Category Archives: Politics

Tolerance and the Duck Dynasty debacle

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Okay, everyone take a deep breath. We are gonna get through this post in one piece, I promise. 

I went to bed last night having read the news about Phil from Duck Dynasty being suspended for anti-gay remarks. There was such a heaviness in my gut as I tried to go to sleep. It wasn’t anger or frustration… it was sadness.

I’m not a lawyer but I am assuming the same rights that give Phil the freedom to say what he believes  (although, the word choices could have been better) are the same rights that allow A & E to employ who they want. And if A & E isn’t allowed the right to choose employees that align with their values or beliefs, then that means a  Christian run business is also not allowed to choose employees that align with their values & beliefs. So, I’m not here to bash a television network or it’s star.

I think Phil has the right to express his belief because he was asked about it. I think A & E is a business that has the right to hire/fire whoever it wants. You have the right to boycott or write letters to whomever you wish, but that isn’t really what this post is about anyway. It’s a post about how we treat people we don’t agree with…or don’t like.

I believe in the power of tolerance. I believe that people who disagree with one another on faith, politics, environment, social issues, morality or anything else can truly love and respect each other.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, in fact I know I am.

The sadness I felt last night wasn’t about this specific situation really , but the way in which we handle people who are different than we are.

I am a Christian and I see church leaders fighting each other on the application of scripture. I am a Democrat and I watch political brawls go down on both sides of the aisle. I am a mother and I watch mom’s waging war on educational choices, vaccines and sleep schedules.

My daughter goes to public school and has been vaccinated. I can’t even tell you how many mean-spirited articles I have seen on Facebook that tell me how I am screwing up my kids because of that. And it goes both ways. You non-vacciners have gotten your fair share of Facebook rebuke. What happened to sitting around kitchen tables actually discussing these things?

We are going to disagree and debate. That’s fine. However, we have lost the art of constructive disagreement and replaced it with destructive disagreement. I see our nation tearing each other down on a daily basis.

When did we become so mean? Just the other day I got this Facebook message from someone I knew in high school. Hadn’t talked to him in years, but he just decided to express his not-so-nice opinion.

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I’ll be the first to say my blog needs some work. No news there. But, really? A Facebook slam for no apparent reason other than you think I suck and you want to bash on social media? If you really want to help me be a better blogger, give me feedback on how I could improve my content. But, he didn’t want me to get better. He just didn’t like me.

I’m not saying I am a saint. I can be mean too. And I want to change. I want to be better.

I believe in humble disagreement not proud arguments. That means messy and dirty – loving your neighbor as yourself. Even if they believe in aliens, if they think global-warming is a hoax,  if they say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, if they are gay, Muslim, Baptist, Republican, Democrat, if they think the United States should be run entirely by militias….whatever the heck they they think is true.

If you don’t feel you have the freedom to tell me what you think or believe then how can  I know you?  And if I don’t know you, how can I love you?

My hope is that we actually move beyond tolerating one another to actually loving one another. Genuinely building community with people who are different – maybe even opposing – to us in some form or fashion.

I want an America that embraces each other – not keeps our distance afraid that we will step on toes. I want Love to win, as I know it will. My desire is for people to stop saying mean things, but I want to love them even if they never do.

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The Narrative of Grand Things and Ordinary Moments

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Tomorrow morning I will pack up my suitcase and board a plane with my husband and another woman for Washington DC. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you what we will be doing.  Actually, let me back up even further. In addition to writing this nifty little blog, I also am a director for an anti-trafficking organization called UnBound.  Titles aside, I am a stay-at-home mom and my life as a writer and abolitionist are just my side hustle.

Why am I going to Washington? On Friday we have meetings with several members of Congress to talk to them about our “Your No Is Her Hope” campaign. Later  that day I will meet with delegates from almost every African country to educate them on human trafficking and UnBound’s work. Saturday my co-worker and I will be training DC public school counselors on human trafficking and how to spot it in their schools.

