Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What About Me-Afterthoughts

When I set off on this endeavor to define and uncover the truth about sex, particularly in response to the way culture is writing it for us, I had a specific audience in mind. Although I knew and even hoped this message would be spread and talked about to people of both genders and of all ages and different situations, when I imagined the reader, I imagined someone like me, with my experiences.

As for Me: Though my words on paper may seem so eloquently spoken … I’m not, and if you know me, you know that. HA. I’ve tried my best to be careful and have sought the Lord to reflect HIS Perfect Word, not to portray MY perfect life. Does the Word say not to withhold your body from your spouse? Yes. Have I rolled the other way and ignored my husband when I knew he was needing my attention? MORE times than I can COUNT. Often times, I find myself encouraging others in things that I need the encouragement in most. My marriage isn’t roses and chocolate. Actually there’s like, never roses now that I think of it, and we’ve both gotta lay off the chocolate. We bicker, we have day to day pressures, we disagree about the kids, we say things we don’t mean, or don’t follow through on things we promised we’d do. Sometimes, I don’t want to have sex with him not because I'm tired, but because I'm peeved! There! I said it! This woman I’m describing is the woman I imagined being my audience because in my heart of hearts, in my messy, normal, imperfect marriage, love-making truly is a flame fanner and game changer. As I’ve pointed out throughout the last 3 posts, I believe sex is a tool to HELP your marriage if used in the right way.

BUT, what if you’re not like me? What if you’re not that audience? I’ve compiled a few scenarios, because I feel these are important things to discuss.

To The Wife Struggling with Their Sex Drive: As I pointed out in the last post, “Fan the Flame,” it’s been said that many women have a lower libido than men. Let me rephrase that. I encourage you to verify this. It will help you if you’re struggling on either side of this. Studies show that women’s sexual desire often stems from their psychological or emotional realm, whereas testosterone is the trigger for men. Often times, women aren’t aware of a sexual desire at all until their husband makes the first move, like a kiss on the neck, for instance. It’s quite common for women’s sexual desire to be responsive to their spouse. This is why I said, “Roll your tired body over, it will be worth it.” For me, I don’t feel like it at first. He has to make a move and “wake me up.” The desire is there, but hidden. Many women think there’s something wrong with them because they never want sex without a bunch of work. On the other side of that, many OTHER women DO have a strong sex drive. Maybe you’re the wife who always taps your husband on the shoulder and says, “THE WORD SAYS, GIVE IT UP, MAN!” If this is you, I would say, there is nothing wrong with having a strong sexual desire, but maybe don’t use those exact words anymore. It’s just rude! Seriously, Look at 1 Corinthians 7:2-4. He wasn’t just telling the wives to give it up. He was talking to husbands, also.

To the Wife With the Abuse Husband: Whether your husband is physically harming you, or you’re just so emotionally traumatized from the effects of your relationship that you’re afraid of him for whatever reason,  I would not be directing you to give yourself over to him sexually. Above all else, remember what sex was designed to reflect. “I love you. You love me.” I encourage you to seek Godly counseling.

To the Wife of the Man Struggling with Porn Addiction: There’s too many of you that this applies to. I say that because I want you to know that you’re not alone. I know that this subject effects you in a deeper way than it might affect others. I haven’t experienced your feelings of betrayal. I can only imagine the hay-day that Satan has had placing lies in your head that would have you selling yourself short as you compare yourself to the other women you might see in the porn you know your husband has seen. Out “performing” these erotic acts won’t cure what has taken hold of him. It’s so important that you and your spouse understand the difference between connecting intimately, or just using each other’s bodies as a vessel to fulfill your erotic fantasies. It shouldn’t feel like your husband is doing something TO you. It should feel like he is doing something WITH you. This difference is what this entire series is about. THE ENTIRE THING. If you haven’t sought Godly counsel, I’d encourage you to do it. There are so many like you, men and women, that struggle with porn addiction. I promise, it won’t be the bomb you expect it to be when you get it off your chest to a trusted counselor, mentor or friend. If you’re at a place where you feel comfortable engaging in sex, I’d focus on intimacy. Slow down. Let your actions say what sex is supposed to be reflecting in your marriage. “I love you. You love me. We’re in this together, forever.” You can win this with love, prayer and patience.

