Monthly Archives: July 2013
I know you are all wondering what in the world this post will be about. I’ll cut to the chase. I got to talk to one of my best friends today. Her name is Erika & she is in Haiti. It was so nice to catch up and really let her in to all the things going on in deep inside.
Amazing how powerful the simple act of letting people in is. Sharing with them the unimpressive, broken and humiliating parts of you. Not just telling them, but allowing them to get in there with you & hold you up. Much like Aaron & Moses. Moses was tired, but Aaron held his arms up until the battle was won.
That is what true community does. They get in there & support you when the battle feels like too much. We love the idea of being vulnerable and supporting each other. It is an idea often talked about but rarely done. The reason for that is quite simple. For someone to hold me up, really hold me up, they would have to support me under my arms. In the armpits.
For someone to support me I will have to be incredibly vulnerable. If I want to support someone else, I will have to be selfless and get in there. Into the sticky, smelly, and gross parts.
I have to let go of hiding my weakness. I have to let go of feeling impressive and embrace my need. —> click to tweet.
My guess is that most of us have lost battles. Perhaps a battle with sin, fear, discouragement, a battle in marriage… In my life I can tell you a key to whether I won or lost a fight was directly related to my allowing someone to hold me up.
If you are in a fight, let someone in.
They can’t hold you up by your smile or your manicured nails. Let them hold you up under your arms. Tell them the ugly bits. Confess the sin you are embarrassed by. Admit the failures that haunt you. Be unimpressive. Need God more than you need an image.
Loose your shame & win your battles.
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Remember that time I was in Taiwan? Oh, you don’t? Well, Tuesdays this summer are all about travel on Lark & Bloom. So, I guess now is a good time to tell you that I am famous in Asia.
Taiwan was good to me. The extent of my stay was the airport, but there was so much to love. It was just a layover on the way to Thailand, but it gave me some very enriching experiences.
First, was the Hello Kitty Lounge. I would like to note that this is not a children’s area. This lounge is for adult passengers & it was in fact, full of adults. Hello Kitty was splashed throughout the entire space. If you go to Taiwan you most definitely need to stop by. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it. There are life size cutouts of Hello Kitty pointing the way to the lounge throughout the entire airport.
Also, I had some delightful dumplings and some kind of ginger soup for breakfast. Yes, breakfast. When in Taiwan…
The best part about my visit was the fact that I am apparently a celebrity in Taiwan. My friend Amy was traveling with me and she was the first to notice it. Everyone was staring at me. Then they started whispering to each other. Next thing we know their phones come out & photos are being taken. Here I am sitting at the gate where these people had just snapped my photo.
My loyal fans began to nonchalantly try and see the name on my boarding pass. I didn’t oblige. They would know I am not whatever celebrity they thought I was & I would go back to basic pedestrian status.
I would like to thank the person in the Taiwan airport that started the rumor that I was famous. It was great fun & by far the best lie ever told about me. Sadly, when I returned to America I was not greeted with the same respect & fanfare.
The rumor died somewhere over the Pacific.
Sadly I didn’t think to use the hype of being famous to see if I could get bumped to first class. Oh, well. There is always next time.
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( Note: Today’s post is written from one of the greatest storytellers I know…my friend Robert. Tuesdays are dedicated to travel this summer & his post hits the mark. Enjoy the midget & his motorcycle.)
Several years ago on a bus in the middle of Turkey I met a man who liked to talk. I was living overseas at the time and had just finished a week’s vacation on the Mediterranean where I mostly just sat in the sand eating lamb shanks and staring at the water. As a natural introvert, sitting in sand and staring at water was crucial for my sanity.
The man across the aisle was telling me a story in Turkish. I smiled and nodded, catching only snippets of what he said, but still managed to piece together a sad story of a wife who had recently passed away, leaving him to raise his little boy alone. The boy sat beside him on the bus, reading a children’s book. I tried my best to offer my sympathies but ended up sounding like a Neanderthal at a funeral home.
“Me sorry for loss. Life be hard sometimes.”
Regardless of my linguistic limitations, however, we soon became fast friends. That’s how things go down in Turkey. You can make a friend in 4.2 seconds in the middle of nowhere with little more than a muttered greeting. Before you know it you’re at their home reclining on pillows, drinking tea and eating baklava.
Nine hours later the bus arrived at Istanbul, pulled into a station crowded with travelers and cut its engine.
“Do you need a ride?” my friend asked as we exited the bus. I’d assumed to take a taxi across town to my apartment.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “It’s not too much trouble?”
“No problem!” he insisted, then raised two fisted hands while making a vroom-vroom sound. Perhaps it was bus ride fatigue, but my brain failed to compute what he had just pantomimed. It wasn’t until I actually saw the motorcycle that I realized what was about to happen.