Sounds so impressive, doesn’t it?

Want to know a secret? It isn’t impressive. My life is just an ordinary life made up of ordinary days. Emails sent with typos, dinner flavored with too much salt, hours spent in preschool pickup lines and numerous trips to the grocery store. It is just a normal life.

This narrative that God writes within our stories is nothing incredible when broken down day-by-day. We don’t notice the small secrets that are woven into our errands, phone calls and family dinners. And yet when I tell you what I am going to be doing this weekend, I realize that something beautiful is happening in belly of my very normal stay-at-home mom life. The hours spend chatting with my kids in my minivan are deceptive.

In the middle of my seemingly uneventful days, my story is being written.

Grand acts never seem grand in the moment. They are simply hidden in the events of ordinary days. —> click to tweet.

I am beginning to learn the gift of average days. On their own they seem unimpressive and boringly simple. And yet, our lives are lived in one long succession of individual days. When we look back at their sequence we can see our destiny unfolding…

Perhaps your life seems like mine. Routine and average. Spilled coffee, dishes, bank statements, and unreturned phone calls. Let me encourage you. Don’t toss aside your ordinary days for within them lies your story.

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Filed under current events, Faith, human trafficking, Kiddos, My Life Thus Far, Politics, Uncategorized, Whimsy

I’m A Stalker

This one is from the archives, but I’m dusting it off for today. Because today I have to actually dust my house to get ready for our adoption homestudy visit. Enjoy!

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Here I am. The stalker.

I saw a news article today that was talking about someone getting a restraining order on someone who was staking them. I didn’t read the story, just the headline. Skimming past it to the next article I thought to myself, ” Stalkers must be the creepiest people. Who does that?”. 

Then I realized I am a total stalker. Yes, me. Sweet girl-next-door me. ( okay, I have NEVER been described as the girl next door, but it makes me sound more likeable.)  Three specific instances came to mind:

1. When I was in Rome my friend Connie & I wanted to go to the vatican. However, we got lost and had no clue how to get there. ” Scuzi…uh, umm… donde esta el Pope?”. As luck would have it we spied a few ladies that looked like they may know the way. They were dressed in black with somber faces.

It was indeed a group of nuns. We predicted that if we discreetly followed them they would lead us to the Vatican. Low and behold,  after many narrow streets and confusing intersections we found ourselves at St. Peter’s Basilica. Lesson: When looking for holy places, follow a nun. They know the way.

2. The summer after my senior year in high school I was in England. My friend Kelly and I had read too many Jane Austen novels in our senior English classes. One day we saw this cute guy and we totally stalked him around town. We referred to him as Ashton because in our minds he was studying literature at the university while actively involved in political issues and read poetry under a tree by the river. He had blonde dreadlocks, wore a backpack and rode this really cool bike. It just seemed he should have a cool name like Ashton.

He was probably not that interesting in real life, but we never got a chance to find out. Despite our magically appearing at the same locations as him all over town that day,  Ashton never came over to say hi. I suppose we weren’t as mysterious and attractive to him as he was to us. Lesson: When looking for romance, don’t follow the guy on the bike.

3. My friend Erika and I were driving to Crawford, TX to scope out George W. Bush’s ranch while he was still President. Both of us were studying politics at Baylor University and his ranch was just about 30 minutes away. Naturally we decided to try and meet him. After hearding a loose flock of goats off the roadway and talking to the secret service agents we decided to return home. Despite all our best efforts we weren’t going to see the President that day. All of a sudden a caravan of black suburbans drove past. Erika & I made a U-turn and hit the gas to catch up to them. I kid you not that we both put on over-sized dark sunglasses. Is there any other accessory to wear when stalking the President?

Erika drove and I sat poised with her big black camera in hand just snapping away. We followed them for several miles until they pulled into the grocery store. Turns out it was Condoleeza Rice and her husband.

