Hope & Grief After the Election

I am in tears in my dark living room, the clock ticking on the wall beside me. My three daughters are asleep. They begged me to stay up and watch the results of the election, but I sent them to bed, because I had begun to sense that a long night was coming, and tonight wasn’t going to end the way we had discussed this morning when we prayed together as a family for the election.

I hope if you’re reading this you will hear in me a broken longing for unity and understanding, not a partisan axe to grind. I hope you won’t stop reading as I process through this. I am not a Democrat or Republican, in fact I describe myself as a confused moderate. But I will tell you I did not vote for President-Elect Trump, and tonight I am struggling to process it.

There is a small part of me that wants to feel hope, wants to be relieved. Maybe this will mean Supreme Court justices that somehow curb the numbers of abortion. I get why people I know and love voted for this man – I can understand it. They hate abortion, as do I. But my family was scarred by abortion in the days before Roe made it legal, when there was no consent, and there were horrors in that time and in that experience for my very young, very afraid mother that I am thankful do not exist today. One evil does not lessen another. I am for life because my mother was devastated by abortion just as women and children are today in horrifying numbers, but Roe vs. Wade didn’t create abortion, and legislation is not the only answer.

To my conservative friends, please hear me say I understand. But please also don’t paint your fellow believers who mourn tonight as people who rejoice in death. Did you know that statistics show that 30% of people in your church, who follow Christ, are Democrats? Did you know that 30% of people who are Democrats are pro-life? Did you know that under President Obama, abortions are at the lowest levels they have been since Roe?

Please understand why I am sitting here unsettled, why friends are texting me devastated, why people of color feel unsafe tonight. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, and we have work to do.

This election was many things, meant many things to many people. But can we acknowledge that one of the things it was, one of the things it is, is a heartbreaking  empowerment to the darker undertones of this campaign. I am not justifying any actions of Hillary or Bill Clinton. She lost, it’s over. I understand your rationale for not voting for her. But now that she has lost, can we finally acknowledge the deep and terrible flaws of the man we just elected? Can we, especially us in the church, be big enough to empathize with those who feel afraid tonight? We are commanded as Christians to be imitators of God and have compassion for one another. God is described as close to the broken-hearted, so just for a few minutes, can we draw close as well?

I get that the media isn’t unbiased and that you may see people like me as simply uninformed. But I am not uninformed –  I read the same story at CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, and sometimes Al Jazeera for an international perspective because I am well aware of partisan bias in reporting. But if you watched speeches Donald Trump gave, completely unedited speeches, you can’t deny some of the racist and sexist things he said, or the racist and sexist factions who support him, who now feel justified in their belief. These are his words, this is the candidate himself.

That this man won is a sobering reality for people of color, victims of sexual abuse, and people who subscribe to religions other than Christianity. Can we hear their fear, and sit with it a minute? Not just dismiss it out of hand? Turn off our partisan minds and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking about people around us who ache, to whom we are supposed to be loving and ministering?

Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Colossians 3:12

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Romans 15:1-2 (the Message)

Can we find it in ourselves, whether we feel like the victor tonight or we feel devastated, to understand the feelings of those around us?

Several weeks ago, my oldest daughter came home from school and wanted to talk about the election. You need to know that one of the things we love about Houston is the diversity of the area where we live, and the fact that our daughters have friends who are every color and religious background. This is particularly important to me, because I grew up in an extended family that was covertly, and sometimes overtly, racist in the way that in my experience is completely normal in the white South even today. They didn’t call themselves racist, and wouldn’t to this day. The fact that I do name it is offensive to them because they do not see it as racism. But other races were joked about and talked about not only as other, but as less. Less intelligent, less hard working, less real American, separate and never equal. There was an underlying anger to it that made it more than a joke, and it was disturbing. So many Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood are tinted with the racism saturating our family tree.

So you need to know that, for me, racism is visceral, and personal. I feel it. I know the code words, and the fact that they are still used stuns me. The night President Obama was elected, I cried in relief hopeful at the healing of racism in our country that could elect a black man as president, all the while knowing across my city I had relatives who were angry and afraid. I hoped his election would help things. I’m not sure it did.

It was a cesspool of sin, and I was swimming in it. So I love the Gospel, I love the Gospel, because it cleanses me from sin. It forgives my guilt, it imputes to me a righteousness who is not my own, it gives me the Holy Spirit that begins to put to death the old racist nature and open up a whole new possibility of life and hope and joy and justice.” Jon Piper, on racism in the video Bloodlines.

