Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just Another White Girl

My news feed and blog feed are flooding right now with stories and posts and words that tell me that it's shameful to be who I am. That I am defined by a group whose skin caries the same tone as mine. And I feel as if I'm expected to sit down and take the slam after slam after slam on who I am and what I believe because to do otherwise would be wrong.  I was brought up in this world where it's not supposed to matter what the color of your skin is-that life is and God is and he loves each of us no matter how our skin turns in the sun. And yet, here I am lost in this world where I feel like I'm just trying to survive each day and I feel like I'm being told that because I'm white, I'm not okay.

Because I'm white I should step aside and let some one else take the page for a minute and let their words ring out and ring true and I wonder to myself, aren't these words on a page put down for all to read and see and hear and if not for the picture on the blog, who would know what color my skin is? Because I'm white I can't build my family and love on babies that don't share the same skin tone as I do. Because I'm white I'm not doing my job in this church family and leading the kingdom where it is supposed to go.

And isn't it not supposed to matter what color I am?

Isn't it not supposed to matter that I'm about as white as you're ever going to get. Isn't it supposed to matter that I'm living for my God and trying to make a better world and what happens to be blue is the color of my eyes and what happens to be red are my cheeks that flush at the notion that I should step down. Step aside. Because what isn't a battle of race and identity is just that.

Has it been lost and forgotten that I have been a servant. That I am a servant. Should I not go to places and serve where skin tone will not match my own because others should stand out there where they blend in instead? Should I not be where I am the minority, not because I've grown up in a life that is privileged and paid for the plane tickets, but because I worked three jobs and spoke with my church family and friends and scraped pennies so that I could pay to work in an area that needed help. Because while I was blessed with a family that loves me, we were not in the lap of luxury. Five kids and a stay at home mom meant a daddy who worked overtime and no extras. It wasn't a bad life and I'm not complaining, but because I'm white doesn't mean that I haven't worked since I was in seventh grade, or paid for my own schooling. I will be paying on student loans until I die. Because I chose to go to school, and nobody was paying for it but me. There is no poor white girl fund. There are no scholarships or loans designated only for white people who are struggling to make ends meet. Yet there are for so many different nationalities. But I can't say things like that. Apparently it makes me racist. Because what I've learned in this little life is that it's okay to stand up for anyone that isn't white, but it's not okay to stand up for ourselves.

Seriously. Is this not a talk about racism when I thought we were trying to talk about God and the kingdom and compassion and being a voice in the darkness because we speak through him and not through lips framed with freckles. Did he not say Come, ALL who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Not come in divisions of the White Christians and Black Christians and Asian Christians and Native Christians. But this is what I'm reading. The white church. The white Christians. And wow, what a division that is. Bringing up wounds and scars and tearing open the pain and heartbreak and prejudice. Because while I #WentThere and I prayed to #BringBackOurGirls and I work in an arena where I fight for #SocialJustice, I am being told that it's not okay. It's not enough-because I'm a part of the white Christians. 

I'm not naive. I know that racism is here, and as we are human I know that in areas it also filters into the church. I know that people do horrendous things to other people because of the color of their skin. And it's not okay. It's not right. But it's not right to tear down a ministry because the circuit leaders are pale skinned either-because their idea lead to something great and beautiful that brought others together from all over the world. Doesn't it just create more racism to note that those standing on the stage aren't the color you think they should be? Is it really that only the white Christians are chosen because it is an option of race? Is it really that pictures of white people are shown because that's what sells? Honestly, I don't think so. Because I've listened to some pretty dang good men and women speak, or read their words, or seen their pictures or heard their songs-and they weren't pale skinned like me. And maybe the difference is that I didn't pay attention to the color of their skin as a defining attribute of their character. Do some conversations need to be had? Absolutely. Are there differences in how we raise our children? Sadly, yes-in same ways there are. But does that make it right to name a whole group as wrong because of the color of their skin? There's the age old question.

The sad thing is that I will likely lose some followers, and maybe even friends because of this. Not because I've torn down another race-because I haven't. Not because I've spoken out against a specific group-because I haven't. But because I've spoken up for myself. For others in this group of White Christians that I've been lumped together with for no other reason than the color of my skin.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Bread {Day 24}

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fall means pumpkin. Those who know me best know that this is true in my life. See the pic a friend of mine posted to me on Facebook? Yep, pumpkin me up!

