Shaming the Sinner

Trudging through the sludge

the slime and grime adheres.

A world of stares

sees purity’s mask.

All the while, the mind parades

images that would appall professors,

strict deniers of woman passions.

So in silence we remain

too afraid to confess,

lest we are cast out,

left to fend alone this mess.

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Perpetuating Injustice: A Grieving Nation

A while back I wrote a post regarding white privilege.  I said that I should not be made to feel guilty because I am white.  Now, I still feel this way.  I have never intentionally disrespected by black friends.  There are many whites who have not disregarded the importance and significance of black people.  Unfortunately, this does not change that a few corrupt people are definitely targeting blacks.  Our black brothers and sisters are experiencing extreme injustice.  Racism is still apparent.  Yes, I knew this before and in my earlier post I did not intend to imply that racism was a thing of the past. It is alive and real.  This scares me.

Sadly, racism has always existed.  There have been whites who hate blacks, blacks who hate whites, Christians who hate Muslims, Muslims who hate Christians, Criminals and non-criminals who hate cops, Cops who hate criminals and non-criminals.  The list could go on and on.  We live in a fallen world and our hearts wrench as we witness senseless violence.

Why are dear black brothers and sisters being targeted?  I wish I knew.  Racism never made sense to me.  My mother’s best friend is black.  This woman is a second mother to me and thank God she is in my life.  She helps calm my mother and has helped quiet storms that break out between my mother and me.  I have other black friends who have greatly enriched my life.  A dear black friend was the pastor that married me and Frank.

I can’t imagine them having to suffer injustice simply because they are colored.  I am so sorry my friends if you have ever experienced this injustice, or will in the future.  It isn’t right.  I will never know what it is like to be disliked based on the color of my skin.  I have been disliked or talked down to because I’m a woman and a short woman at that. (Is a pun appropriate to make this heavy-hearted post a little more light-spirited? I need that right now.)

I am the granddaughter of a Japanese woman and American man.  They were married during World War 2.  The Japanese were hated by Americans and vice versa.  I found it intriguing that my grandmother told me to never marry a black individual.  Here was a woman who had to endure racial slurs and hate when she came to America, but she herself looked down on blacks.  If you experienced hate, why perpetuate it?

Yes, all lives matter.  However, we must admit that there has been direct injustice towards our black friends during this time.  I don’t witness as much racism in the Northeast as has occurred in the Midwest and South.  Perhaps living in suburbia I am removed from it.  Even living in a predominantly white neighborhood, I do work in a very diverse company.

My company only has 10 people, but we have two blacks and one Indian employed.  We joke about stereotypes for all races, but we have great camaraderie.  I wish everyone would do this.  Racism is belittling and narrow-minded.  The response of a couple of snipers is atrocious too!  Violence does not solve violence.  The cops killed were not the ones who targeted those precious black men.

Racism is not a response to racism.

Hate needs to end with us, NOW.  These killings have to end.

I’m so grieved.  None of this makes sense to me.  I listen to NPR in the car most days rather than music.  Willow rides with me.  Yes, she is young.  People say she doesn’t understand.  Toddlers grasp far more than we give them credit for. If you act like your toddler can’t hear you, you are less likely to alter how you speak about others in front of them in the future.  Your speech must always be edifying, even more so when children are around.  They are sponges and want to learn and do what we are doing.  We need to get in the habit of changing our narrow-minded and “gossipy” ways now so our children don’t grow up and perpetuate these problems.  (I’m grateful that Willow is teaching me to become more guarded with my tongue [read:how we speak about others and having an attitude of gratitude rather than complaint].  She doesn’t even know that she is teaching me this.)

If we teach our children at a young age to love then maybe we can witness hope and compassion spreading rather than fear, hatred, and violence.  The change must start with us.  We must educate younger generations about the need to see all people as equal.  No one is superior.  No one is inferior.  It is time to stop injustice towards minorities.

We are all made in God’s image.  It is time we started acting this way, even when we disagree on theological, political, and religious grounds.

#Blacklivesmatter

#Bluelivesmatter

We must pray!

Remorse: The Expense of Empty Eulogies

Shifting shadows.

These mere memory wisps

forgotten through clouds

of self-absorption and discrimination.

A people veiled to Western compassion

because fear chokes concern.

Here we build walls to keep out a mere possibility of death threats.

Meanwhile, in a world away, the wanderers seeking refuge must face the harsh reality,

tomorrow might never dawn.

We seek to preserve.

I’ve never read words bleeding red which told me to protect and secure.

Instead, I’ve seen these words dripping with calls to sacrifice,

abandoning fear and throwing ourselves into trusting a mother hen;

Wings enshroud all people with peace and welcome,

if only they willingly come.

