How is your Heart?

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “how.”

How is your heart, friends?

My heart is weary and broken. I look at our broken world and I cry out, How long, oh Lord?

I turn on the news and I am overcome with the brokenness and injustices of our world. How long will this go on?

I’m listening and learning. I recently started a book study on the book White Fragility. I’m learning so much that I didn’t know and unlearning other habits too. How long, will it take to continue to learn?

I hear the voices of my friends who are cops. I pray for their safety. But also want better for them too. I know where my friends heart truly is.

I open Facebook and I’m sorry that I even opened it. All I see is you’re right, I’m wrong. I see name calling. I see the political divide. Yet it’s so much more than that. I’m not anti American. I’m simply for Jesus. I want to be more like him. He was always sitting with those on the margins.*

Jesus left the ninety-nine sheep to find the one who was lost. It’s not that the ninety-nine aren’t important. It’s just that it is the one missing who needs the shepherd the most right now.

I want better for the generations yet to come. I want there to be peace on earth and let it begin with me. I’m clinging to Micah 6:8: “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”

How is your heart today, friends?

*where the five minutes ended. Had to finish my thoughts.

I Can’t Stay Silent

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “stay.”

I turn on the news and my heart breaks. Fires, looting and violence. I don’t believe violence is the answer but I wonder how long lives will be lost unnecessarily?

There are so many voices fighting for our attention. Yet I know I cannot stay silent any longer. I need to lean in and listen to BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) individuals. For so long, they’ve been crying out for us to hear them. Yet we too often do not hear them.

Our world is broken. The voices needing to be heard are being silenced. It’s a scary time in our world. I have friends who were followed home by confirmed white supremacy groups in the Minneapolis area. This is not an us vs them or police vs BIPOC individuals. It’s so much more complex than that.

Friends, we may not agree. I still love you. I’ll always love my neighbor, welcome the stranger and stand up for the marginalized. We cannot let anymore dreams be deferred.

Harlem by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

The Cries That Fall on Deaf Ears….

I’m very aware of my privilege this morning. I’m sitting in the comfort of my own home with a kitty crashed on my lap while the other kitty is fast asleep on top of the couch. Yet, five or so hours away, I am hearing and listening to the stories of friends who were followed home by white supremacist groups and friends who were peacefully protesting when the semi drove into the crowd which they were a part of at the time. They literally had to jump a fence to get to safety.

My heart is breaking as I hear their stories. I am renouncing my own sin and complacency in standing up for my BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) friends and colleagues. I’m not a violent person, but I can understand the holy righteous anger and rage coming from my BIPOC friends and colleagues. I pray continually for the safety of all who are involved including the police. (One of my dearest friends is married to a police officer). But I also know that our systems need to change.

And while army tanks stood at attention, while owners tried to protect their businesses, and while churches gathered to be the kingdom here on Earth in Minneapolis, our President saw an opportunity for a photo op in Washington DC and ran with it.

The President could have easily spoke about loving our neighbors. He could have spoke up for the injustices and unnecessary deaths of our BIPOC siblings. Instead he chased away peaceful protestors who were hit with rubber bullets, flash grenades and were tear gassed so he could stand in front of St Peters Episcopal church holding the Bible. He didn’t even have the decency to give them a warning so they could clear out and move their medical supplies. Just thirty minutes before, there were medics on the porch of that same church caring for injuries.

Our President has never stepped foot in that church. He wasn’t even gracious enough to let the Bishop of the Episcopal church know he was coming. It was not a sign of peace and hope. He knew what he was doing…in fact every move was calculated. For many, he invoked fear rather than hope and peace.

As Christians, our call is to love our neighbors especially those who don’t look like us. In the words of Micah 6:8, we are to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.” Our call is to let those voices who need to be heard to be heard and not silenced. It is our call to follow Jesus example and search out the one. The ninety nine are important, but it’s even more important to look for the one who is lost/missing.

I’m going to search for the one, friends. I will not be distracted by those who simply like hearing the sound of their own voice. I will not be distracted by those who pull my attention away from fighting for justice for unnecessary deaths. I will not be distracted by my own tears and broken heart, but instead I’ll strive to listen and pay attention to the BIPOC voices in our world who are tired and weary from fighting for just for their BIPOC siblings.

Do you hear them? Do you understand where their holy rage is coming from? Do you see and say the too many names that have died unjustly? Can you open your ears, eyes and hearts to try and understand? Can you join me in praying for our broken fractured world with the widest chasm that needs to be healed, but but not at the cost of another life?

MLK Jr., often is remembered as a peaceful man yet he wasn’t always met with kindness. In fact, if you remember your history, you know he was actually murdered for his actions.

I want to leave you with two quotes for you to reflect on. They embody the reality of how long systematic racism has been going on in our country. (And it was going on long before him)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” (MLK Jr)

“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention”

He predicted that these riots would continue until our BIPOC siblings would finally be heard. How long, oh Lord? How long, will the bad cops not pay for their unjust actions? How long, oh Lord, will lives be taken before we finally hear the cries of our BIPOC siblings: the cries of grief and injustice for those they love? How long, how long will their cries fall on deaf ears (ears that simply choose not to hear)?

