us.  The more we learn, the more we will fully understand the magnitude of this.  Do not be lazy.  We google everything–from recipes to pop culture references–lets use the power of google for change instead of trivia answers.  Follow black activists on social media.  They constantly post information and resources.  Through the learning process you will see and read many things that are offensive to us as white people.  Get used to it.  If we ever hope to change the black community’s perception of the white community, we’re going have to be allies.  We’re going to have to be the kind of allies that die to self for a while–the kind of allies who are willing to take some hits for the betterment of others.

The other day I read a social media post that referenced all while people as snakes.  I didn’t love that.  I don’t believe myself to be a snake.  But we HAVE to see ourselves the way they see us.  After having my eyes opened, I can’t blame any person of color for a single negative thought they have about me.  Especially when they’ve encountered people like me who have ignored and marginalized them their entire lives.  We have no business touching that speck until our plank is fully removed–until we have built trust and have loved on the people we have been hurting for so long–until they see our voices not as voices of oppression, but as the voices of people who love them and seek racial reconciliation.  In 2 Corinthians, scripture tells us, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation because Christ has reconciled us to Himself.  We are to be reconciled with Christ, but also reconciled to each other.  We should be on a mission to reconcile with our brothers and sisters of other races.  Mission always costs something and it is always messy.  DIE TO SELF.

We don’t get to dismiss #blacklivesmatter by saying #alllivesmatter (I too am guilty of this).  The Black Lives Matter movement is not saying that only black lives matter.  They are bringing to light the systematic injustices done to their community.  They are making the point that they matter too.  When we respond with “all lives matter,” we are minimizing the bigger issue.  We are saying all lives matter with our mouth and then proceeding to ignore the racial hierarchy we have helped to preserve–a hierarchy that tells people, some lives matter less.

There’s a lot of information in this post but not nearly enough.  I don’t usually write about politics or social issues, but maybe it’s time for me to throw a few in here or there.  I imagine I’ll catch some flack from my white community for this post, but I’m ready for it.  My hope is that some lightbulbs will go off today–that some people will see something they hadn’t allowed themselves to see before.  I love Jesus.  And Jesus loves everyone.  But he REALLY loves everyone.  He didn’t just say it, He had the chops to prove it.  That’s my goal.  Love and live like Jesus.

#blacklivesmatter

its been a while

I feel like a lot has happened since I last wrote anything down.  I know it’s been a while.

As life becomes more settled here, I find myself overwhelmed with guilt.  The more at home I feel, the further from home I feel.  And I don’t like it.  Let me give you a few examples.

Last week Paul registered our car here in Texas and went ahead and got his Texas license.  Something so ridiculously necessary made me sad.  It was as though those Texas plates were what solidified my move, like all this time, that’s what really made it a reality for me.  Prior to that, did I think I was on some sort of extended vacation?  (With all the kids?  Yea right!)  Regardless of the futility of my reasons, I was sad.  I still get a little sad when I walk out of the house and see those plates attached to my very New York car.  The car is very New York because I am very New York and I feel guilty for leaving my New York-ness behind.  I really am though.  I feel myself starting to speak a little differently and I’ve even started to get used to the much slower pace.  I haven’t felt rushed in a long time and its really nice.  All that said, and I still do have my New York drivers license.  Ha!  Who the heck wants to drag the kids to do that!?  Seriously though, you have no idea how many hours Paul was out of the house doing all that.  It was hours and hours!  It probably equated to a full work day.  That truly is part of the reason.  It has to be done though.  I have about 20 more days before I’m breaking the law so I’ll wait until day 19 in true procrastinator fashion.  I mean, I could use a new license photo though…

Okay, all the technicalities of moving aside, making friends is also causing me guilt!  I feel like I’m starting to replace my people.  And that’s reeeeeaaaaally hard.  Really hard.  Over the last few weeks I’ve made genuine connections with people.  Great people, awesome people even.  In doing so, I realized that I’d kind of been happily avoiding genuine human contact.  If I form new friendships, that says something about my old ones.  It says, that they’re old.  It says, that I need to fill in the gaps in our relationships that have been left by the move.  Obviously I still have these old friends.  But everything is different now.  There are no more impromptu lunch hour dates, no more late night coffee chats, no more summer beach trips, no more play dates that existed solely so our children would occupy each other while us mommas caught up, no more.  The whole togetherness part of these relationships can’t exist anymore.  We have to learn to be together very differently, and we will.  But I still need the person to person connection with a community of women!  So I feel guilt as I find it.

I don’t even think I realized how much I was hurting over the whole thing until I started the “Connect Class” at my church 2 weeks ago.  It’s a class that once a week for 6 weeks, takes you through what community/friendship looks like biblically.  Then by the end, you’re grouped off into a Missional Community of men and women you’re supposed to grow in Jesus with, using all of the biblical tools that you learn.  Well, during these classes, much of the discussion centers around past experiences with community.  I don’t even participate in the responses to those questions.  I physically can not.  Because I would sob.  And who wants to be friends with the girl who sobbed at connect class?  Not me.  I’d avoid that person.  It’s been hard going through these classes, knowing that I had exactly what we’re learning about.  This kind of biblical community, where you love each others souls more that you love the friendship, that’s what I had back in New York.  I had women who loved me right to Jesus over and over, women who preached the Gospel to me when I couldn’t preach it to myself, women who made me a better wife and mother because they weren’t afraid to challenge me!  These ladies have been the iron to my iron!  Aaaaaaand now I’m crying.  Ugh!

I mean to be fair, they should be all bent out of shape over this too.  I’ve been told I’m a pretty awesome friend, so losing me is probably just as tough for them as this whole thing is for me.  Also, you should applaud my humility.  It’s a gift.

Moving on.

