Community, Courage, freedom, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Racism, Social problems, Uncategorized

“Sleeveless Arms and FB Rants”

Source: NIKE.com

I went for a quick run during my daughter’s piano lesson earlier this week. It was a chilly 13 degrees Celsius and a bit windy. Even though it was cold, I ran in 3/4 length leggings and a tank top as I knew I would warm up quickly. With my headphones in and the sun beginning to drop down behind the orange and pink clouds over the headland, I was in my element!

Just when I passed a few walkers and saw some kids playing basketball in front of their houses, I noticed a silver-haired woman moving slowly toward me with her little fluffy white dog. I prepared to step to the left, gave a little wave and smiled. As I passed her, she snarled up her face and yelled out angrily, “You’ll catch pneumonia!”

My back was to her before I realised I had been chastised. I guess I broke some unspoken rule about what’s appropriate to wear on an afternoon winter’s run. True, no one else was wearing a tank top.

The whole scenario made me laugh!

It also reminded me of the social media posts by white people ranting about their whiteness to whomever innocently scrolls past. (Except those are no laughing matter.)

What did Mrs. Granny gain by yelling at me about my clothing? Was she really concerned about my health? Did shaming me make the world a better place? Did she feel satisfied after she said it? Justified? Like she had done her good deed for the day, educating this younger gal about the detriments of running while showing off shoulders?

I’ve seen Facebook posts by people who are sick of Black Lives Matter and, by golly, they will never apologise for being white (did anyone ask them to??). They preach to their followers about how white privilege doesn’t exist. They also know that if “black people would just follow the law, they wouldn’t be brutalised by police” (as if a DUI should end in a fatal shooting or black people’s lived experiences can be negated just because their white counterparts haven’t been profiled by a cop). Or how about the fact that these white folks were once poor too? They came up from some difficult circumstances, yet look at them now, resenting that word “privilege” while enjoying everything for which they worked so hard to get.

Those posts read like an old lady trying to reform random runners on the street. It can’t be done! I didn’t feel the need to put on a jumper and readers of those posts aren’t warming up to bridging our racial divides. If anything, these cold posts make me shiver.

I realise FB rants aren’t meant to bring us together; in fact, the chasm grows wider with every one. (Just read the comment sections.) The posturing on socials, the public denial of systemic racism in America is liken to the grey lady talking to herself out loud as much as she was talking to me.

She wasn’t engaging me in an actual conversation about my health, the weather, or what’s best or right. I can’t presume to know why she felt the need to spout off her judgement any more than I can presume to understand why some of my white “friends” like preaching to their choir of followers who already feel the way they do. It might feel good but what’s the point?

I am scrolling on by, feeling sad for the small-mindedness, rolling my eyes with my bare arms and elevated heart rate. I am unfollowing, praying, and grieving as I trod along – endeavouring to empathise and understand the black perspective. I am exhausted from miles of legwork and fatigued with pressing my own limits but it’s worth it. It’s actually long overdue.

I am re-defining racism while educating my kids afresh, at my own pace. Wrestling with those who sit high on their soapboxes of supremacy, I’m personally slowing only for those whose minds seem open to growing and stretching too. Like a good workout in the cold, it hurts to admit my own biases and question my motives. But the results are worth it to become a healthier member of society.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:7-11 (MSG)

** I’ve allowed my toes to be stepped on a lot lately and it’s been good for me. I’m interested in debate that leads us to more unity, not a greater divide, so I welcome comments and challenges as long as they are respectful.

Australia, Contentment, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Santa, Beach, and Blessings

santa

If you follow my blog, you know about many of my “Australian struggles” like driving on the left, shopping in the grocery store, and learning the slang.  Christmas brings about a whole new set of issues for me albeit minor in the big scheme of things.  The most wonderful time of the year yet so many of my memories and traditions are an ocean away.

America, as you know, is in the Northern Hemisphere.  So, it’s cold.  I’m not used to swimming and drinking iced coffee at the beach in December.  Buying our kids things like flippers, boardies, and sunglasses isn’t usually on my shopping list.  There are no chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  No jack frost nipping, or chance of a white Christmas.  As a matter of fact, Santa in a red wool suit with big hot black boots seems even more ridiculous when you live on the beach.  We have no peppermint, pumpkin spice, or gingerbread lattes.  Our house has no fireplace to hang the stockings.

Last week, I tried to make my chocolate goodies that I always make for friends during the holidays.  I threw out two batches of messed up fudge and one still sits squishy inside my fridge.  No nestle 12 oz bag of chocolate chip morsels was available for purchase here.  My good friends who usually take a cute family photo of us weren’t available for hire.  I didn’t even make my annual card with a letter.  As a matter of fact, I think I got crossed off everyone’s list for mailing me a Christmas card as well.

So far, I have received ONE.

I haven’t bought my kids any fancy Christmas outfits.  No frilly dresses and tights for Sydney.  We haven’t taken any evening drives to go looking at Christmas lights.  If we see a house with a lot of lights, we actually do a double take and sometimes even turn around to get a better look since those are few and far between.  Anyway, it’s daylight savings so it’s not dark until after 8pm.

There’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia and sentimentality for things that “once were” but we can’t stay there.  Life is moving too fast and we will miss out on what’s ahead if we linger too long.  I’m not prepared to lose something right in front of me all because I want my old kitchen and Christmas fudge back.

I LOVE going to the beach and pool everyday in December.  I have “flat white” coffees in little cafes while watching the ocean.  I get to try new foods and bake new things while having a good laugh.  Plus, I can only “go up” from here with my Christmas treats for neighbours!  We live a mere two hours from Greg’s family so will be able to drive there on Christmas day and spend a few days with them.  And, God has brought many wonderful neighbours around us; we are forming our own new traditions.

We can’t move forward in life if we are always looking behind us.  I look at the families with whom we are connecting already and I see the impact Lift Church will have in their lives and I can’t imagine not being here.  My kids are healthy and happy.  My marriage is good and God has provided everything we need.

In light of the terrible tragedy last week in Connecticut, my momentary struggles are shaken up into a stark reality where I can only thank God for this wonderful life I live.  Missing my Mercedes and shopping at The Domain is ridiculous compared to the unimaginable grief of someone tragically losing a child.

There is only ONE who can mend a broken heart. His name is Jesus. Psalm 34 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

My spirit is far from crushed this Christmas as I reflect on the goodness of God and all of my blessings.  For many, holidays are a reminder of a loved one lost, financial stress, and loneliness.  The best thing we can do is reach out to those in need and pour our lives into sharing the love of Christ with those whose hearts need mending during the holidays.  Let’s all focus on others and what’s good in our lives this Christmas season.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 (NLT)