Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The World has Shifted

There's never a comfortable way to approach this topic. Everyone has their already formed opinion, so I debated even writing this. I debated even publishing it. But to sit in silence contributes to the problem.

Had you asked me 5 years ago if our country had a racism problem, my answer would have been a firm NO. Our president was black, I personally didn't know anyone who was racist, I didn't surround myself with people who blatantly hated anyone much less for the color of their skin. Then I met the man who would become my husband; and my world shifted. The rose colored glasses where removed, and I saw the truth. The truth that many of my friends and family still deny, or don't see.

It started innocently enough...a few glances here and there in church. I honestly thought it was because, people where interested in us as a new couple, they where trying to figure out, are they? Aren't they? Then a person here and there who had previously been kind to me just wasn't. There was a wall there. It happened as it became more and more apparent, that...yes, yes indeed we where a couple. Then one fine Sunday morning, she approached me. The older lady who I had looked up to. Previous years when I had first entered this particular church she could ALWAYS be found at the altar praying for others. She appeared to be a shiny gem among God's chosen people. I wanted to model my prayers after hers. She came to me and asked, "Are you dating him? That man you where sitting by?"
"Yes! I am. He's fantastic. Have you met him yet?" I beamed with pride.
"Oh dear," She said. "You can't date him. Dating leads to marriage, and marrying someone like him isn't good, or what God wants. God doesn't want you to marry someone outside your race. Your relationship is sinful." I spoke to the leadership of the church about it. They told me it was just something I had to deal with. And that was that. It was the beginning of me learning that there was a whole world outside of mine.

The day it had snowed HEAVILY. It was the first big snow of the year. If I remember correctly it was well over 6 inches. We where driving to work. The roads weren't plowed yet. So all the cars where following the tracks of the other cars. It was the only place the road was visible. This is a common occurrence in Minne--snow-ta. Maybe 3 other cars where in front of us that morning. And the cop pulled us over. The "crime" driving outside the fog lines. I didn't know a fog line existed. (It is the white line along the side of the road for those curious). The cop was RUDE, disrespectful, and constantly swearing at my husband. I have never in my life seen a cop speak to someone that way. It was hard to hear. Apparently respect from a cop, is a privilege I had always taken for granted. After a few moments I recognized her. It was a former student I had taught Sunday school to. I leaned over, said "Hi" and her attitude changed. She called my husband sir. But the damage was already done. She had shown her true attitude. And I will never forget the look on that man's face. I hate to say it, but my strong, brave, hard-working, kind, brilliant, husband, looked broken. I don't know if it was fear, I don't know if it was realizing that yet again, a cop had judged him based on this interaction, but it wasn't a look I had seen before. And it broke me. And I realized the world had shifted.

It was the cashier in the local grocery store. The one I had spoken to many times. Who always asked me how my day was. She would tell me little stories of her grandson. She knew me by name. And I noticed she stopped speaking to me, well...that's not entirely accurate. She would only speak to me when my husband wasn't with me. It stung, because I had really liked her stories. Once again, my world had shifted.

The day I opened my messenger on Facebook after my son was born. "You got lucky, your baby is light enough to raise as a "normal" person."
"What in the world is a normal person? What does that even mean?"
"You know...to not focus on his black side or culture. You can raise him to embrace his white culture." And I realized there was no reasoning with this thinking. I realized I am raising a mixed race son. And my world has forever shifted.

I am a bit embarrassed and ashamed that it took me so long to realize that we still have a problem. That racism is  systemic, and because of the past there are still laws, mores, and a way of life that disenfranchises people of color, and elevates white privilege. I am at times afraid to speak up, because I don't think my family needs more hate, or more comments, or more attention. I at moments feel like I am not going to be helpful to the conversation. Does the black community need another white woman taking up their cause, because it now affects her? How do I even help?