Paul is taking this connect class with me because he’s a trooper and he loves me very much.  He also knows how important it is that we’re part of a community together.  That being said, It’s definitely not been easy for him to sit through either because when they’re asking a question like, “How has your relationship with Jesus shaped the way you are a friend to others?,” he doesn’t really know how to respond.  Should he say that he’s not a believer?  Should he be so blunt as to say that he doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus?  Does he get to take a pass?  Luckily, we ran out of time before it was his turn to share a response.  And luckily, Christianity isn’t a prerequisite to being able to have or be a friend, so he was able to talk through a lot of the other questions.  If he were a different man, or loved his wife less, he might have decided never to go back.  I mean, I’m saying this, but he might still decide he doesn’t want to go back.  And obviously if he did make such a decision, it wouldn’t mean he loved me less or was less of a man ha!  I’m fairly outgoing and it’s been pretty uncomfortable for me, so I would imagine its far more uncomfortable for him.  Not only because he doesn’t share our beliefs but also because he’s such an introverted person to begin with.

I just want us both to have friends.  Good friends.  Paul has one friend and he is a good friend.  But like me, he’s gonna have to find a friend to fill in the gaps that this move created.  He’s a dude, so I don’t know that he’s feeling it quite the same as I am but we need friendships.  We do.  It’s just how we were created.  Slowly but surely, God is gifting me with some and I want Paul to have that too.  Maybe I’m being ridiculous and I shouldn’t be so concerned with it, but even so, I am concerned.

In other news, we haven’t had a day cooler than 94 degrees in weeks and I love it, I’m so behind on folding laundry, I drink my coffee black now (woohoo!), I’m still sleeping on the couch downstairs with the dog and this summer I’m reading through 1st and 2nd Corinthians, so be prepared for lots of entries about that.

Till next time, I’ll be over here, gettin all Texan and running on Jesus and (black) coffee y’all!

 

 

 

 

titles are hard, sharing Jesus is harder

I met someone.  Maybe she’s a friend now.  We’ll see I guess.  While I was impressed with her as a person, I was also impressed with her salvation story.  You see, someone at her previous job a few years back asked her something along the lines of, “Do you know Jesus?”  The whole thing really got me thinking about how ineffective we often are as evangelists because of our lack of boldness.  I have no idea who this cracker barrel employee was, and I probably never will.  But I am grateful for this brother.

The simplicity of his approach is remarkable!  So direct, right to the point.

Now as Christians, we all have our specific callings, gifts and ministries but there are some callings that we all share, universally.  Our platforms may be different and our resources may be different, but we are ALL to be evangelists.

Dictionary.com (no one uses a physical dictionary anymore, come on) defines “evangelize” this way, “to preach the Gospel to” or “to convert to Christianity.”  For those of us who are thinking, “well, I wasn’t called to be an evangelist, I was called to [insert calling here],” you are dead wrong!  Sharing the Gospel wasn’t a call given to a select few Christian brothers and sisters.  It was given to ALL of us!  In Matthew 28 we find what is commonly known as The Great Commission.  It’s where Jesus sends the disciples out to make disciples, who then make disciples, who makes disciples and so on and so forth.  It’s an endless cycle of Jesus following, disciple making.  His words are, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Those of you who are sticklers for context, like myself, might say, “well, here Jesus is speaking to his remaining 11 disciples, not to us.”  To that I respond: in this passage of scripture, those 11 disciples are being told to go make more DISCIPLES.  This means that the same charge Jesus gave the 11 would be given to us as the new generations of disciples.  BAM!  (The “bam” might have been too much.)  If you don’t believe me, there are a so many other bible verses that speak to this!  Romans 10:11-15, Philemon 1:6, Luke 12:8, Acts 13:47. I mean, this goes all the way back to the old testament too!  Isaiah 12:4, Psalm 96:2-4We NEED to be sharing the Gospel and though I know it’s important to preach the Gospel over and over to ourselves and to other Christians (we all have a tendency to forget), it’s also important that we share it with people outside of our tightly knit circles.

This is a concept that should be the heartbeat of the church, which by the way, YOU are.  So it’s not up to your pastors or your congregation, it’s up to you and I as INDIVIDUALS! 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”  The presence of God is no longer confined to the walls of a temple.  Church buildings do not contain the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God enters the church building only when the church people walk in.  When you hear a pastor say on a Sunday morning, “The presence of God is in this place,” it’s only because YOU are!

If you’re a Christian, you were given every tool you would ever need to share the Gospel of Christ when you received the Holy Spirit.  That is the truth.  It doesn’t always feel very true, but it’s true nonetheless.  If you’re like me, you’re a coward.  So cowardly that you won’t even pray for boldness because you don’t want to be praying with strangers in the parking lot of the H.E. Butt grocery company.  I think I’ve said this before, but the “B” in the HEB grocery initials stands for “Butt” which is the guys last name and because I’m a sinful, sinful being, it makes me laugh every.  single.  time.  Anyway, very rarely, if ever, do I leave my home and ask the Holy Spirit to show me who to share Jesus with while I’m out.  I don’t ask, because I don’t want to.  And He’s never told me to because I’m probably not listening anyway.

I have no problem being all Jesus-y on social media, in this blog, with my family and close friends, but when it comes to strangers, I have a “no way Jose” attitude.  I don’t openly say to the Lord, “today I refuse to share you with anyone” but I might as well!  Because I don’t do it!  Now I’m not minimizing the good that a Facebook post can do, or a blog, or sharing a scripture with a friend.  Those are good and right uses of platforms we’ve been given.  Personally, I have a heart for the lukewarm Christian.  I love talking to other Christians about Jesus, the Christians who have fallen away from faith or the ones who teeter on the edge of it.  It’s one of my favorite things to do!  I love talking to my unbelieving friends and family about Jesus.  I know they think I’m a complete nut, but I also know they love me so I don’t mind.