Let those with white ears, hear and listen….

Exploded Dreams

I began my morning this day watching video of Pastor Ingrid walking around the neighborhood where Holy Trinity is located near Lake Street in Minneapolis. Pastor Ingrid is one of the pastors there. Holy Trinity has been serving as a medic station and being God’s hands and feet in this time. As I watched, my heart broke. Years of inequality led to this response. George Floyd should not have been murdered.

Then a few days, after George’s death, a police officer in Grand Forks, ND was killed in the line of duty. Officer Cody Holte was living out his calling when he was shot. Again my heart breaks.

The juxtaposition of these two deaths this week ways incredibly heavy on my heart. A man Cody Holte who was upholding the law and serving out his vocation in life shot while doing so. Another man George Floyd who was simply killed because of the color of his skin.

As the smoke fills the air, I know we must do better. A friend shared some reflection questions this morning that I am sitting with today and for the days to come. Where is their anger coming from? What would it feel like to fear those who are supposed to protect you?

My heart breaks again. Years of injustice laid out before our very eyes. “The violence and destruction that we have experienced the last two nights are symptoms of generations of inequality.” (Pr. Ingrid Rasmussen) Do you hear it? Do you see it? Or are you blind to it?

For far to long, I’ve been blind, but I can no longer be blind to it. Yet I know because of my own white privilege, I’ve failed. I’ve failed at speaking up for my friends with brown and black bodies when they’ve encountered racism. Because of my own white privilege, I have not feared when a police officer has pulled me over. Because of my own white privilege, I’d much rather sit in my own comfort than stand in discomfort speaking up for justice.

No longer, friends! I will speak up when I see racism happening. I will stand in my own discomfort naming the injustices of our world. I will name all the times I’ve let my own white privilege lead to my complacency. I will do all of these things so this doesn’t happen again. I will speak the names of those who can no longer speak their own names: George Floyd, Armaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and so many others…because they were killed unjustly.

Today I will also speak the name of Officer Cody Holte who was one of the good cops…who lived his calling passionately…to serve and protect ALL people.

Death swirls all around us. Death will happen as long as their is injustice, evil and hate in our broken sinful world. And because of death, are dreams deferred or do they explode in the words of the Langston Hughes poem “Harlem?”

Harlem By Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

As fires blaze, as officers stand to protect the neighborhood, as Holy Trinity reaches out to serve their neighbor, we see that dreams deferred explode. Explode because of injustice and inequality. Explode because of hate and evil. Explode because of sinfulness.

Jesus, give us eyes and ears to see and hear injustice. Jesus, come and bring your peace; the peace that passes all human understanding.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

The Way Forward

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “forward.”

How do we move forward when there is so much injustice, so much hatred?

Why must children of God fear for their lives when they walk outside?

Why does division, hatred, and evil lurk in our world?

Is it because we are sinful beings? Daily sinning and turning away from God?

We must move forward, bring about justice by saying their names.

We must learn from those who do their jobs without inflicting harm on others.

I want to move forward. I, we must take that first step. We must speak and share Gods love in this broken world. We must call upon the injustices we see. We must…and can do better.

“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.”-Albert Einstein

For the way forward is….Gods love!

For These We Prayed

There are times in our life when God brings special people into our lives. Special people that turn from friends to family=framily. Leslye, her late husband Jim and their kids have become that for my sister and I!

Leslye and her sister used to babysit my sister and I. Then we babysat for her kids. Those kids are my “adopted” nieces and nephew. They hold a special place in my heart. We have laughed together. We have cried together. We have loved each other.

I stood before Leslye and Jim’s oldest daughter Lexi and married her to her best friend in her grandparents front yard. I sat with them and cried humongous tears when Jim died in a car accident. I wanted so deeply to take the ache away for all of them. Not only were they grieving but I was too. Jim had shared his family with us. Somewhere along the line, we had become family.

Three years ago, their second daughter McKenzie and her husband began fostering two little girls. Today those two girls officially became theres after a long long journey. It’s hard to put into words how much joy and love I feel with and for them even though I can’t celebrate with them yet.

God indeed answers prayers. It’s not always in our timing but in God’s timing. God is a faithful God. I trust in that promise as our days, in the midst of this pandemic, are filled even more with continuous prayers. Yet this answered prayer today solidifies that our God is a faithful faithful God.

And because of this adoption, I still feel the pull to foster. I still feel God calling me to mother in this way. And as these two sweet girls lay their heads down for the night, a forever home above their heads, I am reminded that God is here and faithful.

God will answer your prayers. God will answer my prayers; the deep desires of my heart. And as those prayers are answered, I/we will be surrounded by the love of family and friends who have become family.

For our God is a faithful God, who always hears us prayers and brings about the beautiful and holy of what it means to love and be loved.

To Refrain or Not to Refrain?

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “refrain!”

