Taking up Space

I’ve spent the last several years of my life purging closets and emptying drawers.

Minimizing.

Trying to use less water, less energy, less resources.
Produce less garbage, and compost and recycle more.

Just this past weekend, a bookshelf and two full bags of random old things were evicted from my home.

Smaller impact.
A simpler life.

These are good things.

A more long-standing practice in my life, though, has been learning to reign in my larger-than-life, bombastic feelings and reactions to the world around me.

Smaller impact.
More managed, more acceptable, more polished.
I resonate with our family’s omnipresent Disney princess, Elsa, on this:
Conceal don’t feel, put on a show.

That’s not such a good thing.

I remember my Dad looking me in the eyes when I was twelve and he was beginning a new chapter of life by going to medical school:

“You have to be strong.” 

I’ve always been a determined, disciplined person so being told to be “strong” (even as a twelve-year-old) didn’t feel like too great of a burden.

I’m sure I had more than my fair share of outbursts and sulky attitudes as a teenager (in fact, I know I did), but I did try to follow through on my Dad’s instruction. I tried to be strong – both for my family and for my own sense of identity.

I’ve never been a particularly “girly” girl. I opted out of ballet in favor of martial arts. I hated sewing and cross stitch and knitting and all the things requiring being very still and meticulous for long periods of time. I played more with mud and rocks and sticks than I did my dolls – and when I did play with them, my Barbies were going on secret rescue missions to save orphans and lost puppies, instead of going to the mall.

Being “strong” was a way to differentiate myself. Especially in the conservative Christian community I grew up in, where girls – especially as we broached adolescence – were quite concerned with honing their homemaking skills and cultivating “gentle, quiet spirits” so they would make excellent wives one day.

“Gentle and quiet” were illusive, and I possessed none of the typical skills associated with homemaking at the time, so I sought out “strong” instead. In part at my Dad’s request, and in larger part because if I couldn’t conform to the norm, at least I could rock at being an outlier.

Somewhere along the line of trying to either conform to “gentle and quiet” or be the most bad-ass strong, solid woman ever, I found my way to “small.”

Maybe because if I shrank my feelings, my fears and my self it was easier to manage, to bind into a polished and strong exterior.

Maybe because if I shrank my strength, it was less intimidating and brazen.  It seemed more “gentle and quiet” if I bound it up and kept it for just my own purposes.

Don’t get me wrong, I can seem as big as I  want to be.
I can laugh loud and light up rooms and set more places at bigger tables and fill platters with more food. I hug tight and give obnoxious amounts of high fives. Obnoxious.
When a room is dead, I can be the helium which lifts it up.

But did you know that helium is one of the smallest elements that exists?
Helium floats because it takes up so little space of it’s own.

And I stand with my arms folded tight across my chest.
I sit with my hands tucked beneath or between my legs.
My fists are closed more often than my hands are open.

Even though my words would never betray me, my body – when I’m not conscious of it – screams “smaller, smaller, SMALLER!”

If I truly engage my feelings, then I’m emotional and weak.
If I truly display my strength, then I’m too bold and intimidating (if not downright bitchy).

So I go through life, conscious of every gesture and smile; every glance and expression.
Even when I seem to be over-the-top excited, I know exactly where I am and what I’m doing. Just ask me, at any given moment, and I can give you a detailed rationale as to why.

I don’t think I’m the only person who does this.
I know other people (especially other women) know what this feels like.
To be bound up tightly on the inside as if a corset were holding all of your reactions and feelings and emotions into the figure and form society has deemed acceptable, even though you’re actually crushing yourself to a slow death.

I don’t want to live like that anymore.

I think we’re supposed to take up space.
Which means we’re going to have to be big enough that we can’t be everything to everyone all the time.

I am going to have to big enough to be someone who isn’t always only helium, filling up ever-more balloons for non-stop parties.

I want to live life with arms wide open, instead of scrunched and tight across my chest.
Legs crossed, fists clenched.
Smaller and smaller.