The common denominator in all these instances is that I KNOW these people.  Most of them I love deeply because of our longstanding relationships.  And I don’t just love these people, I love their whole souls.  I want them to know Jesus for who He is and spend eternity with Him.  I can not say the same for the stranger in the parking lot.  But I SHOULD be able to.  There have been times the Holy Spirit burdens me so heavily for a stranger that I am compelled to pray for them, and in that instance I do love them and their soul, but generally, I don’t pray with them.  Again, not minimizing prayer.  Prayer is powerful.  It’s so powerful that I should be doing it MORE, with more people, with strangers.  We should be CONSUMED by desire to share this message of hope that we have, especially in this incredibly dark and dying world.

Stick with me here.  I’m coming around the bend.

We’re not given just one platform, we’re given many and we should be using them ALL.  If you food shop, you can share the Gospel.  If you get your groceries delivered, you can share the Gospel.  If you have a job, you can share the Gospel.  If you live in an apartment building, you can share the Gospel.  If you have neighbors, you can share the Gospel.  If you stand on line outside your kids school, you can share the Gospel.  If you are part of a running club, you can share the Gospel.  If you take your dog to the dog park, you can share the Gospel.  If your kids take swimming lessons, you can share the Gospel.  If you go out on Thursdays for happy hour, you can share the Gospel!  The list is innumerable!  We don’t need to be on the streets every day handing out tracts, though again, I’m not dissing that, we just need to actually see the people we pass while we’re doing the ordinary.  How often do you see the same check out person over and over and never even look them in the eye?  Oh, is that just me? THESE ARE PEOPLE!  WITH SOULS.  ETERNAL BEINGS.

How is it that something so simple can be made so complex!  Just ask, “do you know Jesus?”  If they answer “yes,” then maybe you’ll have inspired a fellow believer to go and do just what you did.  If they say “no,” then you have an open door to start a conversation or give an invitation.  We don’t need to be good with our words; we don’t need to have a 30 minute sermon prepared in response.  We just need to put ourselves out there and let the Holy Spirit do the rest!  My Cracker Barrel working brother has inspired me and I hope he’s inspiring you too.  I’m going to (probably for the first time) pray that God give me boldness to speak to the people that He created in His image.  Even if I don’t know them, I at least know that.  Each and everyone one of us carries the Image of God like a seal on our soul.  Every.  Single.  Person.  There are no exceptions to that.  Whether I know someone or not should not preclude me from recognizing that fact.  If God loves you, so will I.

Lets go and actually make some disciples y’all.  Something tells me I’m gonna need a lot of Jesus and coffee for this one, and I might walk away humiliated a time or two.  What are those times gonna matter to me in 10,000 years though, right?  I’m praying for us.

 

 

how many times…

How many times is this puppy going to pee on the floor!?  He goes days now without accidents and then all of a sudden it’s as though he completely forgets that the potty is outside.  Lord help me.  Really though, help me Jesus.

Funny story (and most likely a complete overshare), when I get up in the middle of the night to let Chandler out, I usually also have to pee.  As everyone knows, even if you don’t have to pee laying down, you do have to pee once you stand up.  But being the good mom that I am, Chandler takes priority.  So while I’m standing outside with him, patiently waiting for him to do his business, I have to pee so bad that I practically fantasize about squatting right there on the lawn and peeing too.  Listen, I know I’m weird but this is my safe space.

On another note, my oldest son Charles has had his iPad taken away for all of infinity for what’s up to almost $130 in Robux charges for his dumb game!  I feel like I’ve been on the phone with apple for days.  The way they work is that not all their charges appear at the same time even though the purchases are made at the same time.  Odd, I know.  So every day, up comes a new charge and I have to spend a good deal of my morning rectifying the situation and it makes me mad all over again.  For those of you who might be thinking to yourself, “He’s just a 10 year old boy.  There’s no way he did it on purpose.” You are dead wrong!  He is a smart 10 and he knows the value of money.  He is so very much aware that he asks for iTunes gift cards for birthdays and holidays.  The kid knows.  After coming up with some cockamamie story about how the game must have “glitched out,” his father and I inspected the iPad to see if maybe I had accidentally taken off the password protection for purchases or something.  Needless to say, I did NOT.  Paul even tried making an in app purchase to make sure it required a password to complete.  It DID!  Once we went through these measures of testing, finally Charlie confessed.  He said he had learned the password without our knowledge and was making the purchases hoping that we wouldn’t notice.  That’s the funniest part I think.  We’re not flat broke, but we’re close enough ha!  We notice every dollar that goes in and out of our accounts.  Right down to the cents.  So how many times will these kiddos think they can be sneaky and not be found out!?  It just goes to show, we’re all born broken.

We’re smarter than our kids.  If Charlie was given the choice between eating this week or buying robux, something tells me, the kid would have chosen food.  $130 is the better portion of our weekly grocery bill.  $130 is enough money to pay both our gas and internet bills.  Between robux or internet, cooked food and dry clothes, I think he would have chosen the internet, cooked food and dry clothes.  But in the moment, he’s not thinking that.  He’s not thinking that he’s trading what’s ultimately better for what’s most satisfying only for a moment.  He’s just thinking about his immediate wants and desires.  How often we are the same.  God is infinitely smarter than we are.  What we think we need and what God knows we need are usually on two opposite ends of the spectrum.  As parents we are to guide and lead our children, to teach them what’s best and what’s better.  And as loving parents we allow our children to feel the full weight of the consequences of their actions.  To do anything less would be unloving.  And yet, we (or me) get angry with God when He won’t immediately do things our way.  Kids are never thrilled with discipline and neither are adults.  But it’s so necessary.