The Bible says: "Weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn." Friends, fellow Christians...I'm speaking to you. You don't get to tell your black counterparts, that "Racism isn't a thing." "Slavery was so long ago." "Yes, but those laws aren't in affect today." "You where never a slave" As a Christian, you job...your mission is to weep with those who weep. You need to listen. Hear their stories, ask how the current political state is affecting them. Learn something about how the world is for them. Are they scared? Do they feel disenfranchised? What was growing up like for them. AND TO BELIEVE THEM. Not argue away their experience, or explain it away. Then and only then will you understand that a shift in this world needs to happen. And we haven't experienced it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Health Class Didn't Prepare Me for This

Disclaimer: This post isn't going to be for the faint of heart. If you are squeamish, or easily embarrassed by bodily functions, or you just giggled too hard in health class like a 12 year old boy at heart...you've been warned. This is real talk about pregnancy and all that goes with it.

Alright girlfriends...I thought most of us had a good relationship, but when I would ask you questions about pregnancy, there's many things you didn't tell me. Dear Coach G who taught my freshman health class and made us watch the "Miracle of Birth" you didn't tell us these things either. No one told me; so I am going to do all you ladies who haven't yet experienced pregnancy some of the things that took my by surprise.

1) You will spend a small fortune on bras, undies, and other lacey slinky things.
See, I knew that after pregnancy you needed to purchase granny panties to fit you for after delivery, I knew you needed to purchase new bras to accommodate your growing assets that are now capable of sustaining life. But NO ONE TOLD ME; HEALTH CLASS DIDN'T PREPARE ME that I  needed to accommodate these things now, at 30 weeks in. Your curves grow...A LOT, and unless you want to spend the next 9 months digging under wires out of your sides, or picking fabric out of your rear, buy new stuff!

2)You will leak.
My former coworkers warned me that AFTER pregnancy bladder control would be an issue. I thought about preparing for that...but NO ONE TOLD ME, HEALTH CLASS DIDN'T PREPARE ME, that the leaking happens while that wee little babe is still baking. As my midwife put it: "It's normal honey, us gals just get juicy as pregnancy progresses. Buy some liners and carry on." It's your bodies way of keep infection at bay, and your assets are swelling and preparing to feed your baby, so leakage there is also normal. But freaky if NO ONE TOLD YOU!

3) Your partner's breathing becomes really hard to tolerate.
Okay, so I should have expected this one. I'm not really a patient person to start with, and I was fairly warned about pregnancy hormones, but trust me nothing could prepare me for the Great Taco Melt Down of 2016. NO ONE TOLD ME, HEALTH CLASS DIDN'T PREPARE ME just how important food would become. My husband and I stopped at Taco Bell...(don't judge me, even if you won't admit it, it's delicious). We where shorted a taco. We didn't realize it. We got home, I attended to a phone call. My husband ate his food. I sat down to eat and realized one of the tacos I ordered was missing...cue the water works, cue the hysterics---yes actual hysterics, I cried some more, laid myself down on the kitchen floor and sobbed, accused my husband of eating my food, and cried some more. It was intense. I recovered and was DEEPLY embarrassed by my behavior, and was extremely drained of all energy. I've found it increasingly difficult to not be irritated by those closest to me. I've apologized more to those I love the most, in the last several months then I have ever needed to in my whole life.

4) The smells. Oh the smells you will smell
You've heard of your sense of scent increasing; but NO ONE TOLD ME, HEALTH CLASS DIDN'T PREPARE ME for how sensitive to my own smell I would become. Has my breath always been that noticeable in the morning? Has my "feminine" smell always been that apparent? Has my hair always been that gross smelling after a long day. Those closest to me assure me nothing has changed. I'm not all of a sudden the stinky kid in class, but because my own sniffer has increased in it's ability, I'm suddenly just more aware of those things.