We actually parked several rows away so as not to tip off the secret service. Good thing they couldn’t see us behind our big glasses. After being stared down by two very muscular guards we decided we should probably go. I guess they did notice that we had been tailing them for miles. Lesson: When stalking government officials have your friends drive. That way they have her license plate on file and not yours…

I clearly have a habit of tracking people down when I am on trips with friends…which supports my theory that I should have been a spy.

No, really. I should have been a spy. Except I don’t handle stress well. And I get lost in airports. And I don’t know exactly how I feel about concealed weapons…okay, maybe not a spy. Maybe a girl scout.

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Government Shutdown And Who Is Right

I know you readers are from around the world, but if you aren’t aware our government has shut down. If that is news to you, I suggest you read this first.

I love America. I love that we have a system of government in place that demands agreement in order to move forward. What is problematic for me is the way this is all going down and the critical approach both sides have.

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Me and the hubs in DC this past spring

I was going to write about the shutdown, but then my brilliant and fantastic friend Stephanie at Stifling Trivialities did. So, I am reposting her thoughts here. I’d love you to comment at the end about what your thoughts are regarding the shutdown. But be warned — I will only allow posts that are kind, respectful and constructive. You can disagree, but be nice.

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This morning I was listening to NPR and they were talking about the Affordable Care Act and the fact that there is a 40/48 divide in America regarding the way that America should be run. 40 percent of Americans believe that we need “smaller” government, and 48 percent believe that ‘big’ government is more effective. **disclaimer- I have not seen this study, I have no idea how this question was asked, to whom, and how many people were polled.

However, I do know that 1/2 of America ( or so ) believe FUNDAMENTALLY they are right – we need LESS government, BIGGER business, less intrusion, lower taxes, the government needs to step aside and let America be for the people by the people and give the people back the ability to rule ourselves…

Another 1/2 of Americans believe FUNDAMENTALLY they are right – we need the government to step in and do their jobs. To legislate where things are blocked, people are falling through the cracks, the minority is terrorizing the majority, to stop the widening gap between rich and poor, to control the flood of guns and violence, and death due to poverty…

So who is right?

One or the other.

There can only be ONE right? That’s the way we’ve allowed this to be constructed. That there is a right, and there is a wrong. As if it is a game of political Red Rover. You are either for or against.

The problem with being right is that it assumes there is someone who is wrong. There are some places where things are this black and white. Touchdowns and death for example – but politics not so much.

Politics is more of a game of Go Fish…and it’s about that exciting as well. Just think about the fun the OMB had when they sat down and said, ” Well, we’ve got a 40/48 split – what’s the line in Vegas on a shutdown October one?” When they heard the numbers, they ordered in Chinese and set to deciding which 87% of Veterans Affairs were essential, which 81% of the Department of the Interior needed to be furloughed. Commerce another 87% – 97% of NASA, 94% of the EPA, 81% of the Interior, 80% of the Treasury, 69% of Health and Human Services and so on and so forth…

“Do you have any State Park employees?”

” Go Fish”

“I would but normally I do that at Acadia National Park”

It’s well known that in the most successful negotiations everyone walks away without getting everything they wanted. No good negotiation is a winner take all game, or it’s not a negotiation. Somehow, Americans seem to have forgotten that.

We have begun to think that it’s our way, or no way. It’s behavior that we despise and punish in our children, that we critically critique in the coming generations, and demand uncompromisingly from our political representation.

The problem with being right, is that you can’t be right all the time , it’s a statistical impossibility. Beyond that, it’s difficult to like that person – the one that can never be wrong. And we are a nation full of them.

Two bickering sides.

Both always right.

Neither side ever wrong.

To what end?

At what cost?

I ask, in the long term, how can anyone benefit from this petulant behavior?

The problem with being right, is that it’s not working, and we’re not learning – and no one seems to be ashamed of their behavior.

We should consider who we vote for.

We should consider what we demand from them.