To the Wife Whose Tired of Doing Right: As I close this whole thing, part of me wants to start a whole new series titled, “God’s Will for Husbands” where I would outline all the things that husbands are SUPPOSED to be doing! HA! I’m sure all of you have plenty of ideas for those posts. The thing is, unfortunately, my duty as a wife is not contingent upon whether or not Tomas fulfills his duty as a husband or father. That means I don’t get to withhold sex from him when he has a bad day or doesn’t follow through with our commitment to a healthy lifestyle. (No matter how tempting it may be.) Muahahaha. Is it fair? No! Do I want him to be all that God has called him to be for us? Yes, but that’s not my problem, and truthfully, by skipping out on MY side of the deal, I’ll only cause more of a problem between us. Do I really want that? Be his leg while he’s not standing. I’m speaking to myself. Above all, pray. Prayer changes everything.

On that note, I’m going to finish with this. A couple who are very close to me have gone to hell and back in their marriage over the years in so many ways. I can’t begin to tell you what they’ve walked through. God is doing major work in them, but I know a lot of what they’ve already overcome has to do with the fact that there has been so much honest prayer. Recently, they were at a marriage seminar, where a special speaker called for married couples who needed prayer to come forward. Both this husband and wife knew they were to come up, but neither moved. Previously that week, the wife happened to have a knee injury. As they stood there frozen, the wife complained to her husband about her knee. The speaker continued with the alter call. “I know there’s one more couple. Where are you? We’ll wait.” Still, they didn’t go up. Finally, the speaker said, “The couple that needs to come forward, I think one of you has a knee injury.” My friends looked at each other and knew they had to overcome themselves and go up to be ministered to.

We like to think that it’s just us in our marriage but God cares for us even more than we care for each other. He's walking out our struggles with us. He was adamant about getting my friends to the altar for prayer. He's just as passionate about you! There's power available for you. Tap into that.


Til next time,
Tina

Monday, June 19, 2017

Fan the Flame

Whew.. okay. I guess this is it. Everything I’m about to share, I really feel needs to be said, and I’m not a person that knows how to be vague, I guess. I’ve tried to write this in a way that is impersonal, but I’m not an impersonal writer and so, now Tomas’ sex life is your business. That’s just the price I’m willing to pay. I’ll find out how he feels about this later. :P

First off, if you’ve been following along, now is about time for the kicker. I know this is going to come as a HUGE shock.

MEN LOVE SEX

They’re sexually motivated! It’s like... their achilles heel. Women, you could probably compare men’s physical receptors to our emotional receptors. The way we women might receive love from kind words or a thought out picnic on the beach, men receive love when we make time for a hanky-panky session at home on their lunch break in the middle of a busy work day. {Want bonus points? Have a turkey and cheese sandwich ready for the road back to work.}

In all seriousness, I truly can tell when my husband has gone a little too long without, but it’s not just him. Men’s bodies were designed to crave sex on a more physical level than women. Let’s see how Solomon and his wife describe each other.

Solomon says:
Song of Solomon 4:12-15 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
Song of Solomon 7:6-9 How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, delectable maiden! You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches. Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your kisses like the best wine that goes down smoothly, gliding over lips and teeth.

Their eyes were designed to be attracted to breasts and booties and skin! Oh, how the world has it backwards. “I should be able to wear what I WANT at the beach! Men need to learn to control themselves!”

Okay, you’re right ladies. You can wear whatever you want, and men are ultimately in control of where their eyes and attention go. Yes, men have the responsibility not to give into lustful desires of the women within their midst. But, please understand that there is a strong physical urge that takes place in men’s bodies even from an early age. Do we realize what we are asking of men when we walk in front of them in bikinis? Do we realize what we are doing when we put our children in skimpy clothes in front of them? COME. ON! Don’t put them in that position. I don’t want my husband or son to be aroused by your half exposed booty. Especially since I’m having a hard time committing myself to these nightly squats.  

But a strong sexual desire is a natural, and important thing that God designed. Why else would it be included in scripture? For starters, it’s a way to fan the flame of our marriage! Remember the previous posts? We are here to fulfill our husbands sexual appetites because God knew they would HAVE sexual appetites .

Think about this: While men are jonesing for the physical release that sex provides, women are often looking for the emotional connection first. The orgasm is a glorious reward. Glorious.

Solomon’s Wife:
Song of Songs 8:5-7 Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth. Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

And there you have it. We’ve got a win/win, right? Every marital sex life is virtually perfect because of this trade off between husband and wife. WRONG. Or, maybe I’m the only one who struggles with fulfilling 1 Corinthians 7:5. Remember that one?

1 Corinthians 7:2-5 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and just for a time, maybe for serious prayer, but then be sure to come together!”

Sometimes I kinda wish I didn’t know any better. Tomas has never rolled over in bed and tenderly whispered in my ear, “Ya know what the Word says. GIVE IT UP, woman!” Unfortunately, he doesn’t have to tell me anything. I already know when it’s been too long. You wouldn’t think it would affect the household that much, but it does. Dad’s mood affects us all. I know what you’re thinking. What kind of spoiled rotten bully of a man throws a fit around the house when he doesn’t get his fix? That’s not what I mean. I mean, literally, men are in better moods when they’re satisfied. I don’t know if he REALLY even knows the difference in his demeanor, but I do.