5) You will miss you baby intensely before they arrive
For me admittedly this pregnancy wasn't a surprise. We weren't TRYING, but we weren't PLANNING either. We where pretty open to whatever God had planned for our family. However, each month prior to that actual positive test, when I was a minute later then I thought I should be, and I took THE TEST, and it was negative, I was pretty sad. I missed my baby. I know that sounds strange, I know it sounds intense, but I missed him. And then the day came that that test was positive, and I missed him even more. There are days I can be sitting at work, and tears come, because I want to hold him, kiss him, snuggle his sweet little face. NO ONE TOLD, AND HEALTH CLASS DIDN'T PREPARE me that I would be instantly in love with this teeny-tiny person who hasn't even made his full debut into the world. No one told me, that my arms would ache to see him. I can't wait to fully love on you Baby Jack.

6) The fears. The anxiety. The thoughts.
There are days I legitimately wish I could turn back time, and undue this decision. I don't regret it, I wouldn't actually change it, but when your days are being tracked on an app on your phone with daily updates, when you are going to numerous appointments, you become VERY aware of time. I am acutely aware that it's going to be a long time before it's just my husband and I ever. I am also aware of how inadequate I am to control the outcome of anything. I can only rest, eat as best as I can, and wait for this child to come. As my stomach grows, and mobility decreases I am so very aware of how helpless I am to do anything. I actually think it's part of the great design. I' not helpless to carry on with the everyday life, but I am helpless to change the actual outcome of this pregnancy. I can do all the spinning babies, hypnobirthing, breathing, I want, but I cannot control when Jack chooses to arrive. I can't choose if I sleep tonight or if I will be up numerous times after the dreams, to use the bathroom, or because the sciatic nerve flares up, much less choosing the day my baby is born, the manner in which he is born. NO ONE TOLD ME, HEALTH CLASS DIDN'T PREPARE ME for just how helpless I would feel. And I am actually learning to embrace it. Momentarily, I am set free. I don't have to do anything else. Just be. It is slowly teaching me that I don't need to have expectations of my little guy. That he can grow and be who he was meant to be, who God is designing him to be without intense intervention from me. My husband can be who God has designed him to be, without me trying to control everything.

I have dreams for my family, but ultimately those dreams will only amount to something if I place them in the hand of God and let Him lead me.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This too shall pass

It's been nearly three months since I have blogged. Nearly three months, since I have taken them time to put my thoughts down on "paper" for others to read. To expose myself to others in a way that cannot be taken back. I'm not 100 % sure of the lapse in blogging, other then I've been busy. Between a new job, working with a church plant, graduate school, and a million other things, my heart has been cluttered, and my mind more so. A cluttered mind doesn't scare me, however, a cluttered heart does. I'm attempting to unclutter some of the things that are weighing me down. 

1) I'm learning just how vulnerable people with addictions are, and how it's one of the few diseases that infects just more then the person afflicted with it. I know far too many people who in the last year who have had to lay loved ones to rest as a result of addictions. I'm scared by that. I have someone who is very near and dear to me struggling with a serious addiction. It has changed thier personality. It has infiltrated the element of trust with all this person's relationships. Nothing is sacred. And we have all been affected. My heart aches knowing that the only help is for this person to want it. In the absolute least judgemental way possible this situation really does make me wonder about the cliche " Perhaps Christ lets us hit rock bottom, because He know's HE is the rock at the bottom. " My deepest prayer, and hearts desire is that this person would fight this addiction for themselves. That they would realize they are more then this, and not all is lost. That through a long fight and long journey that they too can overcome. Lord, I pray you protection and help on this person. I pray you begin to break the chains that bind. I pray for deep wisdom for all involved in helping when it's right and backing off when it's not. 

2) I feel like I am re-learning God's voice. I have always believed He loves me. I have even believed He has spoken to me. But right now, I'm in a place of re-learning a new method of communication with Him. This communication is trust. It is looking at my circumstances and choosing to believe that God is good, even when my circumstances shout at me otherwise. It is pushing forward and rememebering that God is not a man that He should lie. It is remembering and reminding myself time and again that there is no shadow of turning in Him. 

