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Restore the Fathers

Jesus with childrenFather’s Day is just around the corner. How very appropriate and heartbreaking that the immigrant crisis—children being torn from the very breasts of their mothers—now center stage in our country should be garnering so much notice at this time.

My grandfather was an immigrant. Granted, his parents went through the arduous process of coming legally, but had they not been able to do that, if they had been fleeing a dangerous situation and needed refuge, I can’t even imagine what would have happened had my grandfather been taken away from them.

We lost our younger son at Sea World one time. It was only for a few minutes, but the terror that was in my heart during those few minutes has never been forgotten. Had anything happened to him, I would have been devastated. So to know that hundreds, no, thousands of parents are experiencing their children being taken away from them by authorities in a country they thought would be their refuge is completely unimaginable.

The law of the land, they say. It’s biblical to obey the governing authorities, they say.

How they can look themselves in the mirror or even sleep at night is beyond me.

Families belong together. There is no excuse. Maybe the parents have broken the law, but IMG_0654there are better ways to handle the situation. I’m not a fan of illegal immigration, but I am a fan of people. You can’t treat them like animals. They are not cattle or sheep to be separated for slaughter.

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday. While you’re celebrating your own father, or being a father, or fathers that you know, take time to pray for those fathers who have had their children forcibly removed from their care by the governing authority, that they would be restored to their children.

And weep for them, as I’m sure Jesus is doing even now.

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” — Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 19:14)

This post is a part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link up. Come join in the fun!

 

image from vvsventujuparapija.lt

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A Flag, a Nation, and What it Means to Show Respect

OuterbridgesRecently, a close friend of mine experienced something that appalled me and caused me to rethink the meaning of respect.

My friend Collin is a young, tall, good-looking man of color. He is married to Stacey, a petite, lovely white woman. Unimposing, articulate and well educated, Collin is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He is the father of 4; 3 biological children and 1 adopted son who is white.

Recently, Stacey shared an incident that happened when their family went to a restaurant they frequent. Their toddler, being, well, a toddler, was having a meltdown before their food arrived because he was hungry. In order to stave off further screams, Stacey asked Collin to go to the counter and get a cookie.

chocolate chip cookie

Collin didn’t have cash with him, so he pulled out his credit card to buy the $1.50 treat. The cashier asked for his i.d. He didn’t have his i.d. with him. It was in the car and it was pouring rain. The cashier proceeded to tell him that she would not sell him the cookie.

Thankfully, their food arrived shortly thereafter, so further meltdown was avoided. But Stacey wasn’t done.

Fully believing that she would not experience the same thing if she went to the cashier and attempted to purchase the cookie, Stacey, with Collin’s credit card in hand, approached the counter where the same cashier waited on her. She was able to buy the cookie with no problem.

But there would be a problem for that cashier as Stacey asked to speak to the manager.

To her credit, the manager was appalled and apologized profusely and said that was not the way they did business. But Collin and Stacey simply chalk this up as another example of experiences they have way too often.

Something needs to change.

So when I saw that Major League baseball player Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the National Anthem in Saturday’s Oakland Athletics game against the Texas Rangers, I saw his side. When NBC noted it on their Facebook page, I commented that one can love one’sbruce_maxwell_national_anthem country while not agreeing with everything they do. I actually thought Maxwell’s stance was very respectful. He had his hand and his cap over his heart and he was looking at the flag. He wasn’t disrespecting it in any way. He was acknowledging and bringing attention to the fact that things need to change. Click the link above and listen to his short statement. It’s very thoughtful.

Of course, by making my thoughts known in a pubic forum, I opened myself up to the haters. Although more than 100 people liked my comment, there were several who labeled me as “liberal” and “sick.”  Which is totally laughable if you know me at all.

I love my country, but by no stretch of the imagination do I believe that everything going on is right and good. We’re always asking our famous people to use their platforms for good, so why, when some of them do, are they then vilified?

Blind nationalism isn’t loyalty. I have been married to my husband for more than 26 years. I’m loyal to him and I love him with all my heart, but I’m not ignorant enough to think that he has no faults. I wouldn’t be much of a wife if I didn’t encourage him to be the best version of himself that he can be. Does that mean I don’t respect him?

I want America to be the best version of herself that she can be. Does systemic racism need to be rooted out and destroyed? Do people need to be made aware of their prejudices and educated about how to rise above them? Do we all need to be more willing to lean in and listen to people’s stories?

Yes, to all of the above. That is what respect looks like. It’s not about a country and a flag. It’s about people and how they are treated by others.

light-in-darknessIn just my one little comment on Facebook, I became a target for haters to label me. It doesn’t feel good, but I know that they are speaking out of ignorance. Will I condescend to name calling myself? No. I will pray for them, because Jesus alone can bring light where there is darkness. And He has tasked us with shining that light ourselves. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16, New International Version, emphasis mine).

I will let my little light shine.

