Posts filed under Humanitarian

Come Together: A Prayer for the Peacemakers

I’m a private griever. 

I know, pretty shocking considering there are very few things I keep private on here… am I right? But nonetheless, it's true. I like to grieve alone, untouched, in silence (usually with a glass of wine and a bubble bath... can I get an amen?). 

I remember the first time I was able to verbally articulate wanting to be left alone during grief. 

At our church in Kentucky, an elderly lady named Inez had taken me under her wings. I would go over to her house and eat Breyer’s vanilla ice cream while she showed me pictures of her beloved family and friends. She would tell me stories and listen to my dreams, and in return I thought she hung the moon. 

Now Inez wasn't your typical calm sweet grandma. Y'all, that old lady was a pistol. I have memories of my dad preaching and Inez agreeing and disagreeing OUTLOUD in the middle of the sermon. There’s nothing like having your sermon interrupted (or corrected) by a woman in her 80’s. It also wouldn't be uncommon for her to stand up for me and my brother whenever my dad would call us out in church for talking or goofing off, “Now Pastor, you leave those kids alone. They’re good kids, you hear me? They’re just being kids.” And that would be the end of that. 

Some kids had superheroes, I had Inez. 

Not to mention, she had a bottle of cough syrup that she would straight chug in the middle of church whenever a coughing fit hit. Well, at least we think it was cough syrup. 

So like I said… HERO status. FOR SURE. 

When Inez passed away and dad announced it to the church, I wept. Honestly, I get teary-eyed even writing about it; I just loved that woman. I can remember my childhood best friend coming up to give me a hug and me stiff-arming her, “Do NOT hug me!!! I don’t like to be touched when I’m upset.” 

And that phrase followed me throughout my life as I eliminated community out of my grieving spaces. 

It’s odd because I am a touchy feely person. I love hugs. I love squeezing a friend’s arm or kissing a family member hello or goodbye. But when grief hits, I can’t handle being touched; it’s like sensory overload and all my people know that when tears start to flow, physical touch is not an option and I usually retreat.

This summer feels like a lot like that. 

I keep waking up hoping for peace only to be devastated by a news cycle… and honestly, I just want to retreat. 

The grief is just too heavy.

The discord surrounding racial tensions, police brutality, police being hunted and killed, ISIS, terrorism, and not to mention the political dialogue surrounding our elections has JUST BEEN A LOT.

There is a part of me that just longs for solitude and wants to yell, “LEAVE ME ALONE, I DON’T WANT TO BE TOUCHED.” That part of me wants to get off of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and yes, even this blog. There is a part of me that wants to just shut it all down and keep my head low and live my small life while ignoring what's going on outside my home. 

But I’ve learned that my instinct to retreat when wounded rarely turns out well because our stories, even the broken ones (ok... especially the broken ones), were made to be told. And our burdens, well... they were made to be carried together, never alone. 

I love the passage in Exodus 18 when Moses's father in law, Jethro, gives him some advice. You see, Moses was taking on the task of being judge for ALL people, constantly working and solving their problems. Jethro observes all of this and then says, "What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone" (v. 17-18). 

(I feel that way about our society right now. This is too heavy, too dark, too wearisome.) 

So what did Jethro tell Moses to do? 

Look for men who fear God and are trustworthy. People who don't take bribes. Find these people, team up to get the work done, and "you will be able to endure, and... people also will go to their place in peace" (v. 21, 23).

Endurance and Peace.

I think this is a timely call for our communities. We have to come together for the sake of peace. Jen Hatmaker was calling all Peacemakers to the table, and I'm no Jen... but I'm following suit. 

I don't have all the answers and I don't know what's next. But I believe that we can agree that we ALL are reeling from a devastating summer. And there is something beautiful (and God-honoring) about standing together with locked arms in the midst of our grief, even if we aren’t all standing in the same corner

So my post today is a prayer for all of the peacemakers. The liberal peacemakers and the conservatives. The black peacemakers and the white ones. The Latino peacemakers and the Muslim peacemakers. The rich peacemakers and the poor. To the #blacklivesmatter and the #thebluelivesmatter and the #alllivesmatter. My prayer is this...