3) Education. Education of girls around the world. Education of women around the world. I have read the stories of the girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terriosts. I have read the countless other stories in a book called "They Fight Like Soliders; They Die Like Children." I have recently read the articles surrounding Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head for wanting to go to school. I re-read the Diary of Anne Frank and her & her sister continuing thier education in hiding from the Nazi's. I am beyond priviliged. I have never had to fight for my right to go to school. I hav grumbled and complained, but it's never been denied to me. What is it about an educated woman that scares men? What is it that has caused the slaughter, and rape of countless women across the GLOBE? Why hasn't it been stopped? I am tired of it. I am fighting against it in the only way I know right now, and that's in prayer. 

I am ready for the war on women to be over. " If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known" ---Matthew Arnold, found in Lisa Bevere's book "Lioness Arising" I am ready as a woman to stop participating in the war against women. I believe it starts with me. It starts with me seeking the face of my God each and every day, and asking Him what he has for me this day. It's me taking my dreams and not letting the world dictate them. It's me believing that I am a blood bought child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It's me ending my insecurities when I see a woman walk in the room who is prettier then I am. It's me not judging women who a dressed a certain way and instead of showing them compassion I show them disdain and judgement. It's me not caring about the motives of other women towards those I love, and choosing to believe they are pure in thier motives. It's not being jealous when I see my sisters acheiving the things I want to acheive. 

I really am done continuing to agree with the enemy of my soul that says I am not good enough. I am done agreeing with the enemy of the souls of women world wide that want to keep them oppressed. How do I play my part and fight a war that has been waged since in the Garden?

I believe it's through prayer and choosing to believe that God loves me. It's not compromising my heart because this world has told me I should. It's by running 100 miles in 100 days and raising 100 dollars to supply meals for children caught up in trafficking along the boarder of Thailand and Burma. It's remembering that if I am taken out of the fight, that there's people behind me left vulnerable. It's choosing each day to live as though the Lord has a mission for me to spread his love. 

Father God, you know my deepest heart and deepest desires. You know the pain I fight with and the struggles I have. Please God be bigger then my fears. Please let me see you victorious in all these things. Be close to the broken hearted reading this tonight. Be with those who don't know what thier next steps are. Be kind to those who need you near tonight. Lord keep me humble. Keep me knowing and loving you. Draw my friends and family close to you. Break the chains that bind thier hearts. Amen.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Just as He Said

Today is Easter Sunday. Countless Christian's attended church across the USA. Plastic eggs have been hidden and found. Chocolate in mass quantities has been consumed. Families gathered and are still gathered. And I am sitting here reflecting on the Lord and His promises.

Promises are a hard thing for me to comprehend. I have had many promises broken to me, just as you have. It's easy to not be able to trust anyone or anything because of the sheer number of broken promises, dreams, and plans.

Luke 24 States that the women closest to Jesus, went looking for Him at the tomb. At the place He was buried. Ready to anoint His body wit spices. They had either forgotten He had told them He would rise again on the third day, or they didn't believe His promise to them. They just knew that they loved Him. And in love they wanted to serve Him by preparing His body and anointing Him. It was somehow better to be close to the dead Jesus, then to not be by Him at all.

However, when they got to the tomb they discovered it was empty. Yet it still didn't sink in. They where still confused. The angels spoke to them and reminded them " Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen! Just as He said He would."

Just as He said He would. Over the course of the next couple of days the risen and resurrected Christ would appear to over 500 witnesses! Just as He said He would.

I am so thankful for a God who can be trusted. Who looks our fear and unfaithfulness in the eye and appears before us. Just as He said He would. I wonder if He appeared to so many to cement His trustworthiness.

I struggle in believing God's promises to me. I struggle in believing God is really for me. My salvation is intact. I belive He loves me. I believe He died for me and rose again so I can be with Him in eternity, but it's the day to day care and promises I struggle with. I struggle with Him fulfilling specific plans He has spoken to me when they seem so distant and so far way. I'm in good company. I believe God today is looking at me and speaking to my heart and saying...I have risen. Just as I said I would. I see you and am working on your sitution, just as I said I would.