 

photo of the Outerbridge family courtesy of Stacey Outerbridge; cookies from bettycrocker.com; Bruce Maxwell from complex.com; candle from friendsofjustice.wordpress.com

Walk Your Talk

micah-6-8I’ve been in turmoil this week, as I know many others have, with what’s been going on in the world and in our own backyard. Criticism, hate, anger, vitriol. We’ve had it in spades. The message of tolerance and love and kindness and compassion don’t seem to be making a difference.

And we all seem to have so many questions.

What’s the difference between a protestor and a demonstrator? How can we keep our country safe and still have compassion on displaced people looking for shelter? Why are so many people looking for the worst in others?

I don’t have answers to these questions except a knowledge that the world needs Jesus. In the Bible, we are told that the prophet Micah wrote,”He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy,
 and to walk humbly with your God?”

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God.

A friend of mine just asked the question, “I wonder how many of those protesting at the airports would welcome a refugee in their home to stay for a year until they get on their feet.”

Do you know any refugees personally? Have you sat with them and cried and listened to their heartbreaking stories? Have you bought them groceries and helped them navigate a new city and find a place to live? Have you been their friend?

Have you prayed for them?

If you can’t answer yes to even one of those questions, then I have my doubts about your sincerity when it comes to really caring about them. All of a sudden these people matter just because the current president did something he thought (whether wisely or not) would be a step in protecting our nation? Do you know all the facts? Have you checked every side? Why is this being called a ban on Muslim immigrants when Muslims from other nations are allowed entry? The rhetoric doesn’t make sense.

Those who use their very public soapboxes to decry the treatment of people they didn’t care two bits about in the past are showing their hypocrisy.  This crisis has been going on long before Trump took over. Where were their voices then?

It’s like taking your family to serve a meal at the homeless shelter on Christmas morning and then never stepping foot in the place until the next Christmas comes. Sure, it makes you feel better, like you’ve done something, but it’s more like a pat on your back than a hand up for the hurting of your city.

My prayer is that you will take what you don’t like going on and start getting involved, like, always. Not just when it’s a trending topic. Love mercy.

There are always 2 sides to a story. But Trump haters are more than willing to believe only one: whichever casts him in the worst light. Do justice. That means fact checking before sharing what you believe to be “news.” Take off your slanted shoes and walk humbly with God.

Seek to be informed yourself; don’t take the word of others, especially those with an agenda. Get involved with groups that are actually aiding refugees who are already here. Give to a reputable agency that helps people in country. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter on a regular basis, not just once a year.

Get out there.

And stop, just stop with the hateful words.

What Will Wednesday Bring?

 

Unless you live in a deep, dark hole (and which of us doesn’t from time to time?), you know tamerican-flaghat today is Election Day in the United States. Usually, elections are a time of excitement and anticipation, of change and newness. This year, though, it seems that it’s a time of fear and anger and dread. So we hope and we pray.

And we vote.

For the first time ever, I participated in early voting this year. I wanted to avoid the long lines I hoped would be evident come Election Day. I’ve heard reports of both. My husband went early this morning and there was no line. Another friend in another state had to wait an hour.

Looming questions hang over us like Damocles’ sword. Will the election be fair? Will riots break out if one candidate — or the other — loses? What will life look like on Wednesday morning?

I don’t have the answer to most of these questions, but I do know one thing: God is still on His throne. And America, believe it or not, is not the center of the universe.

So Wednesday morning, I will wake up like I always do, to a praise song playing from myVersion 2

Before I leave my house I will take care of my dog and my birds and my cats and my fish. I will eat what I chose for breakfast. I will leave my mother-in-law to prepare for her day of homeschooling my nephew. I will keep my doors and windows open to the cool Florida November weather.

And I will go teach school.

I will say the Pledge of Allegiance in Latin with my students. I will grade papers. I will lead them in a devotion about the life of Joseph in Egypt. I will pray with them.

And we will probably pray for our nation.

Because Wednesday morning will be like any other morning in America, come what may, and God is still on His throne.

It’s our job to make Biblesure that while some things stay the same, the things that really matter will change. I will be kinder, more generous, more loving. I will listen more and speak less. I will be a catalyst for change in a world that will still be lost and broken after today. No election is going to change that.
Only Jesus.

And I will let my little light shine.

 

America, America, God shed His grace on thee.

We The People, part 1

There’s a burneIMG_6773d-out house on a quiet street where I often ride my bike. It’s been empty for months, with just plywood over windows and a dumpster in the driveway. What caught my attention was the American flag still flying by the front door. The house is going to need major overhauling, but the flag still flies.

It reminds me of our country. The mess becomes more and more evident during an election year.
But patriotism is still evident. Americans still love their country. Sometimes they just don’t know how to express that.

I am a registered Independent. I am a compassionate conservative. I am an American. But most importantly—and this is what should make all the difference—I am a follower of Jesus.

I am not in favor of big government. I think it has come about because the church has failed to do its job of helping the poor and loving the downtrodden. I think this big government has created a state of dependency and has not encouraged hard work.