How unloving it would be of God to give us what we want, even when it means that it would result in us or someone we love, living eternally apart from Him.  He’s the greatest Father.  He’s better than even the best earthly father.  When God takes from us something good, it isn’t to cause us pain and suffering, it’s to give to us instead what is better.  It is always in Gods great mercy that He tells us “no” or “you’re done” or “it’s time to go.”  It is always the most loving thing He can do to allow us to suffer the consequences of our actions or even just to suffer period.  How else are we to learn what Grace is.  Many of us know the definition of Grace.  We preach it to friends and family and the unsaved, we even preach it to ourselves.  Many of us have a working knowledge of the “theory” of Grace, but far fewer of us have had the tangible experience of Grace.  It’s painful.  It hurts.  It requires some (a lot of) humbling.  But it’s the most beautiful thing.  Grace makes you grieve your sin.  Grace shows us why we need to depend completely on God.  It makes you feel the weight of your sin whilst simultaneously lifting it off of you.  Grace shows you Jesus face to face.  And when you know it, when you know Grace the way God intends, you have the unique ability to give it out.

We can give it out in so many way.  We can be gracious to strangers who cut us off in traffic.  (Put those birds away people!)  Grace gives us the ability to be compassionate on the leaders of ISIS; it gives us the ability to pray for their souls and deeply desire that the Holy Spirit does a work in their hearts.  (If you’re angered by that, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament is equivalent to a modern day terrorist.  There is no heart so hardened that God can not soften it.  Pray for your enemies.)  Lastly, (for this, but not actually lastly because there are an insane amount of ways to dole out Grace) we can give it to our spouses when they disappoint us and we can even parent by it.

Being a Holy Spirit filled, Jesus loving parent means that I get to show my kids the Grace and Mercy of a loving God by loving them through every imperfection and mistake and allowing them to suffer consequence.  I get to know that when they come out the other side of their 10, 7, 5 and 3 year old suffering, they’ll be one step closer to the people they’re supposed to be.  And hopefully they’ll be one step closer to their Father who loves them and desires eternity with them.  It’s necessary.  Correction and discipline are necessary for my kiddos and they’re necessary for me (you too).  I hate it when I’m in it, but I love it in the end.  And it’s important that my kids see my great and desperate need for Jesus so they will see their great and desperate need as well.  More importantly, I hope they realize, the desperation never ends.  There is no cap to the amount of times we’ll need Jesus.  It’s every time, all the time.  This side of Heaven I want to spend every single day desperate.  Desperate for more Jesus.  Thank God for Grace.

Perfection doesn’t exist in this home; we don’t even aspire to it.  We just have a lot of love and grace and merciful correction and desperation and sometimes the desire to pee out in the backyard next to the dog.

I’m out.  Running on Jesus and coffee y’all.

“For from His fullness we have all received Grace upon Grace.” John 1:16

 

a new desk, an audition and mothers day

I apologize for my absence!  My grandmother spent a week with me and it was absolutely lovely.  I woke up this morning (downstairs, on the couch where I’ve been sleeping with the puppy) expecting that she’d be down soon and remembered that she headed home yesterday.  It was quite a disappointment.  She’s one of those low maintenance guests that’s just as happy watching something on TV as she is going out to lunch and doesn’t expect to be constantly entertained.  She’s the best, so naturally, we had fun!  Before she arrived, she bought me my new desk!  I love it.  At some point today, I’ll be getting the bookcase I ordered to sit over in that corner on the right.  Things are coming together!!!

I had my audition for the worship team this past (not passed, right?) Saturday.  Unfortunately for you all, it didn’t go as horribly as I thought it would so there’s no real humor to this story.  I ended up not having the time to practice that I’d hoped to have.  Which I knew would happen because I had a guest and a baby puppy to tend to the week prior.  Neither of those things offer the hours a day I would usually take to practice.  Especially because during my practice time, I ignore everything and everyone ha!  My kids run a muck, my house gets destroyed and I don’t care.  Anyway, I almost didn’t go.  I was figuring that it would be a waste of everyone’s time because I felt so unprepared and inadequate and I definitely didn’t have the music memorized.  But I went anyway.  I think I was beyond nervous.  Terrified is a better adjective.  Turns out though, fear does wonders for my voice.  They’ll be sorely disappointed if they decide I have a place on their team because I don’t think I’ll ever sound that good again.  True to form, I did make a mistake or two on the piano.  Thankfully I’ve become a master at recovery, so it’s not usually a disaster.  I mean, sometimes it is but not this time.  Over all, the experience was a good one.  I still think they’ll take a hard pass but it won’t be because I was awful, it’ll just be because I’m not as experienced or as good as they all are.

All that aside, everyone who auditioned was invited to be part of a monthly “worship collective.”  Apparently anyone who considers themselves a “creative” and is using their gift for the kingdom, is welcome to come and fellowship with other creatives.  You share a meal, get to know other people in the community and worship together.  It’s funny because I have never considered myself (and still don’t) to be a “creative.”  The whole idea of it makes me uncomfortable.  If anything, I’m a copier.  I recreate other peoples art and it’s never as good as the original.  At this point in my life, I’ve written two and a half mediocre songs (well over a year ago) and only one did I actually use during a worship set.  I don’t even know if it was received well because I don’t look up from the piano ever.  So, definitely not a creative.  BUT even still, it’ll be nice to be part of a community where I can learn and hopefully greatly improve!  Maybe I’ll even make a friend or two.

