Friday, January 17, 2014

My Life is a Mess

Mess:  The untidy state of things or a place.  That fits my life right now and I've decided to own it. (as if there is some choice to be made...) So often I long to portray a life of ease, with no mess or untidiness.  I want the world to see me as having it all together and someone who succeeds.  Too often it seems important that we portray more than what we are and it makes me sad, as well as a mess. 

Jobs are up in the air around our home and security seems far away.  Vacuuming, clothes and dust bunnies are all piling up or being ignored.  Chores seem heavy and weighted and life seems to churn at an impossible pace, whether too fast or too slow. Family members sick with diseases named, but not cured. An Uneasiness wrestles inside me, demanding to be acknowledged, confronted.  Anger is too often the companion of Uneasiness, I know this very well.  We call it venting, but it's really grace abandoned and a harsh word stirring up more anger, when gentleness is truly the answering card of love. (Prov. 15:1)  Doubt is their announcer and he trumpets with Armstrong like lungs to whisper urgently in my heart, "Did God really say...?"

Large decisions loom ahead and true to my flesh I ponder them and ponder them until they are larger than the sun and no light can pierce through my worry and imagination.  Surely, the problems are real and messy and truth.  My mind convinces me of this truth, yet still, there is a candle in my heart that will not believe that pondering is truth.  A place that understands that feelings do not manifest into reality simply because they are being felt.  This is a great Lie, my spirit says to me. 

And so I cling, in this messy life, to one Truth that is eternal and real:

Jesus, who does not leave me, and never forsakes me.  That even now, right this moment, is pleading on my behalf and loves me true, with a yoke that is light and a heart that is willing...always willing. Always knocking.  His strength is most known when I am weak and His arms are capable of holding me fully, even when I am sure I will simply slither away, unseen.  He sees. He hears. He knows. He is Faithful. He is near. The mess begins to lessen, the looming disaster shrinks and reality is made new because He lives and is Love. Joy becomes reality, Love becomes a Name, who calls me His own, and Gentleness finds its way into my heart to calm the storm and the noise. Peace, even among the mess. Perhaps, because of it...





Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Life

We started a brand new life about two weeks before Christmas and I wanted to share it with my readers here so that you could join the journey if you'd like.  It's here:

http://tillthewheelsfalloff.wordpress.com/

I've always been overly responsible, but what I haven't always been is responsible for what I eat.  I'm Southern, which means I was born and bred on sweet tea, sugar and all things fried.  It's called comfort food for a reason, people.  Food will lull you into believing it's OK because it makes you feel good.  I'll admit to being a bit persnickity, but something about treating food like it's a treat and I'm a dog has never sat well with me. I am not a dog and food is not my treat. Food should be good for you and fuel your body.  Right now, that's not the case for most Americans, so we decided to take control of ourselves and responsibility for what passes our lips.  I hope you'll join our journey, we're having a blast.

Kristi  :)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014...It's a New Year

Do you make resolutions?  I used to.  I'd make them, change them, break them and forget them, so I stopped doing that a few years back.  Now, I make more of a map...a guide, if you will.  I pray about things, get still for a second and then write down what comes to mind.  Things that I'd like to accomplish, things I'd like to do, things I want to change and heartfelt feelings that need to come out.  Even some things I want to enhance from year to year make their way onto the page. 

This year, I thought I'd share some with you:

1.  Tell the truth.  Even if it hurts.  I'm speaking about myself here, not tell the truth as in stop lying.  I rarely lie to anyone...just ask my friends.  I'm not the girl you want to ask if you don't want the truth.  However, I am prone to lie to myself.  I want to stick it out, change it, bend it and make it work for me, even if I know it's never going to happen.  So, I want to be kind to myself and tell the truth.  Even if I don't want to hear it.

2.  Monitor my tongue.  You'd think those two things wouldn't go together, but they do.  I talk too much.  It's a way to dominate and keep people away.  It's also caused me countless amounts of unnecessary grief, not to mention hurting others.  So, it's time to change.  That's all on me.

3.  Continue to write. It's coming easier now and starting to pay off.  I love it.

4.  Simplify my life.  Just simplify everything.

5.  Honor the time I've been given.  It's finite and I want to treat it that way.

6.  Be creative.  Too often I tend toward the logical, but my heart aches for the creative. I was taught that logic is more appealing, so I've always tended toward that even if creativity was what my heart longed for and needed. I crushed on Spock as a kid.  Enough said.

