How to Respond in Times of Crisis

I sat in my favorite corner of our couch, knees pulled up to my chest. A few close friends were scattered around the room, eyes soft, questions gentle. We had been at an event together earlier that evening where words were spoken that caused a part of my heart to fracture. When I left the event as soon as possible, these women called and offered to come, to sit and listen or let silence linger. We did some of both.

Mostly, I rambled, at least that’s how I remember it. I remember tears and I remember closing my eyes as I spoke sentences of which I was embarrassed of, words that made me feel faithless and weak. But most of all, I remember the tenderness of the women gathered in that room, their compassionate strength that bore the weight of my sadness and anger.

When I was in crisis, the physical presence, help, and listening ear of others was critical. Never have I been so aware of the beauty of the body of Christ as I have been when I was dependent upon others to care for me, to support my family, and to pray and believe for me when I was losing my grip on the ability to do so for myself.

When crisis comes, many of us determine to buckle down, to believe that grit and fortitude will be enough to weather the storm. But what this often can mean is that we want to be strong, though Scripture tells us that God’s grace is made perfect in our weakness. We do not want to inconvenience others, though Scripture tells us to bear one another’s burdens. We want to think of crises as linear—as having a beginning, middle, and end, life returning to a happy “normal” after the fact–though Scripture tells us that we will have trouble in this world until Christ’s return.

Keep reading at iBelieve.

On Hopeful Resistance

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
~ Emily Dickinson

I am not sure that I have ever before read a poem that I adore so fully and disagree with so heartily all at once. I am not sure if that is even an entirely possible state of mind, but it certainly seems to be the one I am in as I read Dickinson’s rhythmic words.

I did not used to feel this way about this poem. Not long ago, I found it to be only beautiful, merely soothing, simply grace. “The thing with feathers” — what a gentle, calming thought. The idea that hope could swoop down, land within me, beat its little wings and fill me with hope, why would I want to do anything but wrap my arms around that idea, embrace it wholeheartedly, maybe set up a few directional signs for the little hope-bird so it would arrive faster? Come to me, hope. Fill me up.

While I haven’t abandoned this little imaginative figment entirely, I no longer find it to be enough. I never did, I suppose, since I am one who believes her ultimate hope is in Christ, that He is the only hope in life and death. But I did find that repeating those little mantras to myself, words of Scripture, of creeds, even of Dickinson, was enough to reinvigorate the little bird’s wings, sending him flapping back into my presence, into my soul.

Keep reading at Upwrite Magazine.

Hope in My Earbuds: A Tribute to the Gilmore Guys

Say what you will about Twitter (and we could all say plenty), but I’ll tell you this: it served as the launching point for one of my favorite little bits of happiness over the course of the past year. The bit of happiness wasn’t, however, a Twitter account, a meme, or a GIF (though each of those could serve as runners up). Rather, it was a podcast.

Twitter was the meeting place for Kevin Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe, twentysomethings in Los Angeles, California, who half-jokingly agreed to chat their way through the television program Gilmore Girls, record their ramblings, and broadcast them for whoever may decide to listen. The product of their Twitter-baked plan was Gilmore Guys, a podcast which lasted for three-and-a-half years, ending earlier this summer after rising to #39 of all podcasts on iTunes during its peak of popularity.

Full of silliness, special guests, and skilled analysis made possible by their own budding careers in LA, Porter and Adejuyigbe found the x-factor that so many long to find in creative work—they invited people into a place that felt like home. While their house was built on an existing foundation (Gilmore Girls), the walls and rooms were all their own. And before we, the fans, knew it, their “home” was one of our favorite places to drop by each week. We’d peer around the corners to see who else was there, smile, and stay awhile. In the beginning, we came for the Girls, but in no time at all, we looked up and realized we were staying for the Guys.

Keep reading at Christ and Pop Culture.

*Photo Credit: Gilmore Guys

I Smile at the Bruises

I smile at the bruises
up and down my legs
dull brown and tender.

You came from inside of me
they lifted you up, out, above
until your face rose above the curtain
and I saw the softness of your cheeks
the person of you.

They removed your body from mine
your legs white, feet turned inward
wanting
casts, braces, surgeries.
They stitched me back together
my heart and body pressed and pulled
wanting
to see your face
to keep you inside me forever
both.

Keep reading at Fathom Mag.

Parenting as Narrating

“Are those for Gabe?” Owen asks. He is four, tall, freckled, inquisitive, looking over my shoulder at the computer screen. He sees me perusing car seats, and is curious if they are for his little brother. I stumble around internally, searching my brain for the right mixture of words. “No. You know how our family has everything we need, and even so many things we want? Not all families have that. Mommy gets to help those families get what they need.”

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
“Good Bones”
Maggie Smith

He is perplexed but accepts the answer, and I am simultaneously saddened and relieved. He knows now that not all families are able to buy what they need. He has some sort of idea, now, that when Mommy is receiving UPS packages, they are filled with items that others in the community have helped pay for, so that a foster family has a stroller, or a family at risk for children being removed has enough mattresses. He knows, now, that these things do not appear magically, or without effort.

I should feel good about this teachable moment. Maybe I do, a little bit. Mostly, I feel sad, I feel the loss of his innocence. I feel the weight of narrating the story of life to my child, and the fact that the story is often tragic.

For every child loved, a child broken, bagged, sunk in a lake.

Keep reading at Fathom Mag.

On Racial Reconciliation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18

I’ve heard these verses preached dozens of times in my life, years upon years of sermons about the miraculous work of Christ making a way for us to be united with Him, the old passing away, the new coming. It is entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that in those dozens of sermons, words were preached about the glorious extension of that uniting with Christ—the joy of being united to other image bearers, the co-reconciled. Whether I have heard these verses taught that way or not, I can’t say, but I know that in the past few years they have taken on entirely new meaning to me as I have begun to explore the world of racial justice, and, fittingly, racial reconciliation.

My life, by virtue of skin color, economic status, educational opportunities, and a host of other things has been filled with what I now see as a privilege that is mine to acknowledge, harness, and leverage as I seek to model my life after Christ’s reconciliatory work. And “with great privilege comes great responsibility.”

Keep reading at The Influence Network.