04 February 2017

Refugees

President Trump. Executive order. 6 months. You know what I'm talking about.

Here's what I really don't get: the acquiescence from Christians.

I've been thinking and thinking on how to frame this in a gentle and gracious way. I'm really going to try. But what is happening here?

I cannot get past the conviction that God loves the foreigner. God loves the alien to be among his people. And I'm not just talking in the theocracy of OT Israel. I mean as part of His character: He loves and is for those who have found themselves (through no fault of their own) at the door of violence, starvation, and death.

So I don't understand why I'm not seeing an abundance of my fellow believers in America saying, "please show me exactly why we cannot take any refugees from these countries where people are really needing to leave." And why I'm hearing so much "I don't know" "it's only six months" "we need to keep our people safe" "better vetting" etc etc ad nauseum.

Shouldn't our hearts be starting from a place of, Is there no way we can accept refugees? Because, if I remember correctly, the religion we are to practice is to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. And this attitude I'm hearing seems neighbor-distancing and born of a spirit of fear and self-protection.

And that seems pretty polluted to me.




Also, if you don't like to talk about practical things based on ideals (which I would disagree with wholeheartedly), and you want to talk about Facts (real ones, with numbers and dates and percentages), we can certainly do that. I feel very, very comfortable in my stance based on those as well. But that doesn't pain me. It's the attitude, which seems so different from the one I see in the God of the Bible, that grieves my heart.

04 January 2017

Consent

Ugh, here I am, talking about consent again. [whatever consent is my jam] But something came up and I can't let it go without thinking this layer of consent through. Mainly because I'm struggling to fall asleep because of it.

Seven years ago, I was in Houston for a conference with a friend. I decided to pick up some music equipment for Stephen's Christmas present while we were there. It was from something online -- was craigslist a thing back then? -- and I and my two friends drove to the other side of Houston to get it. It was kind of a crazy adventure feeling, since none of us had ever been to this part of Houston before. I texted the guy in order to get his address and stuff.

Two hours later, he sent me a picture of his penis.

Listen, I know "dick pics" are a super common thing nowadays. I know. But they weren't in 2009! I had literally never heard of anyone receiving a picture from a stranger of his penis. And I had, I guess a panic attack? I don't know what you'd call it, but I was sobbing, immediately, uncontrollably, in the middle of a church auditorium during this conference's 10-minute potty break. It was not logical; it was visceral and subliminal, and it took a good 15 minutes for my conscious efforts to get my body to calm down enough to call Stephen to hear from him. And he was the right person to call, being my safest place and also my spouse and also a man. I could be reminded of who I am and who men are. He was angry for me, let me cry at him, and helped me make a plan of action.

I'm still glad I responded to that guy, telling him that if he ever sent me pictures of his genitalia again, I'd call the police, and I had his address and phone number. I sincerely hope he never did that to anyone again. Get this though: he said he meant to send it to his girlfriend, and I believed him.

That's how you know it wasn't a "thing" yet. Because what else was he going to say? Hey, I literally only-kind-of met you, but I thought you'd like an up-close photo of my penis. Hey, I'd have to scroll back to see your name, but want to have sex? But I didn't even know this was something any guy would conceive of sending to a stranger on purpose. [lol to my naivete. Sigh to that that was naive.]

Tbh, I'm really glad I believed him at the time. I felt so violated, and it helped a little bit that it was an accident. But for real, he put that picture in my mind on purpose and without a moment's thought to whether I wanted it there. Or if I was even available! I'd been married ten months at the time! I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR PENIS, STRANGER.

Now that it's so common, it made me wonder why I reacted so wildly. A lot of women shrug it off by blocking the guy or sending a witty retort. Some women shame the guys publicly or contact their significant others (which I absolutely support as a natural consequence of their actions).

But in digging around online, I haven't found a whole lot of "the first time it happened, my body couldn't decide whether to cry or hyperventilate." So I'm trying to suss it out.

My current guess is that there have been a few times (I'd say three, off the top of my head) where I was in situations that were not consensual (where I was not only uncomfortable, but wanted to get away asap). The first one, at 14, was relatively mild, but formative for me in my understanding of who has power in sexualized encounters (hint: not me). The second (17) and third (18) were very violating and emotionally traumatic. But it took me a couple of months to recognize the last one as bad, a couple of years for the middle one, and maybe 12 or 13 years to realize the first was really not okay, and I felt not only not-okay, but I also felt powerless.

I felt helpless [ugh even the word is gross] in all three situations to control what was happening to my body. [In the third I was actually powerless, being blacked out from drinking. ugh.] And this stupid music-selling guy took my power away! The power to decide what I do with my own eyes.

For heaven's sake, this is why I'm calling it rape culture without any shrinking back. Because, and I'm not kidding you, all four of the guys I've referenced above didn't know at the time they were traumatizing me. They were doing pretty normal things guys do in our culture -- seeing how far a girl would go, assuming romantic advances meant I'd be down to have sex that night, and sending a peen pic to see if I'd be interested. I really don't think you'd call any of them predators if you knew them. [I can't vouch for penis pic guy since I NEVER KNEW HIM]

And I have had so many conversations with God and my scarred, embittered, terrified heart, all because these guys weren't taught not to grab girls, or get what they want if they can (including asking a girl on a date and then taking her in your car to your house instead), or that a girl (who is so drunk she's struggling to eat her takeout) in your dorm room late at night isn't necessarily there to have sex with you.

God and I, in my journey to let him into my heart, have untangled webs and defused bombs and buried corpses, all centered around my safety with men and with him. And the very worst part of all of that is that this part of our culture has made letting God love me and being vulnerable with him so much more arduous than it ever needed to be. And the fact that I'm still needing healing from things that happened to me in my teens (and then at 24) makes me angry.