One of the most powerful things I’ve ever watched was this video by Jon Piper on racism and how he grappled with it as he grew in faith, and every time I get chills because his story is my story. Racism crawls up my skin and is a weight in my stomach and a throbbing in my chest because I used to swim in it, and once you step out you don’t just want to be free of it, you want to shine a light on it and banish it because it lurks in the darkness all around you and it is insidious and persistent and subtle in devastating ways. My mother is an instrument of light and grace, and I believe she broke the curse of racism in our family. She taught my brother and sister and I to not only love people of color, but to fight for them and to fight our inherent sinful bias. To shine as lights in darkness to try to overcome the racism of our not-distant enough past, as if somehow by our love we could make up for the bias directed at people of color from the family that we loved.

So my nine-year-old daughter comes home from school a few weeks ago and tells me that her friends were discussing Donald Trump and how much he hates people from Mexico. Her friend from Mexico is afraid of him, afraid he will hurt her family. She asked me if I would vote for him, and if he really thinks “Mexicans are criminals and terrible people.” So we talked about it from that point forward. We talked about how he talked about people from other countries and other religions. We talked about it when he mocked a disabled reporter. We talked about it in very vague terms when the sexual assault accusations and the tape of him saying terrible things about women broke. We talked about it, because she and her friends were talking about it, and she needs to know that this is a safe place to talk about it. (And we talked about whether or not Hillary was a liar and a crook, which my daughter heard as well). My daughters think Trump is a bully, and I can’t disagree with them. In my oldest daughter’s class election she voted for Hillary Clinton, along with many of her friends. President-Elect Trump feels more unsafe to her. She looked forward to the first “Womans” President, as she called it.

And I understand that. To my conservative friends, can’t you understand that? Please tell me you can. Please tell me you get why this isn’t a simple issue, or a simple election. Please tell me you don’t agree with the truly awful aspects of this man’s personality and his speech and his behavior toward others who are different. Please tell me this isn’t a simple victory and the fact that you won doesn’t mean it is all okay.

Because I sit in my living room and write this with tears in my eyes. I cry because in a few hours I will walk into her room, and wake her up, and will tell her that he won. We will talk about it, about why a man who at times acted like a jerk can still win. And she will go to school with friends who are afraid, and they may have good reason to be afraid. And I will tell her to be a light in a dark world, to shine a light on darkness all around her. But it will be an incredibly hard conversation.

I cry because I know Muslim Americans who already are treated as less than, and as other.  I cry because they feel afraid tonight. I cry because refugees who are vetted more than any other group that comes into this country have been and will continue to be vilified. I cry because people of color, who already don’t feel safe and who know the code words better than I do feel even less safe tonight. Their President-Elect literally only talks about them like they all live in hellish inner-city war zones, highlighting the fact that he does not know or understand their struggles at all. I cry because my friends who are gay feel afraid and alone tonight – this was a message to them as well. Political becomes personal when people are hurt or afraid. Van Jones spoke beautifully about the way this feels for millions of people, and I hope we can hear him.

I cry because tonight racists are rejoicing, some of their views mainstreamed. Their sin does not weigh on them, it feels normal and right and now approved. And that makes me grieve, and I have to fight off fear. I cannot imagine how my friends who are people of color feel knowing that.

I cry as a victim of sexual abuse.

I cry as a member of a broken church, so divided. I feel so isolated, as do most of my moderate and progressive friends. We love Jesus and serve him. We are neighbors and church staff members and Pastors and deacons and children’s volunteers and we stand and worship with you and hug you in the lobby or the school, but we keep our political views off Facebook so you won’t think less of us or think we are “baby killers.” We too voted our convictions yesterday, we too prayed about who to vote for, we too truly want the best for this country. This idea that Christians must be Republican confuses empire with Kingdom, and we are family first – citizens of a Kingdom that absolutely without equivocation trumps our party affiliation. If we are questioning a brother’s faith because of their party, we need to repent.

I cry as a daughter of a King. This hurts me. This feels so wrong. He stands for so much of what I completely oppose. I ache, and that you may not feel it makes it feel worse, and makes me feel alone.

Tonight I cry. And I hope, even if you aren’t crying with me, that you understand why I do and you give me and my children the space and permission to grieve, along with the more than 50% of the country who did not vote for this man. I hope that those of us who feel afraid would realize that fear is never from God, and begin to look to Him in hope.

And I pray that tomorrow, we begin to fix this. He is the President-elect, that is reality and I will pray for and honor him as I did President Obama and President Bush and Clinton before him. But everything he stood for in the campaign does not have to be approved by us. It should not be approved by us.