After the audition, when I got home, (I don’t remember exactly how we got there.  I mean, I know we got there via car, I just don’t remember the events that led us to the store) all of us Carpenters and Grammy ended up in the HEB grocery store.  Fun fact: the “B” in HEB stands for “Butts” haha!  It’s H.E. Butts Grocery Co. The reason we were at HE Butts, I can’t recall.  Oh wait, I recall.  We went to MOD Pizza for dinner and then Grammy needed wine.  As it turns out though, she didn’t really need any wine.  I have 2 full bottles left over in my fridge and another bottle hanging out in my garage fridge.  But anyway, while we were there, Paul decided since Mother’s Day was the following day, he’d pick me up a card.  He did his absolute best to hide the card from me (which he succeeded at) and proceeded to tell me how great the card was.  My son Charlie also chimed in and said something like, “yea mom it’s a really great card, you’re gonna love it.”  Needless to say, I opened it the next morning expecting to love it and… I didn’t love it.  Instead, I cried.  In Paul’s defense, had this been any other Mother’s Day, I probably would have laughed.  But this Mother’s Day, following the stress and pure sacrifice of this move, I was far more emotional than usual.  My self righteous, sinful behind was thinking that I deserved some heartfelt thank you for moving here to Austin and at some point after knowing Paul picked out a card, I decided in my mind that Mother’s Day was the perfect day to receive that thank you.  Both thoughts, very wrong.  I opened my card on Mother’s Day and to my great dismay, there was no lovely thank you, at least not one I could read.  Instead it was filled with words that were completely unrecognizable to me with the exception of a big ole “LOL” written on the inside.  Because of the large Mexican culture down here in Texas, Paul thought it would be funny to get me a Spanish Mother’s Day card.  Paul thought wrong.

Ultimately I felt bad because it really wasn’t his fault that every other year for always I haven’t really cared much about cards or gifts.  And usually I appreciate a funny joke.  And it also wasn’t his fault that I’d decided I deserved some expression of thanks for moving here beyond what he’s already given me many times.  I wasn’t mean to him about it but I was visibly upset.  He felt really bad and he apologized that morning when we got to church (which made me feel worse).  After I talked to my mom about it she told me I needed to save the card forever so I dug it out of the trash where Paul had thrown it.  Upon further inspection, I realized that he hadn’t chosen this card just because it was in Spanish, but also because there was a small flap with part of Proverbs 31:28 on it.  It might have been in Spanish, but I knew what it said.  “Her children rise up and call her blessed…”  That’s the only part on the card but the rest of the verse says “…her husband also, and he praises her.”  Just this very moment, I’m realizing that the flap is actually a removable bookmark.  That’s gonna have to sit in my bible forever now.  At some point I’ll Google translate the rest of the card.  But for now it’ll be a reminder to me that I AM blessed and my husband DOES often praise me.  I don’t need a holiday to know that I am appreciated and loved far beyond what I deserve.

In fact, this past weekend was one of the most fun weekends we’ve had since we moved in!  Grammy offered to babysit so that Paul and I could have a date night, so naturally we got out of there as fast as we could!  It had been probably months since we’d gone out just the two if us.  I actually think the last time was for my brothers 30th birthday back in February.  That doesn’t really count as a date night though because we spent most of the evening apart, socializing and had to leave early because Paul was flying to Texas early the next morning to house hunt.  Anyway, we had a real date night Friday night.  I have to say, it was probably the absolute best date night we’ve ever been on.  Instead of doing the usual boring Long Island thing where we’d go to dinner and see a movie, we actually went and did some things we’d never done before.  We saw an improv comedy show at this adorable theater that had a small café up front (I had a banana and Nutella stuffed pretzel that was sinfully good) and then we went and walked all over 6th street.  They close down the entire street.  For my Long Island locals, it’s like Patchogue’s Alive After Five but on steroids.  We had a drink at one of the many bars and ate some street pizza..  They don’t cook it in the street or anything ha!  You walk up to a window at a pizzeria and get a slice to go and eat while walking down the street.  It was crispy and delicious until I got to the crust.  Crust is my favorite.  This crust was not.  We were in the city early enough that it wasn’t complete pandemonium.  I’ve heard it gets pretty crazy there as the night progresses.  I’m sure it has to do with the one million bars.  I’m not even kidding, if you tried to do a 6th street bar crawl, you would die before the night was over.  DIE.  Fortunately Paul and I chose to avoid death and had a lovely evening enjoying each others company instead.  Oh, we were also home by 11pm and the entire night cost us less than $75.  New York date nights were upwards from $150.  So I mean, we were fiscally responsible AND home at a decent hour.  That’s a total win!

That’s all for now, y’all be good now ya hear!?  Ha ha!  I’m sorry for that.  I don’t know what’s happening to me.

Keep on running on Jesus and coffee.

 

short and sweet

Let me just start off by saying that this little pup pooped all over me within the first fifteen minutes of being ours.  So there’s that.  We had an hour and a half drive home from the farm(ish place) he was living on and I watched him go outside before the gentleman handed him to me forever.  Guess that didn’t matter.  Because within fifteen minutes of being on the road, this little boy took many pieces of a large doody on me.  This is puppy poop.  So it’s wet.  And it’s mushy.  And it’s definitely not the kind of poo you just pick up and be done.  I think that poop will live in the fiber of my clothes forever, which is super disappointing.  He pooped all over my favorite pair of jeans.

This is how life with this baby boy began.

Are we excited for the future?  I can’t say that I am.

I can tell you though, he was very upset about what was happening.  Poor guy tried to hold it in so bad!

Tonight will be Chandler pups third night home and I am so very tired.  I am FAILING at crate training.  The first night he was home, he slept with me on the couch downstairs all night.  He was up every 2 hours to go potty.  This is more often than my human infants woke up to nurse!  Listen, I’m not gonna feel bad about it anymore.  I have four kiddos, they’re ALL awesome sleepers and always have been.  I must’ve had that good milk.  I’m sorry to the mommas who are still being interrupted by their kids every night.  But those days of sleeping children are all gone for me now so.  Don’t be too jealous.  Now I have Chandler.  He’s made it very clear that he only wants to sleep in my lap or on my chest or in my arms.  Currently he’s curled up in a blanket on my lap, snoring away.  It’s very cute.  HE is very cute.

