Monday, July 11, 2016

Liberty and Justice for All or Jesus

 I am heartbroken. 

 Right down to my bone. Soul-shaking, painfully heartbroken. So much violence all around. 

 Yes, we have lived in a country where it was easier to be white. Growing up, I did not always feel the privilege but I saw a lot of injustice and inequality on those that were my friends and neighbors who were not white. 

 A few times I was brave enough to stand up against it. It grieved me even though I did not fully comprehend the weight of it. My naivete found me out on numerous occasions. Like the time I worked in a small town and wanted to go to this certain place for lunch with my friends because it was on the town square one block from where we worked. My black friend informed me that he couldn't go. I thought he meant that he was too busy. There I stood for 15 minutes arguing that he was coming along no matter what he had to do before he gently made it clear that he could not go because he was not allowed in that establishment. I was shocked that in 1995 such atrocities still existed. When i decided to pitch a fit and come up with a plan to do something about it, he once again calmly told me that it would be better for him and me if I just forgot the whole thing and kept quiet. 

 Somewhere down the line before America became a country, we lost sight of something much more valuable. 

 I agree that we need to dialogue about the past, we need to know history and we need to repent as a nation but let us not forget that the hurts that drive us today are mostly the ones that have recently wounded us. 

 I grew up seeing children who had no father in their life and a mother that was too busy and stressed to have time for mothering. Domestic abuse was common in the projects I lived in and it did not matter what color you were when you called the police there. They always came too late and had too little to offer. As kids we fought and beat each other up fiercely because it was what we knew. It did not matter that you hurt someone. And, deeply rooted in us was the idea that it did not matter if someone hurt you. 

 IF my hope is in my country with liberty and justice for all, then, yes, I suppose we should be let down. It is a shamble of a hot mess. It is true that in 1776 America was declaring independence while a lot of people in America were not free. But is my hope in America??? Is my hope in my skin??? Is my hope in who wins the election or how many people protest????

 Jesus is the only hope. He came to transcend barriers and boundaries and say that true freedom is possible even if we are in earthly captivity. He protested sin and death and won! He came to say that Grace and Mercy were far better to attain than anything we think we need to pursue. 

 And when you get right down to the nitty gritty, July 4th is not my personal independence day. It is the celebration of the country I live in but I was enslaved to sin until April 1997. This is of far greater impact because it opened the door for me to fully realize that life matters. All lives. Black, white, yellow, red. Big, small. In the womb or out. Criminal or law abiding. ALL LIVES. Jesus died for every life. Every life has value because the Creator innately puts it there. 

 A hurt and wounded world needs this understanding. We need patience and love. We need a time to cry and time to heal and a time to move forward in Truth.

 Jesus laid down His life in love to restore us and unite us in Him so that we have one Father. That's family in my book. 

 I can't change the color of my skin God gave me but I can choose not to pick up the stick that the world keeps laying down and telling me to use to draw a division. We do not need to draw any more divisions and thicken the boundary lines between our differences. Goodness knows that we can trip over flat ground without putting obstacles in the way too. 

 I cannot change the hearts of those around me but I can speak Truth and love others without limitation. I can recognize when someone is hurting and possibly erase a boundary line in the way. I can offer help and even more than that I can tell how to attain true freedom because the suffering of this world is not the end of hope. Every broken heart can be mended in light of this Truth and even broken countries. 

 Pro-Lives - any color, any size; worthy of the greatest sacrifice. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

A View from Suffering

 Follower of Jesus,
Be not anguished!
Think not that your suffering is
a chest padlocked and tossed into the depths
unknown to existence.

 Sorrow, suffering, broken-heartedness
is filleted layer by layer,
laid open wide before the sovereignty of God
placed under the microscope of 
the blood of Jesus.

 Sorrow, suffering, broken-heartedness
in Christ is cleaned,
although stinging, with righteousness
to heal and mend 
with the salve of pure love and grace. 