We together as the church need to be a light to banish the darkness. I hope and pray that your endorsement of this candidate is not an endorsement of everything he stands for, that you will stand against racism and sexism with me throughout his presidency. That my daughters will be surprised by joy, that their fears will not be realized, that their friends will not be in danger and if they are, that we will stand and defend them in force and in mass and beat back the danger together. That we will never be silent in the face of oppression. That the racist factions will be minimized and vanquished back to the dark corners where they were before their recent boldness. That even if it costs us, as the church of Jesus Christ we will stand together for the poor and weak and the “other.” So many of you say that the government cannot do what the church was designed to do, and this is our chance to prove it. The church needs to step up.

saint-francis-xavierThere are enormous numbers of people in our country tonight who are afraid, who feel alone, who feel abandoned by the church and the country. They are terrified. Church, these are our people. These are the people Jesus would be walking with tonight, because He always found a way to walk with those who mourned and felt alone. We have to go get them and walk with them (and He will be there already, speaking comfort). And we do this today – there is no time for partisan gloating because the Republican won. All that does is divide and we are to be people of unity. People are hurting, and we are first of all Kingdom people. We have work to do. We have to pray for how to best share hope – maybe it is as simple as a smile and showing support and love to someone, and then we have to act. Maybe we take a meal to a family who feels alone and scared, tell them we stand with them. Maybe it is more – may the Holy Spirit lead us. If we don’t know anyone who is broken or afraid tonight, may that convict us. How could we be so insular when the world is such a beautifully diverse place? Please pray with me that we will know how to minister to the broken.

But we have to do what we were made to do. The church overwhelmingly tonight voted for the government to get out of the business of fixing everything, great, then the church has to fill the gap. We have to step up.

They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
    and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
    a deceitful tongue.
For they shall eat and lie down,
    and no one shall make them afraid. – Zephaniah 3:13

Jesus, help us. Please speak to Your church. Please speak to our President-Elect, give Him wisdom, lead Him in the ways of righteousness. Please heal our country. We confess our fear, and know You are never the author of it. Please give us hope. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen. 

Grieving and Hope After the Election

Many people are grieving for our country today. My Facebook feed, made up mostly of conservative Christians, is like the day after a bomb dropped. Early polls showed 80% of evangelicals voted for Governor Romney, and many are shocked and grieved by the outcome of the election.

I am grieving for the church.

Many people are posting on Facebook that this win signals people want handouts and don’t want to work, signals the death of our country’s ideals and an electorate who doesn’t care enough to be informed, and is a national endorsement of abortion, gay marriage, and weed. Most of these posts that I saw came from people who are Christians, and to those posts I have to give the following response:

I humbly and sadly disagree. I think this split in our culture is about the church. I think it is about the marginalized (the people the church should love and support). The Democrats made a compelling case that they cared about those people. We in the church have not made that same compelling argument. Even on election day, in some of our responses, we demonstrated a lack of care for people, a lack of faith in God’s sovereignty, and a lack of obedience to His commands to not fear. I am going to get into the issues and hopefully present a thoughtful view of these things so that we can understand the “other side” a bit better and respond in love instead of rhetoric – but first of all let me say this – Jesus gives hope to each of these issues. We have hope in Christ.

“The Handouts”: On election day, thousands of people tweeted jokes like “Don’t worry if Dems are leading, Republicans will vote once they get off work.” I also saw comments about the over-half of our country that voted for the Democrats that go something like this – “they want something for nothing so they’ll take our country down in debt.” And it breaks my heart. The rhetoric simply isn’t true, and this attitude is what is alienating us from not only the voting world but from the lost world. Our country has one of the highest levels of childhood poverty of any industrialized nation. Over 18% of our children don’t get enough to eat. And the assumption and the rhetoric states that is the lazy parent’s fault. But the facts, according to the Institute of Child Development, are that 75% of poor children have at least one parent who works. The remaining 25%? Mostly single women who cannot afford quality childcare to be able to work. And some call them welfare queens. But guess what, 1 out of 4 of those women don’t qualify for any federal assistance whatsoever. And the ones who do face restrictions to protect them from living off “government cheese.” There are some lazy Americans, yes, but for the most part, the working poor are just that, working poor, and not lazy Americans. These are desperate hurting Americans trying to make a living wage and failing. For example, over 50% of Walmart employees don’t make enough to live and because of this, qualify for food stamps. But they are working. Not full-time, because Walmart fights to keep employees at 39 hours per week. But hard. They aren’t looking for a handout. They are trying. And we as the church have bought into the rhetoric and ignored the reality. Church, we have to quit buying into this political “us vs. them” rhetoric of the working versus the lazy and instead buy into church’s command to love the least of these. Because our command to love is absolute, even when people take advantage of the system and are lazy. We in the church certainly do help the poor – but in the last 20 years we have helped the poor quietly and shouted the rhetoric loudly. Let’s stop the rhetoric and instead let our quiet consistent support of the poor define us.

