Thoughts on George Floyd

As I’ve scrolled through FaceBook the last couple days, I see everyone posting about the murder of George Floyd. I’ve seen a lot of different posts. Angry, Black Lives Matter, kind of posts. Sarcastic Memes saying that conservatives are a lot more worried about themselves than about this Man’s Death. Posts that wonder if there is a conspiracy afoot, perhaps this was done intentionally to stir up a riot. There have been several very good posts from Black Men who have introduced themselves, humanized themselves for the general public, in an attempt to take away the scary stereotype of “Dangerous Black Man”. I have seen mothers of black boys lamenting and praying over their son’s futures. I have seen a lot of people dismissing their need to be involved in any way because of the riots that have come afterwards, thus proving that this is not a cause they want to support. I have seen people turn this into a sermon illustration, this is proof that we all need Jesus. And I’ve also seen a couple very helpful posts that give a list of things that white people can do to fight against racism. 

 

I find myself asking the questions, what can I do? Have I done enough? Am I doing enough? What would I do if I had been an observer on the sidewalk, seeing this happen before my eyes? 

 

And I keep thinking about my teenage daughter. She has lived in an inner city, primarily black neighborhood, all her life. She has been attending inner city schools for four years. All of her friends at school are black. And this daughter of mine has a secret dream of being a police officer. She wants to work her way up to Detective. She has a plan of how she’s going to achieve her goals. She’s excited about it. And she told me that she has never shared this with anyone at school. She wouldn’t dare tell anyone at school. She tells them she’s interested in forensic science. And she confided to me that she didn’t think she would be able to work in our city. It just wouldn’t go over well with the people she knew. 

 

When I lived in Alaska, I had several friends who were in Law Enforcement. I know a couple down here as well. They are all people that I would trust my life to. I am pleased that my daughter has this dream. And I’m worried. 

 

I think about the video of George Floyd. Why didn’t any of the other officers interfere? Why didn’t they say something? Why didn’t they take any action? According to another post I saw, kneeling on his neck was not a police procedure. And according to yet another post, this guy has a long history of abusing his position as a police officer. Surely the other officers knew his character? Knew what kind of person he was? Is there some kind of protocol that was keeping them from interfering? 

 

What kind of system is this that one person can be doing evil in front of their peers, and no one takes action? 

 

I know that a lot of people dislike Black Lives Matter because they feel that it is anti-police. Or they feel that any criticism of our current police force will end up in having our police force nationalized instead of it being a local thing. 

 

I personally think that our police forces should be local. I am also Pro-police. I live in a neighborhood that deals with a lot of crime and violence. I depend on being able to call the police for help. But I don’t think it’s Anti-Police to be calling for reform, to be calling for some drastic changes that would make this type of violence impossible. It’s personal. One day my daughter might be one of those policemen. I want to know that she is entering a force of men and women who are accountable for their actions, who are taking great pains to be fair and equitable. 

 

I personally don’t know any bad stories about our local police. But, I do know that the culture at my children’s school is such that my daughter would never share her dream of being a police officer. I don’t know the stories, the history, the personal experiences that have led these children into believing that the police are their enemy. But the stories, the history, the personal experiences…they exist. We are reading about one of those stories right now. 

 

Racism exists. Police violence exists. George Floyd should not have been killed. We should all be outraged. 

 

Let’s focus that outrage into something tangible. I know, for myself, I know next to nothing about my local police force. I am very curious what rules and regulations they already have in place to combat racism and police brutality. I am sure they have something in place. I wonder how effective it has been? I wonder what their track record is? 

 

I imagine that with a couple well placed emails and phone calls, I could probably get those questions answered. I think I could probably even ask the question, what is the police force doing to start making positive connections with the young people in our neighborhood? Maybe they already have a plan that they are working on, that I just haven’t heard about. Maybe they have programs that need volunteers. Maybe they are aware of some weak places that need changes, maybe I can advocate in the proper places for those changes to happen. 

 

Let’s do something tangible. Don’t just blow up FaceBook with your grief and anger, turn this tragedy into something good. George Floyd was killed. And that motivated me to get involved in my community and start advocating for changes. And that is how we turn this senseless tragic death into something that will go forward. And this is how we honor George Floyd. 

What Does it Mean?

