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Things Moms Say; Things Boys Hear

July 16, 2015

boys hear

For all you newbie boy-moms and boy-dads out there, here’s a handy-dandy translation guide for anything you might need to communicate to your boys. You’re welcome.

What Mom says: “Go brush your teeth”

What boys hear:

“Wrestle in the hallway until the dog starts barking and won’t stop.”

What Mom says: “Go put on your pajamas”

What boys hear:

“Run naked through the house. Be sure to answer the door if the bell rings.”

What Mom says: “Please clear your dishes from the table.”

What boys hear:

“Pick up your glass and take it to the kitchen. Leave everything else. I’m always happy to pick up after you.”

What Mom says: “Have you done your homework?”

What boys hear:

“Have you looked fleetingly at one of your six worksheets, before stuffing them into the bottom of your backpack?”

What Mom says: “Did you eat all of your lunch?”

What boys hear:

“Did you take minuscule token bites of the nutritional items in your lunch before consuming the chips and cookies you snuck in there behind my back?”

What Mom says: “Please stop touching your brother.”

What boys hear:

“Stick your tongue out and make faces at your brother as soon as I turn away.”

What Mom says: “I would appreciate it if you could at least wear a pair of shorts around the house.”

What boys hear:

“Shorts around the house would be great, but underwear it totally optional.”

What Mom says: “Eat your dinner; there won’t be any snacks available later.”

What boys hear:

“Eat whenever you feel like it. I will always be ready to jump up and cater to your every dietary whim.”

What Mom says: “Please pick up your LEGOs”

What boys hear:

“Select approximately 10 pieces with which you can live without and return them to the box. Continue working with the other 4,352 pieces on the floor. Be sure to spread them out as much as possible so that I will step on at least four should I walk through this room later in the dark, with bare feet.”

And finally,

What Mom says: “Why does my car smell like stinky feet?”

The boy replies: “Because you’re a boy-mom. Stinky feet are your life!”

Truth.

May grace and peace, and clean smelling feet be yours in abundance,

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Growing Up Color Blind, and Why That’s A Tragedy

July 8, 2015

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I’ve always felt a sense of pride growing up in the Silicon Valley. We are incredibly diverse here in Northern California, and I’ve always considered myself to be “color blind.” I had friends of different ethnic backgrounds and different skin colors. But their racial heritage never made much of a difference.

We played our games, we ate our pizza, we went to school side-by-side. We competed in sports, complained about PE, did our homework, and it never seemed to matter what color our skin was.

Except….now, looking back, I see the tragic flaw. We weren’t color blind at all. We were color silent.

We ignored our differences. We pretended they did not exist. We tried to force ourselves into the melting pot of culture, everyone’s unique variations and vibrant heritage blurring around the edges into a shapeless gray.

I never got to hear the back stories…

My friend Iditt was Jewish. But never once did I ask if her grandparents ever spoke of the Holocaust, or if she ever felt any racial or religious prejudice growing up Jewish in California. I knew she observed different holidays, but I never asked her what they meant.

Celine’s family narrowly escaped Saigon when she was an infant. But I never asked her how, or why.

There was one black girl on the entire volleyball team. I don’t remember her name. I assumed then she didn’t notice – no one else seemed to. Somehow, now, I don’t think that’s true. But I’ll never know – I never asked.

There were others. Children of immigrant parents, first generation Americans, and immigrants themselves, learning English while trying to keep up in math and journalism and biology.

I never heard any of their stories. We pretended the stories did not exist.

I didn’t think I was allowed to ask. That by asking, I was somehow being racist. By noticing my friends’ differences, that I would somehow shame them for being different. And so, I never asked. They never offered. I never knew.

In light of recent events in our broken country, I realize how that silence is hurting us. We are not the same. We are not a shapeless, nameless, colorless grey. We all have stories, and our individual cultural heritage is rich and vibrant and worth sharing.

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I need to know. I want to know….I want to know what your life was like growing up African-American, Latino or Asian. Indian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern… I want to know your stories. I want to know what you love about not being white. I want to know when it was hard, or painful. I want to know your story.

I want you to know that I’m asking because I think it’s important. Beyond our physical differences, it is our stories that make us human. It is in our stories that we find points of connection and commonality. It is in our stories that we can learn what true suffering and social injustice really mean, beyond the photos on CNN.

I need to know.

You know, I love my church. I’ve been part of the same church family since I was five years old. These are my people. They are my village. They’ve loved me and raised me. They threw my bridal showers and baby showers and they hosted my mother’s funeral. This church is part of who I am.