“The Gays”: What if, in the early days of AIDS in the 1980s, the church had embraced homosexuals as they struggled in terror to understand this new disease that was wiping them out? What if we had been the ones known for our care for them? What if instead of fighting them on every right and constantly reminding them of their “terrible sin,” we remembered how Jesus treated the tax collectors and sinners and how he got to know them and ate with them, and they followed him because they loved him and knew he loved them? Dr. Stanton Jones, provost at Wheaton College, said at Dallas Theological Seminary that the church has failed in the treatment of homosexuals by treating “them” as our enemy in the culture war, and considering “their” sin as irredeemable while failing to consider our own sin and brokenness. A study by the Barna Group showed that when asked, 91% of non-Christians defined Christianity as anti-homosexual (in fact, this was the first word they used to describe the Christian faith). We have failed. We have defined the grace, love, and death of Jesus Christ to a lost world as “anti-homosexual.” Father, forgive us. Do you think they would still seek protection in a political party if we had been their ally instead of declaring “war” on them? I think that is what this election was about for them. They were aligning themselves with the party who demonstrated care for them.

“The Illegals”: The Hispanic vote overwhelming went Democratic, despite their dominate Catholic pro-life worldview (much more conservatively pro life than even most evangelicals). Why? I think it was more “us versus them” rhetoric. What if we were the ones fighting for immigrant children, brought here because children have nothing to eat in the place where they live, instead of the ones calling them “illegals” and demanding their deportation, many of them to a place where they don’t know the language and have never lived? What if we not only supported but demanded programs like the Dream Act? And I know there is a legal path to immigration, but I also know it is broken and takes sometimes decades and that path is terribly narrow and needs to be fixed. My friends in ministries like International Friends and refugee ministries, you are doing great work – and we need to partner with you more in those ministries as we seek to reach out to and love on our minority population in this country.

“The Stoners”: What if, instead of seeing the weed legislation movements as “slacker stoners” wanting to toke in public, we recognized the reality that our “war on drugs” has not raised the price of drugs or limited access, but instead only succeeded in imprisoning more Americans than any other country in the world? We have a broken legal system that criminalizes the social and medical problem of addiction. In 2010, 1.64 million people were arrested for drug violations, 80% of those were for possession. A friend’s son took his own life before a mandatory minimum sentence would send him away to prison after a repeat possession charge. The cost of that to my friend is unmeasurable. Over 2.3 million people in the United States are imprisoned, over half of those for non-violent drug offenses. This is devastating the African American community (which plays into both the poverty and abortion problems in that community). I’m not saying legalization is the answer – in fact I think it isn’t, but maybe if we looked at the problem with sympathetic hearts and a willingness to work together toward solutions instead of cynical political goggles, we would join together to find a better solution. Big Brothers and Sisters does great work on the mentoring front, which helps prevent this problem, and Prison Fellowship does an excellent job once people are in prison, but there is room for us to minister alongside these groups to help this marginalized group.

“The Babies”: I’ve addressed this many times before (here, here and here), and my views on abortion are clear. Abortion is terrible and we are all paying a terrible price for it. But even if reversing Roe was a possibility, which I truly am not sure it will be  until there is a major worldview change (which comes from the inside), abortions didn’t start with Roe. My family was affected by abortion long before Roe v Wade. Abortions are a consequence of spiritual, family, and economic factors. When marriages are strengthened and divorce rates go down, the number of abortions go down. When women escape poverty, abortion rates go down. When the healthcare and childcare options for women improve, the number of abortions go down. When women are in community with people who care and feel supported and encouraged, abortion rates go down. When women find hope, abortion rates go down. Legislation is not the best answer to the abortion crisis. Jesus and the church is. Our crisis pregnancy centers have done more for life than any legal battle we have ever fought. Well done friends who are part of those powerful ministries. The church is starting to get this right – and we need to continue on that path.

There is a sense that America rejected God in the voting booth yesterday. But I think there is an argument that we as the Church rejected these groups first, either directly or through the party we have closely aligned ourselves to. Church we are not the Republican party. And by the way, we aren’t the Democratic party either. In fact, the parties may be hurting us not only in mindset but also in reputation. I think we need to remember that both political parties, and partisan media sources, have not only financial interest but ultimately derive power from us suspecting each other, fearing each other, and not compromising with each other. And that is the exact opposite of what our faith is about. We cannot let the “us versus them” mindset of the political landscape hijack our message of love for all people and grace by faith in Christ alone. In this political environment, if you disagree (or even compromise or seek to understand) you are the enemy. But Jesus taught us that we not only love our enemies but lay our lives down for them. We can disagree, but we must disagree well because we don’t just represent us, we represent Christ in us.

We also have to be careful with the reputation of our faith. We cannot let extreme personalities like Trump with his “I’m a real Christian” and his honorary doctorate from Liberty, alongside his twitter rants and conspiracy theories about long forms and secret Muslim allegiances, define us. And why do so many I know believe him, but we have a president who has claimed faith in Christ, but people discount that? People seem to be mourning as if all hope is lost and the President’s heart is beyond God’s realm of control. Instead, we should be praying that the Holy Spirit would convict and lead him. The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, he turns it wherever he will. Prov 21:1. The President’s heart is in the hand of God – so when we pray, we can affect where it turns. That is power we have in Christ! We should be encouraged by it. We truly have no reason to fear.