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

 

I just read this verse this morning. The phrase, “will be loved by my Father” stood out to me. And the question, What does it mean to be loved by the Father? 

 

I was staring off into space, thinking about this, and my phone gave me some kind of alert, and I glanced down at my phone and saw this Picture that I had taken and was using as my screensaver. 

20200517_181642

It was from a walk I got to take a couple weeks ago when we were visiting a state park. My husband watched the kids while I took a solo jaunt in the woods. It was a beautiful walk. The kind of scenery that spoke to my soul and gave me joy. Nothing overtly breath-taking, just beautiful woods and greenery and light filtering through the trees. 

 

I looked at this picture and thought, this is what it means to be Loved by the Father. He created this beautiful world and then he arranged for me to be able to be out and about in it. 

 

I smiled at this thought, and then looked up. My daughter was just standing by my chair. No reason. She was playing her Minecraft, and decided that standing by my chair was a good place to play. I looked at her beautiful pixie face, her dark hair pulled back into a messy bun that a model would envy, her eyes so bright and intelligent. And I thought, this is what it means to be loved by the Father, a houseful of amazingly sweet, intelligent, fun children. 

 

A bit later, I was trying to deal with the mystery of why my washing machine was making noises and yet the power was turned off, and even when I tried to turn the power back on, it wouldn’t turn on, and yet the machine continued to make noises. I called my husband. Walked through some different steps over the phone with him, then when a large electric spark erupted while I was attempting to plug the machine back in, I just walked away from the whole thing. No laundry today. I’ll wait for you to get home and figure this out. 

 

And I thought, this is what it means to be loved by the Father. He has given me a Godly, wonderful husband who loves me and who takes care of his family. (And fixes washing machines!)

 

I thought about the question some more…What does it mean to be Loved by the Father? I suddenly remembered last night. I was watching an online class on trauma and how it shapes children’s minds, and different strategies to help bring healing. One of the first steps they gave was, Understand Yourself and your Own trauma. And I realized, that’s exactly what God has been doing over the last several years. Putting me in a place where I can understand myself better. Understand my own history. And now, from that understanding he is putting me in a place where I can help others who need healing from their trauma. 

 

And that is what it means to be loved by the Father. He not only blesses you, but then he gives you opportunities to take those blessings in order to bless others. Like one of my pastors likes to point out, in Genesis 12: 2-3, God blessed Abraham, so that he could bless others. 

 

What does it mean to be loved by the Father? 

 

I think it’s one of those questions that can be given a different answer every time you ask it. Tomorrow my list would look different. Yesterday, I would have told you that being loved by the Father was about living in community with others and the richness that brings to your life. The day before that I would have said that being loved by the Father was about his Amazing Grace no matter how much I mess up. 

 

Today, I think I will end with Peace. It’s peace. Knowing that I am loved and taken care of. Knowing that all things are in his hands. Not striving. Just Peace.

 

I am loved by the Father. 

Reckless Love

It’s been a rough week. Not so much that my circumstances suddenly became horrible, rather that my ability to handle my everyday circumstances seemed to be at a low ebb. A big part of that has been because I’ve been making some changes, and change is hard. I talked about that in the previous blog. But, I wanted to take a little time, on this Saturday evening, to share a bit of how God has been grace-filled to me. 

 

On Wednesday, an old acquaintance (friend? Casual Friend? Really nice person that I have always liked, but never had a lot of conversations with?) messaged me on FB and told me she wanted to drop off some crafts at my house. Well…Ok…Wow. That would be awesome! Thank you very much! She dropped by a little later and carried in 3 very large bags and a large box, full of VBS-worthy crafts. All organized and ready to go.  Wow! Thank you so much! 

 

On that same day I had a really rough spot with one of the fosters and not one, but TWO different adults who are part of this child’s life were able to come to the house and speak to him and help him and all of us get over a rather rough patch. 

 

And then, on another day, another acquaintance (friend? Casual friend? Really nice person who works in our church’s Children’s Ministry with my kids, but who I only speak occasionally with…) messaged me and said that she had randomly thought of me, and wanted to offer to babysit my kids for free so I could get a break. Well…Ok…Wow! Yes! Please come! Thank you very much! And then she came Friday and babysat, and also brought her Mom with her (who is certifiably one of my good friends), so I was able to chat with her a bit before I took off. 