What about you? Do you have broken dreams, pieces of promises you are struggling with. That you think the Lord has forgotten about? If the darling of Heaven, can leave the comfort of the Heavenlies, be born of a Virgin, live a completely sinless life, die a sinners death, and rise again 3 days later, just as He said He would. What can he do with your prayers, and petitions? Jesus came to save the world, just as He said He would. Who are we to think that He won't fulfill His promises and plans to us, just as He said He would? If He can save the world through one great, glorious act. If He can redeem us all. If He can take back the keys of death, Hades, and the grave. My friends, He can take control of your situation as well.

Lord, forgive my unbelief. Forgive my double mindedness. I press into you. I ask for you to work in the situations that feed on my delicate, heart. God, I ask for you to fulfill the unspoken promises that I hold so close to my heart. The promises I have laid at your feet. Please work, and hold me close just as you said you would. I thank you Lord that you overcame darkness. That the enemy of this world has lost his power, and nothing could hold you back. You my Lord, are the risen King. I trust you with my whole life. Surround me in your presence and light and truth. You are a good and merciful God. Amen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jesus Wept

We love you because you first loved us (1 John 4:19)
Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)
This living and loving. This being of the Gospel. This becoming like you, requires us, no requires me to love first. To hold out that olive branch. To jump in to take the risk. To love first. To not know if the other person will respond in kind. To lay aside my prejudice, to lay aside my mind.
Is this why you wept? You knew. You knew, my Lord and my God, that you are the solution. The yes and the Amen. The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End. You where, and you are, and you will always be the answer, the solution, the great longing met, the souls precious treasure. You’d extend it freely, at no cost to us other than acceptance.  The cost to you…the cost to you, far too great to measure. This leaving of the grandeur and the Holiness of the Heavenlies.  You left playing among the stars, for dirt, and thirst. Whips, and tears. Tired sighs. And hunger.
All in an effort to woo. To romance through the sacrifice, to win us back to the Father’s heart. To win our hearts and claim us as your own. And what have we done with your gift? We’ve rejected it. Swatted it from your hands. We wouldn’t see what you were offering in pure and beautiful simplicity. This treasure for our hearts. The invitation handed to us from the grace-filled hands, and healing gaze. The gift to be, our truest selves, that which you created. The Creator rejected by the created ones.
Rejecting the only thing our souls need. We would nail you there in our depravity, so unaware. Unaware of the torn flesh and blood spilt on our behalf. Unaware for the first time, the Father would turn His face from You. The darling of Heaven.
This is why you wept. You too knew we would face the rejection. The batting away of our love, the walls we would build back up around us. The hurt we would feel as we reject each other. The pain we would cause one another. You bore it all. You held it all there. On that cross. You broke it all. You healed it all. You overcame it all.
This precious sacrifice which you made for me. This need for you which should cause me to break every wall. You took the risk on me. I will take a risk. I will bear the cross you’ve called me to. The beginning of the loving, is the breaking. The most broken of the hearts, are the ones who have loved the most. Risked the most. Sought you the most.  This is why you wept. Not from the rejection you felt, but for the rejection you know I would feel. The breaking that began in me the day we met. The breaking that scares and scars. That brings me to my knees. That requires me to meet you in the dead of the night, to search you in the throne room. The breaking of these walls I’ve set against those you love. The breaking of these walls I’ve set against you. The rejecting of the truest self you’ve created in me.
You wept because you knew every effort I would take to protect against, the agony, to protect against, humanity, to protect against the becoming, to protect, against the breaking. Is this what was in the cup you begged the Father to remove from you?
Father God. My Beloved. You paid it all. You paid it all. The cost too far for me to count. I press on. I move into your embrace. I ask you to brush me off and show me how to love again. To become closer to the truest self.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Beauty from the Ashes

I have sat on this particular post for a few weeks. I have never jotted down notes when I blog to figure out what I want to say. I don't really often think through what I am going to write. Instead, I write for the simple therapy of it. This is different. I have jotted down notes, I have thought it through, I have prayed over it. What you are about to read is sacred to me. It's holy ground in a sense. I'm not sure I can do it justice.