So night one, no crate.  Night two, he was crated from about 11 pm to 2:30 am and then I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I didn’t want to leave him in there crying because I was afraid I wouldn’t know the difference between “potty” crying and “please snuggle me I don’t want to be in here” crying and he would poop and pee all over his crate and it would be al l my fault.  Between 11 and 2:30 I took him out probably 3 times to pee.  2 times were completely unnecessary but what did I know!?  I can’t tell the difference between his cries!  So he’s being spoiled and I’m failing and I’m weak and I’m the worst puppy mom.  Help me Jesus!  Really.  Please Lord help!

Enough with Chandler.  Okay, maybe one more thing.  Chandler was named after my favorite preacher of all time (though I’m really beginning to love the preachers at my church the same way), the one and only, Matt Chandler.  Ha!  You may think it’s ridiculous that I would name my dog after a pastor that I’ve never met and don’t know, but here’s the thing.  Matt Chandler is something like 6’5” and he’s always talking about how tall and gangly he is and how uncoordinated he was in high school.  Well, what better name for my soon to be tall, gangly, uncoordinated Great Dane!?  It really is perfect.  And you know what?  With a name like Chandler, he’ll certainly be anointed by the Lord to preach the Gospel unapologetically to all the dogs in the greater Austin area?  Who doesn’t want to see dogs in heaven!?

NOW, enough with Chandler.

I received my email from the Austin Stone Worship people about the songs I need to have prepared for them.  They’re good songs.  You can listen to them here and here.  But here’s the thing.  They “suggested” keys for me to sing them in.  How strong are these “suggestions.”  Is it like, “hey, here’s an idea of what keys women usually sing these in, but by all means, sing where you’re comfortable.”  Or is it more like, “hey’ we’re only looking for women who fit into this range category so make it work or stay home.”  For my musical peeps, they suggest I sing “You Never Change” in E or D and “Build My Life” in D or C.  I’m a solid Alto.  If we want to be really honest, I’m a tenor.  Ha!  I mean, I can get up there.  But it’s not pretty.  And it’s definitely not gonna get me on anyone’s worship team.  To give my less musical people a visual, here is how it works.  A, B, C, D, E, F, G are some keys.  For one song they suggest I be in the key of E or D and I need to be down at A or B.  And for the other they suggest D or C and I’m comfortable down at, yet again, A or B.  If you look at my little alphabet list there, where I’m comfortable is 2-3 keys below their suggestion.  So, what in the world do I do!?  I’m pretty sure that I also have to have them committed to memory.  No music.  So I can’t be remembering more than one version of each song!  It’ll be crazy!  I’m going to be like Chandler on that first car ride home.  Pooping my pants.  At least I’ll have pants to catch all the poop.

This is going to be insanity.  I promise.

Also, this past Sundays sermon was awesome.  Ya’ll need to watch it here.  So so so good.

I’m out.  Maybe I’ll shower.  Definitely gonna have more coffee.  Hopefully I can shower.

Running on coffee and Jesus y’all.

untitled

I just spent the last 10 minutes crawling all over my living room trying to figure out what the weird humming noise I’m hearing is.  I’m thinking a phone is on vibrate somewhere ringing off the hook, a gaming system was left on, something!!!  Is there a weird humming animal living in my walls already!?  Then out of no where, I remembered I turned on the washer upstairs.  It’s doing its little agitate thingy.  Time has been wasted, time I can never get back.  Moments like this make me feel like a big moron ha!  Anyone with me?

Before I was a blooming idiot, I was actually pretty productive this morning.  I got up, showered (this is never a given, I’m pretty gross), fed the kids breakfast, made my bed, googled “what’s the best dog food for a Great Dane puppy” for the 900th time like the results are going to change, and… well, I think that was pretty much it.  But I did things!  Oh wait, I forgot.  The whole point of my list was to say I also completed day 1 of a squat/plank challenge I’m doing with some ladies I don’t know from the Austin area who are part of the same Facebook group.  I did my 15 second plank, shaking the whole time cuz I’m a weakling these days.  After the plank, I did my 20 squats.  I did some serious squats.  20.  That’s all.  Can I tell you, I am already feeling them!  That’s so sad.  Also, it probably doesn’t help that with every squat I heard a series of crunching sounds in my legs.  No pain, just crunch.  It was like listening to a crotchety old rocking chair.  This is 32 I guess.

About a year and a half ago, God totally freed me from my addiction to food.  It was pretty incredible.  I didn’t notice for a few days that I’d been eating significantly less until I made these delicious banana muffins that I love and I only ate one.  All day.  Just the one.  I used to eat 3 or 4.  Not in a sitting (at least not usually), but throughout the day.  I would salivate over the thought of them so I’d help myself to more.  Well one day, I only had one.  It was kind of a miracle for me.  I’ve always gone up and down with my weight since I was a teenager.  I never minded exercise.  I was kind of athletic.  By that I mean, I played sports but I played them badly.  All in all though, I was active.  I never hated that part.  Fitness activities are enjoyable to be.  Maybe not getting started after a long hiatus, but once I’m going, I love it.  So, being active, not really a struggle.  Food though.  Yummy delicious food.  That’s where I fall short.  Every.  Single.  Time.  At least I used to.  With some will power I could force myself to eat better and to eat less.  For a time.  Ultimately though, I would end up totally gorging myself on a meal or a snack and I’d be back in the cycle of putting on weight.  My body craved the food.  Not even sweets, food.  Like, I would prefer an enormous bowel of buttery mashed potatoes to a slice of cake.  Savory over sweet any day.  Except, you know, THOSE days.  Then chocolate please.  I had lost about 60lbs doing nothing.  I was totally free.  Free still today.  But…

This past summer, my brother was diagnosed with cancer.  He is completely healed and he’s all good now, praise the Lord.  But July, August and September were kind of a nightmare.  I spent a great deal of time driving back and forth between New York and Virginia, living in hotels, eating whatever could be microwaved.  I put on about 10lbs.  Not because I was overeating so much as I just wasn’t eating well and I was super sedentary.  I wasn’t really worried about it because I knew once I was home, things would regulate and I’d be back to normal.