I want to be open and aware and present and completely here in the moments of my life.

One time, a woman was confronted about being caught up in the moment, listening at the feet of Christ, rather than hosting and rushing and serving and being concerned with ALL THE THINGS.

To those upset with her for being there, Jesus said:

“This will not be taken away from her.” 

We are given an opportunity to be enchanted and caught up in the movement of Christ at every turn, because we carry the Image of God within us. 

Every day is an opportunity to bear witness to the Divine at work.

I’m planting myself here. Taking up my space. Fully engrossed in the whispers and words and subtle movements of God all around me.

And it feels scary to sit here with my arms open and my heart exposed, but if I listen closely I hear the assurance from the One who drew me here in the first place:

“This will not be taken away from you.”

*Image credit: Herb Real via Flickr. 

 

 

 

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Heartbroken, Yet Still in Pursuit of Justice

I am an eternal optimist.

I look for the best in people. Always.

My greatest bent in life is to look for the ways in which things and people, systems and structures may be restored.

I just see hope and potential everywhere.  Brokenhearted people, antique furniture, neighborhoods crumbling under the foreclosure crisis, students who have fallen through the gaps in the education system.

It is through these rose-tinted lenses that I encountered Gary Haugen’s new book The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence. 

In The Locust Effect Haugen paints a sobering picture of the effects of violence on the world’s poorest residents.  As the former director of the United Nations Special Investigations Unit on the Rwandan Genocides and current president of International Justice Mission, Haugen is confronted with heartbreaking stories and harrowing realities as often as I am confronted with the challenge of navigating a two-year-old melting down in the grocery store.

The Locust Effect digs in to the nitty gritty of global development, the decidedly unsexy side of addressing poverty.  There are no no quick fixes or easy answers to be found.

“Indeed, for the global poor in this century, there is no higher-priority need with deeper and broader implications than the provision of basic justice systems that can protect them from the devastating ruin of common violence.  Because as anyone who has tasted it knows, if you’re not safe, nothing else matters.” 

I’ve heard campaigns and bought t-shirts, music albums, pairs of shoes and coffee served in red-colored cups all in the name of doing justice in the developing world.

Buy this shirt and help build a school!

Buy this brand of water and help dig a well!

Your paper-bead necklace supports a small business owned by this widow in Kenya!

This red-colored coffee cup will help cure HIV/AIDS!

It all fit so well in my rose-colored, hope-in-any-circumstance, glass-half-full kind of world.

But then I read about the village of La Union in Peru, where in just one week a medical examiner may see as many as 50 rape victims between the ages of 10-13.

I read about the 27 million slaves kept in bondage in the world today, and how their owners are not lurking in dark alleys.  They are announcing their fierceness and violence toward their slaves unabashedly in the streets.

I read that the most common crime committed against children in South Africa is rape.

I read that, horrifically, schools in the developing world are often places of sexual violence toward the girls who attend them in hopes of gaining an education.

As I read, my half-full-glass began to crack and seep.  A slow, sorrowful trickling from the glass and from the corners of my eyes alike.

I had all but convinced myself that magic bullets exist.

I moved into the inner city of Milwaukee four years ago, and fully believed that if we only moved closer to the pain and suffering of others that our proximity would bring restoration.

I read Half the Sky and believed if we could only educate children – boys and girls equally – around the globe, then our communities would be stronger and our hope for the future would be realized.

But there are no magic bullets.

There are no quick fixes.

Our t-shirts, bottled water choices, paper bead necklaces and red-colored cups of coffee cannot ultimately change the world.

They can help.

But as Haugen points out, unless there is a functioning justice system in place in communities in the developing world, any efforts to improve education or access to water, to jumpstart small businesses for single mothers or address health concerns like HIV/AIDS will ultimately be consumed by violence, like locusts bringing havoc on a field ripe for harvest.