One of my favorite things to eat (because I don't like actually MAKING it) is pumpkin bread. Spread a little cream cheese on it and life is good! It's Bot Bot and Lil' Girl's favorite too. They would eat my pumpkin bread ALL DAY LONG. Girls after my own heart.

Yesterday I made a few loaves of it and the hubs took one to work today for an auction that they were having. The proceeds go towards the local Town Pump, which matches donations and sends it right on over to the Food Bank. He just messaged me and said that my little loaf went for $80! How awesome is that! The generosity of that goes hand in hand with this season is one of my favorite things. Ever.

Since some one seemed interested in the bread, I thought I'd share the recipe with you. Remember, I'm not so great at measuring things, so when it comes to the vanilla and the spices, I go by what looks best. The actual numbers I give you are an estimate. :) I also made my own oat flour. It's ridiculously easy. No really! I did it so you can too. I buy the giant box of Quaker Oats and Costco and just poured a couple cups into my blender, set it on "liquefy" and wham bam thank you ma'am oat flour!

And sorry about the pictures. I don't do a good job taking them while I cook, and this is what's left. :)

Without further adue, Marcy's Pumpkin Spice Bread. Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.



Mix:

1 cup flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 TBS cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 TBS vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup softened butter

Then add another cup of flour, I use oat.

Plop it into a loaf pan and let it cook for about an hour.

Cut yourself a big 'ole hunk of it, spread on a little cream cheese and enjoy with a cuppa!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Phone Calls and #Momdays {Day 22}

My phone hardly ever rings. When it does, typically it's one of three people: my hubby, my mom or my sister. Lately though there's a new number that's making the list. I know it by heart now and each time those numbers pop up on the shiny screen of my phone, I cringe. Yeah. That good. Guess who it is? I'll give you three chances.

Work? Nope.

The fans beating down my door? Nope.

Publisher's Clearing House? Oh wait, they knock on the door. And no.

It's the school. More pointedly-it's the Elementary School Principal. Yeah, he and I? We're on a first name basis now. And it's not a good thing.

The number popped up on my screen again today and the typical sense of dread coursed through my veins. It's hard to be cheery when you know bad news is on the other line. But I paint on a smile any way (they say it actually transfers to your voice) and I answered. Oh the temptation to let it go to voice mail! But here's my thought on calls from the principal: it's kind of like ripping of a band aid. Better to just do it and do it fast than let it linger in the voice mail box all day.

Fortunately this new principal is amazing. Putting the kids in a new school was a stress we weren't looking forward too and apparently we're past the honeymoon phase with X-Man. Now his true colors are shining through like a technicolor jukebox blasting in the second grade classroom. Only this music maker isn't playing good 'ole Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. Though mamma feels like a weepin' willow and I've got a healthy fear of Folsom.

But I digress. This principal-he actually asked for my opinion. He was up for suggestions instead of trying to shove policy and love and logic down my throat. And the biggest thing-he told me not to be discouraged. That I have a great kid. And that the hubs and I are making a difference. For the first time a call from the principal actually made me cry good tears.

So all you parents out there-you know who you are. The ones that the school has on speed dial and the bus driver can tail your car like a race car driver-yes you.

I know you're frazzled. I call them #MomDays. Days and experiences you become intimate with when you've got munchkins flitting out into the world.  I know what you're thinking as you watch your kiddo walk out the door to wait at the bus stop. It usually goes something like this:splease please please PLEASE let him/her have a good day. And by good I mean please let me NOT get a call from the school. Am I right? Or maybe it's something like this: Well, there they go. All bets are off! 

Either way-I know what you're feeling. I know what you're thinking when that number pops up on the screen. But when it all comes down to it, here's the deal: You can't make their choices for them. No matter what tools you give them-they are going to make their own choices. Good or bad. And that's not on you. What is on you is this: YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. A good one. An AMAZING one.

Why?

Because you show up. Each day. Every morning when that alarm clock goes off and you pour yourself a steaming cup of courage while you slather on the PB&J. You go to the conferences and the meetings. And you still take them to the park to blow off steam. Because even though there are consequences, there's still love. You reprimand, and then you remind them that they are smart. They have a big heart. And you know that they can make the right choices. Then you climb into bed and pray for a better day tomorrow.

