Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I hope you are all looking forward to loved ones and turkey as much as I am. In the meantime, one of my other favorite aspects of the holidays is the time it gives you to sit back, relax, remember, and be grateful. I hope you find time for that this week.
Time to stop, to pause, and to reflect on all that this year has brought you through and what it holds for you before the year closes.
In the midst of that, I have some great reads here for you to ponder.
I know that each of these, touched me or spoke to me in some way and connected with where I am now, where I have been, or what I see coming.
But there in The Great Sadness, with my heart stripped bare, I discovered God was still undeniably by my side. In the vast darkness, when He wasn’t visible at all, and in the boundless sorrow, when I couldn’t feel Him at all, and in the deafening quiet, when He wasn’t speaking at all, I curiously never felt abandoned (at least not by Him anyway). Even when He felt far, He was still right there in the struggle and sadness and silence with me. Just Him, without all the other religious frills. ~ Alece Ronzino
Alece brought tears to my eyes as her words so adeptly wrote out so much of what I have felt. Struggling with faith and questions, and allowing yourself to be deeply honest is a soul dark, heart-breaking, waiting-for-the-dawn experience. One I have had many, many times. I still have them.
All it takes is for the quiet to come at night faster than the sleep, so that you are left there to think and question yet again. Even when you have pressed pause on everything in life that once brought you comfort and peace, for me I could never go very far without knowing all those bags are still coming with me. While it suddenly didn’t matter enough anymore to let them come tumbling out of the closet, taking stock has been a process all of its own. Alece just reminded me that God’s ok with that too, and that sorting and picking up the pieces is his kind of work.
Embracing paradox is one of the most helpful tools I’ve gleaned in this messy faith-shifting process. I can feel confused and hopeful at the same time, sad and happy, vulnerable and strong, unsettled and peaceful, disconnected and somehow strangely connected. I can also feel frustrated with and confused about God but remain simultaneously drawn toward him too. Faith is both clear and fuzzy, simple and complicated, freeing and confusing. Fact is, all the craziness of our past can live in harmony with all the craziness of our present and future. We all do better when we allow the good and bad, dark and light, past and present to live together. Much freedom can come as we better learn how to embrace the paradoxes in ourselves and our stories. ~ Kathy Escobar
It is books like this one that make it on to my special shelf. They touch you in a way that is so real, so needed, and in such a timely fashion that you just know it will be one to read again and again. Kathy and the stories of so many others that she shared reminded me again that I am really not alone in this journey, and neither is my family. Seeing my own faith shift so much over the past several years has not been easy, and I have felt utterly lost through so much of it — but it has been those special few loved ones and authors like Kathy and a select few before her that have brought candles of hope and light down this dark and often winding path with me. For this, I am and will always be so grateful.
Being a peacemaker means more than hasty promises and temporary truces. It means seeing conflict as opportunity for deeper connection.
Being a peacemaker means cultivating more than just an aura of sleepy calm. It means embodiment of Gods promise in the midst of chaos. ~ Mihee Kim Kort
This was a new blogger I found this week, thanks to Rachel Held Evan’s Sunday Superlatives this week. Mihee wrote about real life and real marriage in a way that was beautiful in both its text and its courage.
If I have learned anything in my four plus years of marriage, life doesn’t stop and it doesn’t get any easier — you just now have two peoples lives to manage together. Add more family to the mix and from what I hear it only gets that much harder and better. But I have also learned that a deep peace can be found through conflict, if you look for the opportunity and find it. Sometimes it takes everything in you to fight for that opportunity, rather than just fight to win the last word or make the other person hurt like you are. Fighting on those terms happens oh so easily. It is so much harder to be really honest about what really hurt me… what really scared me and open myself up to the potential of more hurt or misunderstanding when fighting for that opportunity and connection beyond the conflict in the moment. Sometimes the conflict is all you can see and all you want to feel and see — but the moments in time where I have dug deeper and reached a little harder, those are the moments in my marriage and in relationships that matter to me in life where I have seen the most growth. Marriage and healthy relationships of any kind take genuine care, courageous vulnerability, willing sacrifice, more than a few gulps of humility, and hard work.