“We need to fundamentally change the conversation.  Whenever we speak of global poverty, we must speak of the violence imbedded in that poverty…
In every forum, conference, classroom, policy discussion, think tank, blog, or dinner table conversation where global poverty is center stage, the problem of violence deserves equal time with hunger, dirty water, disease, illiteracy, unemployment, gender discrimination, housing, or sanitation because for the poor, violence is every bit as devastating and is frequently the hidden force undermining solutions to these other needs.”

WIth such overwhelming statistics and gut-wrenching stories The Locust Effect left me wondering a bit about what I could practically do to engage – and hopefully change – such dire circumstances for people around the world.

I’m all for starting conversations and raising awareness, but what more can I do?
(Since, let’s be real, I’m not going back to law school and moving to Peru anytime soon.)

I was encouraged, though, to hear in an interview discussing The Locust Effect Gary Haugen sighting the influence and importance of Millennials in the fight against injustice.

“I think this actually can be the generation that eliminates this epidemic of slavery that we have in the world. This could be the generation, but that will require their capacity – our capacity – to be committed to the stretch of our lives to see that this problem is dealt with.”

The step right now in the journey toward justice?  Adovocate.  Tell the stories. Make the conversations happen.
This may not seem like much sometimes, but this is our role at this moment and we must be faithful to it.
The journey we’re embarking on is a long one.  Slavery and oppression and the stripping of human dignity have been around for centuries.  But rather than be discouraged by the magnitude of the problem, let us be encouraged in the steps we personally can take today.  To open our eyes, to lean in, to let our hearts ache, to tell our circles of influence what we have seen.
The path to freedom and wholeness for humanity is a marathon, not a sprint.  I’m training for a half-marathon right now, and some days all I can focus on is putting one foot in front of the other mile after tediously long mile.

This is our call, generation.  My millennials, in the house.  That we would be faithful, step after step, mile after mile of this journey.  That we would not grow tired of running the race.  That the stories of the victims and the freed would ever be on our lips.  That we would be “committed to the stretch of our lives.”  Every last breath given in some way to seeing dignity and wholeness granted to each person on earth.

Your turn.

You can start to make an impact on the epidemic of violence against the poor today.  How?
1) Read The Locust Effect and get informed.  If you purchase a copy of the book by tomorrow, February 15th, a partner of IJM will donate $20 to help fight violence against the poor.
2) Spread the word.  Link to this blog and to http://www.thelocusteffect.com to help get the word out and inform other people.
3) Stay engaged.  Let your heart break for this daily.  Do not grow tired of speaking up and getting the word out.  We need you in this for the long haul.

I’m giving away one free copy of The Locust Effect to a reader, just follow the instructions below for your chance to win this paradigm shifting book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Justice: A War Cry Against Gender-based Violence

I grew up idyllic and carefree in a valley just beyond the coal fields in West Virginia.

I heard about abuse, I read about it, I knew that it sometimes happened. That sometimes a woman would get beaten by a boyfriend or husband. I knew about rape, but it never happened in my world. It was a far off “other” thing that you only thought about when you were already sad and needed that one more gut-wrenching thought to push the tears over the brim of your eyelids.

I never would have imagined the scope and magnitude of violent acts committed against a person simply because she happens to be female.

Read the rest of this post over at A Sista’s Journey.  

Weekend Reading

The Reads:

Humboldt Park Woman, sick of ‘dibs,’ Shovels Entire Block  
“‘Forget about dibs, and I’ll just do it for you. I just think it’s a better way for us to live as a community: as people who look out for each other instead of fighting for spots.'”

Tell Your Daughters They’re Beautiful
“80% of 10-year-old American girls say they have been on a diet. The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner.