Seven churches. SEVEN.  (Or is it eight now, since I began writing this post?!) Seven church families shattered by the loss of their home – all burned. All of them historically black churches.

An eighth ripped apart with bullets barely six weeks ago.

I cannot possibly know what this experience is truly like, but I want to know. I know that if I lost my church in such a way, I would be crippled. Crushed. Heartbroken. But I can only imagine…I cannot know

Unless you tell me.

May I ask you? May I ask about your background, your heritage, your culture? Perhaps if we stopped pretending we were all the same, we could learn from one another. Perhaps, by sharing the truth of what it’s like to not be white, we can make a tiny dent in the ignorance and hate of racism. Our stories make us human. When you hear someone’s story, their real, true, deep story, you are irrevocably connected to them. A small piece of them will be forever ingrained upon your heart.

Stories connect us to one another. Stories erase the nameless, faceless, grey blur. The individualize us. They highlight our edges and differences in a way that is beautiful and vital. An illumination of our differences in such a way that the person hearing our story is just the tiniest bit forever changed.

A story gives the nameless a face and a background.

Stories help us find our common groundlike this one, in which Muslims are standing up for the oppression of blacks in this country.

“The American Muslim community cannot claim to have experienced anything close to the systematic and institutionalized racism and racist violence that has been visited upon African-Americans,” organizer Imam Zaid Shakir wrote on the campaign’s website.

However, Muslims can understand the “climate of racially inspired hate and bigotry that is being reignited in this country,” he wrote, saying the American Muslim community should stand in solidarity with African-Americans.”

hear story

The shortest distance between strangers and friends is found along the road of a shared story. 

Your story matters. It is what makes you who you are, and there are others who need to hear it. Your story could be her hope.

Your story could be his enlightenment.

Your story matters.

Go out today and ask someone who is a different color than you to tell you their story. Tell them yours. Then come back here, and tell me what you learned.

I want to know.

 Update: Another great perspective from Relevant Magazine

Teachers and parents always used to reiterate “it does not matter where we come from” or “if we look different” because “we are all the same.” But in reality, we were never all the same.

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This I Believe: Illness vs. Death

June 28, 2015

Delighted to have an essay featured on This I Believe this week! A link to the full essay is below. .

 

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At one point I found myself imagining it was cancer.

Fantasizing it was cancer.

I’d rather die of cancer than this.

Up until the age of 40, I was able to live and make decisions as if I had a full life to live. I began a career, and then another. I married, I had a child, and then another. I worked and mothered and lived a fairly normal life. Yet, throughout those relatively happy years, there was always another presence. Creeping from the distance, growing gradually larger and more ominous, until finally, right around my 40th birthday, it parked overhead like a massive alien warship, blocking out the sun and waiting. The life I have known may be nearly over. I can’t ignore my genetic code any longer.

Read more…

 

About This I Believe: 

This I Believe, Inc., was founded in 2004 as an independent, not-for-profit organization that engages youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.

This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division.

In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”

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Re-Post: The Day We Met (June 17)

June 17, 2015

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So, this happened.

Twelve. TWELVE?! How, I do not know. Because, this only just happened…

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It was the day after Father’s Day. It was hot. A Monday.

It was seven years ago, today.

I remember being so afraid I couldn’t stop shaking. Anxious and anticipating. Ecstatic that the day had finally come. Terrified of the outcome.

When we first met, you were crying.

I cried, too.

When you heard my voice, though, you stopped, and listened.

I was fuzzy from the drugs they gave to me, but I can still remember that moment clearly – touching your tiny head with my swollen fingers. They took you from me then, and left me alone.

I cried some more. Overwhelmend with what had just happened, and overwhelmingly alone. I missed my mom more at that moment than I think in the last decade. Your grandmother would have loved to be there with you. I know that for certain.

We were given a room, and you were given back to me, healthy, hearing, breathing and perfect. We celebrated then – friends and family came in a steady stream the next four days. Grammie was there, and Papa, too. So many people were anxious to meet you. From the day you were born, my little son, you were special, and wanted, and loved.

I don’t remember much of the first few days but what is in these photos. I was hurting – my body that is. My heart was rejoicing in every moment with you. But it was painful, bringing you into the world.

I immediately checked you for your father’s chin – it was there. I was so happy to see it on your wee little jaw. I found you extraordinarily beautiful. I don’t think I was blinded by a mother’s love – you were exquisite.


And you still are.

