Respecting One Another

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

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Yes I immediately started belting this song out when I heard the word prompt.

Respect is something we all can use especially right now. We need to learn to respect each other even when we disagree. It would be a pretty boring world if we all looked, acted and believed the same thing.

I know not everyone agrees with me. In reading the scientists and listening to epidemiologists, I believe wearing a mask protects my neighbors especially those less vulnerable than me. Yet I respect that not everyone agrees with me.

I fail at this often, but I want to be better at respecting all Gods people. I want to be respectful in this world but I also want to listen and learn from those that are different than me: the ones who haven’t always been shown the respect they deserve.

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Smiley

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

When I was in college, my friend “Chewy” (his last name was Chewakin) gave me the nickname “Smiley.” Whenever I heard “Smiley” I knew he was calling out for me. His friendship was a gift. Sadly Chewy committed suicide. It was such a loss to our community. I have never let anyone call me “Smiley” since Chewy gave me that name.

He told me that I always had a smile on my face so that’s why he gave me that nickname. I do like to smile. In fact, it’s one of my favorite features.

I don’t smile when I’m sad or upset, so I don’t smile all the time. I’m reminded of the quote “Don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened.” There are situations in life that I don’t think this always applies (our current pandemic) to but for the most part it’s true.

*I smile….at Luna and Neville. I smile at new books. I smile at a rainbow after the rain. I smile when I get to spend time with those I love. I smile at the little things.

What is making you smile in these days?

Enduring in these Days

I’ve missed you all. I haven’t participated in weeks but I’m back. The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “endure.”

How much can we endure? That’s a question I find myself asking in these uncertain times. Yet I’m reminded of a verse from Scripture. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”-Romans 5:3-4

Hope is definitely something I can cling to. During this season, I see hope in gardens growing. I see it in fields producing. As my friend Susan often reminds us, “Hope changes everything.”

I also see the many in our world who should not endure anymore violence. We must speak up for the injustices in our world. I want a better world for future generations.

But clinging to hope, I trust in God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. There are things that I can and will endure. I’ll endure love…the love of friends and family. I’ll endure sharing my bed with sweet Luna and handsome Neville. I’ll endure sitting outside reading a good book with my feet in my kiddy pool. (I just started reading Caroline Fraser’s book Prairie Fires)

What can and will you endure? Moments of joy?

Worth more than $20

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

I can’t breathe, he uttered as a knee was on his neck. A supposed counterfeit bill was the accusation. Wasn’t his life worth more than those $20?

A police officer in Grand Forks, ND goes into a scene where backup had already been called. He bursts in to help his fellow officer…Officer Holte shot and killed leaving behind his wife and young son. Another life of worth taken too soon.

Have we lost the sanctity of life? Are we too power hungry? Isn’t the worth of humanity more than the divisions that occur in our world? Yes, all lives matter. But those lives only truly matter when black lives, LGTBQ lives, etc all matter too.

I’m learning and listening. I’m fighting for the words of Micah 6:8 to be embodied: “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”

Our worth is as children of God. Our worth is in who we are created to be. Our worth is more than power or privilege. Our worth is that we all are worthy of Gods love.

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.