And someday, that tomorrow will come. I promise. It may take awhile, but I can guarantee this: you will get there. Both of you. Because you're making a difference. And that difference lasts. Just remember that next time you get that phone call. And remember that you're not alone-I've got your back.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rocking the Hall of Fame {Day 19}

I've been a little frustrated the last few days. Okay, the last few months. Frustrated that I'm not living to my full potential. Frustrated that I'm missing out. It's been a common theme. In high school I was the girl that every one liked, and no one remembered to invite to the party. I had friends in all different circles, and on Monday morning it would be the same thing- "Why weren't you at...". It was frustrating. And I feel like I'm in the same place now, only in the writing world. I seem to always just miss things. Just miss a link up. Just miss a conference. Just miss a Twitter party or a lit review. Just miss the friendships-lagging out on the sidelines. Jumping in at the last minute.

And my writing? Well it's not where I want it either. Not where I thought it could be. I don't have a lot of followers. I don't have many likes or comments on my work. I wasn't picked for the blog jobs or the speaker spots. And the books? Not getting the notice I had hoped for. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I expected to be famous, but I look around at all the other writers I see and I feel like I did back in high school-on the outside looking in. This morning I was thinking about my post for today and the only title I could think of was "When all seems lost." But I had nothing beyond that. So in a sigh I set aside the computer and started another search for potential churches. If you've visited here before, you'll know that since the move we've been looking for a place to call our worship home. I hate it. Church shopping sucks.

But there's one we've looked at and mulled over and on a whim we decided to give it a shot. Boy am I glad we did. Holy Hannah, it was GOOD. I'm not talking just a sermon that gives you the warm fuzzies, I'm talking a pastor who is real and down to earth and asks for forgiveness for a misstep he took. No really, like he got in front of the congregation, said something he did that was wrong, and asked for forgiveness. Brave? Uh huh. Even more so-humble. When I took the kids to children's church, the girl showing me the ropes was seriously about the sweetest thing I've ever met. She had a light inside her that didn't dim. And as I rocked the babe in the cry room, listening to the sermon from this man who had repented and asked forgiveness of his people, I cried. Messy tears-kids. Because he reminded me that this whole thing-it's not about me.

He called us mammas who stand in the trenches of dirty diapers and climbing toddlers rock-stars in the Hall of Fame of Heaven. He called us who go to work each day and live our life in Jesus names, blessed. He reinforced that each one of us-no matter our job or title or the amount in our bank account-we're each just as worthy to Christ, because he calls us his own. At one point he pulled up this quote from A. W. Tozer:

"God does not think of you because you are worthy. He thinks of you because he is God and you are a fixture in his mind." 

Boom. 

Photo by Bob Hall
That, that right there? That's where it's at. Let me bring that on home for you. Those of you who are parents-what is constantly on your mind? Your kids, right? I tell my students all the time to be where their feet are, but no matter where I'm standing, my kids are always there, nestled in the back-a permanent fixture. Now, I've got four and that's a lot of space occupied. Can you imagine what that is to God? Me neither. But what a thought-of all the people in and of this world, you, yes YOU occupy a fixture in God's mind. He has a permanent place shaped like you right there in his mind for you. 

And by living in him, wrapped in his grace, you are called beloved. And you are worth it. Living as an example to your kids or coworkers or your neighbor across he street. You are worth it. 

Individually we all suck. We're humans wrapped up in this world of ours just begging to be noticed. But in Him, we're wrapped up tight in grace. Are we still going to screw up? Yep. Will we still feel like we're on the outskirts looking in, just waiting to be noticed? Some days we might. But when it all comes down to it-the invites don't matter. The conferences that I miss, yeah I wish I could have been there to build that community. But in the end, I've got my picture in the Hall of Fame, y'all. I'm livin' the dream, rockin' the job and the mom gig like nobody's business. Because I'm learning not to do it for me, but for Him. 

How about you? Are you sitting on the outside looking in? Or are you choosing to rock the Hall of Fame? 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reminder {Day 18}

My reminder for today. Which was a good day. Even if my writing isn't what I want it to be. 







Linking up with my friend Lisha-looking for grace and getting grounded. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

When You Grieve for Lives Never Lived {Day 16}

Dear sister and friend,

You know who you are. The woman in the back of the grocery store who is afraid to go down the isle because there's a baby in the check-out line. You've walked that isle before. The one with the pregnancy tests and tampons, so simply side by side but so much a world apart. You've been invited to the baby showers the afternoon that test came back negative. You've taken your temperature and you've watched for a rise in degrees that didn't exist. You feel like you're on this winding staircase that just keeps going, but the lighthouse is far from reach.  You've peed on more sticks than you can count, but have never had one with those two little lines.

