Until Today….

Until today, it never even occurred to me that my husband’s skin was a different color than mine.  Sadly, we were reminded with a message of hatred and ignorance.  When I picked  him  up from work today the story unfolded.  He works at the Hendricks County Animal Shelter in Danville, IN.  When he was hired he was told that he may encounter folks that might not like the fact that he’s black and he’s an officer.  We didn’t think anything of it.  
BRIAN MAKES OUR KITES EACH YEAR FOR OUR CHURCH KITE DAY
Honestly I thought, “I know its Hendricks county but we’ve become pretty well integrated,” and never worried that anything would actually happen.  Today he was informed that the police were investigating something that happened late last night.  Behind the shelter where he works you can see US HWY 36.  You can also see the “Welcome to Danville” sign, which you can also see coming into Danville on US HWY 36.  Someone had draped a sign over the Danville sign, visible from both the highway and the shelter.  The sign read, “No Niggers”.  My heart races and my stomach is in knots just typing that out.  My heart dropped when I heard him say it out loud.  

My first reaction was anger.  “I wish I could face the person who did this and let them know just how ignorant and pathetic they are.”  If I were completely honest I am still carrying some of that anger.  But after grieving over this and asking why, trying to grasp how someone could think that someone is less of a person just because of the color of their skin, I am mostly heartbroken.  I feel sorry for the person who can carry that mentality.  I feel sorry for the way they were brought up and the things they must have been taught to become the sort of person who would do this.

What also makes me sad is that this person or these people who did this will never know Brian.  And what a loss that is for them.  They will never know his reaction to their hatred.  They will never know that as all of his co-workers stared at him in disbelief and shock at this outrage, waiting for his response, Brian’s words made them laugh and set their minds at ease.  

They will never see him command a crowd with his smile and his charm.  They will never see him rule a stage from his drum kit.  They will never see the hilarious, unique and sometimes down right ridiculous dances he does at home to entertain me and his son.  They will never hear his infectious laughter or the beautiful dialect he speaks when talking to his friends and family in Barbados.  They will never hear the music he makes.  They will never see him interact with his son, worship God at his church, clean his messy house and cook dinner at the end of a long day at work because his wife is not feeling well enough to  do it.  They will never see the content of his character, his humility, his servant’s heart.  They will never see that he is the kind of man who never sees an outsider.  Nobody is unloveable.  Everyone deserves a smile and a hello.  Unfortunately, even if they did know Brian, all of that would be lost on them because Brian has never ever seen skin color.  Now I am faced with the question, “How do I protect him from this?  How do I protect my son?”  Sadly, we live in a fallen world and I don’t think we will ever see the end of racism until Jesus returns to restore the earth to what it was originally intended to be.  My only answer is that God is with us and he brings the Kingdom through us.  The Kingdom has no race, color, sex, religion, none of it.  So my cry to God is to teach me how to be the Kingdom builder in the face of racism because I’m sure it won’t be the last encounter.  It will never stop breaking my heart and it will never make sense to me.   


Faith vs. Reality


Sometimes it can be hard to have faith when faced with reality.  This is where having faith is most important.  Faith and reality don’t really make sense together.  If we can get to that place of trusting God in the midst of whatever hard reality we are faced with, this is where miracles happen.  God never changes.  He stays the same and He is who He is.  He is REAL too, and greater than anything we might face.  (1John 4:4)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.  Eph 3:20-21

Living in the "already but not yet" – More thoughts on suffering

Some of you probably wonder what the title of my blog means.  It doesn’t seem to make much sense at first glance.  Its a stolen phrase, I didn’t come up with it and I honestly don’t know who did.  I first heard it from my brother who is also my pastor.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect way to describe the Kingdom of God.  We have not yet reached it but it is also already here.  God’s redemption plan is not finished and we are not fully restored, yet God lives in us, among us and brings his Kingdom through us.  He is Emmanuel, God with us.

I was struck by this today as I spent some time in silence before my Creator.  It is often in these times God brings great revelation and he held true to that today.  He birthed a deep desire in my heart that, to put it mildly, surprised me.  (I don’t feel I can disclose the details just yet)  At the same time came the realization that my life, my marriage, my family is not even close to being what it needs to be for this desire to become a reality.  The desire consumed me and the realization of  the brokenness that is keeping me from it gave me an ache in my soul I’ve never experienced.  Enter the enemy.  It is undoubtedly true that brokenness draws our Savior to us like a magnet to a steel beam.  (Matthew 5:3, Psalm 51:17)  But the one who “prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8) preys on our brokenness too.  He whispered, “You’ll never have that.  God will never fulfill your desire because you aren’t good enough.   You’re too weak.  You’re broken.  Can’t you see how messed up you are?  You might as well forget about that.”