As far as I can tell, no matter what decision a woman makes, she’s offering an invaluable gift to my daughters and me. So I’d like to thank all of you. Because I’m not necessarily trying to raise an executive or a mommy. I’m trying to raise a woman. And there are as many different right ways to be a woman as there are women. ~ Glennon Melton
I have read many and heard many arguments for and against every side of these so called mommy wars. As a married woman who has yet to become a mother, I would be lying if some of the anger and vitriol expressed out there didn’t make me just a little nervous about joining those ranks. As a daughter of a life-long stay-at-home mother who gave so much of herself and continues to still do with my siblings at home, I know that she embodies so much of the beauty and strength and love inside and out that I would want my own daughter (should I be blessed with one) to learn from and emulate someday. As a wife of a career Air Force officer, I want to embody all that it means to be a loving and supportive spouse that my Airman needs to be the best he can be both at home and on the job. I want my children to learn from that and to learn how real relationships take lots of love and hard work. As a woman who has her bachelor’s degree and is currently working on her master’s degree with six years of volunteer and work experience — I also want my children to know that they can do and be all that they want to by learning, working hard, and believing in themselves. I came from a world that told me there was only one right answer — a woman’s job is to stay at home. However, I grew up and realized I live in a world that has fought long and hard to give me and women around me the opportunity to do that and more. Even though it may be easier to just pick a side, it’s really not that simple or that black and white.
On Matters of Race:
As many of us know, the long awaited court decision on Ferguson was released last night. Today it has filled news outlets and my Facebook feed.
This issue and decision has been one that I have been utterly quiet on. I have been reading for months. This issue is one that is extremely difficult for me, because for a long time I have struggled with the perspective on race I grew up with and was taught.
The first two articles under this section put into words much of what I grew up around and what I was taught, from the glorification of the south, to the downplaying of slavery, race relations, the civil-rights movement, jim-crow, etc. All of it was either a thing of the past, or something to be avoided talking about all together. I never really started learning about it till I was on my own in college. Since then I have been studying, listening, and learning.
Today, my point here is not to make a statement on the jury verdict. I am not here condoning violence, robbery, or injustice for anyone.
Today, I am however trying to listen. Trying to listen and make space for voices that have been where I have and voices of people who have lived something completely different.
I am trying to listen and pray for all sides of this issue, but especially for the ones I know I don’t identify with easily, as Glennon encourages us to do below as well.
I will let each of these voices speak for themselves.
In honoring them.
In creating space for broken, hurting hearts.
In learning from others around us.
History will always be a matter of perspective. But the wonder of multiple history teachers is that we learn over time that each person’s perspective on history is different; that even those recording the “facts” have their own bias. That is what I missed when I home schooled “the whole way through.” ~ Annelise Pierce
There was a time I thought like my father, and like my uncle. Like them, I believed racism was a thing of the past. I thought I was “colorblind,” and that black people were disproportionately stuck in poverty because they were lazy. I talked about “the race card” and believed that black people held themselves back through a victim mentality. In other words, I believed that black people—not white people, not structural inequality—were the problem. Then one day I became an adult and found that much I thought I knew was wrong, or built on faulty perceptions. So I listened, and I learned, and I grew. ~ Libby Anne
Situations are often more complex than we make them. As humans, we try and find the most simple explanation for a situation so that we can point to the problem. Confirmation bias leads us to explanations that support what we already believe about the world. ~ Nate Pyle
It was not blacks who enslaved millions of people for financial gain. It was not blacks who lynched thousands of people for entertainment. It was not blacks who regularly invaded the neighborhoods of other communities to wreak havoc. It was not blacks who created laws to disenfranchise others. These are the violent inventions of white supremacy. …
We must look at our past and how that past is connected to today. We must choose a new way forward. A way that resists violence, that chooses equality, that finally surrenders to humility, to repentance, to love. ~ Austin Channing
The mothers talked about the times their sons had been stopped in their own neighborhoods because “they fit the description.” They shared the times their sons had come home full of rage and hurt for being stopped and questioned for no reason. And they told the other mothers how often they told their sons to simply swallow the injustice of the moment. Because they wanted them alive, above all. ~ Aisha Sultan
I think that choosing the “side” you identify with the least, and making them the focus of your prayers is as close to God as we can get. ~ Glennon Melton
I would love to hear any thoughts or comments on the links above, or have you share something you wrote this week. Please remember to keep all comments respectful and kind or they will be removed.