May we run a race which seeks to unify,

rather than divide and destroy.

As we pace towards righteousness,

in a veil torn,

all will see a peace like no other.

A rich fellowship among brothers and sisters,

who have laid down their lives instead of barricading their flesh

and own self interest, will blossom and in Spirit leading,

the world will be renewed.

 

Depending on American Comforts: Camping while Pregnant

This past weekend, we celebrated the birth of our nation.  We earned our independence from Britain.  America is known for being the land of the independent and free.  Truthfully, as I’ve stated before, we are really just bound to other ideologies or objects.  We are rarely oppressed by our government (although this might change drastically soon).  Instead, we are captive to our need for comfort in this culture.  Sadly, I have grown accustomed to these comforts.  I experienced how dependent I am on American luxuries this past weekend.  In it, I also learned some recommendations for 3rd trimester pregnant women who decide to live as recklessly as I do.

First, it is probably not best to camp when you are 34 weeks pregnant, at least not tent camp.  However, I enjoy camping.  I like to fit an annual camping trip into my summer schedule.  I did not see pregnancy as a limitation.  After enduring my grumpiness, my husband wanted to put a restriction on camping while I’m so far along in pregnancy.  Apparently, he does not want to camp when I’m in my third trimester again.  I told him that if I happen to be pregnant in the summer again, I need to do the annual camping trip.  We’ll see if we are blessed with more children through pregnancy and address that issue at the time, should it arise again.

Our air mattress sprung a leak.  We aren’t sure how it happened.  We’ve had it for nearly 5 years.  The last time we used it was for a friend when she and her children came to visit us.  They jumped on it, even after being asked not to, and our dog climbed on it.  Either kid flops or dog nails killed our beloved sleeping aid.  ALWAYS check your air mattress before going camping, especially if you are in the late stages of your pregnancy.  When you are sleeping on the ground at 34 weeks pregnant, you won’t sleep at all.  Now, sleep tends to be foreign at this stage anyways, but you will get even less than the occasional hour long sleep increment if you spend the night on a hard, stick laden surface.  I missed our air mattress dearly.

[I was mocked for wanting an air mattress while camping.  People told me, “Wow, you sure are roughing it.”  Now, I like tent camping.  I do not enjoy sleeping on the ground.  My back aches afterwards.  Most girls I know don’t want to camp, let alone 34 week pregnant women!  To these naysayers I responded with, “I’m 34 weeks pregnant and camping! Leave me be!”  Yup, I used the pregnancy card a lot.  As a “good” Christian girl maybe I shouldn’t.  As an American, I felt/feel the need to state my place and be given merit for “work”.]

We also had fans.  I searched endlessly for an air conditioner that could be fitted to a tent.  Yup, pregnancy card again.  Needless to say, I did not find that A/C.  When our fan started to go out (the batteries were dying), I was stuck with humid air.  I do not enjoy heat to begin with (I prefer colder months and weather).  When my fan lost most of its cooling power, I whimpered.  My summer heat relief was failing me!  We had two fans but only turned one on.  We had extra batteries, but didn’t replace the ones in the dying fan.  So my advice?  Replace the batteries when you notice the fan isn’t at optimal cooling strength.  Also, if you have two fans, use both!  A baby in your uterus acts like a furnace.  Keep cool by being smart about your fan usage.

I grew up in suburban areas, but being more affluent, I resided on private, non-traffic ridden streets.  The campground I chose was great as it was close to the beach but was really wooded.  (I maximized my summer bucket list items by putting our annual beach and annual camping trip into the same weekend.)  Unfortunately, the State Park was close to the highway.  While wooded and serene, I could hear highway traffic.  It was Independence Day weekend near the Jersey shore.  Street traffic was noisy.  It made it more difficult for me to fall asleep.  Ah, pregnancy insomnia that was perpetuated by roads.

On our last night, Willow, my darling 15 month old, slept poorly.  (FYI, teething is the bane of most parents’ existence.)  I haven’t night nursed in about 1-2 months.  She nursed and slept in our bed.  (We bed-shared until she was around 13 months old.  Toddlers don’t understand the concept of staying in their sleeping space.)  Along with being shoved to another part of the floor (remember our air mattress deflated), there was a party on the other side of the campground.  The noise was on the other side of the campground and quiet hours start at 10 pm.  It was 3 am.  The noise had been consistent for about 1-3 hours.  I was a hot and sore pregnant lady.  Yes, I filed a noise complaint.  I’m not as tolerant for loud noise at night when I’m trying to rest or have my baby remain sleeping.  FYI, NEVER wake a sleeping baby.  You will either ensue the wrath of the sleep deprived parent or the crankiness of a roused child.

