Beauty In A Broken Shoe

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Somehow breaking my shoe, broke something inside of me.

[God speaks to me in the oddest ways so just keep reading]

As weird as that sounds, my last blog revealed what I've been struggling with, and I've been dead set on showing up in my life. I've been set on being present and not shrinking back when I make a mistake. I've been set on showing myself mercy instead of criticism. I've been set on choosing joy instead of wallowing in sadness. I've been learning that comparison will fail me every time. However,the one thing I've been trying to learn forever, is how to except and believe that I am beautiful. I wanted to really see it all the time. I wanted to see what people see in me.

Can I tell you something?

My idea of beauty is not what true beauty is. I've felt like beauty equates to women who seem to have their "hair done, nails done, and everything did" I am not that girl. While I enjoy dressing cute, I don't wear heels all the time. I would rather wear flats. I'm not the chick that needs to be perfectly put together every time I step foot out of my house. I've considered myself the "girl next door" in looks. Not drop dead gorgeous but good looking. Still, in spite of feeling beautiful when people tell me or looking in the mirror and thinking, "okay today you look alright", I had yet to get it for myself. Don't get me wrong people, I've been working on this area of my life. It has not been neglected. I have a plethora of Christian books about beauty and purity to supply a whole youth ministry. Somehow I still missed the point.

Today, I was almost at my job (I have to walk about .25 miles to my actual office from my car) and I hear a tearing noise. My worst fear was happening. I stopped. Looked at my shoe and thought okay it's fine. I Looked back up, took one more step, and then the strap on my shoe broke. Now I was faced with the problem of walking really weird all the way to my office. My shoes were making that awful scuffing noise and I was trying to hold them together. I tried taping them at my desk and that failed. I managed to get through the day scuffing my way through the office while my shoe was held up by a binder clip.

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Yes, I know, so tacky but I was desperate. Feeling confident about my contraption I decided to walk back to my car with my binder clip shoe on. I seemingly fixed the problem right? So why should I worry? I cross the street no problem, than I get to the sidewalk and immediately my shoe falls apart again. By now, This is when the light bulbs start going off in my head,
I realized that I could work really hard to hold something together and scuff my way through it. I could walk around trying to blend in and make sure no one knew my shoe was falling apart. Or I could just take my shoes off and stop pretending that they aren't broken.

When I took my physical shoes off, my mental shoes and blinders came off too. All the sudden the way I wanted to feel about my value and worth was clear because I changed my perspective. I wasn't worried about being put together. I wasn't comparing myself to those with their shoes on or how nice or expensive they were. I was enjoying my freedom. My feet were touching the unsanitary heat-filled concrete. And with every step on the .25 mile walk to my car, a little piece of self-doubt vanished. I got home looked at myself in the mirror and I could finally see what everyone else sees.

BEAUTY.

Hopefully it won't take you breaking your shoes to get a breakthrough like I did! I have no clue how these revelations come to me and bring me freedom but God knows how to speak to me.

Here's a little poem I wrote about beauty:

Beauty beauty
I want to be you
Easily desired
And easily pursued
They told me what your made of
And I'm buying all the ingredients
But when I dress up like you
I don't get the same results
You get love
I get side hugs
Measuring up to you and Proverbs 31 is much too hard
I'm not sure all I am is all of what you are
Then again maybe I've been given the wrong ingredients
I got my recipe from magazines,TV, men, and music
They have got you all wrong
You are strong
You are brave
You are wise
You are lovely
Yet, somehow you were belittled to looks only
If beauty was just looks, we would be in trouble
There would be no room for
Intellect
Character
And integrity
All of which encompass beauty
A Beauty that exists everywhere
A Beauty that is seen
A Beauty that is heard
A Beauty that is adored
A Beauty that is roared from the smallest soul to the oldest
I am beauty and so are you
Roar Beauty Roar

 
XOXO
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The Great Divide: How Do We Build A Bridge?

 

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I have spent the past two weeks pretty angry and disappointed. I would be lying if I told you the things going on in Ferguson did not affect me in someway. I have read a lot of blog posts coming from different angles, I have researched and watched lectures from professionals on the subject of racial reconciliation, and I have had open conversations with some of my Caucasian friends. I have prayed and cried about this situation in Ferguson and the national issue of racism. Wether we like to admit it or not, racism still exists. Not all white people are racist, it would be very ignorant to make such a broad assumption and accusation.