It feels like we have forgotten that Jesus is our hope. Jesus alone.

My former pastor, Brandon Thomas, tweeted today “Bringing people to Jesus will build our great nation to its best days, no doubt! Life in Christ = love God, love others.” I say Amen. Max Lucado tweeted “Lord, please: Unite us. Strengthen us. Appoint and annoint our president.” I say Amen. I am not saying compromise on any of these things – nor are these pastors. I’m not saying change your vote or party alignment. I’m not saying you have to agree with the Left or the Right. I am saying let’s assume a position of humility in dealing with these really difficult issues and seek to understand each other so that we can reconcile with each other. I’m saying when we are kind, we lead people to Jesus, and we make our country stronger.

Courtesy CathNewsUSA.com

I’m visual – so I keep thinking of nuns (habits and all). Everyone knows what they believe. But how do you see them portrayed, even in liberal Hollywood? Positively. Why? Because they are known for helping people – for humbly working toward the good of the people around them. So they are beloved. We could learn from their example. We need better PR and we need a return to our true hope.

America is not the hope of the world. Neither is a political party. Jesus is. Church, let’s return to him and follow His lead in loving the hurting.

The Backup:

Dr. Russell Moore on a Christian response to the election: http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/11/07/christians-lets-honor-the-president/

Abortion statistics: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_07.pdf

Prison Statistics: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/20/americas-invisible-incarcerated-millions

Drug War Statistics: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/04/business/in-rethinking-the-war-on-drugs-start-with-the-numbers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Childhood Poverty Statistics: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/

Dallas Theological Seminary Article on Homosexuality: http://www.dts.edu/read/5-failures-on-churchs-treatment-sexuality-5-ways-forward-jones-stanton/

Non-Christian Perceptions of Christianity: unchristian by Kinnamon and Lyons

Rich Stearns, CEO of WorldVision, author of The Hole in Our Gospel, wrote this response to the election: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-stearns/goodbye-christian-america-hello-true-christianity_b_2082649.html

Tim Keller on Signs of Political Idolatry: http://kellerquotes.com/the-signs-of-political-idolatry/

Ian Simkins on Politics and the Church: http://isimkins.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/politics/

This post has been shared far beyond anything I ever thought possible. Thank you for sharing. I want to clarify a few things. First of all – pretty much everyone I know, love, and respect is a conservative. I am not saying that every conservative feels this way or has responded this way since the election. Most people I love and many millions more have not. And although I am not in the liberal Christian circles, I’m sure there has been a ton of rhetoric in that camp as well. This post was intended as an encouragement for us, in the church, on both sides, to open our eyes to each other and shut off the rhetoric – to see that the things that unite us (a love for country, a love for God, a love for people, and a desire to achieve the best for our family and people we love) are far greater than the things that divide us (our differing ideas for how we achieve change in our country).  I believe in Christ we have hope and in Christ we are brothers and sisters and that disunity, even because of partisanship, is a tactic of our enemy. Thank you again for reading. 

Shifting Gears

Courtesy NY Daily News

Still taking a break from Facebook, mostly because I want to still love everyone I know once the election is over.  I have gotten back on Twitter, because without cable, it’s my news source. But even that I’m taking in small doses.

I have shifted modes, though. The damage on the eastern seaboard and the storms plaguing 20% of the American population are heavy on my mind. It has forced a perspective shift. So I am no longer praying for the election or worrying about the outcome. I prayed for months before I voted about who to vote for, and I know that the Lord is in control.

No man in the White House has the power to save us or condemn us, and no matter who wins, our country has survived worse.

I am praying for the people in our land, and in the lands around us also hit by the storms. For those who have lost loved ones, for the thousands displaced from their homes and their businesses, for the millions of people without power on this cold night and the cold nights coming with the next storm hitting in days. For the relief workers, local government leaders, and first responders who are exhausted. For the millions of people processing the events of the past week – for their PTSD-affected minds and hearts. Jesus be near and give peace. We need the voice that said “Peace, be still” to the waves, and the waves obeyed, to speak in might and power and shift this newest storm away from these hurting people.

I am also praying for our country after the election. For peace in our land. For the side that loses to respect and honor the leader the Lord has allowed to be at the head of our country. For protection for our next president. For whoever wins to lead with honor and wisdom. For the voices of division and hatred to be silenced. For the next president to humble himself in the sight of the Lord, so that He may lift them up. I believe that neither of them is too far gone for the Lord to draw to Himself, and that is what I am praying for, in faith. The weight of a nation is too big for any man – and I am praying whoever wins would take that weight to the one Power strong enough to carry it.