The last thing girls need is their own mothers reaffirming the cultural and societal myths and unrealistic expectations (even the models don’t really look the way they are digitally presented) about the way girls and women should look. Mom should be a safe place; the one person who loves us just the way we are, regardless of the things we perceive to be our own shortcomings”

Baptism, Righteousness, and the War on Poverty: A 2014 Epiphany (Matthew 3:13-17)
“In this sense, Matthew 3:13-17 calls us to live out righteousness in a much more integrative way than arbitrary handouts or following the tweets of OXFAM. We are to prepare and eat every meal in righteousness. We add righteousness to the mundane questions of budget, cost and delivery for every purchase and investment. Considerations of righteousness transform our uncomfortable confrontations with homeless individuals to divine encounters with fellow humans created in the image of God.”

The Polar Vortex provided ample family snuggle time!

The Polar Vortex provided ample family snuggle time!

6 Words You Should Say Today
When simply watching someone makes your heart feel as if it could explode right out of your chest, you really should let that person know.

It is as simple and lovely as that.”

Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture at a Time
“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren’t as tough as we pretend we are.”

Strong & Weak Are Not Opposites; Strong & Fake Are Opposites
“If you feel weak and you are honest about that weakness even in the face of criticism – that’s strength to me. If you refuse to hide who you are by lashing out at others, by snarking all the time, by deflecting and judging and knocking others down to mask your own insecurity – if you just come out and say, ‘You know what? I’m weak a lot. I’m a little lost and confused and sensitive and insecure sometimes and that’s all right with me because I’m pretty sure that’s just what it means to be HUMAN.’ That’s my kind of STRONG. None of this fake bravado, please. Be real. You don’t need to be SuperHuman – Just Be human.”

A Secret to Handeling Conflicts With Your Kids (from Toddlers to Teens)
“Rise above your triggers, wounds and patterns from the past and be the parent, rather than getting caught up in your child’s behaviors, taking them personally and engaging in conflicts at his or her level. This is the key to breaking negative cycles.”

the joy that is almond butter and grandma's homemade grape jelly (and super-staticy winter hair).

the joy that is almond butter and grandma’s homemade grape jelly
(and super-staticy winter hair).

I Hope We Never Become a ‘Christian Nation’ Again
“The problem with evaluating Christianity based on numbers is that it simply doesn’t work — it doesn’t reflect the true essence of Christ. When people claim we were once a great Christian nation, they’re using a revisionist history and glossing over the notorious corporate sins of our past. Arguably, America today might be more Christ-like than at any other point in our history.”

What Counts? with Jen Hatmaker
“This is going to require more from us. We are going to have to live prophetic lives in our communities, not relegate the heavy spiritual lifting to the pastors on Sunday mornings. People will not be brought in through Christian rhetoric, which has become white noise in our post-Christian society. We must reach out with the values the de-churched and un-churched have expressed: authenticity, justice, flexibility, kindness and grace, simplicity, and community. These are obviously much more costly than a 25-minute sermon once a week.”

 

From My January Books:
“Evangelical Christians often champion the ‘sanctity of life.’ This phrase typically refers only to abortion. Many Evangelicals argue that a culture that allows legal abortion does not truly value human life. While many Evangelicals have fought against abortion for decades, we have yet to see a movement that expands the idea of ‘sanctity of life’ to fighting for the ‘quality of life.’ If we truly believe that all life is sacred, then the logical conclusion is that once a life is born we continue to fight for that life to have equal opportunities to live up to its potential.”

– From Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Education for Low Income Kids
(Nicole Baker Fulgham)

On my “You can totally run a half marathon by June” playlist:
Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – Shakira
Getting Nowhere – Magnetic Man featuring John Legend
Summer Girls – LFO
Let it Rock – Kevin Rudolf and Lil Wayne
God’s Not Dead (Like a Lion) – Newsboys
Shine On – Blitzen Trapper

In my coffee mug:
2 pump caramel flan latte from Starbucks
(fancy pants this weekend)

Weekend Reading

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my “coffee” drinking buddy.
really, i just put her milk in a mug. she can dig it.