Marcy Nell Photography 
Never.

Not once.

You know what it's like to sit back as your friends and family announce pregnancy after pregnancy while you wait for your miracle to happen. And you grieve with them for any child lost. You cannot imagine their pain, just as you can only imagine the hope that they once felt at that positive pregnancy test. And there are days like yesterday, where there is grieving for the dream lost and you feel and recognize that pain, even though you're a tad jealous of it. You have no candle to light or no balloon
to release, because there's nothing to miss in nothingness.

Not because you wish that on anyone. No. Never. You would never hope for someone to miscarry or hold their precious child for too short a time. No. But your heart aches none the less for the mere reason that there is less. Because you know that even with the unfathomable pain they feel, you know that there was once joy there too. You know that they felt the thrill of telling some one they love about this new chapter. You know that they held this secret to themselves, the most primal and most sacred secret of life.

And you might feel a little guilty about it. Guilty that your upset for not losing something. For not going through that unimaginable heartache. And guilt in the reminder that your body has failed you in every possible way when it comes to motherhood.

But you have a heartache all your own. You wonder how you can feel like you've lost so much, when there is nothing tangible there to mark your loss. And maybe that's it-that the gaping hole is so big, but there's no evidence of it. There's not test to hold and say But once there was...There's no hope in knowing that though you never held that precious life in your arms, you will hold them in your heart until you meet them one day in heaven. Because there's no one to meet. No part of you waiting patiently for you to join them.

There is an emptiness.

They say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. And you know this to be true. Because you've lost so much, and never had that little one to love. Not even for a moment.

Sweet sister, I know your pain. And I want you to know you're not alone. That you are among friends here. That it's okay to feel the way you do. It's okay to grieve. Even though some may tell you that you have nothing to grieve for. You do.

I'm sending you hugs and love, my friend. And most of all, I'm sending you hope.
~M


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Forever Home {Day 15}

Their sweet faces fill up the screen and their giggles filtered through the speakers of my small computer like music from above. There are five of them. Four boys and one girl. Each with their big brown eyes and a love for each other that stretches beyond the history they have together. And this history? Well it's not a pretty one. It's full of pain and heartache. Abandonment. Neglect. The five of them ripped apart and forced to other families where life never really feels like home because they're not together.

The laughter resounds as the video pans out and shows them playing games and riding on rides. They smile in unison at the questions asked until they get to one-the one. The question about living apart, and that's when the resolve crumbles. That's when the reality of the burdens these little shoulders carry sinks in. Tears stream from the nine year old that has the heavy heart of a much older man. I can only imagine the responsibility he has taken on. the charge of trying to keep his little family together. The nights spent awake, wondering where they are and if they are safe. These are worries to big to bear for a child-ye
t in his eyes it is apparent that this is exactly what he has done. All others have failed, so it must be up to him.

My heart broke as I watched this story. A story that brings back the memories of our earlier life as we fought to become parents. We chose to fill our home with kiddos who needed it most-those in foster care. It wasn't easy, and some days it still isn't. Our kiddos have been through things that no child should. They have lasting effects of the lives they lived in the 'before'. There are things we will never be able to fix, and as a parent that is the most frustrating thing of all. But there are things we can do.

PFLAG.org
We can provide a loving home. We can give warm food and full bellies. We can insure that they are clothed and have a home to live in. We can help them keep relationships that otherwise might not have been.

But there are so many more. So many little hearts and spirits that are waiting for their forever home. And my mamma's heart wants to take them all. To open up a big 'ole house out in the country where there is room to run and play and grow. Bedrooms with cozy beds and lots of blankets to help warm the memories of nights when their were none. Fields of grass to play outside on, with balls and bats and catching gloves. A kitchen full of food, to fill the bellies that were empty for so long. And the ability to take not just one, but siblings as well. Families were meant to stay together.

It makes me want to get re-licensed. But I know that right now I can't. Right now my responsibility is to the kiddos who fill the bedrooms in this house. But my hope is that some one who reads this may have an open door and an open heart. The ability to provide a home and a family for kiddos in need. Is that person you? Have you thought about opening your heart to children in care? If so, please take the step to get licensed as a foster or foster-adoptive parent. You might be the only person who can make a difference in a child's life. And just maybe, you can offer some one a forever home.

To watch the video I reference, click here.

Interested? Here are some links to kiddos so desperately waiting for a home:
North West Adoption Exchange
AdoptUsKids

About becoming a foster parent:
Dave Thomas Foundation