But things didn’t really get back to normal.

Once I got home for good and things started to settle down, then the conversations about moving away started.  I already told you that by November I knew we were leaving.  Well from November to the day I left in March, I ate like the completely depressed, angry person I was and I put on an additional 15lbs.  The weird thing about it was that I wasn’t craving any of the food I put in my mouth.  I didn’t even really want it.  It was like God was telling me I was free and I was telling Him I didn’t care.  It was a strange feeling.  I knew I didn’t want to eat the garbage I was eating, nor did I want to eat the quantity of it that I was consuming, but I did it anyway.  It’s not the first time (and I’m sure it won’t be the last time) that I have lived with such a rebellious heart.  God freed me from my addiction to cigarettes so many years ago now, but I’ve found myself smoking since.  I’m just a wretch.  Why!?  I don’t want it, I don’t crave it, I just do it anyway.

When I think about the times in my life I’ve gone back to my slavery (a little Israelites in the desert reference there), it’s always at a time when I’m really frustrated with the direction God is taking me.  Mad.  Down right angry.  It’s always at a time, when I’m so annoyed that I’d rather drag myself back to my chains than let God be God.  I spent November to March pretty angry and I punished no one but myself.  It’s the human way, isn’t it?  I’ll show you God, I’ll put on 25lbs.  Thank you very much.  I’m talking about food here but it’s a thousand other things too.  Kelley, love your husband.  Nope.  I’ll be bitter and mean instead.  Kelley, move to Texas.  Nope.  Well fine.  But I’m going to be angry at you forever.  Even in my obedience I sin!

Looking around in my living room for the sound my washer was making, isn’t what makes me an idiot.

But God…

But God!  You know, that’s why I keep going back.  I have never known anyone to be more patient, kind, gentle, loving, the list goes on.  I live my life sometimes (most times) with the attitude that if I’m faithful and obedient then God will be my idea of good.  I don’t even mean to.  I know that’s not the gospel.  Lets be real, for every time I’m faithful or obedient, there are 4 million times I am not.  And my idea of what’s good has proven time and time and time again to be the exact opposite of what is actually good.  When do we learn?  How can he love such a mess? Still, in my blatant opposition to Him and His plan, He loves me all the way home, right into His sweet embrace.  Not only does He love me, but He equips me.  He gives me every single thing I need to move forward and get through, reminding me over and over that this is not about me.  There is a greater purpose at hand.  Die to self.  Kill your flesh.  I Am.  Only I, am the source of your joy.  This is how God is with me.

All.  The.  Time.

As irritating as it can be, it’s also an absolute blessing.  He knows that I need Him to constantly strip everything away from me.  I love my comfort.  I am selfish.  I want what I want.  He knows that giving it to me would be cruel.  He knows that giving it to me would ultimately push me so far away from Him.  How selfish am I that I’d have rather kept my family cramped in a teeny tiny house on Long Island just so I could be close to my friends!?  (Friends that God Himself provided by the way).  I’d have rather my husband gone to work and hurt himself over and over everyday to pay the bills back in New York than to leave and start a life somewhere else.  What kind of person am I?

I haven’t had a good cry since before I left New York.  But boy am I crying now.

Tears of joy.  Tears of gratefulness.  Tears that recognize my great great need.   Tears of repentance.  Tears that know this isn’t the last time I’ll fail.  Tears that know this is far from the last time God will extend to me His Grace.  Tears that know everyday He is transforming me more and more.

My heart breaks for those that don’t know this love.

We are all holding on to something.  It’s something we love.  It’s something we feel like we can’t live without.  Something we think will destroy us if we loosen our grasp on it even slightly.  Maybe its a person, or an identity, an offense.  Could be a job.  Guilt.  Shame.  Maybe it’s a talent or a hobby or something else not overtly sinful.  Whatever it is, it’s still sin.  Sin is, simply put, anything that separates us from God, anything we put before Him.  God is always better.  Anything He wants to take from us is never to make us miserable.  It’s always for our joy and His glory.  It’s for our flourishing and the sovereignty of His great name.  I’m preaching to myself as I write all of this.  Get out of His way and get back in His Will!

We can’t see even one minute into the future but God sees it all.  He is present in it all.  He knows the ultimate outcome if we choose not to let go.  We don’t know the outcome of our day, let alone our life.

Today I’m praying for you to let it go.  Let go and let God…

I’m out.  Running on Jesus and coffee y’all!

Ephesians 3:14-21 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

parties and puppies

Guys, I like it here.  I mean, I wish you were all here with me and the fact that you’re not makes me hate it.  But I only hate it a little.  I kind of mostly love it here.  Driving a distance to the grocery store only makes me more intentional about my shopping and forces me to be organized.  Really that was my only true gripe anyway, that and having no friends.  That still stinks but in time I’ll either make friends or get used to the lonely life.  I do feel like I have these moments where I want to talk to people and then there are no people there to talk to.  That REALLY stinks.  That’s why I started this blog though, so I can talk to my people without actually talking.  And people that aren’t my people can also read it and judge me harshly for my complaining and incessant whining.  It’s okay, I have Jesus so I am virtually unoffendable.  Judge on judgers, judge on.  (Just kidding, please don’t judge me.)