 Privilege refers to the idea that in human society, some groups benefit from unearned, largely-unacknowledged advantages that increase their power relative to that of others, thereby perpetuating social inequality

Some, Caucasian people may not have viewed themselves privileged or that they are afforded certain opportunities based on the color of their skin. Honestly, what I have gathered from conversations with my white friends, is that sometimes they don't think about being a "White privileged american". When you are a majority you may not have the needs of the minority on the forefront of your mind.

My parents did not teach me to fear white people, some of my closest friends are white. I did not begin to feel a little fear until Ferguson happened. Seeing all the hate out there and passive aggressive racism caused me to wonder who was around me that thought of me that way because of my color? Were there people in my life that harbored hate like that? People that felt I was an exception to "those black people" when in fact the "those people" are MY people. I became suspicious of white people-waiting for someone to change on me. I got concerned for my older brother who is over 6 ft. tall and a broad built black male. He has a heart of gold but people wouldn't be able to tell that if they looked at him. They could think he is a thug instead of a successful college graduate. What if he wears a hoddie or a big shirt on his days off work? Will they suspect him of mischief?

I get that people who are not minorities may not understand this perspective. I am not asking for understanding as much as I am pleading for you to listen. That is it.

I could focus on dissecting all of the hateful postings and blogs I have seen but that would be counter productive because hateful people are everywhere and I encounter them everyday. That will not go away. I had to let myself research and come to a place of peace and balance about the situation in Ferguson along with the killings of other unarmed black men, as well as, the issue of institutionalized racism. There are a lot of moving parts in this discussion and I may elaborate more in a different post.

What I really want to discuss is the racial divide in the church. I know I am about to discuss a "hush hush" matter but more of us need to talk about it. People must understand that the history of African-American culture is rooted in oppression. Although we would like to think that we have made a lot of progress, we have to an extent, there is still a lot to be done. We must be willing to openly talk about race and racial issues in order to really move forward. There is an elephant in the room- like it or not and until we stop passing over it or walking by it silently, we will not see change. We will be back in this spot in a few years.The comments I have seen on the internet let me know that racism is not dead, in fact, it just took on a new form. Nowadays, talking about race makes people tense and everyone comes to the table with their own inhibitions and preconceived ideas of what the other person plans to say. So instead of having hard conversations and breaking down racial divide, we don't at all. A lack of communication makes the divide grow and before we know it we have accepted passive aggressive racism. I believe the African-American community wants people to listen.

Matt Chandler says this best: "What is so deceptive about white privilege is that it is different from blatant racism or bias. A privileged person’s heart may be free from racist thoughts or biased attitudes, but may still fail to see how the very privilege afforded to him or her shapes how he or she interprets and understands the situations and circumstances of people without privilege."

We have allowed the media to feed into a racial divide. We would all be gravely missing the point if it was not evident that we need to have racial reconciliation in the church. It needs to happen. When was the last time you looked around your church and wondered why everyone else looked like you? This goes both ways, for predominately black churches and white churches. "Ninety percent of African-American Christians worship in all-black churches. Ninety percent of white American Christians worship in all-white churches," said Chris Rice, coauthor of More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel. "…Years since the incredible victories of the civil rights movement, we continue to live in the trajectory of racial fragmentation. The biggest problem is that we don't see that as a problem." I think the shooting of Michael Brown brought up deeper seething issues about race. Any group that experiences systemic oppression for a time will come to a point to where they can tolerate it no more. It takes work on all sides to dismantle institutionalized racism. If you are content with your multicultural workshops at your job, fine, but it goes far beyond that. We must be willing to talk and learn about one another in order to break down barriers.

Linda Brown (AP Photo)