7.  Tell convention to take a hike.

8.  Just live.  Be in the moment.  Every moment.

Happy New Year!!  May 2014 bring us joy, love, peace and beauty that can't be defined.  And may each of us see what's right in front of our face.

Kristi  :)

 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Travel Tuesday

It's been a long time since I wrote a travel Tuesday post, but my boots haven't stopped hitting the pavement as often as I can get them out there.

We've visited a few places since last TT, so I'll just hit one at a time for a while.  First, our kids participated in the NASP national archery championships last year that are held in Louisville, Kentucky.  I expected to see rolling hills and horses, and I wasn't disappointed.

In fact, I saw rolling hills that seemed to span forever, disappearing into the distance.  I saw thoroughbreds that made my heart hurt they were so gorgeous.  We visited Churchill Downs and seeing Secretariat's name and trophies made me pretty zingy, too.  I saw Anna Nicole Smith's outfit that she wore when she attended the Derby and thought her shoes were fabulous.  (I did...sue me.)  We stood at a wall of hats that would make the Queen sob and we did a behind the scenes tour of the track that slaps you back into reality with the smell alone.  Seeing some of those animals made up for it, though.  Some of them just look like they wanted to kick your ass, but they've decided to run today instead, so feel lucky.  We did.  And man can they run.  They run like hell has been unleashed, and yet...there's something so graceful about them that you simply have to look.  Not in a car wreck kind of way, but in some ethereal way that just pulls at you.  It's awesome...and stinky.

We spent an entire day at the Louisville Zoo and I don't regret a minute of it.  Well, OK.  Maybe that one minute with the Silver back.  He just looks too smart to be there, maybe it's the opposable thumb.  Everything else made me happy, including the 4-D theater they have.  FUN!

It may not seem like the coolest place to visit, but we're looking forward to making it back there this year if the kids' team makes it to the finals again.  We're hoping to spend some extra time on the road and swing through Memphis and maybe Nashville on the way home.  Here's to more time on the road...






 

 














Saturday, September 21, 2013

Parent Arrested at Common Core Meeting in Maryland

Robert Small, a concerned parent in Maryland, was arrested for wanting to speak at a public meeting to discuss Common Core.  Like most Common Core meetings, the forum was a set up.  The parents were required to present their questions for review BEFORE the meeting began.  How is that even possible in reality?  You can know what you want to ask, but the context of the discussion really sets the tone for open discussion and debate. 

Also, requiring that the questions be written in advance means the school boards can delete whatever they choose in the predetermined questions that are selected.  That's right.  They predetermine which ones will be discussed in the open forums.  That's NOT what freedom of speech is about and if publicly funded schools aren't the place for free speech, then we're in trouble, folks.  Let's be really clear:  Schools are accountable to the parents, not the other way around.  It's time we take our tax funded institutions back. 

This is called the Delphi method of "debate" by the way.  Look it up as it would take me 2 days to type a clear explanation here.  (sorry, this is a quickie)

This concerned father didn't have his question "selected" as one worthy of being heard, so he stood up and asked his question in a calm manner.  Security then comes and manhandles this parent.  They shove him and push him and then arrest him for assault.  (it's documented and true...look it up)  He never touches the "security", who is actually an off-duty police officer.  This is WRONG and it's time we stand up.  NO MORE.  Parents have a say in their kids education and Common Core is a federal take-over.  Period. 

Here's the video.  Please share it and like it on Youtube.  This needs to be viral. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEQmUnisDEM

This father faces up to 6 months in jail and a 2500.00 dollar fine.  That's insane!

Here's the info to the police department.  Please contact them about this battery of a citizen at a public meeting.  He has a right to be heard!!

Commander Captain Richard Howard rhoward@baltimorecountymd.gov 
 Assistant Commander Lieutenant Randy Guraleczka rguraleczka@baltimorecountymd.­gov 
115 West Susquehanna Avenue Towson, Maryland 21204 Map This Location 
Phone: 410-887-2361 Fax: 410-887-2360

Friday, September 13, 2013

Paul

Last night, my man and I were having one of our usual unusual conversations. We tend to wander down the lane of wacky conversation topics like most people casually converse about stuff like, "What's for dinner?". 