My hands deep in flour. The stove preheating. Cutting peaches and placing them in the cast iron skillet. Mixing the topping and pouring it over the peach mixture. 45 minutes later, a fresh peach cobbler comes out of the oven.

I couldn’t refrain from cutting into it. I cut a piece and placed it on my plate. I took a bite. The warm peach cobbler felt so yummy in my mouth. I can’t wait to eat some more later.

I’ve found so much joy in the kitchen in these days. I love baking and cooking. However, it sure is hard to refrain from all these yummy goodies when it’s just my cats and I in the house. I wish I could share with all of you!

I’m sure there will be more baking and cooking. Will you help me refrain from eating it all? Tell me I can freeze it. Or tell me that it is ok not to refrain during this time of uncertainty as long as I eat in moderation.

The Legacy of a Woman of Valor

We feel the sting of death as the tears stream down our faces. We feel the sting of death when we can no longer hug those we love. We can feel the sting of death as we watch our friends child grow up without him or her. We feel the sting of death when something we watch or ,siren to immediately makes us think of those who gave gone before us. We feel the sting of death when the anniversary of death looms upon us.

A year ago tomorrow (May 4, 2019), we lost beloved author Rachel Held Evans. Rachel was wife to Dan. Rachel was mother to Henry and Harper. Rachel was big sister to Amanda. Rachel was a daughter. Rachel was a friend to many. Rachel was a theologian, a revolutionary and most of all a woman of valor. Her words were and continue to be a gift.

I first met Rachel through her words when I read her book “Searching for Sunday.” I wanted to be her friend. I wanted to sit over coffee and talk theology with her. I wanted to ask her all the questions. But most of all, I wanted to be like her. I wanted to stand in the in between with her. I wanted to be as wise as she was.

In the midst of a pandemic, I yearn for her words. I want her to tell us how we will get through this time. I want her to make us laugh so we can find joy and blessing in this uncertain time. I want her to sit with us in the darkness knowing and reminding us that light will come. That the darkness will not overcome. Mary Magdalene will still come to the tomb in the dark and find it empty for Jesus has still been resurrected. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there (Clarence W Hall).”

Death has been defeated. Rachel still lives on through those who knew and loved her. Her words carry us through on the hard days and the not so hard days. Yet we still miss her. Her readers wish they could pick up another of her books. Her friends and family miss her deeply.

The tears do not come often these days, but they still come. Grief has a way of doing that finding its way in when we least expect it. The tears are a reminder that grief is holy and sacred work. Tears remind us of the gift of life of Rachel Held Evans; woman of valor: an example for us.

Because of the sting of death and this gorgeous woman of valor, I strive everyday to be a woman of valor too. May we sit with tax collectors and sinners. May we sit with the doubters. May we all strive to be women of valor, men of valor, people of valor….for by doing so we honor the life and legacy of Rachel Held Evans,

Being Present

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve joined in with the Five Minute Friday. I don’t know about you all, but I’m over spending all this time in my house. This whole situation is wearing on me. The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “distraction.”

It’s a situation that we didn’t expect. We didn’t expect to be quarantined to our houses. I’m so over being in my house with my fur babies. Yet I know this is the best thing for my neighbors and I. We must protect one another. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

I’m finding ways to distract myself….finding distractions in the midst of my day. I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm. Today it was bacon cheddar cups from the new Magnolia Table cookbook. I find such joy in the kitchen. I just wish I could share with all of you. I don’t want to put on the quarantine fifteen. I’m also becoming my own barista!

I’m spending so much time with my fur babies. I love them so much and without them, I’d be so much lonelier. They are pure gift of grace in these days. Nevy had surgery on Thursday so he’s been very cuddly which is my favorite.

I’m writing more letters. I’m trying to remember to call and text those I love more. I’m Voxing with my friends. I’m reading again. I’m finding new ways to be creative. I’m watching my friends use their gifts and creativity. My friend Tyra just released a song titled “Born to Reign.” (Check it out here:https://soundcloud.com/tyralucia/born-to-reign)

My friend Kayla has her own media business. A week ago, I did a virtual photo shoot with her. She FaceTimed me and she took pictures with her camera. I’m absolutely in love with my photos. Here’s a few of my favorites. (Photos:The Storyteller Media)

These are just a few ways I’ve found to lean into being present even in the midst of a pandemic. How have you leaned into being present?

Another Day

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve joined in with the Five Minute Friday. I don’t know about you all, but I’m over spending all this time in my house. The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “another.” 

Another day

No physical touch

Another day

Of distance learning

Another day

6 feet apart

Social distancing

Another day

Waiting

Wondering

Watching

Another day

Asking God

To calm anxious hearts

Another day

Of loss

Of grief

Of disappointment

Another day

Yearning

To be with family

And friends

Another day

Searching for laughter

And joy

Another day

Stuck between the despair

Of Good Friday

And the joy of

Easter morning

Another day

The stone has been rolled away

The tomb is empty

Christ has gone ahead of us

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!

Alleluia!