 

I was mentioning all these things to my husband, and he commented, that’s an awful lot of random people just “happening to think about you”. And I paused. You’re right. And I gulped, cause I realized that God had been talking about me. To other people. Calling in favors. Pulling some strings. Making elaborate arrangements to bless me. 

 

And that makes me tear up, cause really, I don’t feel worthy of that kind of Supernatural help. In fact, this week, I’ve felt a lot like a failure. I haven’t been as nice as I could have been. I haven’t been as patient as I know how to be. I have not been the picture of grace and wisdom, carefully and cheerfully guiding my home. No, more like a grumpy pit bull, snarling a bit, forgetting important things, not finishing tasks, buying a lot of takeout, letting the kids watch too much tv. Crashing along, trying to be productive, but not really succeeding. 

 

And in the midst of all that mess, God starts sending me gifts. The gift of his people’s generosity. 

 

And my old thought patterns rear their head. What? I’m being bad. That means you should be disciplining me, punishing me, at the very least, ignoring me. But instead, he lavishes love and grace on me. 

 

These are the lyrics to the chorus of the song Reckless Love, by Songwriters: Caleb Culver / Cory Asbury / Ran Jackson

 

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

 

And that is what is running through my head, as I continue to stumble my way through life, covered by His Grace. 

I Hate Change

Hey Internet World. Good morning from East Tennessee. It’s a cool, grey day over here right now. I took a brisk twenty minute walk around the neighborhood this morning while my kids were watching tv shows. I put the older kids in charge. Then, when I was one street over from my house, on my homestretch, I heard a child yelling MOM!!!!! It was coming from a distance and I just knew, with all certainty, that it was one of my children. Good grief. I started walking faster. Please let them stop. It was not a cry for help or a cry of distress. Just a, hey, I want Mom back, I know she’s out there somewhere, I guess I’ll call for her. There was silence and I started to hope, maybe it really wasn’t one of my kids, maybe I’m just being paranoid, after all, there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood. I rounded the corner, I had two options, take the shorter way through the alley, or get a little more distance by going all the way around the block. I heard the cry again….MOM!!!!! I took the alley. Heart rate was definitely up now. Finally, the house was in view. I saw the small child sticking her head out the side door, mouth opening to yell again. I called her name and proceeded to lecture her about yelling out the door and how the whole neighborhood could hear her. Of course, the whole neighborhood could probably hear me lecturing her as well. 

 

This of course highlights one of my difficulties I’ve encountered this week as I’ve tried to stick to my new challenge of walking 10,000 steps a day. How do I get in all my walking time? On rainy days I have been going on my elliptical which is fine, but I do prefer to be outside walking. I tried taking one of my more athletic kids on a one hour walk with me, and by the end she was complaining of sore feet. Part of walking is to help de-stress, and walking with a bunch of children who are whining about sore feet and wanting to know when we can go home is not de-stressing. I am also struggling through depression and anxiety at the moment, and part of being in that mindset is that I have an insatiable desire to be alone. I crave solitude. Taking walks by myself is a really nice break for me. 

 

This past weekend was great. My husband was home in the mornings and I could go on a long walk each morning. And then we also went to different places where I was able to walk during the day as well. The weekdays have been more of a challenge. Throw into that the fact that we are trying to transition into a summer routine, and needless to say, I’ve been a bit out of sorts this week. 

 

I had made the observation a while ago that my foster kids did not handle change well. Even if it was a positive change. Disruptions to the routine always result in disruptions to their behavior. I had noticed this and I try to keep it in mind when dealing with different behaviors. But, I must admit, I was a bit condescending about it in my mind. Poor kids, can’t handle change. So weird. 

 

Then this week, as I struggled through changing to a new routine with the kids and have struggled with setting up some healthier habits for myself, I had the big epiphany that I actually don’t handle change well either. Sure, I don’t scream or act out in noticeably bad ways, but I sure do get grumpy, and snappy, and short-tempered and irritable.

 

It’s interesting that God made our world as a world of change. In the Bible, the book of Eccliastes has a beautiful chapter about seasons.

