Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The day AFTER the election...

This is from 2012, but in light of some of the current political debates, I thought perhaps it was worth re-posting.

This was on my mind last night....so now it's found its way into a blog.

Now, I usually don't get too "political", but bear with me...I think it will all make sense by the end.

Imagine it is the day after the election. Imagine your candidate - no matter which one that might be - was not elected. Now what? What will your response be? If you think it's yelling and complaining, then you're probably pitching a toddler tantrum. If it's to take a deep breath, trust God, and move forward by praying - honestly praying and not complaining - for your leader...then you're probably being a mature member of our country.

It might take making the decision now - that no matter who wins, we make the decision to pray, trust God, and come back together as a nation. You can still disagree, but even in disagreement, we have got to work together. 
All this brings to mind all the yard signs I have seen lately. On my street, there are signs for both candidates - one candidate is on one corner and across the street, the other candidate's sign holds a prominent position. Now, I have nothing against people showing their support, but let's be honest - if I am still undecided at this point then a yard sign probably isn't going to make me choose one candidate over another...and I have to wonder again - what about the day after the election? Will those two neighbors be able to go back to talking about the weather and lawn maintenance after seeing that sign in their neighbor's yard each day? I hope so, but this campaign has gotten so heated, I have my doubts. I have been around long enough to have seen the United States have a number of different presidents - some I agreed with and some I did not. With that in mind, I'd like to make my own "yard sign". It would say something like, "One nation under God - no matter which candidate wins."

Then there are those who make rash statements about how awful life in this country will be if the "other" candidate wins. Seeing the rants and raves reminded me of something that happened with my son when he was about 3 years old. He had one of his toddler meltdowns and decided he didn't like our rules. He was going to run away if things didn't go his way. In my "parenting wisdom" I tried to use psychology. I told him it would make me sad if he decided he didn't want to be a part of our family, but if he did leave, he'd have to realize that all the cool toys and clothes in that room belonged to the little boy that wanted to be a part of our family. I was feeling pretty proud of my ability to outsmart a 3 year old....until I turned my back and he stripped down naked and headed out the door! I caught him before he made it past the driveway, but that "meltdown" made a memory like none other...and it makes me wonder again about our reaction once this election is over.

Will we be like my toddler and pitch a fit, tossing aside all that is good because we don't like the way things are going? Or will we look around and realize just how blessed we are and find a way to work things out? I hope we'll decide to grow up a bit and remember that through good and bad, through celebrations and disagreements, through elections and inaugurations, we are still family. 
I think it's very significant that not long after the election, we have a chance to sit down together and give thanks for this country. No matter who wins the election - your candidate or the one you desperately don't want - God is still in control.
I'm thinking we'd do a lot less "yelling" during the process if we could remember that.

Daniel 4:35

The Message (MSG)
34-35 “At the end of the seven years, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked to heaven. I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever:
“His sovereign rule lasts and lasts, his kingdom never declines and falls. Life on this earth doesn’t add up to much, but God’s heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt his work, no one can call his rule into question.
Proverbs 16:9
We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.
Proverbs 21: 30-31
Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived, can get the better of GodDo your best, prepare for the worst - then trust God to bring victory.
1 Peter 1:3-5
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

Psalms 33:12-22
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,  the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down  and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches  all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all,  who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;  despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,  on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death  and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord;  he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice,  for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,   even as we put our hope in you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Right now in our country there is so much hurt and confusion and I stand in the middle torn...

I don't pretend to understand. I am white - always have been. Not trying to be funny, it's just a fact that "colors" how I see life. I have not ever really known what it is to be a person of color in this nation. I remember the first time I went to school with someone a different color than me. My parents told me to be friendly, but not necessarily make friends. Seems like a contradiction, but most people will understand what that means. My parents weren't bad people, nor did they want to see harm to anyone...they just came from a different time, a time when separate bathrooms still existed and separate everything was seen as the norm. Yes, I am that old.

I remember my father telling me when I came to college here in Mississippi that I should be careful. He said something along the lines of, "I know you have black friends here, but Mississippi is different. They will shoot you for walking down the street with someone black there." I guess even to Alabama, Mississippi seemed to be a scary place when it came to race. He was wrong, by the way.

I remember being a young white woman going down into what I'd always been taught was "the hood" to pick up kids to take them to church. I was supposed to be afraid...I don't think I often was. But honestly, I had no idea what it was to be a part of that community. I was an outsider. I never let my guard down, really.