Anyways, as you can see, I have grown accustomed to needing an air mattress, fan, and quiet when sleeping.  I know there have been many pregnant women before me.  These pregnant women don’t or didn’t have air beds (many women in 3rd world countries do not have this luxury), must endure heat without the relief of air conditioners or fans, and/or must endure threats of gunshots interrupting their sleep.  I’m not as strong as those women.  I know I shouldn’t compare myself.  I have my own struggles and enjoying these comforts aren’t wrong if I hold them in their proper priority and don’t appreciate them more than God or allow them to increase my apathy towards those who are living life without these creature comforts.

May I always be keenly aware of my camping privileges, elite as they are.  Hopefully you gleaned valuable information from this post in regards to camping while pregnant in America.  I know I learned that I still have strides to make in living a complaint free life.  (I would like to hear from pregnant women in the Bible regarding contentment and stillness.  I just simply can’t relate to Paul.  Sadly, this is a mystery and I must continue to submit myself to God.)

Please join me in prayer.  Pray that I would always seek to glorify him in my life, knowing he brings more comfort and peace to a cranky pregnant woman than the items mentioned above.  In this, may others be drawn to curiosity and inquire about Christ as I live in a manner contrary to American relaxation and luxury.  Pray I might live this more fully and outwardly.

The Criticism of “Other”

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is safe.  Confrontation is uncomfortable.  Perhaps it is a stereotype or an over-generalization, but we seem to enjoy exceeding comfort in this country.  If there is any threat to our view we feel the need to speak louder, to silence opposition.  We operate so well in the flesh.  Sadly, we are creatures that are better at speaking and arguing than we are at listening and seeking to understand different individuals.  Why?

I’ve started noticing a trend.  We often criticize the flaws in others, especially those who are drastically different, at least seemingly so, that we are choosing to ignore in ourselves.  Recently I’m observing qualities in a co-worker that just seem to be irritating me.  I get along with this co-worker quite well.  Our upbringing seems relatively similar.  However, our interests are vastly opposite.  She seems more materialistic, work-driven, and self-absorbed than I like.  Yet, upon further analysis, I am starting to think that I am more materialistic, work-driven, and self-absorbed than I care to admit.  Her interests are different and so it easy to notice when she disagrees with me and seems like only her world matters.  I’m not so different from that, am I?

I’ve criticized Frank’s parents for their television consumption, my parents for their inclination to desire excess (the newest and best technology, for example), Willow’s babysitters and their consumption of sugar, processed foods, and carbohydrates, and this co-worker for her dismissal of taking interest in current events and instead shop for her “needs”.

I’m beginning to realize that these critiques are merely a choice to ignore issues that I need to address in my own life.  I claim to not like watching television, but at home I’m much more sedentary than I care to confess.  I do watch a significant amount of television, especially for someone who only has the Internet and Netflix, no cable.  I claim to be a minimalist.  While my desire for excess might be different than my parents, if I look closely enough, I still have more than I need and I might not be as minimalist as I claim to be.  My excess simply comes in coveting different idols, not jewelry or weight loss recipes like my mother or tech-gadgets like my dad, but travel, board games, Montessori education supplies (which at this stage might just be me trying to have Willow grow up faster, sadly), and storage.  Before being diagnosed with hypoglycemia with this pregnancy, I ate far more sugar and processed foods than I care to admit.  I always claimed to eat healthy and have a desire to, but I really indulged in these vices frequently.  Now, thankfully, it isn’t a matter of wanting or needing to change my diet, but having to so that I don’t experience blurred vision, dizziness, or nausea.  I also talk a lot rather than listen and become more educated.  I claim to be up to date on current events.  Honestly, most of my news comes from social media, like Facebook.  It is pathetic really.  I need to read and research more.  My opinions should be better informed, rather than joining together tidbits through Facebook headliners.  I also shop more than I claim to.  If I am open with myself, I am pretty self-absorbed.  I am human and we all fall prey to pride at some point or another, but it is time I admitted this and stopped acting as if other people’s problems mattered as much in my mind as my own issues do.  Frequently my prayers consist of my concerns and worries, not praising God for who he is and also for my family, friends, peers, or the world and its affairs.

I guess the first step in transformation is admittance of the issue, refusing denial.  I don’t want to be blind to these sins.  I want to be more Christ-like.  To be more Christ-like begins by admitting the need for the Spirit to fill us in areas we have yet to surrender.  I want to surrender these idols, these sins, these things which continue to separate me from a fullness of God and in God.  Reader, please pray for me in this journey.  If you feel inclined, please comment how your criticisms of others, especially those who are different than you, is revealing areas of your life in which God is calling you to surrender and submit to his Spirit in order to be transformed more into his image-bearer.