 Follower of Jesus,
He is always working.
The wounds of sin are 
no stranger to Him who bore 
those of the whole world and 
suffering is not lost without purpose.

 From this view, you can see eternity
and this is why joy can reside closely
with Sorrow, suffering, and broken-heartedness

 If you are not a follower of Jesus, know that you will know Him one way or the other, either in His grace and mercy or only under His judgment. He is not hiding His Truth from any. He is Lord of All. Just read Ephesians and ask God to show you His glory that you may see eternity and have the greatest of joy. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Secrets of a Secret Language

 The movement was just a small shifting but she stopped eating and turned to adjust him in his chair, asking, "Is that better?" He shook his head. 

 At the time I did not fully comprehend the exchange before me but it registered deep in my mind as something inexplicably precious. My nephew cannot talk. He can do a modified sign language and use different devices to communicate but none of that is always needed. What I am learning caring for a non-verbal child is that there is a secret that others do not know unless they care for someone non-verbal. 

 We have a limited idea of it when we get married and live with our husband long enough to understand that wrinkled brow look or when we have a baby and those first months have no words. Somehow though we miss out on learning it more intricately. That shift in the chair and my sister's response was a full conversation in front of me without my knowledge. The movement clearly said, "I am not comfortable" to my sister. She understood it and responded. 

  As I care for Jellybean, I am learning this secret language. It happened the other day when we ventured out to the Botanic Garden. My husband was holding Jellybean and walking towards a fountain spraying water. Jellybean visibly stiffened and started grasping with his hands. He was excited. As we ventured on, we came to a noisy play area and my husband carried him up the treehouse ramp and across a suspension bridge. This time his body stiffened and tremored a little and he grasped my husband's shirt. He was about to meltdown and my husband must have felt it because he turned around to come back. Before he could make it across, a screaming child ran past shaking the bridge and Jellybean went into freak out mode. He can recover pretty quickly if you can get him some place quieter and give him his blanket. 

 We decided to go to a more peaceful part of the garden and enjoyed our time looking at fish, listening to birds, picking up sticks and leaves, and just being outside. What I realized even more that day was that caring for a special needs child is special. 

 It is easy to get caught up in the "Why" or grief and heart ache of it but once you are in it, there is no reason to dwell in either place. My mind has decided that it is a lot like tent camping in the middle of Belize. You can say that you have seen Belize if you went on a cruise and docked there for a day. You can say you have been to Belize if you stayed in a hotel there for a week. Sure you have some exposure and memories, but you do not completely know Belize and its intricacies. 

 Want to really know Belize? Pitch a tent in the middle of the Belizean jungle for a few years and trek miles on adventures exploring. You get to know the perils and treasures firsthand. Do not think that I am romanticizing the situation. There is beauty of course but also the ugliness is revealed to you in personal ways. Not much is secret when you are living in the middle of it. 

 When they were babies and toddlers, I knew my children pretty well but they grew and could do things without me. They had secrets and times where I was not needed. They could make choices of their own accord. 

 Jellybean cannot say that he is hurt or scared. He cannot hide or even play with something else if he cannot reach it. He will smile and giggle if we ask him questions about what he wants and we get to the right thing but we have to know what question to ask and what choices to give. It is a much more intimate communication. It is messy and sometimes ugly but it is also beautiful and full of treasures. 

 We are working with picture cards and sign language but it is a slow, patient work. It is crucial to learn him and know him better than I know anyone. The secret language is not just a sweet part of our relationship, it is vital but the necessity of it builds something incredible. 

 It is an amazing reminder of our relationship with Christ. We have the Word but Christ is not going to physically speak to us. We must pitch our tents in His Word and learn it. We cannot just dock a boat there for a day and peruse whatever is close or set ourselves up in a hotel for a bit, hitting the high points if we feel like it. It takes something much more intimate and personal. We must trek through all of it, dig down deep, and make it so familiar to ourselves that we know how to act according to it in any situation. 

 The secret to it is that when it is part of you, there are no secrets. 

"...A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." - Matthew 5:14