Pain and brokenness turned into despair and hopelessness.  All I could see was my current situation and at that all I could do was weep.

Then I heard another voice whisper…”Emmanuel“….and I remembered….

God is here!  

Not all things have been redeemed yet so I still suffer pain and brokenness in this world.  But God is with me NOW.  My Comforter, my Rock, my Defender, my Shield…Abba Father (which in the original language means “Daddy”).  His greater purpose to restore all of creation, including me, perfectly overshadows the suffering I might face today.  Even more, he invites me to be part of his greater purpose and my suffering then becomes part of that purpose too because my suffering is part of me.  This gives me hope.  This changes everything!

Living in the “already but not yet” is just that.  Realizing things are not yet as they should be, so, there is pain, suffering, disease, heartache and disappointment to say the least.  But God’s great purpose, his rescue plan, has been activated and HE IS HERE.  We are being rescued!  And our life, if we let it, can be part of God’s great rescue mission…messy, dark, broken and depraved as it is.  That, my friends, is REDEMPTION.  Not something we are just waiting for and looking forward to, but something we can have TODAY.

It is THE ALREADY BUT NOT YET.


One In The Spirit

Ahhhh, Sundays.  I love going to church for so  many reasons.  The people are amazing and there is so much love in that place when they’re all there.  Anytime we have visitors they are definitely noticed and welcomed with enthusiasm and genuine excitement at a new face.  The coffee is great and of course, the donuts are a nice perk too.  There are so many young children and babies and its so beautiful to watch them play and form bonds of their own.  They bring such a life to the church that only they can bring.  The music is great and our worship is always spirit filled.  God moves in our services and truly inhabits our praises like the psalmist says. (Psalm 22:3)  The message is always challenging and uplifting.  All of these things make for a great time at church.

Today, during the service, I could feel my spirit uniting with the spirits of those there worshiping with me and it made me stop and think about they mystery of the Holy Spirit.  (It also may be on my mind because we just had a teaching weekend at church and it was about the Holy Spirit)  I have Christian brothers and sisters all around the world.  Some I know deeply and some I’ve just met.  Some I talk to on a regular basis and some I never even see because they are so far away.  But it doesn’t matter, the distance between us.  We share a common bond that keeps us united and that bond will never be broken.

This is one of the great mysteries of the Holy Spirit.  Its a mystery because  you can’t explain it.  You can’t see it but you can feel it.  When the Spirit of God in you connects with the Spirit of God in another the union is nothing less than divine.  Have you ever encountered a perfect stranger and without even having a conversation you get this feeling in your gut that they worship the same God you do?  Its as if your souls recognize each other.  This only comes through the Spirit.  What a beautiful picture of the third Person of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead and his action perfectly displays the heart of God in his relentless pursuit of a relationship with us and his unquenchable desire for us to relate to each other.  What an honor to be in a relationship with such a Lover as God.

So, here’s to all of my brothers and sisters, near and far.  The ones I talk to often and the ones I have lost touch with.  I may not always have you in mind, but our Spirits will be united for all eternity.  AMEN!


Failure

I have been thinking about failure a lot lately.  Mainly because I have been trying to lose weight and I’ve hit a snag…a 3-week long snag.  I had lost 9 pounds and gained 4 back.  This is where I’d usually give up.  But I’ve been thinking about my ups and downs, my failures and successes and I can honestly say that if it weren’t for my failures, I wouldn’t learn what works and doesn’t work for me.  If we have the right outlook on it, failure can actually aid us in our journey towards success.  We learn a lot about ourselves through failure.  The enemy of our soul wants failure to cripple and defeat us.  We beat ourselves up over failures instead of evaluating why we failed so we can take a different path.  Anything you strive to better yourself in is going to have its ups and downs.  Next time you feel like you’ve failed, take a deep breath, sit back and take a good look at where you went wrong.  Don’t beat yourself up!  Learn from your failure and let it motivate you!  (As always, I’m talking to myself here…)


If only we could see…


Muted Soul

Muted Soul  (by Amanda Yarde)

What hope may come of muted soul
who knows no rest in wake or dream
who’s captive words do take a toll
and leave no room for bartering
 
What fleeting inspiration goes
and comes again when least its due
disguised as poetry and prose
tho not mistook for something new
 
Yet who has seen what sleeps within
the master of this ink and quill
for even she’s yet to begin
exploring all that lay there still
 
A well of creativity
untapped and far beyond her reach
it haunts her so persistently
and mocks the labor of her speech
 
Unsettled by complacency
she cries aloud to freedom’s ear
angered by its apathy
she gives herself again to fear
 
Expression is elusive still
Her cadence bound and gagged no less
And kept inside against her will
Like burning coals heaped on her chest

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