We should consider our political posture.

We are not moving forward, we are not at a standstill, we are sliding backward.

In three weeks, we will be facing the discussion regarding the debt ceiling and we can barely have an adult discussion with one another regarding the rules within our own home.

Our politicians are simply representatives of the people, they do as we demand. I cannot be angry at them for something that I am pretty sure starts with me. —> click to tweet

I am looking for places to concede and compromise, had our founding fathers been as obstinate and bull headed as we are, there would be no Constitution or United States. It might benefit us to remember the great concessions and compromises they made in order to move this great republic forward.

So what do you think? If you live in another country what is your take on this? For Americans, how do you think we actually solve this breakdown? Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

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A letter to Trayvon Martin’s mother

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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,

Elizabeth Griffin

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Sunday Kind of Love : ‘Merica

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This week was the 4th of July, and today’s love is ‘Merica. I think that July 4th may be my favorite holiday. Okay, fine. My very favorite holiday is Christmas, but this is a close second. I’m sharing my pictures with you from the festivities.

It started with a neighborhood parade and ended with a BBQ with friends. But, I’ll just let you see a few highlights.

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Me & the littles.

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Bikes decorated & balloons distributed. Time to start this parade people.

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Can you handle the cuteness of this girl & her dog?

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About 500 people from our neighborhood took part in the parade. Community involvement makes me happy.

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A reminder on a mailbox of the sons & daughters who never came home. Just about made me cry.

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My brother & his family were there.

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Free snow cones for all who walked in the parade. Yum.

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Snow cones with cousins

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This lady brought her patriotic doll to the festivities. But this is America and she can do that.

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BBQ time. The guys were SO thrilled to have kid sparklers. No flames. No booms. Just what they were hoping for.

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Fire = happy 4 yr old

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One of America’s finest.

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Friends make holidays better.

imageGod Bless ‘Merica.

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tea with a terrorist.

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Vacation is over & I am back just in time to tell you about the day I had tea with a terrorist. Tuesdays this summer are dedicated to travel stories & this one takes us to the Middle East.

It was the summer of 2005 & I was with some friends in Beirut, Lebanon. If you have never been, you MUST put it on your list of places to go. The city is lovely & the people have their own hospitable charm.

My friend who lived there had some relationships in a particular part of town that is a bit off the beaten tourist path. It was a primarily Hezbollah neighborhood. In case you don’t know, the U.S. State Department has considered Hezbollah a terrorist organization since 1997.

One day we went to an apartment complex that was well-known for its Hezbollah ties. My goal was to talk to as many people as I could. Jady, my husband, and I went door-to-door on one floor while my other friends divided up among the remaining buildings.

I didn’t speak Arabic & most of them didn’t speak English. Each apartment door we knocked on resulted in a warm invitation into their home. And so we sat, apartment after apartment, speaking to these families.

Sure, it sounds brave and exciting to sit at a terrorist’s house in the Middle East over tea. But I was just talking to my neighbor.

Through hand-gestures & Arabic-English dictionaries we heard each other’s stories.

If you have ever been in the Middle East, you know that these visits can last for hours. The generosity of their culture puts us to shame.

Jady & I left each home by praying with the family that Jesus would bless them. Not one person declined.

Towards the end of the afternoon & after lots of tea ( plus some snacks that I couldn’t identify ) we came to another apartment. This time it was an older woman who answered. I think she must have been in her early 50s.

I’ll call her “Mariam”. Her apartment had lots of marble & her tea was exceptionally hot. The teacup had no handles & it was a flaming porcelain cylinder in my hands. Plus, I was nauseous at the thought of having to drink more tea. For the love…

Mariam started asking us questions about America & what our lives were like. We told her that we were newly married & headed to Seattle in a few months to plant a church. Mind you, this was through hand motions & very broken translations. She very well may have thought we said we were farmers with a lucrative side hustle in Japanese software for all I know.