Last night's conversation centered around what three people we'd like to meet in the Bible, excluding Jesus.  I need to clarify that we "excluded" Jesus because, in our opinion, He's automatically included.  Period.  The one person we want to meet most from the Bible is Christ.  End of story.  So, our conversation ventured from there to who the next three people would be, in no particular order.  Somehow, we wandered that twisting little convo into a discussion about Paul.  (I don't know exactly how we got there, we just did..that's how we roll)  Paul didn't make either of our "top three", so maybe we were discussing why he didn't make it and then pretty much ended up talking about how awesome his life was.  If you've never really studied Paul just to be studying Paul, here's a good recap. (this dude lived some crazy, obedient, spectacular, revolutionary kind of life, people)

Did you know Paul's teacher was Gamaliel?  He mentions it in the 22nd chapter of Acts. Did you know that THAT Gamaliel is still considered to be one of the greatest teachers of Jewish law, ever?  He was given the title of Rabban, which means he was given the title that only seven have held as truly great teachers of the law.  Paul was taught by this great man of Jewish law for probably 3-4 years.  Paul was both a Roman and Jewish citizen, which gave him great leeway and opportunity not afforded to many Jews of his day.  Being well educated, a dual citizen and taught by someone who was afforded great respect opened doorways in Paul's life that can loosely be compared to today's celebrities.  He would have been well respected.  Someone others would have listened to and placed importance on what he had to say, whether he was right or not. Can you picture Paul as a real man, with great pride, wonderfully educated, well respected? 

Paul, who was originally called Saul, wasn't always on the right side of God's will.  We know that he was present at the stoning of Stephen, whose death brought Christ Himself to His feet.  Paul was there, cheering and applauding with the rest of the crowd.   He was, as most know, a great persecutor of Christians.  His knowledge of the Scriptures did not open his eyes to truth.  No matter how much knowledge he had stored up, no matter how many respected him, he was still blind to Truth. 

Then, he takes a trip to Damascus.  On the way, he meets Christ.  Like, he literally meets Christ, the Risen Lord.  The moment is so spectacularly transformative, Paul loses his ability to see.  So, on his way to persecute more Christians, probably shaking his ostrich tail feathers, Paul has a moment.  He has a moment like no other before or after.  He was blind, and yet he could finally see.  I wonder what that was like for him?  I'm not talking about the usual stuff.  I'm talking about on the inside.  Can you even imagine the blow to him?  Every second of his life, up to that point, has been nothing more than preparation for THAT moment, but he didn't know that.  Every second that he believed what he believed was all shown to be nothing more than preparation for Truth that he'd been too blind to see.  We tend to make that all awesome and uplifting.  I'm going to say that maybe that wasn't the case for Paul immediately.  I'm going to say that humility took pride and basically whipped it's hind end.  I'm going to say that as overwhelmed as Paul was, he needed the next days of blindness to get his groove back on. 

He'd watched people be murdered, had even encouraged the act, for believing in Christ.  And then Christ paid Saul a visit.  He even gave him a new name.  What could that possibly have been like for him?!  Not in some glorified way, but in the feet hitting the pavement (dirt in his case) kind of way.  Paul (Saul) was a REAL man, with REAL feelings and REAL connections to other REAL people.  And in that moment, everything changed.  It was all made new. 

You think he ever missed the old life?  That he ever thought about how easy things had been for him?  He was human, no matter that we often try to make him more than that.  He was just a guy like Peter.  Just like Peter, who could walk on water with Christ, and still deny that he'd ever known him.  So, yeah, I think Paul was a little disoriented for a minute (or lots of minutes).  I think if he'd had his sight when that first meeting was all over, he may darn well have run as fast as he could the other way.  So, God gave him a little time to think things through with a heart that could see clearly, but eyes that were blind as a bat. I think that was probably scary, right?

So here we are.  An educated, respected, slightly cocky guy who has met his nemesis and come up lacking and proven more wrong than trying to divide by zero, not to mention blind.  Where's this guy to go?  Guess where Christ sent him?  To a Christian named Ananias who knew just how badly Paul (Saul) had been persecuting Christians.  He knew all about Paul, because when the Lord tells him to go find him and restore Paul's sight, Ananias raises an objection that this guy has been persecuting "thy saints", to which God replies that Paul is his chosen vessel for bringing the Good News to the Gentiles.  (Wonder what Ananias thought when he heard that?!)  Ananias obeys God and hunts Paul down at the "street which is called Straight", and delivers God's gift of sight back to Paul.  (Wonder if they had a long conversation and how that went down?)

Paul immediately begins to preach.  He's been changed and everything in his life has aligned to this moment.  I still can't help but pause and wonder if Paul ever stopped and thought, "Wow.  THIS is my life. I'm scared, humbled, awed, and seriously nervous.  I hope I don't mess this up."  (He was, after all, just a human being who feels like we all feel.)  Regardless, he took his faith and his love for Jesus and preached and preached and preached. (One guy even fell out of the window because Paul preached all night long without stopping. I can only imagine the guy got sleepy and fell out the window, which didn't so much as deter Paul.  He ran down, healed the guy and ran back up to keep preaching.)