Tell me this, if you have no black friends ( I am not talking about people you are associated with and hang out with every now and then) then where do you get your ideas and perceptions about black people? Do you make them up? Are they from the media? We cannot grow and move forward without having hard conversations and uniting together to see change. There are several people uniting to see change happen and guess what? They are not all black. People of all races are uniting together to see change happen. I have noticed that it is much harder to organize change and promote change in the church. Why is this true? I did not experience real overt racism until I went to a CHRISTIAN college. It was evident that some people at my school only knew about black people from TV or the people they saw in the hall at school. Why are the Christians who support racial reconciliation and recognize that we have some real deep racial wounds and issues to deal with, harshly critized by the Christian comminuty? Do you have to be a liberal to agree that human life matters? To believe that something must be done about the clear racial divides in our nation? Are we denying that "white flight" and racism still exist? Researchers will tell you that it still exists. What needs to be said for people to WAKE UP and STAND UP and say NO MORE? If I read the Bible correctly, as Christians, we are brothers and sisters in Christ right? If we are, maybe we should start acting like it. Also, the fact that every Christian who speaks out about racism and Mike Brown, has to give a laundry list of disclaimers so that some of their Christian friends will know that they "believe in the police" & "don't agree with looting", so they don't have to deal with a backlash of comments, is awful. As a Christian and African-American seeing posts from some of my Caucasian brothers and sisters is disheartening. We don't have to agree for you to show compassion on a mourning community and parents that had to bury their son too soon. I get everyone has their beliefs but dismissing people's pain and justifying a teen being shot over 6 times, because of an alleged theft, even though he reached a point of surrender, is cruel. I am posing a lot of questions because I don't have all the answers.  I want us to think about these issues together.

How can we unite together as a church? How can we break the walls of racial segregation in our local church? Let's start opening up this conversation. Honestly until we are able to have healthy productive conversations where neither side is predicting what the other will say, maybe we can move forward. Until we come to the table and lay our swords and daggers down, nothing will change. Remember the church has always been in the thick of controversy. This situation should not be any different. I want to work with others that desire to see change in our communities and churches. I want us to unite together instead of focusing on tearing each other apart. I have found that social media makes it way to easy to let our typed our words be used as daggers to hurt one another. Can we try for once to evaluate our typed words as well as the ones spoken? They are just as powerful. I believe we will have to account for them too.

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

There are several things the African-American community is doing to actively better our communities around the U.S. and I pray these initiatives last and we see true change in my generation and the ones behind me. Despite having disadvantages that does not condone crime nor does it give people the right to murder over petty crime. This is a pivotal time for the African-American's to see change in their communities and push for a well-balanced local government. What Antonio French is doing with #HealSTL and registering young people to vote is huge. I hope this situation has encouraged young people to find their voice and to understand that their voice matters and their lives matter. I hope this situation has awakened black youth and that they realize their true value to society. I believe in black youth. 

Here is what I plan to do:

  • Join with other churches who will assist in providing relief and aid to the community/churches of Ferguson
  • Join a local organization that focuses on the empowerment/education of African-Americans in the community
  • Mentor African American Youth
  • Join in conversation with churches and individuals about racial reconciliation and be apart of building a bridge
  • Keep the conversation going: Silence will not bring about change

Growing up I did not focus on racial differences. I was taught to love people, all people. Even when injustice occurred around me, I was taught to stand strong. I love different cultures. My friends are very diverse. I love having friends of different cultures. There is so much I learn from our open conversations. If more people were open to talking, less hatred would exist today. Until you are open to talking to me about my culture and heritage in a kind manner, please do not expect me to be happy when I see comments that are clearly racist. It is hurtful and disappointing. I have cried enough over the senseless and hateful comments people have made about the black community. So I plead with you, come to the table ready to listen. I too am coming to the table with an open heart and an open mind.

I love being Black. I love my natural hair. I love my community. I am educated and I have a successful career. I vote and pay my taxes. I think we have some work and growing to do as a people but I will play a part in changing the narrative that has been written for African-American's in the US. If you are reading this and you are working to bring reconciliation amongst your church, let's talk together. I do not have all the answers but I want to hear from other people and church leaders actively seeking to unite their congregations.

Before leaving this blog post please watch this video:

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Resources and articles I found helpful:

White Brother Shot Black Man

Kristen Howerton

Gospel Coalition

Matt Chandler 

Jennie Allen- To My White People

How To Deal With Racist Reactions to Ferguson

IS IT “GOODBYE EVANGELICALISM” OR “WE JOIN YOU IN YOUR SUFFERING”?'

A Cop's take on Ferguson

 

Lose myself

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I was reminded of the song "lose myself by Lauryn Hill" as I read Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted (The expanded version is coming out soon. Get it. You won't be sorry). In cooperate America, its very clear that in order to gain "success" you have to climb your way to the top. One of the higher up's in my department put it this way," You have to play the game." I left that conversation even more confident that I was not made for the game nor did I want to play it. If playing the game was just for money, a title, pomp and circumstance; then I would not "succeed" in corporate America. I attended a meeting with someone and I left in tears. I was completely wrecked because everything I've been told to fight for in my career is not what I am passionate about. Trust me, I have tried to picture myself at a big desk at a great company climbing the ladder and after a few months, I am once again convinced, that is not the life for me; however, it is the life for some people and if you are that person, by all means please run in your lane, and succeed. As much as I detest this concept of fighting your way to the top it is not just in corporate America; I've seen this "race to the top" in church and even Christian organizations.