Either way Mariam was a very curious lady. To my complete shock, she asked if we knew anything about Jesus. Uhh…is this some sort of trap? I mean you are technically a terrorist Mariam.

She began to tear up & tell us about a dream she had. A man dressed in white with the kindest, most peaceful presence came up to her & held out His hands. In one hand was a cup & in another was a piece of bread.

” Can you tell me what this means? ” Mariam asked. Jady pulled out his Bible & showed her the story of Jesus giving communion.

I wish you could have seen the tender look on her face.

Amazingly, that was only one of several people we met that had regular dreams about Jesus.

Going to bed that night my mind was reeling. So much of the world is not what we are told it should be. 

Hezbollah does some terrible things & there are members who most certainly deserve the title terrorist. But most of the people who we met in that building were terrorists by association only. Their understanding of what Hezbollah does is very naive.

The terrorists I met that day were just like me. 

Girls who wanted to fall in love & decorate their house all cute & trendy. Boys who dreamed of helping their nation heal from the wounds of the past. Grown men & women trying to forget the scars of a civil war that lasted over 15 years.

The terrorists taught me a lot about God that day. He cannot be limited or contained.

In the midst of what I had been told was a hostile environment, there were people who wanted to know about Jesus. Where man had made walls to keep Jesus out, He simply came in their dreams. Seeking them out in the midnight hours.

I sat in living rooms with people from opposite countries, faiths and political views. But conversations were had.

Our humanity overcame every difference & we were simply people sharing the same place in time. Dreaming, laughing & risking with what life had given us. So different & yet ultimately the same. I learned a lot on that trip to Lebanon.

In the end, no matter our differences, we should have conversations.

Sometimes our “enemies” have important things to say.

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abortion

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I woke up today thinking about people. When I think of the world in terms of millions, the signficance of  ‘ 1 ’ can easily be overlooked. For some reason this led me to thinking about abortion and I felt compelled to share my thoughts with all you beautiful people.

I am discussing this today because our bumper-sticker dialogue isn’t working so well. We read a “pro-life” or “pro-choice” sticker on the car next to us and then steal a judgmental glance at the driver as we pass them.

And so we sit in our own little cars, going our own little ways. Today I want to get out of my car and get into yours where we can really talk. Can you handle that?

You see, I am pro-life. Half of you are cheering and others are gasping. I am sure I will say something everyone disagrees with at some point in this post. I believe in you. I believe you can handle that.

But unlike what is often portrayed, my reasons may be different.

I am not pro-life because my church told me to be. I didn’t drink  kool aid of any sort. My beliefs are my beliefs & am not speaking on behalf or at the request of anyone else.

I am not pro-life because I am a Republican. Guess what? I am not a Republican. I’m an independent that votes on a case by case basis. So, there ya go.

I am not pro-life because I want to punish people who have sex. To be honest, I do not expect people who do not share my faith to share my moral values. An 18 year old girl who doesn’t believe in God doesn’t really care what He says is best for her. I get that.

I do not think that people who are pro-choice hate babies. To be frank, that is really stupid. I have a lot of friends who are pro-choice simply because they don’t believe the government’s role is making personal decisions for others. I see their point.

I am not pro-life because I don’t understand rape. I have several friends who have been victims of rape and the severity of what they go through is not lost on me. I realize that to ask them to birth a child from that assault sounds like way too much to ask. Especially if their life is at risk.

So, why am I pro-life?

I am pro-life because I believe that every life matters. The lives we planned and the ones we never saw coming. I am pro-life for the same reason I believe a Palestinian  life has the same value as a Israeli life. Jesus isn’t biased toward gender, geography, race or religion. Every person matters to God and therefore they matter to me.

I am pro-life despite the fact that I don’t have all the answers. The complexities of what would happen to our economy or our environment if every baby ever conceived was born…yeah, that is no small thing.