Unique and wonderful. Like no one I’ve ever met before, and I love you so much it hurts. I love watching you grow and learn and become.

I can’t wait to find out who you are going to be, and how you’re going to get there.

We had a great lunch date today, you and I. I tried to tell you this story, and ended up crying all over my orange chicken. You thought it was a little weird, but I think you understood.

June 17 is an important day to me. A day worth celebrating, rejoicing.

It was the day we met.

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Go kiss your babies, right this minute. Because when you blink, they are not going to be babies any longer. They are going to have big feet, hairy legs, wonky teeth and they will HATE it when you try to fix their hair.

 

 

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Time For Change: A New Look, and Why

June 5, 2015

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Happy Friday, friends.

I’m delighted to have you here! Thank you to those who’ve joined in the conversation since my blog was featured on Charis earlier this week. I’m humbled to be on that list. Humbled, and completely gobsmacked. Me? Really??

Welcome to a new look. Not a major revolution but rather an evolution of what was. In the words of my seven year old, “it was tedious”. (He loves this word. He uses it all the time. And every time, I laugh. Because, he’s SEVEN.)

I needed something new. And I needed a better way of explaining why I’m here.

An illuminated life. What’s that?

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

~ Brene Brown

It’s a life lived out loud, out in the open. With all the perfectly imperfect bits held up to the light. It’s being real, being honest.

Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s not.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I lived for a long time in the shadow of a monster. I’ve only recently been able to step out from that gloom, but before I did, before that spectre had even left my side, I realized that a perfectly varnished life is not truly living. Like a mosaic, it is the broken pieces of a our reassembled lives that give us beauty.

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

II Corinthians 4:5-77

These are my stories, and sometimes, the stores of others.

I hope you’ll stick around. Leave a word before you go. Let me know you’ve been here. Tell me what you think. Comments – they are such a gift! Leave many, and often.

Maybe my stories will shed a little light on your own. Maybe you’ll leave here feeling a little brighter. When we allow ourselves to shine, we light the way for someone else.

The cracks are how the light gets through.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance,

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Worth Repeating: All the Light We Cannot See

May 29, 2015

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“You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history.”
Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

There are books, and then there are books.

There are books that tell stories, and those are fine and good. But then there are books that welcome you in, inviting you to live alongside awhile.

This was one of those books.

It is a story of a spiral, a triangulation of lives, a Fibonacci of words. Exquisitely crafted, it is the very best of its kind.

“To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness. Beneath your world of skies and faces and buildings exists a rawer and older world, a place where surface planes disintegrate and sounds ribbon in shoals through the air. Marie-Laure can sit in an attic high above the street and hear lilies rustling in marshes two miles away. She hears Americans scurry across farm fields, directing their huge cannons at the smoke of Saint-Malo; she hears families sniffling around hurricane lamps in cellars, crows hopping from pile to pile, flies landing on corpses in ditches; she hears the tamarinds shiver and the jays shriek and the dune grass burn; she feels the great granite fist, sunk deep into the earth’s crust, on which Saint-Malo sits, and the ocean teething at it from all four sides, and the outer islands holding steady against the swirling tides; she hears cows drink from stone troughs and dolphins rise through the green water of the Channel; she hears the bones of dead whales stir five leagues below, their marrow offering a century of food for cities of creatures who will live their whole lives and never once see a photon sent from the sun. She hears her snails in the grotto drag their bodies over the rocks.”
Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

Have you read this book? What did you think?

 

 

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Guest Posting for Magnifications

May 18, 2015

hunger always wins

I am guest posting today for a beautiful website called Magnifications, a blog of theological reflections written by women from the Churches of Christ. Check it out!

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had issues with food.

I used food as a means of controlling something when I wasn’t in control of anything. By taking authority over what I put in my mouth (or didn’t) I disassociated myself from that which I could not control – my mother’s illness, for example – and put the focus back on myself. Food gave me a sense of control and power when I felt out of control and powerless.

Unfortunately, false security and power don’t really stick to your ribs. Hunger can only be denied for so long. Even to the most authoritative anorexic, hunger will, eventually, win. The body will do whatever is necessary to regain balance, sending up red flags and warning bells, hunger always wins. No anorexic remains in control forever.

Hunger is something that dwells deep inside, a mortal ache of emptiness. It is not a quiet longing but an urgent yearning. For fullness. The yawning emptiness of depression, loss, grief…they mimic this mortal ache. So often we confuse one longing for another. So often we seek to end our spiritual emptiness with the temporal and temporary substitute of food.

Read more…

 

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