I really don't know what my life would be like without Jesus, but I am positive I'd be incapable of having healthy relationships with men. Also I'm just so thankful God gave me Stephen, who has embodied the ideals of consent for the past eight years. And my brothers at Taproot, our lil church sapling, who treat me like a person first and a female second.

I pray our sons will treat women with the level of respect I now receive. I'm working hard to ensure all my kids understand that another person is as much of a human being as they are. We'll see how it goes.

..And I can't promise I won't murder castrate maim hurt any boys who haven't yet learned to treat my daughters as image-bearers of the omnipotent, awesome Creator God.

May our Lord have mercy on us all.

01 January 2017

New Year

I'm not quite sure how I ended up begging God for there to be another way to him besides Jesus' death, but here we are. Before you grab your torches and yell HERETIC!, let me explain.

I really, really hate hurting the people I love. It has been the single hardest thing about parenting for me. It's some specific form of perfectionism (if you've ever walked into my house, or spent any time with me, you know I'm not much of one in other areas). I will never be totally loving toward the people I hold most dear, and it breaks my heart completely. I hate it.

And this is Jesus we're talking about here. What I mean to say is, if you know Jesus, you know he's the best person you've ever met. And I just really, really hate that he died for me. It's so painful to know my sins were on his shoulders. Even as I hear the Spirit's voice telling me Jesus wasn't forced or coerced, that he came to Earth as The Rescuer, it's still hard to accept that I added to his burden in any way.

I wonder if this is why I've been struggling for so long: I'm not fully accepting my own salvation. I've been mired in guilt at my role in the crucifixion. How can I receive from him when I feel so bad about what I've done to him?

I'm glad the Lord opened this door in my heart. I certainly didn't have the insight to know what was going on. God gave me this passage to think on for this year:

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.

Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the LORD will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.

With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”

And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.

The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish
where desert jackals once lived.

And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
fools will never walk there.

Lions will not lurk along its course,
nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.

Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

And I believe it. I believe God will do what he's always done to me -- make me more like himself. I don't understand why he loves me, but I know that he does, and he will continue to make springs in this desert, and lead me on.

04 December 2016

Job Description

First of all, y'all, my dining table is so messy right now. I would have put a picture up, but some of my friends are really tidy and would probably be grossed out actually seeing that I sometimes don't even put lunch dishes away until snack time. Just imagine there are two half-gnawed carrots like three inches away from this computer I'm typing on. [bc there definitely are.]

BUT I needed to at least start this post. Making space for me to be able to sit and think about things that aren't practical (in the making-our-house-run sense) is really difficult right now. I realized this morning I have a real problem with my job description.

Or, really, I have a problem with my understanding of my job. Or even what a job is. I think I'm among a large percentage of Americans whose lives have been shaped from a very young age to think about what career we will have. Which, if you look within the scope of all of human history, is fairly unique.

As I've been a full-time stay-at-home mom (albeit part-time paid staff for our church), I've had to process what it means to do the work that I do, and to begin to reorient myself away from overvaluing work that makes money. I've had to let go of feeling useless when I don't bring in money for our family, or ashamed of how little money I've made in the past year (or five. or like all my years, really). I've never had a career; I've only had a full-time, salaried job for one year of my whole life, no joke.

If I'm being honest, I feel like that sounds like I'm pretty useless. Dare I use the word I'm tempted, and really say I feel worthless? Because yeah.

But today I feel the winds of the Spirit saying I need this to be fully uprooted and thrown into the fire. Glorifying God is my job. Full stop. Following Jesus IS my job. And it's also the very best thing I can do for my marriage and my family.

Oh for sure, we could use a bit more income. It would reduce some stress (hi homebuying I DON'T LIKE YOU). But I won't feel more peace by eliminating all the situational stress in my life (also bc that's not a thing that's possible). I need to drink from the well of living water, and be satisfied in the only person who has what my heart needs. THAT is my life's job.

I'm going to start my training period at work now.

22 September 2016

Thanks

You know, we've now reach the 6 month mark for our daughters being Stateside, so I'm feeling some (mostly internal) pressure to be kid of up-to-speed at this point. But the kids have been sick for almost four weeks (when you pass the same virus back and forth it NEVER LEAVES), and so at least two of them have been difficult (though they do take turns in this are) every blessed day for basically ever.

So you know, I'm not really feeling up to speed or adjusted to life as it is. Life as it is is still really draining. Even when they're not sick, I get tired of making four lunches and snacks and none of them being for me, while having to listen to at least one of them complain about it while simultaneously another is asking for a fork [which is hilariously profane in person] and another is saying "waddeee" [water] over and over.

 But I want to be content in this season, if though I don't think I'm going to look back and say it was my favorite, and I know it's possible to look back on the day and think it was a good one. But I'm struggling to care for them really well and care of myself well too. I mean, I have down time, but really taking care of my heart, soul, and body is still work, and uuuuughhhhh I work all dayyyyyy and I just want to turn my brain off.

So. I'm going to do something easy. I'm going to think of something that went well every day. Today Ezra and Stella organized the bookshelf (as in, all the books are vertical, instead of precariously piled on top/beside each other). And, when they were done, I heard them say, "let's go tell Mommy we did it together."

And it was REAL PRECIOUS YOU GUYS. Like this precious:
Enjoying an actual fire at the mountain house in August
And it's so, so special to see how bonded Ezra and Stella are. They are best friends. All the while Ezra is working out the difference between biological and adopted siblings, Ezra and Stella are knitting together our family in play.

This is a really special time for all four of the kids to be home before the "bigs" go to school next year (Ezra to first and Stella to kinder). And I'm really glad we all have it.