I’m shifting gears. I’m praying hard. I’m believing for good. And I hope you’ll join me.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107:28-31

Olympics, Unity, and Joy

The Olympics demonstrated for me what I love about social media. I loved watching gymnastics with my computer in my lap, laughing at tweets from people I love about an athlete’s strange wardrobe decisions and cheering on the team that in overtime just needs to score a stinking goal. I loved watching what is trending worldwide to see what was happening live in London, imagining being in that beautiful city to witness history firsthand. When I realized that I couldn’t access online content because we no longer have cable and NBC was requiring subscriber information for access, I went to Twitter to voice my frustration and joined joyfully in the #NBCfail snark. When Matt and Meredith insulted the entire world with completely inane and potentially racist commentary during the Opening Ceremony, I was interacting with old friends on Facebook who joined me in laughing disbelief and horror. During the games, I followed athletes and loved seeing their photographs and reading their joy firsthand. It made the Olympics fun and interactive. I felt like a part of it, and it removed the roadblock that NBC had placed between me and the Olympics that limited my viewing choices to what they handpicked to air between commercials to generate the most revenue.


Courtesy USMagazine

It made the Olympics feel like an event that I was watching on a giant sofa with people I love, like the Lost Finale we watched with our closest island-adoring friends.

I loved it.

We were joined together, rooting for these athletes who have spent years training for this one moment. We were hopeful and joyful and cheering them on. It was unity in action, the entire world celebrating life and health and hard work.

It is what I love the most about social media. Simple joy and the crossing of divides.

And it is the exact opposite of what we are entering into next. The same reason I loved social media during the Olympics is why I dread it in the politically-charged fall. Because it is the opposite of unity – it is division and tearing each other down and flinging soundbites at each other from across the divide. Politics makes social media miserable, and I truly dread it.

I want to cling to the Olympic unity this Fall. Unless we are uniting in our mutual disgust with Matt Lauer, I  want to avoid the mudslinging. I want to share light and love on social media regardless of who wins and loses in November.

Because, here’s the deal, whatever happens, we are not the enemy we are supposed to fight (see Ephesians 6:12), and really, who ever changed their mind because of a tense and charged Facebook decision? It’s pointless and divisive and we all have better things to do with our time.

Dear Mark Cuban,

photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com

First of all, let me say that I realize I am just a mom who lives in Dallas, Texas – and by no means an expert on anything. However, I have had an idea for a while now that I thought I’d share with the world at large as I share it with you, Mark. I have wanted to approach you with the idea that we take the frustration of the American people and make a timely documentary/reality TV show called “Third Party” where we gather a group of experts, build a platform, select a charismatic leader, and begin to select individuals in key districts throughout the country to represent our party. We build a party from the ground up with intelligent people giving us insight, maybe Nobel award winners, but without lobbyists or special interests of any kind involved in the crafting of the platform. I think it would make for amazingly compelling TV, and I think if there was ever a time where a third-party had a chance, now is that time.

Why come to you, Mark? Well, you are (pardon the pun) a maverick. You are a brilliant businessman and a cynical guy, with quite a bit of national recognition already. But you aren’t a part of the machine of big business that is so entangled with both political parties. You also happen to have a TV network and some crazy connections. 🙂

Here’s how I came up with the idea… I recently have been taking a history class. As an adult, learning about our national history is an entirely new experience. There has been, since the gilded age at the end of the 19th century, what appears to me to be a sense of “ownership” of our country by certain elite and wealthy members of society. Many years ago big business decided that it doesn’t have to lobby politicians to get decisions to go in their favor, they simply run their leadership in races and become the politicians themselves. So at root, our political system has been embroiled in big business and people have exploited it for personal profit. It has been very interesting to study the Populist party and the election of 1896 in light of the rise of the Tea Party in 2009/2010. There is much a third party could learn from the failure of the Populist Party. Just like the Tea Party of today, the Populist party, or People’s party, arose as a grassroots effort. In fact, it sprouted from an alliance of farmers opposing unfair practices by the railroad owners who transported their crops. Over four years the Populist party grew into a seriously powerful force. They had what was, at the time, a radical platform of reforms including government ownership of the railroads and telephone/telegraph. In the election of 1896, the Democratic party presented a platform similar to the Populist party, based on a monetary system of free silver instead of the gold standard, and the decision was made to fuse the Populist party into the Democratic party instead of trying to defeat them. This alienated many populist members who wanted nothing to do with the Democratic party. The Republican party beat the fused party and the defeat signaled the formal end of the Populist party, although the platform shaped public policy and reforms for more than 30 years.