I asked him once, “How many days do you go before you think your mood or day is affected negatively by not having sex?” It was an honest question following some marriage curriculum we had been watching.
He said, “Of course, a man’s desire for sex is new every day, but by about day 3, watching my wife bend over to get something from the oven or off the floor gets a lot more difficult.” He just gets frustrated. His body really desires it, and he LIVES with me, so I’m just walking around all day, like bait, in a way, and when we go to lay down, and I roll over the opposite way and just ignore him and fall asleep…WOW!
Having that conversation was really enlightening. AND extremely flattering!
The problem is, while yes, we women LOVE the physical satisfaction of sex, it takes us a little longer to get to a physical readiness that men seem to walk around in All. Day. Long. and frankly, no matter how close to Heaven the last orgasm took us, by the time we finish packing lunches, doing the dishes, tucking the kids in, showering, walking the dog, and then re-tucking the kids in, we wonder, do we really need that emotional connection? I mean, how good REALLY is the sex? Better than sleep? It’s kind of hard to remember when the pillow is sooo soft.

Ladies, it’s better than sleep. It really, really is worth missing the sleep. I know you don’t feel like it (at first). Maybe it’s been a little while so it's hard to remember just how good it is, but roll your tired body over and give him everything you have. Tell him you love him. I’m confident that as you make this commitment to consistently serve your husband, you will be SERVED, mind, body and spirit.

One more scripture from the quite revealing book of Song of Solomon. The bride of Solomon sings of her longing for her love. She wanted him desperately! This is the flame that I'm desperate to keep alive in my marriage.

Song of Songs 3:1-4 Restless in bed and sleepless through the night, I longed for my lover. I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful. So I got up, went out and roved the city, hunting through streets and down alleys. I wanted my lover in the worst way! I looked high and low, and didn’t find him. And then the night watchmen found me as they patrolled the darkened city.
“Have you seen my dear lost love?” I asked. No sooner had I left them than I found him, found my dear lost love. I threw my arms around him and held him tight, wouldn’t let him go until I had him home again, safe at home beside the fire.

Recently, our family went to a drive-in for the first time and watched a cartoon movie called “Captain Underpants.” In the movie, I heard a joke. Two cartoon adults had hearts all around them as they flirted while two little cartoon boys looked at them with disgust.
One said, “EWE! They ‘LIKE-LIKE’ each other!”
The other said, “I’ve never seen that in two adults.”
The first again, “Yeah, in all my years of studies, I’ve found it doesn’t happen after marriage.”
It didn’t sit well with me. Marriage is the closest representation that we have of the relationship between Jesus and His Church. We are His Bride. Even with that aside, divorce is real. It’s no laughing matter and the numbers prove that. The devil has a plan to attack YOUR family and split it apart. Driving a wedge between you and your spouse is a good way to do it.

Go on a date. Play rummy after you put the kids to bed. Hold hands on the couch. Make inside jokes and laugh about them when you're surrounded by other people and for cripes sake: Be sure to fan the flame!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sex in Marriage

I keep trying to skip over this part in my head. It would be a lot faster and easier to go straight to the topic of sex without having to get into the importance of marriage.
Let’s think about that for a second.
{Skip right over marriage and dive right into sex.}
That’s why I have to start here. Isn’t that exactly what the world is trying to do? If we really want to learn all that sex is, we need to start with marriage.
Sex was created for marriage. It was created to support, enhance and reflect the meaning of marriage.

Why marriage?
Several years ago, I was on a plane ride home from Washington D.C. when I learned a life-changing lesson from the Lord about covenants. If I were to go into all I have learned about the topic, this whole sex thing would be stretched way further than I want to go, and I might lose your attention before I even gain it, but if you’re interested, I urge you to study biblical covenants. It may give you an astounding revelation of your commitment to your spouse and children. It has been foundational for me.

Bottom line is this: When God makes covenants (promises), they’re life or death. There is no backing out of it. This should be said about us all. I think we fall short of this so often and easily. Our word should be our bond. Is it?

Marriage is a covenant. It’s a promise that God witnesses-you could say it's a promise to God, Himself, and most definitely to each other that this person you’re taking to be yours, is yours forever. In sickness and health. In trials and triumph. Even when your spouse loses their job. Even when you can’t conceive a child together. Even when they fail to defend you against their family members’ harsh words, or when your teenager starts failing school or taking drugs. Even when the house won’t sell or they become paralyzed. A covenant is a covenant. To God, there’s very few stipulations to nullify a covenant, if any. I believe if we lived by these standards, we’d see a very different world.
The start and end date of a covenant marriage is just a small detail of that covenant. What are you promising to do? I hope you know, it’s not just living together and splitting the bills and chores!