Three passengers, plus luggage, to be balanced upon a teetering, two-wheeled machine, in rush hour Istanbul traffic no less.
Did I mention he was a midget?
The guy was just a hair taller than his little boy. I stared in slack-jawed wonder as he hefted our baggage onto a thin metal wrack behind the seat, strapped them down with a frayed bungee chord, then lifted his son to straddle the gas tank before climbing up himself. His feet didn’t even touch the ground.
I glanced about to see if anyone was watching. “Are you sure about this?” I asked.
“Come on!” he beckoned, strapping on a full sized helmet that made him look exactly like a Turkish bobble head doll. The irony that neither his son nor I was offered the same cranial protection was beyond my ability to express. There seemed no way out. No escape. I wanted to run for my life but couldn’t bring myself to refuse his hospitality.
In the end I took a deep breath, exhaled a prayer, and climbed on behind them like a Sasquatch with arms wrapped tight around both midget and son.
After several wobbling tries my friend managed to kick-start the engine, revved it hard, then popped the clutch with a lurch to send us barreling forward. We swerved right, then left, then right again before gaining enough speed to stabilize. Into the meat grinder of Istanbul traffic we went, weaving between cars, dashing across lanes.
I squinted my eyes shut and screamed the loudest and most desperate prayer of my life.
I was going to die.
As we zoomed across the Bosphorus Strait bridge, water gleaming sapphire blue a hundred feet below, another motorcycle drew up alongside us. It was a crotch rocket driven by a guy clad in black leather and helmet. He took one look at our merry band then shook his finger at us in disgust before darting forward and out of sight.
At that moment, terrified as I was, I couldn’t help but smile, then snicker, then laugh out loud. For I was likely the only person on the planet riding a motorcycle behind a midget and a little boy.
What if I’d stayed home that day? Maybe watched some good shows on the tube? Would I be writing this story now, after all these years? So often in my life I am tempted to settle for the highway of the predictable. But I don’t recall a single time I’ve looked back and said to myself, “Wow, wasn’t that such an amazing time of average?”
I lived in Turkey to start a church, but along the way I met a midget with a motorcycle, and I lived to tell the tale.
What stories are you living at the moment? I promise they’re there, if you’ll just step out your door.
Robert is a father of three and husband of one. When he is not reading, writing, cooking, eating, or walking in the woods, he enjoys telling stories about his awkward adventures on planet earth. To partake of said adventures, join him at www.fullerstories.com .
Ms. Sybrina Fulton,
I woke up this morning and you instantly came to mind. I made the coffee and started getting ready for church. but my thoughts kept drifting back to you wondering what you are doing. What do you do after all of this?
I imagine you looking at his pictures, playing over the last conversations and wondering a million “what if’s”. Mostly, I imagine you sit in immeasurable pain for a life that has been lost.
This entire situation of Trayvon has struck a chord with me. You see, I have a four-year old son. There are the usual challenges of raising a little boy. Put the seat down, stop scaring your sister, and where did you hide my keys?
But my son is white. That eliminates him from so many of the challenges your son faced.
However, soon I will have an African-American son. He will grow up side by side with his white brother, but I am well aware that his experiences will be quite different.
They will be from the same family, the same economic status and the same educational background, but they will not be seen the same. Not by some at least.
I bet my sons will wear hoodies and like to eat Skittles too.
I’m not here to speculate on what the verdict should have been last night. Should Zimmerman be found guilty or not… I wasn’t there and I can’t answer those questions.
Somehow though shrugging my shoulder’s and saying ” I dunno…” doesn’t seem like enough. But what can I do?
I’m writing you this because I can’t get Trayvon back, I can’t give you the verdict you hoped for and I can’t take away your pain. But I am going to do something.
I am going to address my own prejudices that I have. I’d like to say I have none, but it isn’t true.
When I see someone who looks different from me, I will look them in the eye and smile. I want my kids to see me me setting an example of valuing people. No matter if they are a hispanic college student , a black teen with a hoodie or a white suburban mom like me. Everyone matters.
And every time I eat Skittles, I am going to think about your son. And I will remember that the world is not yet as it should be.
Your son’s life mattered. Not simply because his death sparked a national dialogue about race and laws. His life mattered because he mattered. His dreams, stories and things that only you as his mama knew about.
He mattered. And you matter Ms. Fulton. I’m praying that God would give you comfort beyond any human measure.
I’m also praying for Ms. Zimmerman. Watching your son be tried for murder – deserved or not – must be heartbreaking in its own way.
Ms. Fulton, know that mamas across America are thinking of you today. Because your son could have been our son.
Thoughts & prayers,