Facing Giants: Use What You Have

Sometimes we find ourselves facing giants.  These giants —obstacles we haven’t faced before, challenges that could affect our livelihood, politics that could derail a career, financial struggles that cloud our vision — can weigh us down. It happens. It happens to the happy and successful and confident. It happens.

I have found myself at times in places where I thought I would lose my sanity. It is hard in those places where I was challenged in ways that forced me to confront who I wanted to be and what was not worth risking. It can be painful and scary. And yet here I am. Hopefully, sane.

It’s like running track. Fix your eyes on a spot ahead of you, maintain your form, and power through.  All the training, the exercises that hurt and then built, the diet, the stretching and practice was preparing you for this.

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Jesus in Heaven and Radical Activism aka Love

“You can become so heavenly minded that you are of no use on earth.” Pastor Dan Deeble

“You can become so heavenly minded that you are of no use on earth.” Yes. Amen.  Hallelujah! You must have read my mind, Pastor Dan. Or maybe my social media posts. Or listened to me speak with friends about the imperative to meet the needs of people hurting. When the hurt and marginalized cry to God asking where He is as they suffer or are alone or are oppressed, where are the Christians saying, “Here I am, Lord, send me”?

Ah! Right there. That’s me. I started my life as a born-again Christian handing out tracks and feeling pushed to preach the “gospel” and pray with everyone and anyone to be saved. No need to waste a bus ride or chance to walk door-to-door. Why? Because how could you miss a chance not to save a soul? I was taught that if you loved God and loved His people your heart would ache and your lips would not dare stay shut and missing a chance to preach “the good news”. 

“There’s a practical need for help in the here and now.”

But it didn't feel right. Even as a baby Christian I knew that the connection happened through relationships. The calling God placed in me led me to speak up, act, do. And in the scriptures I found a Jesus who met people where they were. In the scriptures I found a God whose heart wept for (and his anger was aroused on behalf of) the poor, oppressed, orphaned, the sojourner/immigrant. In the scriptures I found a Jesus who calls us to love one another. I have asked over and over, “How can I love you if I don't care about your earthly needs?” How do I worship a God of justice but not care about justice? My eyes are most frequently focused on the Jesus who says, “I am with THEM (the oppressed, the widowed, the orphaned, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the marginalized).”

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Will the Real Men Please Stand Up, Please Stand up?

On Monday we all saw our news feeds flooded with posts of #MeToo. Some women (and men) were courageous and shared their stories. Others practiced their courage differently, by being supportive but not sharing their stories. The message was clear: women consistently face sexual harassment and assault and it starts early. 

The truth is as women we hear stories of what we should do and about our place in the world from our birth. Our families of origin and our individual cultures also play a role. When my mother gave me advice on various things -- be it dress or behavior -- it was not to slut shame or victim blame but to protect. Sadly, some women perpetuate the problem by asserting that women are just as much to blame for assault. You see, as women we navigate the world aware of the realities of our obstacles but many times also as change agents working to create new norms and culture. It is important to note that boys and men also face sexual harassment and assault. And we know that transgender women face tremendous violence because of their identity. Here I will focus primarily, however, on females victimized by males.

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Life in the Margins

Kris’ morning time of devotion doesn't just impact her day, it affects her family. As they each come downstairs and find her already sitting in the chair having read her Bible and spent time in prayer, her greeting of cheerful “good morning” affects the moods of sometimes grumpy teenagers and young adults who are not morning people. She makes space for her quiet time, meditation and reflection, and the bonus of making that space is the effect on her family. I love how Kris is able to place herself in a positive emotional place in the mornings and then have her positivity become contagious. There is a leadership idea!

 

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Using a Receipt as a Check: Where Your Treasure Lies

"What does valuable mean?"

I had to ponder that question and figure out how to explain "valuable" to a child. How do you explain how worth is assigned, how we decide what has value and what doesn't? 

It all happened in the drive-thru lane. I handed her the sandwich and my five year old decided to hold on to the receipt. She was excited, like she had something worth keeping. I explained the receipt had no value and couldn't be used like money. "It is my check," she said, more than once. She didn't understand and kept asking why she couldn't use there receipt like a check.  I explained that it was not valuable. Which led to her question, "what does valuable mean?" I did my best to explain. "Then why do you keep them in your wallet?"

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