 

Eccliastes 3: 1-11b  

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…

 

If we are being honest, when we think about our dream life, our Happily Ever After, it does not involve a lot of change happening. We don’t factor in family members dying. We don’t factor in job changes. We don’t factor in relationships changing and sometimes fading away. We tend to want to take a snapshot of our Best Day and then just stay right there. 

 

I’ll admit, I have not handled this whole Word-Wide Pandemic thing nearly as well as I thought I should. And a big part of that was because it was too much change all at once. And apparently, I don’t like change. 

 

I think one of the rudest awakenings I’ve had as a Christian Adult, was having to face the fact that God had no intention of removing all my problems and making my life easy. As I stood there pointing at the problem, demanding that God make it go away, he simply linked arms with me, and said, here, lets’ walk through this together. By the time you get to the other side, you’ll have become a little bit more like me. 

 

God made our world to be a world of change, and that change forces us to change as well. If we are hanging onto Jesus, those changes are going to be for the better. 

 

So, I will attempt to embrace the idea that change is actually good, not something to avoid, and I will hope that I come out on the other side a little bit stronger, a little bit more patient, a little bit more confident that God’s got me, no matter what. 

The Power of a $6 Pedometer

A couple days ago I was sitting with my husband and he asked, “What’s got you down? ….I mean, besides everything else that’s going on?” And I had to laugh. “Uh, Everything that’s going on is what’s got me down.” Let’s recap…Worldwide Epidemic, quarantine, economic shutdown, school closures, church closures, park closures, library closures, Kids Museum closures, play spaces closures, our community park closure. And then there are all the consequences from that…homeschooling a houseful of children, limited meetings with friends, nowhere to take the kids to just get out of the house. Plus some pretty high-stress situations we’ve had with our foster kids…Yeah, it’s all getting me down. And then, just to make things a little happier, my brain has decided to remind me that I’m overweight and out-of-shape, just so I can have one more thing to be down about. 

 

So, this was my state of mind. Looking ahead to the summer, trying to figure out what on earth I’m going to do with the kids all summer if all the playgrounds and splash pads and libraries and kid’s museums and public play spaces are all closed? And no camps this year. 

 

It kind of feels like I’m complaining, except that I think it’s a legitimate problem. If you are someone who has always fully utilized all the public parks and libraries and play spaces and then they are gone, what do you do? 

 

Well, in all of that turmoil, I got an idea. I’m going to go ahead and give God thanks, because I wouldn’t have thought of it on my own. A friend of mine has been running and she’s been making monthly goals of how many miles she wants to run a month. Very cool. I, however, am not a runner, but I do love to walk. Which got me thinking about setting goals for walking, which got me thinking about pedometers, which got me online researching how many steps are good to take in a day, and the end result was, I have decided to set myself the goal of taking 10,000 steps a day. 

 

Yesterday I went out to Walmart in the morning and got myself a cheap $6 pedometer. Then I bought a no-pull harness for my dog, who has never done well on a leash, and got some new insoles for my tennis shoes. All set. 

 

Yesterday I managed to walk 11,526 steps. Yay me! 

 

I went on my elliptical twice, reading my book on my kindle app while I walked. Then we got the dog all harnessed up, the kids all got on their bikes, and we took a long walk around the neighborhood. It was fun. The dog loved it and the harness worked really well for him. (We have a large yard that he runs around in, but he recently got fixed and has already started packing on extra weight, he needs more exercise, plus our neighborhood is the type that I feel better going on a solo walk if I have a big dog with me, win-win for both of us.)

 

This morning I got up early and one of my daughters and the dog and I took a long, hour-long walk, which knocked out half of my needed steps for the day. 

 

Here’s the thing. Setting that one goal really didn’t solve all my other problems. But it gave me an injection of hope. Something to work towards. And it’s also got me thinking of how to incorporate walks into each of our days. Start taking the kids around to different places where they can ride their bikes or their scooters. It got me thinking about how Andy and I could walk on our date nights, there are a lot of places within walking distance of our house we could go to. And while all the other problems about homeschooling and summer schedules, and worries about the world, they’re still here, I’m finding myself a little more energized to tackle these things. 

 

Two days ago I was feeling hopeless, today I’m feeling energized. I will never cease to be amazed how Every Single Time I think I have reached rock bottom, God comes and blows a fresh breeze in my face, revives me, and sets me back on the path with a pat on the back. And he uses the craziest things to do it. A $6 pedometer. Who knew that’s what I needed? 