And then I became the parent of a child that was not white, and everything changed. While I still don't really understand what it is to be a person of color, I encountered real, obvious hatred for the first time based simply on the color of skin. 

One of the most vivid times of awareness came many years ago when my daughter was just a baby. I walked into a drug store to buy some candy for kids church; they were having a sale and I needed a LOT! As I entered, I passed a man who looked at me and at my daughter that I held in my arms. I was used to people looking at her - she was and is beautiful. People were always commenting on how precious she was...but not this time. The sneer on the man's face and the disgust in his voice when he uttered, "Ugh" as he passed us was evident. I turned. "Excuse me? Do you have a problem with me and my child?" but he just kept walking out the door. I was literally shaking with rage. 

I went on to get the candy, (I still had kid's church to prepare for after all) and the cashier, who was white I think, started to apologize that I had to encounter someone like that and what he had said. I mumbled something about it's okay and as I handed over my money I distinctly heard the Lord begin to speak to me. "Let it go. Don't hold on to that anger because if you do, you will pass it on to your child." As angry as I was, I never wanted her to feel that rage that I was feeling at the moment...not that sweet innocent child. 

Over the years, I encountered some who embraced me and my family and some who judged us...people from both colors of skin, black and white. But mostly, I have found grace and love. I watched as my children tore down walls simply by being who they were created to be.

Fast forward to when my daughter started dating. One of the young men she brought home was a young black man. He would drive almost an hour at times to come and visit her and watch tv in my living room. One night, as he left to go home rather late, I felt for the first time that fear. He drove an old car and I began to worry. What if he broke down? What if no one stopped because he was black? What if those who stopped on that long stretch of road were people who might see him as an enemy and hurt him? That was the first time I realized what others might have felt.

Then my own son got old enough to drive. He is one of the "preppiest" people I have ever met! I'm still not sure how he is that way - most of our clothes are hand-me-downs or come from thrift stores! Think of Carlton from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-air" and you have my son. He is not black, but he is very dark skinned and often mistaken for black and now that he drives a long distance back and forth to school, the worry has returned. My husband sent him a video that explained how you should react if pulled over by an officer, where to keep your hands and such. My son's reaction..."but I'm not black." No, son, but you look black. The last traffic ticket you got, (yes he drives too fast sometimes) had you identified as black. It's not who you are, it's who they think you might be...

Now before I go much further, let me say I support law enforcement! I pray for them! I run races to help raise funds for the families of fallen officers. I know a LOT of officers and I am so thankful that these men and women stand in the gap for us all...but just like I felt that rage all those years ago when I held my daughter in that drug store, I feel fear for my children now. Fear because of the stress and tension that exists. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a police officer to go to work each and every day having to look over their shoulder because someone hates them because of the uniform they wear. They have to choose to protect those who sometimes hate them. That kind of constant stress can cause them to misjudge and make wrong decisions, no matter what the color of their skin.

So I'm torn. I'm white...so white I practically glow in the dark. My children are seen as black even though they are both white and black and, in the case of my son, not African American at all. I don't want to live in fear. I don't want to fear because I am white, because they are people of color, or because our police are in such danger every day.  I'm torn because I understand, only a little, the point of view from both "sides." I have seen my daughter face what she sees as racism...and I understand what it is to be white and have people take something I have said to mean something entirely different than what was meant, simply because my skin is a different color than theirs. I wonder if what she sees is really there or simply being taken the wrong way, or is it a little of both. I pray daily that  she would not inherit that rage I felt that day when she was just a baby. I let it go, and I pray that she never takes it up.

At one time, my daughter even wanted to become a police officer...you can imagine the can of worry worms that started!

I don't know the answer, but I do know that God calls His children to be peacemakers. That means we are problem solvers. We are to stand in the gap and not only pray but help find a way to tear down walls that divide. Jesus did it. He talked with those that were different. He ate with those He wasn't "supposed" to. He touched those rejected as unclean. He didn't walk in fear - He walked in love. Am I able to do the same?

I want to be like the little child and her mother that we encountered when my daughter was just a toddler. We were at the zoo and a little girl noticed that I wasn't the same color as my baby. She innocently asked, "Are you her mommy?" I could see her mother squirm, worried that her daughter's question might somehow offend. "Yes, I am her mommy. Are you wondering why our skin isn't the same color?" Yes, she nodded. "Well, God has a big color box and He loves making people of every color! I'm so glad, aren't you?" Yes, she nodded again and I watched the apprehension in her mother's face ease. A little child so easily accepted that God loves to make people of all colors and simply was unafraid to ask when she didn't understand.