The Reads:

Sexism is Daily Reality for Girls, says Girlguiding
“Most of the 13-year-olds questioned said they had experienced sexual harassment, rising to 80% of 19 to 21-year-olds…

The report also talks of bias in the way women are portrayed in the media, with girls and women facing “unprecedented levels of personal and public scrutiny” over body shape”.

Of the 11 to 21-year-olds questioned, 75% agreed boys expected girls to look like images they saw in the media, while 71% said they would like to lose weight.”

Why I Finally Wear TOMS Shoes
“Simply stated, handouts tend to create dependency in the long term and can actually undermine a local economy…But now, TOMS Shoes is changing their approach. And I’m dancing in my new shoes.TOMS Shoes will open a shoe-manufacturing business in Haiti this January. 100 Haitians will be on the payroll. It’s a small step. Yet it’s a huge change in the company’s approach.”

A New Anointing for a New Year
“Hope in us needs breath. If we’ve buried our dreams over time in the valley of the dry bones, we need to be willing to see them there. But first, we need to be willing to even just lift up our heads. And remember. The hope that was once so alive in us.”

The True Cost of Stuff
“The cost of purchasing an item just scratches the surface. When we buy something, we are taking it into our homes, our lives, and we are taking on the life of another object in this world.”

Rich Catholics vs. The Pope
“What all this adds up to is hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable compensation for financial cronies, but not a dime more for low-income workers. It is exactly the kind of skewed outcome Francis means when he speaks about today’s capitalists, ‘the powerful feeding upon the powerless,’ and the need for renewed state regulation to bring their burgeoning tyranny under control.”

Scripture as Witness to the Word of God
“The Bible is the word of God that bears witness to the Word of God — Jesus Christ.

The Logos-Word became flesh — not a book.

Jesus is God. The Bible is not.

The Bible did not create the Heavens and Earth — the Word (Christ) did.

We worship Jesus; we do not worship the Bible.

The Bible is not a member of the Trinity.

The Bible is not God. Jesus is God.”

Pope Francis Leaves Nuns A Voicemail That You Have to Hear
“What are the nuns doing that they can’t answer the phone?”

 

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Homemade play-doh for the win this week!

From my January books:
“‘In twenty years of working in the Bronx, the neighborhood churches have have only reached out to me two times. One time they came to lobby for prayer in public schools. The other time they protested a new science curriculum that included evolution. Twice they contacted me in twenty years – and they wanted to talk about school prayer and evolution. But you know what? For twenty years I’ve had kids that cannot read or do basic math. My students struggle to make it through school. We don’t have enough books, supplies, or resources for them. Our school building is literally crumbling around us. The kids have life-threatening, urgent needs. They’re hungry; they’re homeless. But in all these years, you’ve only criticized. You’ve never helped. Taking evolution out of my textbooks won’t change a thing for my kids. They’ll still be poor, uneducated, and stuck in the cycle of poverty. But not one church person has ever asked me about any of those things’… [he said] he wouldn’t welcome the church in his school because , as far as he could see, they couldn’t care less about what kids in poverty really need to succeed in school.”

– From Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Education for Low Income Kids
(Nicole Baker Fulgham)

“Violence is as much a part of what it means to be poor as being hungry, sick, homeless or jobless. In fact, as we shall see, violence is frequently the problem that poor people are most concerned about.”
– From The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence
(Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros)

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NYE poutine with the husband man.

On my “you can totally run a half marathon by June” playlist:
Royals – Lorde
God is Enough – Lecrae
Applause – Lady Gaga
Try – P!nk
Gold on the Ceiling – The Black Keys
A Long Way Off – Gungor

In my coffee mug:
the remnants of my pound of Starry Night holiday blend from Collectivo

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NYE polaroids!

What about you?  What are you reading, running to or sipping this weekend?

Looking back: 2013

2013 started off with a “blahhh” as I battled through 10 days of the worst case of flu I’ve ever had in my life and somehow, miraculously, Ben and Cadence did not catch it.