May we never retreat.
May we come together, united by our humanity rather than divided by our preferences or opinions.
May we be kinder with our words, tones, and posts. 
May we have grace for those who don’t. 
May we lock arms, and together pursue both justice and mercy.
May we be beautifully honest about our stories and be graciously receptive to others'. 
May we feel the freedom to not have all the answers, while still wanting to be a part of a solution.
May we listen before we speak, and when we do speak may the betterment of others drive our words.
May we know that we are all broken people in need of restoration. 
And May we all have eyes full of grace, compassion, and kindness toward our fellow man as we walk these messy steps of healing... locked arms together, never alone

Much love to you and yours. Praying for those of you who are weary today and want to retreat. Praying that we can come together and carry this burden of bringing PEACE to a broken society in JESUS' name together. 

Hugs (even for those y'all not wanting to be touched right now),

Letters to My Girls: Do Not Retreat.

My Girls,

You are too little to realize it yet, but this world is broken.  Very broken. It is not how God originally designed it to be. And one day, when this realization becomes true to you – I pray that I can be there to hold your hand, wipe your tears, and be a sounding board for your thoughts and questions. For now though, all I can do is pray for you and this future moment.

This week a lot has gone wrong in the world. Men, women, and children in Iraq are being murdered for their faith. An unarmed boy was shot by police & left in the street for four hours in St. Louis. There is an Ebola outbreak – and selfish people in our country are way too concerned with their well-being that they say stupid things on national television or the internet. A well-known pastor has fallen from good-graces with our denomination.  We have friends who have lost babies. We’ve seen sons and daughters bury parents & siblings. People are being diagnosed with cancer. And all over my facebook feed I see people hurting from illness and loss.

It’s enough to make you want to curl up inside your home and retreat. But little ones, when the moment comes when you fully understand the frailty of humanity, retreat you must not.

Throughout the Old Testament we are pointed to a God who cares about justice. He cares about the orphan, the widow,  & the sojourner. Over and over in Scripture we are told to seek justice and to treat the widow and fatherless well. And if for a second you doubt God’s care for the poor here are just a few verses that speak of His unfailing love:

“Father of the Fatherless and Protector of widows is God in His holy habitation” Psalm 68:5

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”   James 1:27

“You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn…” Exodus 22: 22-23

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute” Psalm 82:3

“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”  Jeremiah 22:3

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

These are just a few, but Scripture is packed full of a stories and verses that point back to a God who doesn’t just care for the poor and oppressed, but comes to their defense. That is, after all, our story too.  We have been adopted into God’s family. We were once sojourners, but now we have been given an eternal Father, a magnificent Savior, and the Holy Spirit to guide us in this life.  We were outsiders, who have been taken in. This is our story; it is our song. And just as it is life giving, it is life changing. And when dark days come, and come they will, I want you to fight the urge to retreat. Instead I want you to remember your song, and push into the one who will make all things new.

In moments when you want to retreat or feel paralyzed, I want you to pray hard little ones. When you wake in the dark night overwhelmed with grief, I want you to remember these verses and remember that the God you serve neither slumbers nor sleeps & He loves His children with reckless abandon.

Where you see injustice, I want you to be God’s hands and feet and take comfort in knowing that YOU can be a picture of God’s redemptive story to this broken world. I know that at moments, you might feel paralyzed by all that’s going on around you. I know on weeks like this one… I surely do. But then after I catch my breath and realize that the “saving” is not up to me, I look around and ask God where I can do my part.

I’ll be honest with you. This is one of the many reasons why we’re adopting. We see the brokenness that has invaded our culture regarding “unwanted” children & we feel God’s hand compelling us towards action.  (Clarification: We know that most birth moms very much so WANT their children, the “unwanted” was referring to our culture’s push towards abortion, not birth mom’s lack of wanting!). We want our family to be a conduit of grace in our society. We believe that ALL children are a blessing and have equal and great worth in the eyes of our Lord. And we know that we can love you and the other children that God brings into our home, because He first loved us. And through any hardship, He is greater my little ones.

