Merciful Judge

Sometimes I get frightened by the image of God on high, the almighty judge, ready to bring His hammer down on me for all my wrong thoughts and doings. God is just, after all, and He demands justice. But then I remember that God is also love. He is merciful. So much so that He gave His righteous son the penalty that I deserve – and because of it I am covered in that righteousness. I am loved. And all of this applies to every single person who’s ever walked this planet. God’s love is immense, and it’s for all of us. And I’m just going to let that soak in and walk in that love. Peace be with us all.

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Bad Joke of the Day

My husband told me he wanted to be frank with me. I said, “Honey, you can be whoever you want. But it might take a while for me to get used to calling you Frank.” 🙄😜

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A Rachel-Sized Hole

Rachel Held Evans was a beautiful vessel of love and grace. If you’ve never acquainted yourself with her writing, it’s not too late. Head over to https://rachelheldevans.com/ and soak up her words. Her legacy remains, but at the age of 37 — just thirty-effing-seven — she is gone. I have no doubt about where she is. Wherever Jesus is, that’s where her heart already was, and that’s where she is now. But she leaves a big void behind. She was a defender of the marginalized, a voice of truth, and a light in this scary dark world. This is a call to those who have a heart for the outsider. Don’t be afraid to speak out, to write your heart out, or to call the hypocrites out. The world is hungry for Jesus, and we need to be bold.

“…What I love about the Bible is that the story isn’t over. There are still prophets in our midst. There are still dragons and beasts. It might not look like it, but the Resistance is winning. The light is breaking through. So listen to the weirdos. Listen to the voices crying from the wilderness. They are pointing us to a new King and a better kingdom. As Jesus said, ‘Let those with ears, hear.'”     — Rachel Held Evans

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White Girl

You think you’re the same as me

that we bleed the same

but I don’t see the blood of your family

on the sidewalk outside

You think we ask for this treatment

with our gangs

and our drugs

and our crime

but who made us criminals and gangsters and addicts?

Who told us we couldn’t go to school

to make a better life?

Who corralled us in these neighborhoods

with bars on the windows and doors?

Are they to keep the bad guys out

or keep the bad guys in?

Do you really want us free?

Until your skin turns brown

and people eye you suspiciously

Until you fear the police more than the gangs

Until you have a son who doesn’t make it home

because the cops thought his phone was a gun

you’ll never be the same as me.

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American Fluff

I’ve been taking classes at the local community college. That’s right, I’ve gone back to school at the age of forty-whatever. This summer I’m taking History of Asian Art, and it’s amazing. My professor is a feminist dynamo who presents these pieces totally objectively, but when I pick up on a male-skewed perspective (which exists in abundance throughout the history of all art) and articulate it in my response, she lights up like a house on fire (virtually, because this is an online class — but I can smell the smoke coming off her words through the computer screen).

The piece I’m studying right now is Turbulent by Shirin Neshat, a self-exiled Iranian artist. It’s a piece of performance art, and it underscores the inequality of the sexes in Iranian music. A male singer performs in an auditorium full of men, received enthusiastically with applause. A female singer performs in the same auditorium, empty. When she is done with her guttural, visceral performance, there is only silence. Side note: the Muslim Revolution of 1979 made it illegal for women to sing as soloists for a male audience.

An Iranian woman, as an artist, is political (whether intentionally or not) by her very existence. An American woman, as an artist, has every freedom to express herself any way she chooses — so her artistic statement is not seen as a revolutionary act. In general, the arts in America are seen as entertainment. And heaven help us when an entertainer wants to make a political statement! There are plenty of things to protest in American society, especially regarding African-American treatment (which is probably why African-Americans are the primary agents of meaningful art today), such as systemic racism including, but not limited to, the mass incarceration and killing of black citizens by those who have sworn to serve and protect them. I think that white privilege is real, and it’s evident in our art culture. White artists are the only ones who have the luxury of creating fluff pieces.

And I wish they would stop.

I wish they would use their platforms to come alongside their mistreated brothers and sisters, raise them up, and show the world that our nation’s black community (/LGBTQ+ community/immigrant community/mentally ill community/physically disabled community) isn’t the only one who knows its worth. Until artists quit thinking about their art in terms of how much money it can make, and start thinking about it in terms of how it can impact the world, their art is of no real value to humanity.

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Try a little tenderness

There is so much anger swirling around our nation right now. Maybe it’s always been here, but it’s certainly been agitated into action by recent political events, and it’s hard to ignore. Perhaps, in and of itself, that’s a good thing. Repressed anger is unhealthy, right? But these are by no means peaceful protests. People are rioting – throwing rocks, breaking windows, trashing small businesses, setting fires, surrounding police cars, beating strangers – and I must admit, it frightens me more than a little.

What good does it do? People claim to hate president-elect Donald Trump and what they believe he stands for: racism, misogyny, rape culture, bigotry, elitism; but how can violence eradicate or even begin to diminish any of these things? In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence.” What we’re seeing in our streets is not going to make anyone have a worse opinion of Trump, maybe just a worse opinion of the people rioting. It won’t negate Trump’s perceived shortcomings, or the fact that, like it or not, he is our president-elect.

But love! What if we were to take to the streets in love? What if we were to promise to love and try to understand Trump and his supporters? What if, as Ken Nwadike does with his Free Hugs Project, we were to offer a smile and a hug to the imagined enemy? Words of peace and conciliation? Not to bow or concede, but to stand firmly and gently, unswervingly lovingly? What of unconditional love?

This is what I strive toward, all day, every day. And this is what I pray for my world.

 

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New year, new you. Nah, just new year.

I know, it’s the time for resolutions. Resolving to lose weight, to gain self-esteem, to create a “new you.” Well, guess what? I kinda like me the way I am. And, I have to admit, I don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. It usually goes something like this: Jan. 1 – Hit the gym, eat like a bird; Jan. 2 – Hit the gym, eat like a horse; Jan. 3 – Gym? What gym? Pass the cake!

Just keepin’ it real, people.

So this year I’m just going to be the best me I can be. I don’t think what I eat or how many times I work out a year (what, did you think I would say week? Like I go to the gym every week? Do you know me at all?) defines my worth. The God I serve defines me. He made me and He thinks I’m pretty rad. Who am I to argue? So I just want to be kind to the world and everyone in it. That’s my “resolution” (only I’m not going to call it that because that’s just asking for trouble).

Is it a lofty goal? Maybe. I mean, the world’s a pretty big place, contrary to what those annoying foreign children at Disneyland would have you believe. But if I impact my little patch of earth by caring for it the best I know how and educating myself to do even better in the future, and if I impact my sphere of influence by loving on people whenever and wherever our paths cross, well… I think the whole world might be a little more wonderful because of it.

I’ll keep you posted. I don’t resolve to keep you posted, mind you (but I probably will).

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