Deep Cries Out to Deep

She walked in the room with a poise and grace I have never seen before, yet there was a deep vulnerability that consumed me as she sat down. The vulnerability radiated all around her, it permeated the air, and fell heavily upon me. As she sat at the table across from me, I couldn't help but realize I was about to embark on holy ground. Just as Moses was instructed to remover his sandals, I knew I need to remove a peice of myself before we began the interview. Any preconceived notions I had about how this was going to play out, or what course the conversation was going to take, needed to be removed, and very quickly.

We will call her Grace. It seems appropriate after learning all she had been thorugh and still carried herself with dignity and respect. Grace was just like any other teenager growing up in her small apartment in with her single mother in a small town in Minnesota . She had friends, she laughed, and she had crushes on celebrities as is a tried and true right into the world of teenagers. Being from a single parent household money was always tight, but they had shelter, and food, and heat in the winter. There wasn't a lot left over for extras but it never mattered much to Grace.

One cold particular rainy day, that's when things changed. She came home to discover her mom's new boyfriends coat hanging up on the hook in the hallway. She wasn't a fan of this new beau. There was something about his smile that left Grace feeling unnerved. He offered lot's of promises of a new and better life, but there seemed to be binding strings attached to each one. His appearance didn't seem convey the money and affluent lifestyle he talked about concerning his job and the financial gains he had.

As Grace grabbed a few crackers and a handful of grapes she sat down on the couch waiting for her mom and this man to emerge from the bedroom. She turned the TV up so she could drown out the intimate sounds coming from the hallway. She never made it through the sitcom. This new boyfriend with the leering smile, emerged took one look at her sitting on the couch, and dragged her back to her bedroom. Her called it her intiation into the game. From that day forward he would have his way with her body, and bring countless men over to do the same. He walked her to school, and would breath down her neck threats of how he would kill her and her mother and it would be her fault if she dared breath a word to anyone. After the terror she experienced at his hands she believed him.  He was there when she was done with school. her chances for escape where narrow and she believed she had no choices except to continue on.

The profits he made from her, she never saw a dime. Neither did her mother.

Nearly 19 months after it all began he was arrested on drug charges, while spending the few days in jail, thats when she made her escape. She told the school social worker. She showed the principal her bruises that she had always hidden with baggy sweatshirts and long pants. Less then a week later she was removed from her home.

Grace has only seen her mother once since she was removed. Her mother refused to press charges on the man, and told Grace she should have kept quiet.

While recounting her story Grace never once wavered. Her voice never once quaked. No tears shown from her eyes as she looked at me from across that walnut covered table. Behind her eyes was a fierceness that was beyond her years.

I asked her what she felt people needed to now about her story, that could help them. She stared down at the table, for a long moment. Looking up, she said, "To fight. Sometimes fighting to survive is all you have. It's all I had. Fight." Then the tears broke. My own heart ached.

Grace calmed down and said, " They tried to break me. They almost won, but each night when everything was over, instead of laying in bed and feeling sorry for myself, I told myself, I still had the choice to live. I still had the choice to learn. I still had the choice to breath. They couldn't take that from me. Since, being away from that situation and getting her four year degree in psychology. I have learned one more thing, that I still have the choice to love. I can love the people around me, I can love a great big God who protected me, and I can love the hurting. That's another thing they couldn't take from me. If they did they win. They don't get to choose the condition of my soul."

Moving Forward

Grace is currently enrolled in a graduate program to do grief and truama counseling. She will graduate this Spring. She spends weekends serving at the coffee bar at her local church and reading to children in a shelter for abused women and kids.