In order to come to some sort of conclusion about what I believe and for whom I will cast my vote in November, I began to ask myself what the role of government is. I took a look at the preamble to our Constitution:

“We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

I tried to define what each of those meant and how that looks today. I am not a Constitutional lawyer. I am not even a Constitutional historian. But I’d like to share what I came up with in a two-part post.

In order to form a more perfect union, a government must

Establish justice: A country must have laws. We’ve seen what happens when lawlessness reigns. Businesses are vandalized, property is demolished, barbarism comes out of the depths of dark hearts. But people need to be able to trust the system. Man’s justice will never be perfect, and there will be those who are corrupt, no doubt about it. But even man’s imperfect justice has got to be given a chance. In order for people to trust the justice system, everyone regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or affluence, must be held to the same standard. Corruption in our court system must not be tolerated.IMG_6772

Insure domestic tranquility:  I see the need for the rule of law in order to insure domestic tranquility. But I also see a need for compassion and caring. I see a need for the underprivileged to be given a voice and an opportunity to improve their circumstances with dignity. But I don’t think that’s the government’s job. It’s the job of the neighborhood church. Government is impersonal. It’s people who need to fill this need. There are so many non-profit agencies right now devoted to helping those in need. Instead of disallowing and discouraging faith-based organizations from pursuing such endeavors by enacting laws against them or threatening lawsuits if they don’t comply with restrictive guidelines, the government should embrace those who are trying to help insure that domestic tranquility. Laws only insure domestic tranquility if they are helping the people be more content and happy. Laws that are enacted to stifle anyone’s voice, be they faith-based or not, are an over reach of the rule of law. If the marginalized are heard, peace is much more possible.

Provide for the common defense: I believe in a strong military, which I think aids in providing for the common defense. I believe it is the government’s job to protect its people from its enemies, foreign and domestic. Some people call that being nationalistic. I think it’s called being the government. A quote that has been ascribed to several different people including Donald Rumsfeld, Vladimir Putin and Bobby Jindal is, “Weakness is provocative.” In order for a government to protect its citizens and its union, it must be strong. The weakest in the pack is the one that gets eaten.

My next post will cover the last two points: Promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty. Hope you’ll stick with me!

 

We The People, part 2

img_6772I rode by that burned out house yesterday that I mentioned in Part 1, (read that here before you continue: We The People, Part 1) and there were workmen there and they had the front of the house torn down to the studs. The word that came to mind when I saw that was “rebuild.” Seems apropos.

As promised, here is the second part of my examination of the Preamble to our Constitution. Previously we looked at establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility and providing for the common defense. Use the link above to read that post.

Promote the general welfare: To me, this is one of the biggest issues. I see the need for compassion in order to promote the general welfare, but not entitlement and dependence.  Allowing for the killing of unborn children,  attacking the traditional family, legislating parenting rather than encouraging faith-based organizations to help teach good techniques doesn’t promote the general welfare. Promoting the general welfare means doing what’s best for everybody. I think the role of government is to ensure that everybody has the ability to prosper.

Making sure quality education is available to everyone helps promote the general welfare. Giving handouts does not. Arresting parents who let their kids play in the park a block from their home does not. Policing in such a way that people of color are afraid to have an encounter of any kind with law enforcement does not. Encouraging anger when those angered don’t know what to do with that emotion does not.

But again, if man is sinful and separated from God, and people’s views of what is best differ, then hearts need to be changed before the general welfare is going to be achieved.

Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Liberty. Freedom. We have a Bill of Rights. I think the role of government is to ensure that those rights are upheld. Once those rights start being revoked, the blessings of liberty fall by the wayside. I fear that our bent toward not offending those who are utterly too offendable is trampling on those rights. When we have freedom, we actually look out for each other better. Or at least that’s how it should be. The Bible says, “Don’t use your freedom as license to sin.” Oh man, those are good words. There is no blessing in a “me-first” attitude.

People need to be heard and they need to believe that they are cared about, and they need IMG_6771to be taught to stand on their own two feet. That’s a part of the government’s job. But that’s also the church’s job. The two entities absolutely must work together instead of being poles apart. People have so misrepresented the idea of the separation of church and state that the church has become a shell of what it was intended to be: a force for good in society. The separation of church and state was enacted so that the state didn’t take over the church. That’s why the Pilgrims left. The free exercise of religion is essential. If only the government would see the good that the church could do, and not be so afraid of it. If only the church was bolder and less concerned about popularity and more concerned about being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Nothing short of a revival is going to heal our land. I don’t think our nation can be great again without it. The question is, which leader is more likely to lead us in that direction? And who is willing to give the church a kick in its collective butt to do what it’s called to do?

Rebuilding. That’s what we need in our country.

And revival in our own hearts.

God bless America.

I’m open to civil discussion on any of these matters. Feel free to comment, but keep it civil.