I caused a bit of a stir by questioning whether or not we really know what it means to be “pro-life.”

coffee face
My not-yet-one-year-old ate coffee grounds…and loved them.

I began praying for immigration reform in a big way.

I linked up with my writer friend Kelly and wrote this piece about how my daughters birth (and really all her life following it) turned me into a feminist…and then Rachel (freaking) Held Evans tweeted it and put it in Sunday Superlatives.  (fan girl moment MAJOR… for like the next month and a half.)

RACHEL!
I took a preaching class, and conquered my fear of public speaking.  Or at least I can stand on a stage without holding an instrument and not pass out now.

A couple of my lenten posts got picked up by FaithVillage.

Cadence was dedicated and had the most outlandish first birthday/we survived year one of parenting party ever.

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I made vegetarian sausage gravy for the first, and then second and third times.

I stopped shopping at Victoria’s Secret and their sister company, Bath and Body Works thanks to this crazy product line, because my daughter is not a sex object.

My friend Ben wrote a play, and it was awesome.

I, along with almost everyone else, watched with bated breath as Malala returned to school and shocked the world with her bravery, poise and commitment to peace.

The Catholic Church picked a new Pope…and we all began to wonder if it was okay to have a crush on the Pope.

I further explored gender roles and prejudices in the Church…and I called us all idolaters.

I learned about Christians for Biblical Equality and promptly joined them.

Some teenagers in our neighborhood wrote a rap and were awarded 30 fruit and nut trees for our neighborhood, and now we have a cherry tree in our front yard.

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A child told me that God doesn’t love bad guys, and I realized how incomplete of a Gospel we tend to preach.

My blog got a facelift thanks to the incredibly talented and gracious Doreen Piper and Beth Veglahn.

I went to counseling for a few months to work through the trials and transitions of life and becoming a mom, and it was one of the best decisions ever. Ever.

We went to see both our families of origin for vacation…
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Then on to North Carolina and we hiked a mountain in the pouring rain, because these are the things memories are made of.
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Ben and I celebrated three, THREE, years of life together as married folks.
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We took a van full of 3rd-5th graders to camp in the north woods and everyone survived.

I turned the church building into the city of Metropolis and became a super hero for a week.

(credit: Robyn Vining)

(credit: Robyn Vining)

There was a court decision in Florida that ripped wide open the deep racial wounds yet healing in the U.S. and I asked us all to listen and listen hard.

I found the ugly side of the beauty industry.

I preached my first sermon.  I did not die.

I spent the weekend in Pittsburgh soaking up wisdom at the CBE conference and hanging out with my beautiful sister-in-law.

Then I got to write a conference review for CBE’s Mutuality.

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We went to New Orleans with our church for CCDA’s national conference and I totally fell in love with the place.

Our church hosted a weekend with International Justice Mission, and then I wrote about how we get justice and mercy mixed up.

We discovered why Halloween is really scary.

Our pastor wrote a book. I’m in the process of discussing it here.

We joined the children’s museum and Costco on our “stay”cation and enter the ranks of full-blown grown ups.
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I tried to make this Christmas a little more sustainable.

I preached again, at least half a sermon (on Mary), and didn’t even shake in my boots this time.

I realized that:

  • You can state your opinions and beliefs very strong and very loud, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be heard.  You have to earn that right.

  • That sometimes you do just need to stop and smell the flowers.

  • That being in right relationship is more important than being right.

  • That we’re all just working our faith out the best we can, even the people that drive me nuts.

  • That there is such a thing as too much coffee or coffee drank too late in the evening.

  • That seasons of life really don’t last forever.

  • That it’s okay, and recommended, to ask for help.

  • That the only person who expects me to be perfect is me.