I, along with many of my generation, am entirely frustrated with the Republican and Democratic parties. I have voted Republican in recent elections, simply because I felt it was the lesser of two evils. But I would love another option. I read a statistic today that you could buy every person in the world 9 iPhones with America’s national debt. That is unacceptable and something must be done. It is simply an unsustainable situation.

I have watched with some interest, and frankly suspicion, the rise of the Tea Party. The frustration that has led to the grassroots organization of the Tea Party is legitimate – although I don’t know if the results will be successful in the long run. I have seen some great people who I love and respect begin to support the Tea Party movement, which compels me towards it, but have also seen figureheads like Cheney, Beck, and Palin, which makes me wary. I cannot seem to locate their national platform, or identify actual leaders. In the absence of those two things, some crazy radical loudmouths have stepped in and so it begins to appear that the Tea Party represents nothing more than an anti-Obama position. I realize this is perception, and not necessarily reality – but in politics, perception is reality. I firmly believe that you cannot build a party on what you are against. You must build a party on what you are for – what you believe – and how it will help every American. If I could see a platform based on those things – and if I could see a charismatic leader the likes of a Lincoln, Reagan, or Kennedy, I would advocate for it and vote for it with all of my might. The Tea Party has the right idea – like the Populist party, there is potential for long-term reforms sprouting out of their frustration. Real change can come with the rise of a legitimate third party. But like the Populist party, I believe they need to be wary and learn from the mistakes made over 100 years ago. First of all, like what happened to the Populist party in the election of 1896, the Tea Party of today seems far too close to the Republican party. All a Republican would have to do is spout some rhetoric about national debt, and he could siphon off Tea Party support. I would also like to see, if the Tea Party comes up with a platform and a leader, them distance themselves from the crazy fringe (the Birthers and the racist ranters). I could never vote for anyone who I consider to be a racist or who I consider to be accommodating or accepting of racists – racism is EVIL and has gripped our country for entirely too long. I know there are millions of people like me – and our votes are the ones up for grabs. So it is important that the leadership of any third-party keep a razor-sharp focus on the vision and platform of the party, and eliminate any distracting and inflammatory rhetoric. To put it simply, a successful third party that wants to earn my vote would have to represent a radical return to conservative spending (which has not existed in the Republican party since Reagan).

I would actually love for Dave Ramsey to run for President as the leader of our party – just to give you an idea of one fun thing we could do. Laugh all you want – but I read his book “Total Money Makeover” when my husband and I were engaged. It was life changing for us. It shines a light on the lies of this consumer culture and the trap that is debt. As a family, we are not out of debt completely yet, because you see, Mark, we’ve had a tough year. My husband was laid off from his job last October, and I was laid off from mine this April. But here’s the cool part. Even given our circumstances, we have seen our net worth rise a CRAZY amount in four years as we have paid off debt and made wise decisions financially. Had we not read his book and applied his principles, I don’t know what would have happened to our family. We are Christians and we fully believe that we have been blessed beyond our imagination during this time – but we also have had the opportunity to demonstrate faithfulness with our finances that we were taught by Dave Ramsey when times were “good” financially. Without any form of government support, not a dime of unemployment or any other government handout, we have not missed a payment since he was laid off. In fact, we have continued to pay down debt, although more conservatively. Now granted, we both have worked our tails off doing freelance and part time jobs, but still it is amazing. If Ramsey (with God’s help 🙂 of course) could do that for our family, I’d love to see what his fiscal policy could do for our country. We have made sacrifices and have changed the way we view money. That is the kind of radical change we need in Washington.

Anyway – Mark – if this ever happens to reach you – I say we do it. I think it is an idea that’s time has come. Like the Populist party, our party may not win many elections, but we could shape public policy and generate a spirit of reform. Plus we’d probably get some kickin’ ratings.

(And if any of you Tea Party leaders are out there reading this – can you show me a national platform? And can you point me to the person in charge? And can you tell Glenn Beck that the chalkboard is condescending?)

Back to my kids and my regular life – my blogging foray into politics is now over. Thanks for listening.


Between the Beauty and the Chaos

My mind is stuck in Haiti and I write to process, so be warned this is all over the place.  I think about Haiti as I go to sleep and immediately upon waking up.  And yet I am home now and holding my beautiful Bekah and playing with my beautiful Grace in our wonderful home and the stark comparison of those two things just baffles me.  My friend Aaron Ivey wrote an album entitled “Between the Beauty and the Chaos,” and he and his wife share a similar heart with Justin and me, and that sums up where I am.

Last night as I lay in bed trying to sleep I told Justin that it is hard for me to watch the father he is, to watch him dance with Grace while we watch Cinderella, without thinking that every girl deserves a daddy like him.  Here’s the beauty of the life we live.

Jamie and Aaron Ivey’s son, Amos, is still living in an orphanage in Haiti until his adoption is final and for the past two nights they have had to sleep with all 70 children outside because of the aftershocks and the insecurity of their damaged building.  Here is a photograph they posted.  This is the chaos of these precious children’s lives.