I am pro-life for the same reason I support rights for immigrants, healthcare for uninsured, providing aid for those in poorer nations, financial assistance for unemployed in our own nation…those are complex issues too. Not easily resolved or funded. However, I care about them because there are people behind the “issues”.

I believe a child’s value goes far beyond simply having the right to be born. They should also have access to good education, nutritious food, healthcare and a secure home. Those things matter too. Life is worth fighting for from conception to final breath.

It seems I would be amiss if I were to ask a 20 year old to not abort her baby and then deny her the healthcare and assistance it would take to raise it. My opinions may not be very popular, I know.

Also, chances are that someone reading this has had an abortion. Don’t beat yourself up. Wanna know why? Because YOU matter too. And God loves you. Seriously, He does.

I don’t know how to pay for all these people and their needs. But what kind of nation are we if we value people primarily based on how much they will cost us? Now, I’m not dumb , naïve to the scale of all this or think that the government can pay for every person and every need. It isn’t realistic to ask the government to handle it all. To be honest, I don’t know how we solve this problem either. Our systems are quite broken & maybe it isn’t solely the government’s responsibility anyway. One thing I know about God is that He always has a plan. Which is why I pray a lot. About everything.

I know that God made people and they have worth. If we hold to this conviction, despite all of the challenges, then somehow we can help others. Maybe it is one by one. Neighbor by neighbor. But if every life matters, then that is a cost we are willing to take on ourselves. Isn’t that what the Church is for anyway? Hands & feet & such?

For me, unborn babies qualify as people. Maybe they do or don’t to you. Lets talk anyway.

We try to solve issues like abortion and immigration by talking to people who have the exact same perspective that we do. Which, if you haven’t noticed, gets us nowhere.

So, I’m ignoring bumper stickers and sticking my neck out there. I am not 100% right and you are not 100% wrong. We have some big problems right now & they are worth talking about.

Two heads are better than one. So find someone with another view. Be respectful & work to understand where they are coming from. Then start talking. Maybe you will become friends. And maybe, just maybe, your conversations will change the world.

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the marriage equality debate & why Easter is right on time

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source: unknown

I have been asked several times these past few days to comment on the marriage equality debate that has been front & center this week. Well, I am not going to tell you what I think the courts should do & nothing in this post is a hint at it either.  But I will say this:

Easter couldn’t come at a better time. I’ll tell you why.

It is an important discussion. What is marriage & what is government’s role in it all? I am not here to make light of the issue or suggest you stop communicating your beliefs. This is a diverse group of readers. You range from missionaries to lesbian couples. I am sure that opinions run strong and are deeply personal.

I have watched on Facebook as people have been attacked for changing their profile picture to support marriage equality. I have watched people being attacked for not changing their profile picture. I have seen slanderous things being said about people I know.

Have your beliefs, express them and exercise your right as a voter. That is what makes America beautiful in my opinion.  My prayer is that this week we don’t become arrogant in our opinions. I hope we never think that the “other” people are the problem. Some people are extreme and fanatical, but most people have a good reason they believe the way they do.

I feel like we miss an opportunity for helpful dialogue when we begin to dislike the people we are talking to. It begins to shift from people not supporting gay marriage to disliking people who do support it. And it shifts from  people supporting gay marriage to disliking people who do not. I wish we listened to more of the ‘why’ after finding out the ‘what’.

Which brings me back to Easter. It is the ultimate story of love. The story of a God who so deeply longed to have relationship with us. We were each broken in our own way and unable to reach God on our own. He didn’t demand what we could not give. And so He came. God sent His son, Jesus, who died on a cross and paid every price that we should have paid. His payment on the cross bought our freedom. It bought my freedom.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem before His death, the people surrounded Him shouting “Hosanna!”.

Hosanna. It means “save us”. This is what Easter is about. Save us!

Hosanna isn’t “Jesus save those liberals and gays who are ruining our families and destroying our nation.”

Hosanna isn’t  “Jesus save those narrow-minded Christians who are promoting discrimination and hate people who don’t believe what they believe. “

Hosanna. Save us. All of us.