Fighting your way to the top in church may be guised with a seemingly well meaning intention but we all know the truth. Working your way to the "top" of the church world may equate to joining the "ranks" of: Priscila Shrier, Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Robert Madu, Chad Veach, Bob Goff, etc. The list could go on. We've all had our moments of admiration and awe that turn into a selfish desire to solely and maybe subconsciously pursue that platform. Those people are in their God-given lane and we can't mimic that. In church we see a pattern: you work the system of who you know -->Gain a position-->Get recognition-Its a tiring game. Luke talks about this is Chapter 14 verse 11 "If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” The Amplified Bible states it this way, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank)." Even still, Jesus is not saying, try to be seemingly "humble" so you will be elevated. If that is what we think he is saying, we (I) have missed the point.

I think Jen describes it best:

"I hate the top. I hate who I have to be to live there. I hate the biblical two step I have to perform to justify top-dwelling. I hate the posturing up there...I detest the fear that haunts every decision. It's a ridiculous game where everyone is either scratching your back or stabbing you in the back. Depending on whether your rung is above or below theirs. The self-congratulatory blustering up there is abhorrent. I'm so over it.Okay maybe it would be more true to say I want to be so over it. I'm trying to be over it."

When, I read these words, it was like someone articulated my feelings over the past few years. You don't want to play the game, in fact you are trying to get over it, because you are so done. Desperately done. The fact still remains that we are human and have a flesh. I have realized that I need to be "done" daily. I am so susceptible to the game. I've even found myself playing at times. Only to be reminded of who I am and how far I've allowed myself to drift from the truth. The line Jen stated that brings it all home is this: "In order for God's kingdom to come, my kingdom had to go." I can't tell you how many times I have prayed anxious prayers to the Lord crying out for "more of Him and less of me" and I've spent years earnestly soaking in more of me. Can I tell you, people, "I'm trying to be over it." So today I chose to be done and tomorrow I will do the same and so forth. Even when I chose the right mindset, I may slip and I may fall but I am starting somewhere.

I've spent a lot of time missing the main point. I don't have time to miss the point anymore. I want to keep the main thing the main thing. My scripture for this year has been Micah 6:8. It is hanging on my cork board at work. The minute I feel myself wandering from that and seeking success or fame and a following, I am missing it. I must draw myself back to square one: this is all about His kingdom.  I just get to be apart of it. How wonderful that he let's me be apart. Literally he is letting me in on what he is doing.

God gave me this dream to have a non-profit for teen mothers. I have labored and prayed over this dream for years and I continue to pray over it. One thing I have to check myself on, am I missing the point? Am I missing it? God don't let me miss the point of all of this. Truth is, I have a desire to help one momma at a time. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of doing something and wanting it to be big. When I find myself heading in that direction, I have to hit the breaks. The main thing is loving people, God's people. It's not about me. The dream was never about me. It was about God entrusting me to carry it. To love his people. To serve his people. Do I know what all of this will evolve into? No, I don't. I do know, it's not about a good social media campaign, marketing, or position. I so desperately want to get that concept with all I am. I want to dwell where Jesus is choose to and make my home there.

This weekend a Bishop Matthew, talked about home. How many people are trying to find "home" and a place to belong. Truth is, as Christians, we will never feel fully at home here. More importantly, "God's love is inside of us and his home is in us." So no matter where you go or where God sends you, his home is in us. "I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you (John 14:18-20)."

So instead of me trying to clammer to the top at church, work, or with HHope. I am humbly seeking Christ daily, to learn how to let his love flow through me and draw people home- to Christ. This peace, joy, and love wasn't meant for me to keep it to myself. It was mean to be shared.

I can't ignore the hurting, broken, those in poverty, and the extreme needs all around the world. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (James 1:27). I refuse to befriend apathy and pride. I can't do it anymore. I must make more of an effort to lay "Faitth and all of her agendas" down daily. 

I want to lose myself so I can wake up, be present, and fully engaged in God's kingdom, not my own.

All Son's and Daughters sum up my heart beat:

"Wake up, wake up, wake upwake up all you sleepersStand up, stand upStand up all you dreamersHands up, hands upHands up all believersTake up your cross, carry it on"

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