Red, yellow, brown, black, and white...we are all precious in His sight. I may be torn about the strife that is going on right now between colors, but that love is something I can rest assured in, and I will choose to reach out and join hands with those around me...no matter what the color of their skin or the uniform they wear.

Psalm 133 (Short, but exactly what we need!) NIV
How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Just let go...

I watched as he hung by this fingertips, desperately calling "Help me! Help!"

We were at camp and we had already had wonderful time in chapel services the night before. Now it was time to have some fun on the lake. The wind had begun to pick up and it was making the lake waters pretty choppy, but all in all it was a beautiful day. One of the favorite activities of all the children was a giant canvas/tarp waterslide that led into the lake, and one by one they climbed the stairs to the top to slide their way down into the cooling waters of the lake. Each wore the required life vest and looked like little oompa loompas as they ran around playing in the summer sun. Patiently they climbed the stairs and waited for the thrill of the slide. Finally it was this little boy's turn for the adventure!

I didn't know his name, he was a little fellow, but not the smallest in the group by any means. Dark haired and freckled faced, he stood at the top and in a moment began his first slide. The wind was quite brisk and had blown a lot of the water out of the slide so half way down he slowed to a stop. The counselors at the top turned the hose to add water and encouraged him to scoot on down. Finally had sat at the bottom of the slide, his feet dangling over. Everyone around him was yelling to him to jump, but it was quickly becoming evident that he wasn't so sure he should have gotten on this slide in the first place. Finally he jumped...but without letting go. Now he hung there, clutching the end of the canvas slide and cried out, "Help me! Help!"

I stood on the dock in tears; my heart hurt for this little one. I could see the fear on his face and I soon joined in the shouts of "Jump! Let go! It will be okay!" but still he hung there, crying out for help. I'm sure to him it seemed like an eternity...as if no one noticed his plight! He just wanted someone to save him from the predicament he had gotten into! After a moment, the lifeguard saw that this little one was NOT going to let go and therefore safely go into the water where he would float and could dog paddle his way if necessary to the dock, so she jumped in and swam the few yards over to him. 

I turned to my friend who stood there beside me and said, "Isn't that just like what we so often do with God. We cry out, 'Help me! Help!' and all those around us are shouting to let go, but we just won't. We are too afraid."

The little boy was fine, of course. Once the life guard reached him, he let go and entered the water with a small splash. The two of them held on to the red buoy and slowly made their way in. By the time he climbed onto the dock, he was much calmer. He had realized what the rest of us had known all along, that he had on a life vest and he was safe. I think he even smiled.

The funny thing is, just hours after this scene had unfolded I was talking to my friend about something I had been struggling with. She reminded me of my own words and that little boy...just let go and trust God. I thought about that little boy and the image of him hanging there, crying out for help; and I had to wonder how many times have I been that little boy. Those around me can see that what I really need to do is let go of the problem and just trust God, but I'm afraid. I have so many promises from God that He will take care of me and that He can be trusted, yet still I cling to the "slide" and cry out for help. What I really need to do is just let go. 

After my young friend was safely out of the way, the next child who had patiently waited (and called out as loudly as the rest for him to jump) made his way to the starting spot. He jumped and slid down with joy and made a BIG splash when he hit the water. He bobbed quickly to the surface with a huge smile on his face and grinned as he swam to the dock, enjoying every second of this thrilling ride.

I want to be like that second child, the one who enjoyed the adventure. It's time to release my grip and trust that God will take care of me and those that I love. It's time to stop living in fear and instead enjoy the ride. I don't have to worry; I have on a "life vest" and the one who loves me is ever watching to make sure I can dog-paddle my way home. Let's be honest, in all my "hanging on" I can't do a thing about the situation anyway!

It's time to "let go." Care to join me? From what I can see, when we do we will be in for a wonderful adventure...and the splash will be epic!

Matthew 16:24-25 (Voice)
24 (to His disciples) If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. 25 The person who wants to save his life must lose it, and he who loses his life for Me will find it.

Isaiah 43: 1 - 5 (Msg)
But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel, “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. 
“So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.