A few months ago one of my Compassion kids, Widline Floreal, graduated from the Compassion Program.  I received word that she had come to Christ during her time at the Project, and I prayed that she would know always that Jesus is with her.  Beautiful girl.  I hope she isn’t alone in the chaos.  I hope she’s alive.  I wonder if I’ll ever know.  I pray she knows Jesus loves her and is with her.

We have given to several organizations that are on the ground in Haiti, but it isn’t enough.  We are praying and reading the blogs and calling out to God, and I know in my mind that is more but it still feels like it isn’t enough.  I just want to bring these babies home.  I just want to gather our friends and get them all adopted – be this beautiful rainbow family of people who love Christ.  I just want to see my husband dancing with my daughters from around the world.   I want to be used by God to bring beauty into chaos.  That is why we give.  That is why we pray.  That is why we will adopt.

There is beauty.  I sincerely hope that everyone is giving something to this cause.  If the people who are tweeting links to give to a cause are actually giving, I am thrilled with the generosity we are seeing.   The tweets and blogs from people on the ground in Haiti are so incredibly moving and powerful (@troylivesay, Livesay Blog, the Real Hope for Haiti blog, the Howerton blog), people are helping in extraordinary ways (Fellowship Church Miami’s plane headed to Haiti with food and water 36 hours after the first shaking), people in Haiti are singing worship songs, reading their bible, praying, helping, coming together.  I love this.  This is what we are supposed to be about.

There is chaos.

I know that some people who are my friends are not Believers in Christ, and yet you still read what I write and I thank you for doing so.  I have hesitated to speak to the Pat Robertson comment because I sometimes feel so unwise to respond to such things, but let me simply say this.  He does not speak for me, for any authentic Believer in Christ, or for the Jesus that I read in the Bible.   Pat’s comments were chaos.  We as believers are called to be light and love to this world (Right before Jesus’ death in John 13 he told the disciples A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Pat’s representation of Christ is not love or light.  I am sorry he claims to speak for us as Believers.

If you care to read it, Donald Miller’s response to Pat’s comments was completely in line with what I feel about Pat Robertson.  I thought his words represented Beauty well.

I thought Keith Olbermann’s response to Pat’s comments were very interesting, and I didn’t know what he was responding to until I looked it up, and I was shocked at the political comments I found.  It is amazing how many people used this horrible tragedy and turned it into political fodder – yet another chance to bash our President.  I am incredibly frustrated with the 24 hour news cycle and with the nonsense it has inflicted on our country and I am frustrated with Fox News and what it has done to Christianity.  We are NOT to be known primarily, or really at all according to my Bible, for our political point of view.   Jesus lived in the time of the Roman Empire, and he never once said to “Rise up and fight, call everyone a fascist and circulate hate through email and picket and be known by your division.”  He said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesars and render unto God what is God’s.”  I’m fine if you vote Republican, so do I. I am fine if you vote for the life of the unborn.  So do I.  But when you politicize everything, including a horrible tragedy such as this situation in Haiti and use it to be hateful, disrespectful, and anything but submissive to the leadership that God has placed over you, you are sinning.  God ordains our leaders.  Look at China.  The church is exploding!  God does not need a Christian in the White House to be glorified.  Read the new Testament, the church was meant to be a subversive force in our culture.  If you are a Believer in Christ and watching Fox News (or MSNBC) and getting all fired up and hateful and divisive, if you are known for that and not for your love for people around you, you are known for the wrong thing.  I am not a sheep.  I am fully aware of what is going on in our country.  But I am not a citizen primarily of this country.  I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God and I will behave as such.  If you are spreading chaos into this world, and not spreading beauty, beware.  You might be about the wrong Kingdom’s business.  Again, I typically don’t speak to this, and you can now see why.  🙂  But this is where I am.  That junk is chaos.  And we are not to be about it.  I’ll now stop spouting my opinions on this, in case you were nervous.

Here’s the truth of where I am today. We live in a horribly fallen world.  It is simply and terribly chaos.  We were meant for another world – for heaven.  A world of beauty.  And in the in between, we are here with a purpose to give God glory and to be a light into darkness.   To bring the beauty of the next life, of peace with God, into the chaos of a fallen world. Jesus please help us to do that.  Jesus please be near to Haiti.  Jesus please hold the fatherless in the palm of your hands, and raise up fathers here with a passion to bring their sons and daughters home.  There are 140 million orphans.  Jesus please call your church to be a forever family to these sweet babies.  Please let no Christian be satisfied to be a citizen of this country.  Please call them to be a citizen of your Kingdom first and foremost.  Jesus help us where we are weak, be great when we are not, and cover over us with your grace when we are decidedly human.   To You and You alone be the glory.