Nerd Rant

The other day my cousin posted pictures on FB where she and her husband were recreating famous artwork at their home with everyday objects. Somehow they managed to make a decent impression of “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. It was fun. You could definitely look at it and say, Yes, I can see that..”Starry Night”..it’s there…

 

This is how I feel about the movie Ender’s Game. You can watch it and say, hmm…yes, I can see how that is a little bit like the book. Same character names. There’s a battle station. Kind of the same plot. A bit. I can see it. I guess. But, that’s about it. 

 

It is rather painful when you have a favorite book and then they try to make a movie out of it. 

 

Very painful. 

 

Ender’s Game is one of those books that I have kept with me since I was an early teenager. I loved it. The understanding that children have a thought life, they are fully human…and they are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. The idea that a child could shape history. These things resonated with me when I was young. 

 

This is one of those books that I just pull out every couple years. It’s sitting on my shelf and I glance at it when I’m trying to find something to read…and I think, no, not yet, it’s too soon since I last read it. And then, one day, I look at it and I just know, It’s time. Time to read the book again. And somehow I’ve waited just the right amount of time so that when I read it, I’m still surprised, I’m still emotionally connected. It’s still deeply enjoyable. 

 

So, I just re-read Ender’s Game, and now I’m reading the companion book, Ender’s Shadow, which retells the story from a different character’s point of view. And in the middle of all that, I thought, hey, let’s watch the movie. So, Andy and I watched it after the kids were in bed. And I felt like screaming the whole time. WHAT??? What are you doing??? Did you even read the book before you wrote the script??? How did you get this character so WRONG!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??? 

 

I mean, I understand, it’s a long, complicated book. Some things were going to have to be sacrificed. But you would think that they would at least capture the personality and character traits of the main character. They took a compassionate, wise leader who ends the book at only eleven years old, and they turned him into a whiny, emotional teenager. ??????????? They turned a book about CHILDREN into a book about older TEENAGERS. 

 

If you can’t tell by now, I was not impressed with the movie. 

 

There is a definite correlation between how much you enjoy and know a book, and how well you are going to enjoy the movie. For instance, Lord of the Rings. I read the book series once. I never felt the need to read it again. I loved the movies. I had no problem with them at all, even though some of the diehard LOTR fans in my life had some strong opinions. But, the Narnia movies grate on my nerves. The first one, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is close enough that I can mostly enjoy it, but the other two movies just went off into their own little story lines, completely ignoring the fact that the book was already perfect just as it was, no need to mess with it. 

 

What is the deal with script-writers anyway? 

 

Ok. Rant over. Mostly. 

 

If you happen to be looking for a good Sci-fi, I recommend Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. I’m not as in-love with the rest of the series that both those books are connected to, but they are still good. 

 

And I definitely don’t recommend watching the movie. 

 

(And yes, this movie came out years ago, I’m late on the rant trail…but it’s never too late to try and save people from a bad experience!) 

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

 

To all those moms who have suddenly become homeschooling moms against your wishes and feel overwhelmed and frustrated…Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To all those moms who have been homeschooling all along but have suddenly lost all their support systems, friends, playgrounds, libraries, co-ops, extra-curricular classes…Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the moms whose children are long grown and have left the nest, off building their own grown-up lives…Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the Grandmas who have not only launched their own children but are now involved in the next generation of children…Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the moms whose children are not here, lost in miscarriage or premature death…Happy Mother’s Day. 

 

To the moms who became mothers through a different route and who love their children fiercely, Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the women who say they aren’t a mom, but whose lives have heavily influenced a child, Happy Mother’s Day. 

 

To the Brand New Mom who feels like she is drowning in sleepless nights and never-ending feedings…hang in there, things will change…Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the moms who are struggling with their teenagers, despairing of ever having a good relationship with your child…I’m praying for you…Happy Mother’s Day. 

 

To the moms who messed up and are now trying to make things right…keep trying…every relationship is worth mending…Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the mom who loves her children with all her heart, but feels like she has lost track of who she is as a person…you’re still there and you’re worth finding again…Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the mom who is watching their child face health battles…our hearts are breaking with yours…Happy Mother’s day. 

 

And to my Mom, thank you for loving me. You’re the best. I wish you Happiness and Joy and Peace.