Thursday, March 13, 2014

Love Is Worth The Fight

I'm reading a very cool book. One of the first things that resonated with me was written in the foreward, by a pastor who grew up in the South. He decided to minister to a large population of people living in significant poverty in the area in which he grew up. As he spoke with other religious leaders about this, he was shocked to discover some wrongly assumed he had liberal theological ideology simply because he wanted to do something to help the poor.

This struck a chord because I have been accused of being "a cultural Christian" -someone who is assumed to be soft on theology simply because they take a love-centered, active approach to its application.

Jesus told us to love one another. He told us to take care of widows and orphans and those in need. But sadly, there are people out there that just want to argue. With EVERYBODY. What a tragic way to try to live out faith. Hard to explain the mercy of God- his love and grace- if you degrade people as you do it.

Recently we went to see one of our favorite bands. Skillet. Such an amazing concert. Very loud. We might end up with partial hearing loss, but it was soooo good. As we were leaving, someone approached us and tried to argue how wrong and "unbiblical" the songs were.

Millions of people are starving to death every single day. Living in filth with no access to clean water or healthcare. Orphans in desperate need of families. Child mortality rates skyrocketing for preventable diseases. Children sold into slavery and sex trafficked.

And this guy just thinks God isn't a Skillet fan.

Seriously? What do you think makes God's priority list. Me going to a Christian concert?
Unbelievably sad.

Check out this link to the protest at a Switchfoot concert recently. Jon Foreman shows he is a class act by telling concert-goers to show love and kindness to the people protesting his show.
LOVE ALONE IS WORTH THE FIGHT is the song by Switchfoot that is popular right now.
How beautiful is that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Saying No.

I'm learning. Every day I'm learning. How to get better at things I'm expected to know as a parent. Like how to get a first grader to remember ridiculously hard spelling words. Or do math homework that is essentially an LSAT exam.

I've figured out how to hide vegetables my kids hate in foods that they love. Learned how to make homemade play dough out of flour and salt. How to get the prime spot in car pool line and lose my voice cheering on my future professional athletes. I'm practically supermom in these areas.

One thing I've had to learn recently is to say one simple word.

Let me be clear. I know how to say this to the kids. No. You can't cut your own hair. No. You're not allowed to put your socks in your sister's face. No. We are not getting a dog.
No. No. No

The place where I have a hard time speaking up is when I'm out. With the kids. I had no idea people had such curiosity when it came to this.  Its chaos going anywhere with five children. I count them over and over again to make sure they are all within my grasp. One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

Cue random stranger who approaches loudly and unexpectedly. I know as soon as I see their hands go up what they are going to say and do. And many times I don't react quickly enough. Its done and I walk away feeling like I failed. Like they beat me to the punch. Like I lost the draw in a wild west gunfight. Like my confidence took a hit and I'm left temporarily weak and insecure.
And I'm a spineless, sucky mom.

But I've learned. Today was another example affirming that. I'm amazed I acted quickly enough. In these situations, seconds matter. You can't hesitate. The words have to be shoved out there. Out in the open. I was nice, but firm- and even gave an explanation.

Here's how it went:

We were waiting for food to be delivered to our table. My dreadlocked little cutie was sitting in the highchair next to me. I saw the waitress put the tray down. I smiled and said thanks.
As I spoke, hands shot up. Two inches above his head.

"His hair is soooo amazing! Can I touch it?"
Realize this is never actually a question. Because most people touch as they ask. Her voice was shrill and loud. The crowd at the next table looked over.

"No, you can't."

Her hands stayed suspended over his head. She looked at me as if she didn't understand my answer. I know that most people have kind intentions. I don't want to be rude, but I can't go against my gut as a mom. I do not want to disrespect my kids' personal space. I would not want someone I didn't know to come up and start touching my hair. That would creep me out a little.

The woman persisted."But I'm dying to touch it and see what it feels like. "

Usually the first no does the trick. But sometimes you have to reinforce.

"No, but you can admire it from afar," I suggested with a smile.  "I do appreciate your compliment, but I don't want my kids to think its ever appropriate or acceptable for a stranger to touch them."

I saw her hands go down. She shrugged and walked away. I looked at my little people, who were happily enjoying their lunch. See I want them to stand up for themselves. Not feel intimidated. Not feel pressured to do what somebody suggests just because its sometimes uncomfortable to say that one little word.

Well-meaning hair touchers, your kind words letting me know you appreciate the time it takes to twist and roll I am truly thankful for. Really.
But when it comes to physical contact,  to touching my little boy's hair-
this mama is gonna tell you one thing.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Get Wrecked

Last week I endured yearly check-ups to the pediatrician. It was the finale for immunizations. Nothing quite like having little ones get four shots each. Seeing them scared or upset is just awful for me.

This week it was a trip to the pediatric dentist. Even though it was just x-rays & cleaning- they had anxiety thinking a shot could possibly be involved. They remembered having sore legs from the week before. I tried to tell them it was just teeth brushing- no shots. My heart raced when I heard them start to panic. I swallowed hard as they gripped my shirt and pulled me closer. I spoke softly and assuredly. On the outside, I looked strong. On the inside, I was totally wrecked. They cried out my name with wavering voices. I caressed arms and held hands. I talked them thru the flossing and polishing and counting of teeth until they finally smiled, knowing it was over. And within seconds, you would never have thought such drama had ever happened. The dental assistant was busy making balloon animals and my kids were screaming with excitement. The only other drama I could possibly anticipate for the day was the inevitable balloon getting popped in the car on the way home. I so wished they offered parents nitrous gas as a courtesy. I felt completely drained by the emotionally challenging office visits required to keep my little people up-to-date and healthy.

I recently came across a short video from a ministry called Mercy Project. Heroes rescuing children from slavery. Children as young as mine. I thought back to my little sweethearts calling out my name, grasping for my hand while they faced the unknown in the dentist chair. My eyes filled with tears thinking about children all around the world -just as precious as my own- that are forced to face situations that are truly terrifying. Children forced to do the unimaginable. Many do it alone. And it crushes me to think about kids who have no one rescuing them, no one there.

We don't want to think slavery exists today. But it does. We want to believe that all children grow up carefree and happy. But the tragic reality is that many don't. And to deny this makes it an even bigger problem. A silent one where people don't step in and do something. We stay detached because its easier not to acknowledge it. Easier to dismiss the magnitude of suffering that goes on every single day around the world affecting millions of vulnerable people while we do carpool, shop at Walmart, plan our weekend, and make healthy, low-fat dinners.

We all have our share of things we need to make ourselves better aware of. Ways we can grow, change, and impact the world in a positive way. As parents, we need to make sure our children learn what unconditional love looks like, what compassion looks like, what forgiveness looks like, what humility looks like, what perseverance looks like and then just do it. Live by example. Not empty talk. So whether its sending money to an organization rescuing trafficked children, bringing awareness to an injustice, feeding the hungry, assisting with orphan care, adoption, missionary work- we can't ignore or think that its not our responsibility to become part of the solution. Pure and faultless religion is spending less time doing church stuff and more time doing Christ stuff. The least of these is not you and me. So let's put our money (literally) where empty mouths are, let's be unified and determined to help those who are suffering and helpless. We all need that push to do more for other people and less for ourselves.

There are some amazing people inspiring me right now. And I'm so thankful.