This Saturday I had my family from Houston out for Philomena’s 5th birthday celebration and it was so fun.  I love my family.  Did I fail to mention I have great family 2 and a half hours from me?  Yea that’s cuz they’re close enough for a visit here and there but not close enough to see all the time, so it’s kind of a mean trick God is playing on me.  Anyway, they were all here and we had so much fun.  It’s crazy how when you have a bond with people, it doesn’t matter how far the distance, or how much time passes between visits, you just fit.  You’re comfortable.  There’s no show to put on, no faking it, just authenticity all around.  It’s a beautiful thing and I am so grateful for it.

I know I’m going out of order here, but Thursday was Phil’s actual birthday so we spent the day out and about Austin.  There’s this really great (and free) place, Austin Nature & Science Center, that we visited and had an absolute blast.  For my Long Islanders, its kind of like a really cool hybrid between Yaphank Farm and the Holtsville Ecology Site except there’s a creek that the kids can splash around and play in (next time I’ll be better prepared with towels) and an area where they can dig up huge dinosaur fossils.  So it’s like those two things but way better.  Come visit me and I’ll show you.  Every single one of my kids loved it, so that’s always a win.  Usually I have at least one dragging along complaining that they’re having an awful time.  This trip, there was no such kid and no melt downs what-so-ever.  Praise the Lord for small miracles.

On Friday I did all my party prep.  I ordered my groceries online and picked them up “curb-side” which is a huge time saver when it takes and hour just to get to and from the store and then I got to the prep work.  Can I just tell you, I have so much counter space that I was losing things on the counter.  I’d be looking for a spice or ingredient or something that I plopped down somewhere far away from where I was standing.  That is a glorious problem to have.  Coming from a little 3 foot strip of counter space, my kitchen here in Austin is quite an upgrade.  QUITE an upgrade.

While I was prepping, I heard a knock at the door.  This is not uncommon.  We moved into a new construction home in a new construction neighborhood so we have people trying to sell us things all the time.  We’ve had people trying to sell us water filtration systems, solar panels, power washing services, lawn care, all kinds of things.  So when I opened the door, I was all prepared to respectfully decline whatever this guy was peddling.  Needless to say, I did NOT decline, I signed up ha!  One of my big issues/fears about moving to such a warm climate was roaches.  In New York, you have to be beyond  careless with your cleaning or you have to live in an apartment building where a neighbor is gross.  Sorry if I’m offending anyone, but come on!  Roaches?!  That’s like a “shame on both your houses” situation.  It’s a mark of complete filth back in New York ha!  Anyway, I learned that in warmer climates, no one is exempt.  The clean and dirty alike can end up in a roach infested home.  So when this knock came to my door, I was already primed.  A lovely gentleman named Cory, from Brooklyn, New York (I took this as a sign) stood at my door wearing an “EnviroGuard” t-shirt.  Let me just tell you what he was selling me.  He was selling me a chemical free, kid and pet friendly pest control that included but was not limited to, ants, fire ants, spiders, wasps, roaches, scorpions (WHAT!?), earwigs, mosquitoes, termites and fleas.  YES PLEASE!  You had me at roaches but I hate earwigs and ants too!  Sign me up sir!  You knocked on the right door today!  My first treatment is free and then they come back every two months for all of eternity to keep up with the treatments.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES.  And seriously with the scorpions!?  Geez.  Where am I?  Paul wasn’t home and I didn’t even think to check with him, that’s how excited I was.  When he got home, all I had to say was “they spray for mosquitoes” and he was right on board the EnviroGuard train.

Now skipping to Sunday.  Church.  Man oh man with this church!  These sermons cut you right to the core.  So SO amazing.  Even the most mature, wonderful, loving Christian would not be exempt from the beautiful conviction they bring to your soul.  The sermons not up on YouTube yet but when it is, I’ll link it on my Facebook page.  Its good man.  Really good.  Lemme go grab my sermon notes and I’ll give you the highlights.  Okay I’m back.  We’ve been in the book of Jonah and the pastoral staff has been doing an incredible job of making connections to show it’s relevance to today.  One of my favorite quotes was “The biggest offender of the mission of God is the church herself.”  Is it awful that I can’t remember my pastors name?  I think its Taylor.  Nope, just checked, it’s Tyler.  Tyler David.  So Tyler spoke about how sometimes, it’s the people who think they’re closest to God that offend the gospel the most.  Jonah was a prophet.  He loved the Lord, he preached of His salvation but when God asked him to step out and go somewhere he didn’t want to, Jonah set out in the other direction, in complete rebellion to the mission of God.  This was a man who had heard God’s voice, a man known as a prophet of God.  Jonah had a lack of love and compassion for the people of Nineveh.  This was apparent.  So the whole sermon was about missional living and how we need to repent of our lack of love for others, risk the outcome of the mission God has given you (cuz being a Christian is painful in more ways than one) and remain steadfast through it.  Mission hurts.  The whole point of the sermon was that we as Christians are to live on mission.  That looks a little different for everyone, but if we’re not out sharing the love of Jesus with the world, something is very lacking.  If we’re more concerned with our comfort and what we want, then we lose.  We ALL lose.  The sermon was so much more than my 2 second summary and I would definitely encourage everyone to watch it!  I’ll post it, I promise.

Over the last several months, God has broken my heart for 2 specific people groups.  I definitely don’t think it’s coincidence that He saw fit to move me here.  But I’m not ready to share just yet, cuz I’m not ready to do anything.  Frankly, I’m not sure how to start.  But I promise I’m not hopping on a boat to Tarshish (I mean maybe…).  I’m just waiting.  I’m waiting to hear more from the Lord and I’m waiting to get over some of this fear.  There will be risk.  Big risk.

And then after church, we drove down to San Antonio and we picked out a puppy.  A Great Dane puppy.  I can’t say no to my husband.  It’s a problem.

More on that later.

Till next time, I’ll be over here running on Jesus and Coffee.