Easter is just as much about God saving us as it is everyone else. Our addictions no one knows, our envy and manipulation, our fear and all the things deep in the hidden places.

Easter is coming just in time. Believe it or not, I think our nation is actually crying “Hosanna” this week.

So, as we engage in this discussion and prepare for Easter this weekend, let’s be humble.

Lets come together , put down our stones we love to throw and with one voice cry “Hosanna”…God save us.

( please leave comments, but disrespectful ones will be deleted )

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March 28, 2013 · 8:00 am

three things communism taught me

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Roman Cieslewicz poster circa 1968

I was looking up my Myers Briggs personality type yesterday. I discovered that I share the same personality as Mao Zedong ( Dictator of Communist China) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran). Hmm…

After being sent into  a brief identity crisis, I found myself sifting through my experience with a country that has lived under an oppressive government. Russia. I lived there right after communism fell during the early/mid 90s.

Those years were probably the most shaping years of my life. As an adult, I am constantly realizing how much communism taught me. Here are three lessons I learned:

1. You can’t make decisions for other people. 

We didn’t control the heat in our building. To be honest, I’m not really sure who did. Heat just turned on one day in early fall and off in late spring. That sounds like a good thing for living in Siberia. Logical even. The hot water pipes would crank up and our radiators would soon be fiery.

But it wasn’t. It would get sweltering. We would have to open our windows to let the -25 degree air in. Yet, in another person’s house, perhaps the heat was not enough. Buildings were different. Pipes were different. Personal preferences were different.

The same was true with people’s beliefs, professions and families. You can’t make choices for people.

2. You need to ask ‘why’?

An American moving to post-communist Russia has a lot of questions. Why are your wedding dresses hot pink? Why can’t you open a window on a train until a specific date in May? Why are their so many lines? Why is everyone yelling at me?

There was a large department store called TK.  It was several stories high and there were many escalators. When they worked they were escalators, otherwise they were metal stairs.

At the bottom of each escalator there would be a woman sitting in a chair. Her job was to watch the escalator. Why do you need someone to sit and watch an escalator all day? No one could answer that question. They didn’t know. The government just gave her that job. It baffled me, but they didn’t seem to question it.

My friend Olya came to visit us shortly after we moved back to the States. She had her own series of questions. Why does everyone have such big cars? Why are the supermarkets stocked with so much food and yet there are hungry people? Why don’t schools teach foreign languages in elementary school like they do in Russia? I told her that is just the way it is here.

Communism taught me that I do need to ask ‘why’.

3. In the end, we are all just people. 

For decades, Russians were our enemy. They were portrayed as cold and heartless. But they aren’t. Russian culture is warm when you get down to it. They will feed you all the food they have if you come over for a meal and spend hours listening to your story over tea.

One of the greatest privileges I have had is to see the world. I have had walked the streets of Syria, the villages of Sudan, the busy shopping districts in Beijing and the romantic streets of Paris to name a few.

People are people. They all want to love and be loved. Mothers all of the world rock their babies to sleep. Men carry the daily stress of providing for their families. Teenagers dream of falling in love. Teachers give so much in order to educate a generation. Doctors work effortlessly to bring health to their communities.

People are passionate. We speak different languages, live in different environments and believe in different faiths.

Communism was hard on the people of Russia. But they lived through it.

Communism taught me that people are the same everywhere. Made in the image of God and longing for value.

So, when you read the news about North Korea or Iran, remember that a government isn’t a culture or a people. Remember that behind a headline there are the true stories. Individuals similar to you.

As you probably know, communism didn’t turn out to well around the world. Lets learn from it. Lets not be arrogant in our opinions about what is best for people, or forget to ask ‘why’. Most of all, lets remember that we are all just people and we are all desperate for a God who loves us.

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Filed under Faith, Global, My Life Thus Far, Politics