After speaking with Grace, I couldn't help but evaluate my own life some. Do I freely love the way Grace does? Do I love inspite of hurt I have experienced? Do I trust God the way Grace does? Am I vulnerable to those around me?

Grace exhibits the unbreakableness of the human spirit when faith and love are exercised within.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Weep with those who weep: Share Experiences

It's been awhile...

It's been a while since I have written, and it has been a concious effort to NOT write. I have been working through somethings, and the last thing I wanted to do was write for the public out of a place of hurt, or a place of bitterness, or a place of anger. However, I feel like it's out of that hurt, bitterness, and anger that God is moving in my life. I'm okay with that.

Quick Recap:
My mom has been sick. Very sick. Massive surgeries, losing vision, losing toes, and losing the love of her life very unexpectedly. The man who raised me, my step-dad Bruce, is also very sick, the VA is thinking cancer, dementia has set in, and pain is there. One family member fights a battle against addiction. My job situation drastically changed, my relationship situation drastically changed. People who had said they cared where suddenly MIA. Friends stopped calling etc. Life was one BIG ball of stress, and I felt it in my back, in my shoulders, in my jaw, in my hip, and in my tears.

Moving Forward:
I'm better. I am no longer stressed. I am no longer in tears every day over these things. I still hurt over them once in awhile, but events have a way of passing, and these ones will too. However, I am changed. I think about the language we use a Christians, as the church and wonder if we are helping, or hurting with the things we say.

"God will never give you more then you can handle."---FALSE. The Bible never ever says that. If that was true, explain Auschwitz. Explain the millions of girls being raped every single day across the globe. Explain why children get beaten to death by those who are meant to protect them.

"Everything is GREAT. My family is healthy, and perfect, and we have great jobs. God has blessed us because He loves us." So....those who have family that  isn't healthy? Are we saying that  God, isn't blessing them because He doesn't love them? Those INCREDIBLE HARD WORKING men who are talented and excel in their career, but lost jobs due to unforseen circumstance...God's holding back blessings from them, because they are bad? What about those struggling and fighting mental illness? Is there a form of sin in their lives.

"Pray about it. You will get an answer. God ALWAYS answers." What if they have prayed about it, and God has remain SILENT? What about those people who just do not have the strength in themselves to pray another prayer, because they don't have the faith that God can answer.

Real Talk
Don't for two seconds think that my faith in any of the above circumstances has wavered. I believe with all my heart and soul that God can turn around any situation in any moment, and that is that. Sometimes though our words hurt, those struggling so much more then we know, and they suffer in silence. Let's set one thing straight right now...You may have your dream job, your dream house, your dream spouse, you dream life. God may have paved the way for you to get it. You may have a miracle baby and child on your hands, and I am so incredibly happy for you. I rejoice at your blessings, but don't you for two seconds think that because someone doesn't have those things that they aren't blessed. God just has something different for them, a different understanding of life He wants to give them.

Take a moment. Count all your blessings. Thank God for every single one of them. Make the list: family, friends, wellness, health, jobs, food, breath, now....imagine this, every single thing on that list is gone. Taken away. Tragically, suddenly, or even ceases to ever have existed.

Are you still blessed?

Let's be careful what we say. We don't know who we are hurting. Your brand new home may be beautiful, but to the husband who just signed foreclosure papers, he's blessed too. Even if you or him can't see it. You brand new baby is gorgeous, but what about the woman who can't have children. By saying, "I am blessed." May just speak the message to the barren woman: You are not blessed. God does not love you, because you cannot have children.

The very fact that we have breath. The very fact that we can have life. The very fact that God has chosen us. That makes us blessed.

Take a few moments this week to fulfill the second half of the command: Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Stop telling people to get over it. Stop telling people to pray about it. Stop telling people to give it to God. Roll up your sleeves, and get in the mess with them. Set down your agenda for Sunday morning, and weep with them at the altar. Put a hand on thier shoulder and look them in the eye and ask what is going on. 

Weep with those who weep. The is such beauty in shared experiences.