Where we see a racial divide, Jesus is Greater and He is better than our comfort zones. Where we see a financial divide, Jesus is Greater and all things are His and so we give and receive generously to/from one another. Where we see hunger, and pain, and loss, and hurt, again, may Jesus is Greater be your anthem. But may it not only be your anthem in word, but your war cry in deed.

He is not a God who retreats. He is not a God who quits. He is strong. He is mighty. He is GOOD. And He has fought for you and will one day make all things new. 

Because of this, you can be brave and trust Him. Evaluate your giftings, your stage of life, what you are capable of, and then fight back. If you’re a writer, I want you to write. If you’re a teacher, teach truth passionately. If you’re a mother, I want you to LOVE selflessly. If you’re a business woman, work hard and give generously.  If you’re an engineer, create better ways of life for others. If you’re a missionary, never, ever, give up.

This week my mama’s heart initially prayed for your safety and for your comfort in days to come, but I know that those prayers are selfish. And that God did not give you to me so I could teach you to love comfort. Instead, during your little years I’m training my heart to pray for more than that. So tonight, as I go to sleep… I’m praying that you will abandon modern comforts with reckless abandon and run to what God bends your heart towards. I'm praying for courage to stand for truth, for tenderness to God’s call, for your spirit to be kind, for your hearts to be discerning, minds to be quick to learn, and your feet would be quick to go. Oh my little ones, one day when you’re older I pray that on weeks like these you will be strong & courageous, deeply rooted in the faith. May you walk into the trenches to hold hands with those who are hurting. May you open your home, your hearts, and your wallets to those who are truly in need.  May you love deeply and without prejudice. And may you live anything, but a comfortable, boring, self-absorbed life. 

Do not retreat.

Much love,

Your mama

Sleep, the weekend, & a Photo Friday

Well holy cow... it's 8:00 am... and guess what?! I just finished feeding the girls at 7 after they finished an 8 hour stretch of sleep. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. You heard me correctly... BOTH girls slept 8 hrs. I had to get up once to put paci's in... but still... BOTH girls slept EIGHT hours.

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

 I was pretty confused when I woke this morning. I looked at the clock, realized what time it was, tried to remember whether or not I fed them in the middle of the night, and then looked down at my sheets to get the answer... milk everywhere? YES. And then I jumped out of bed and did the "My babies BOTH slept from 11-7 dance" & ran into their room to make sure they were both ok.

Glory. Hallelujah. & Amen.

Am I expecting this tonight? No. BUT, getting both of them to sleep at the same time has been such a challenge these past few months so we're going to celebrate these moments even if they are just a fluke. I, personally, think they are signs of what's to come. The girls have almost mastered the 11-3 or 4am sleep stretch, so even that is a HUGE improvement and we are SO thankful. And this little glimpse of glory was pretty exciting. And to think that I had given up on sleeping 8 consecutive hrs ever again... :)

What a way to start the weekend!?

Speaking of the weekend, I'm pretty excited about it. Tonight I'm going to an event for Global Hope India with a few girls from church. The mister has to work late so one of the girls generously offered to wear one of the girls so I could go. (I'll be sure to take pics of the girls in the mobies with Aunty Shy.) But I am so excited... SO excited to get to do this:

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I'm really pumped. I realized that since I stopped teaching ESL in the Spring, it's really the first time in the past 4 years that I haven't been in close contact with global projects. I worked in a missions center for three years and then this last year I was teaching ESL... and since June I've done nothing but bake babies & keep 'em alive. I know, I know... those are TWO very good excuses... but still, it is something is really important to me & I've missed it. I've missed being actively involved and I'm really trying to figure out my place during this season. I am hoping to start teaching ESL part time again next Fall, but that's a ways away. In the meantime, I'm really hoping that the Lord will open some ministry opportunities for me, even if they're little.

THEN tomorrow we have our 4 month photo shoot with the fabulous Katherine Fallis of Furnished Photography.  I love looking back at our newborn shoot and seeing how much they've grown and I can't wait to wrap our babies in Christmas lights and see what magic Katherine creates! She is SO good! So for my Photo Friday... I couldn't pick just one... I opted for a Katherine collage. ;)

Noel and Felicity

HAPPY WEEKEND YALL!

Much love,

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