I think the thing that we took away from our conversation last night was that every life has a purpose and every single life leads every single person to places and spaces they can't begin to fathom they'd ever be in.  If you'd have told Paul he'd die for his love of Christ when he first set out for Damascus, he'd probably have laughed at you, then maybe had you stoned a little. It's both comforting and scary to know that God's got this.  God is in absolute control and He's never surprised, blinded or wrong.  Paul's entire life was preparation for a destiny he could not begin to fathom and a love affair with Christ that is rarely matched in either testament of the Word. 

Looking at people in the Bible as real people helps me to remain in awe of God and I hope that never stops.  There's something about truly seeing them as plain old people that lifts God up to His rightful place as Sovereign and Ruler of all.  Only He knew where Paul's life would take him and only God knew what preparation needed to take place for Paul to even be on that road to Damascus.  Seeing people in the Word as flesh and blood helps me see God and His heart.  Remembering that Paul was just a guy helps me to remember that every extraordinary thing that Paul ever did had nothing at all to do with Paul and everything to do with the awesomeness that is God.  Trying to see the ordinary in Paul helps me to see the extraordinary that can only be God. 

As a side note:  If this guy didn't even make our top three, can you even IMAGINE what the lives of the ones who did were like?!  Awesome.  People who say the Bible is boring just haven't been reading it.  In case you give a hoot, my top three were:  John the Baptist, King David and Moses.  (I flipped back and forth between Moses and Elijah.  I'm still torn. You see the dilemma, right?) 

What three Biblical people would you like to meet after we get to love on Jesus face to face?  I'd like to know if you're willing to share.  :)


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reflections of a White Woman

I'm a white woman.  I have medium brown hair with red highlights...that I dye blond..  I have green eyes and barely tan, but I always give it a shot every summer.  I'm freckled and too much sun makes them stand out like tiny little copper pennies.. My hair is so straight that there are days I think I can hear it scream for mercy as I demand it have body and waves by using a curling iron that's turned up to volcano like temperatures.  I admit that I have no idea what it's like to be anything other than a white woman in America.  I have zero experience or true knowledge of what it means to be anything other than a white woman.  Period.

I admit that most of my friends are white.  I have some black friends and I have some mixed friends.  I even have some Polynesian friends and some Asian friends, but most of my friends are white.  I didn't pick my friends of other races because I feel guilty for being white.  I don't call them my African American friends, or Asian American friends or Polynesian American friends.  I call them my friends.  I like them for who they are and nothing else.

But, I think it's important that we all begin to have discussions about the truth of institutional racism.  I think it's important to remember that Black Americans are the only race that didn't immigrate to the United States as free people with the God given right to choose life, liberty and to pursue their own happiness. Being white doesn't give me the right to pretend like that doesn't have some kind of lasting effect on black people. I think it's important to talk about race, even if we're uncomfortable and it's awkward.  Can I admit that it does feel awkward to me?  I don't really even know where to start the discussion and I freely admit that I'm clueless about how to start an open dialogue that doesn't feel stilted and awkward. 

I'm using the term black because I don't know a better term to use and because it's the best word I can come up with to write this post.  I'm not "white". Snow is white, and I'm not that color.  I know that not all black people identify with being black in the African American sense.  I know there are Haitians, Cubans and other countries of origin that are often lumped in with being black. I know that some Africans are offended that anyone from this diaspora use the word African in their identity, at all.  So, I'm clarifying that black is simply the only word I know to make a definitive counterpoint to being white for the purposes of this post.

As a white woman, I will no longer pretend like I don't know anyone who uses the term "nigger" on a regular basis, because I do.  I would probably go so far as to say that every single white person who lives in American has heard, used or made reference to that word.  Lying doesn't help us become who we should be and I refuse to pander to anyone who continues to pretend that that term isn't used, and especially to anyone that continues to use it in hate and ignorance.  I also refuse to pretend like it's OK for a black person to call me a "cracker" or a "honky".  It's not and you can't do that without me speaking up and saying you're part of the problem.  However, we must keep talking, no matter how uncomfortable we've become with race in our country.  We have a history of racism and judging others for no other reason than the color of their skin.  It's not OK regardless of what color you see reflected back at you in the mirror.