What I actually read in 2013

(you can see the COMPLETELY audacious plan here)

Half the Church – Carolyn Curtis James
The Practice of the Presence of God – Brother Lawrence
Unseduced and Unshaken – Rosalie De Rosset
Bossypants – Tina Fey
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
The Eternal Generation of the Son – Kevin Giles
Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
The Education of the Child – Rudolph Steiner
Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes – E. Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien
Dangerous Presence – Jason Butler
Exploring Exodus – Nahum Sarna
Formational Children’s Ministry – Ivy Beckwith
When We Were on Fire – Addie Zierman
A Love Like No Other – Pamela Kruger
The Real Mary – Scot McKnight

Here’s to 2013!  2014 has some big shoes to fill.
What are your top moments from the year?

Thanksgiving Reading (for when you’ve had too much turkey and football for one day)

Best reminder:
Kid President’s 20 Things We Should Say More Often
“I disagree with you, but I still like you as a person who is a human being and I will treat you like that because if I didn’t I would make everything bad.  And that’s what lots of people do and it is lame.”

For as we enter the season of consuming to celebrate Christ:
A Boundary is the Best Present You Can Give Yourself This Year
“Consumerism and indulgence have a cost. We need to stop looking at buying gifts as right or wrong. We need to add up the costs of our lifestyles and how our lifestyles impact our time with God and with one another.”

Don’t read if you’re too full to laugh:
It’s Thanksgiving So We Asked Brits to Label the United States – We’re So Sorry, America

Americans Try to Place European Countries on a Map

Worth It!

This is my brain on hugs

Thought provoking:
Kids don’t play any more
“‘In play, children make their own decisions and solve their own problems,’ Prof. Gray writes. ‘In adult-directed settings, children are weak and vulnerable. In play, they are strong and powerful. The play world is the child’s practice world for being an adult.'”

The world if there were only 100 People (Infographic)

How To Build Something Out of Nothing
“They asked how much money they had to spend and I told them – ‘not much’. They asked how many trained construction people they would have to help them out and I told them – ‘none’. Then they asked who would train the workers if they could find some and I said – ‘you’. So they asked when they had to finish the school construction by and I told them – ‘Next February’.

THEY LOOKED AT EACH OTHER, LOOKED BACK AT ME, CROSSED THEIR ARMS AT THE SAME TIME AND SAID WITH ONE VOICE: ‘WE’RE IN.'”

Too Much Love
“We act shocked when teenage rape/sexting cases hit the news, or when a forced prostitution ring is uncovered. What blissful and damnable ignorance…Why should we be surprised, when the hymns are of rape, and the liturgy on stage is one of assault?”

Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense
“I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at Wendy’s.”

What We Get Wrong About Submission
“A woman’s worth is not built around the kind of man she marries, but on who she is as an individual person and female entity. And when a woman has an equal say in a relationship, that coming together of bodies and souls is strengthened in ways that far exceed that of a man doing his best to lead alone.”

What Does it Mean that Most Children’s Books Are Still About White Boys?
“How many people would never consider buying Anne of Green Gables or Island of the Blue Dolphins for their 10-year old boy, but don’t pause before giving a daughter Treasure Island or Enders Game? Books featuring girls are, for the most part, understood to be books for girls. Which is interesting as well because, in addition to there not being enough, books featuring girls as protagonists are disproportionately among the most frequently banned children’s books. In a recent Buzzfeed list of 15 commonly banned books for kids, almost half were about girls. Girls who do things apparently scare a lot of people.”

In which this is also about the men
“Women cannot be the ally our men deserve in the Kingdom of God when we are bowing down in a misguided attempt to lift them up.”

A Spiritual Survival Guide for the Suburbs
“They don’t need me, but I need them. I need a life that is free from the facade of lukewarm vanilla living. I need to measure something other than the length of the grass on my lawn and the shade of paint on the walls of my suburban home. I need to measure my life in things that actually matter. I need to un-Martha Stewart myself until I can actually feel again. Until I can admit my own weakness and laugh at my need for control. Until I can see others for who they really are and stop judging them on what they are wearing or their latest highlights.”