I do not subscribe to the sentiment that being articulate, educated, intelligent and acting with dignity is "acting white".  I do not subscribe to the opinion that the starting line is equal for everyone.  It isn't.  I don't believe that God intended for any race to be less, or greater, than another.  I do not believe that racism is dead or that people are "color blind".  I don't believe a kid raised in the ghetto gets the same shot as the kid raised on Park Avenue...or middle class suburbia, for that matter.  I don't believe that cultural differences should create a line that can't be crossed.  I didn't choose to be white anymore than a black person chooses to be black.  It's simply how we were created.  I do not believe that God is pleased with "white pride" nor "black pride".  Pride, by definition, should be something you were, at the very least, actively involved in accomplishing.  Color doesn't qualify.  Being proud of your culture is much different than being proud of your color.  I wish we could talk more about that and dialogue with kindness and understanding. 

I don't know where the conversation needs to start, but it needs to start.  I don't know the words, or the phrases that would make it less offensive on all sides.  What I do know is this:

1.  I hate for someone to say to me:  You do _______ really well, for a girl.  It's the closest I can come to understanding what being judged based solely on something I had nothing to do with must feel like to another person.

2.  The words "nigger" and "cracker" make me angry.  They are not OK, in my opinion.  Ever.

3.  Pretending racism doesn't exist isn't OK.

4.  I don't know how to be anything other than a white girl.

5.  I don't know how to talk about this, but I want to talk about it.  Maybe that's the beginning of hearing one another.

6.  I think integrity happens when no one else is looking, or when we think no one is listening.

7.  I know this is hard if it's done in honesty.  

Recently, I was having a discussion about race with an acquaintance who adamantly refuses to admit that racism still exists, although she just as adamantly says that she doesn't want her white kids marrying anyone who isn't white.  Her view is this:  "Making that choice just makes your life too hard".  (I absolutely refuse to type what I think about that statement here, so don't ask)   Here's the thing:  I don't think she means to be offensive.  I genuinely do not believe that her heart is set upon hate, or to intentionally degrade an entire race of people.  That doesn't take away from the fact that it absolutely does just that, whether intentionally or not.

This same acquaintance attends a church that my family once attended.  The congregation is filled with every race under the sun.  Hanging in a hallway just off the main walkway in the church is a depiction of Jesus.  In this painting a smiling, laughing Christ is having a sweet moment with his followers.  It's one of the few depictions that I've ever seen where joy seems to radiate from Christ, instead of the somber pictures that are usually out there. This picture depicts the joy of Christ, not the suffering.  I appreciate that difference in this picture.  Maybe that's why it caught my eye...I don't know.

What I do know is that that isn't what kept me coming back to this depiction over and over and over.  Something just pulled at me about this picture.  And then it hit me.  Christ is depicted as a blue eyed, brown haired white man.  To suggest that the starting point for America isn't "white" is clearly inaccurate based on this picture alone.  Here's a clue:  Christ wasn't white.  He was brown.  Very, very brown.  He had black hair...the Bible says it was woolly.  He had dark brown eyes and He was fully Jewish.  He wasn't white. The dichotomy in that picture is what kept me coming back to it.  The beauty and joy of that smile is how I see Christ in my mind's eye, but the sparkling blue eyes weren't accurate and something bugged me that anyone thought it was OK to take a fully Jewish Christ and make Him white. That this isn't relevant to most white people bugs me, too.  The starting point for truth shouldn't be a color; it should be our hearts. 

I'm called to be more like Christ and to emulate Him.  I have a directive to love my neighbor, as myself.  I have a directive that love is the lens that my entire life should be colored by and I want to fulfill that directive.  I'm called to be honest and seek His favor and His glory.  There is no glory in dishonest discourse and there is nothing godly about racism.  I don't know where to start the conversation, but I'm willing to have one with humility and love guiding my hearing, my heart and my life.  I'm willing to try.

 I do not want my children to grow up believing that the flesh colored crayon in the crayon box is reflective of truth.  I do not want my children to grow up in a world that the color of someones skin directs anyone's choices in how to treat another human being created in the image of God Himself. This works both ways, by the way.  I do not "owe" anyone because I am white.  But, I will not pretend that racism does not exist or that we have quelled the tide of oppression.  I will not pretend that even when we don't mean to offend, we can still do so and it matters. I refuse to allow the overuse of the term "offended" to make me numb to the fact that some things are still offensive. I want to be able to talk honestly and listen with a heart that pleases God.  Racism does not please God and lying about it doesn't either.