Matthew 19:4-6 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Upon the day of your testimony before God, the two of you shall become one. One person to God. Where he is weak, you bring strength. You become your spouse’s right leg, or left arm, and he/she becomes yours. You just happen to live in two separate bodies. If you have a hard time preferring your spouse over yourself, I encourage you to retrain your mind and reorganize your lives to reflect your oneness. When Tomas is lifted up, I feel lifted up. I’m right there with him! When he gets a raise, I get a raise. We share a bank account! If I say something dishonoring about him, guess who that also dishonors: me. We are one on the inside. Our lives are shared. When one of us succeeds, we both do. That is what marriage is about.

That brings us to sex. Sex was never designed just to be sex. It was designed as a physical representation and reminder of the oneness that took place on your wedding day. This is why sex is something that’s not to be shared with people who have not made that commitment before God. Marriage is sacred. When you read about a couple having sex in the bible, it reads, “He knew her.” Tomas knows me. Not just physically, although.. I mean, physically, he knows me well, but he knows me emotionally and intimately and he goes there in bed. I let him go there. I have no business letting anyone else go there.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

I’m going to end here, because there’s so much to say about this scripture and it’s what I want to get into in the next post. If Tomas were hearing this scripture, he’d be shouting “HOORAH! DON’T DEPRIVE ME, WOMAN!” But what I wanted to point out is, my body; my whole being on an intimate level is his to know, and his only. I belong to him.

I don’t have to tell you what sex does for you on a physical level, but this is what it says: “I love you. You love me. We are one and we’re in this together, forever.”
We need this reminder. God knows we need to come together as a couple to remember why we are sharing a bed together in the first place, especially after a stressful day of errands and late appointments or, brace yourself, even more-so after a disagreement!

Don’t let me fool you. I’m preaching to myself.
Guys, I’m in so much trouble. Just wait until my husband reads this.
Til next time,

G’night.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Introduction to Sex Education

We see it everywhere. It’s the eye catcher on the cover of our favorite magazines, just the hook we need to get our attention in commercials and it fills our television shows and radio stations. It’s our culture.

I’m talking about sex.

My oldest daughter is nearing 12 years old. This year, her 5th grade health class taught a portion on sex education. Myah and I have already sat down and covered most of everything she needed to know. When I initially asked about the content of the class, her very sweet and well meaning teacher summarized it for me, leaving out a few key points, and then directed me to the office to check out the file if I wanted to look through the entire curriculum. I did just that. The secretary said I was the only one in 20+ years to request the file to take home and view. The only parent in 20+ years! I screened the curriculum and then I asked Myah if she wanted to participate. It’s an important topic, and one that I feel is the duty of the parent, first, which is why I had already filled her in about a year ago. There was nothing in the curriculum that she didn’t already know. There was nothing to hide. She declined. She felt it was personal and she didn’t want to be there while her friends laughed and mocked about it and paraded the idea of sex and genitals around. I applauded her for that. I didn’t feel comfortable forcing her to discuss a personal matter like that, so I let her skip it. We were also the only family in that 20+ years not to participate. Myah spent the next several weeks separated from her friends. While they learned about the birds and the bees, she read in the library or played games. I don’t think the school is doing anything wrong by teaching the class at all. The content of the curriculum is completely correct. It’s just unfortunate that many parents don’t take the time or don’t feel comfortable to sit down with their own children. Sex is an important topic-but not just for functionality and protection.

SEX IS GREAT, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not bad or evil. It was God’s idea. It’s magical.

It affects every area of our lives. Our sex lives have everything to do with our day to day relationship with our spouses. If we would take the time to study God’s word about sex in marriage, it could change our lives. It could change your marriage! It is my commitment to spend the next few weeks diving into this topic with you. I don’t have it all together yet, but so many people have reached out to me and asked me to discuss it and I keep holding off, so I’m just going to take NIKE's advice and just do it. I’ll get some scripture together, and we’ll work this out.

I hate to leave this post without some bit of wisdom, so I’ll end with this. I don’t really enjoy the word sex. I like to think of what happens in our bedroom as love. Sounds corny, right? But it is. Just like when the rainbow was shown to remind us of a promise, sex was created to remind us of a covenant. When you lay with your spouse, have fun, but remember the covenant you made with him/her. You are one flesh for the rest of your lives. This act is a representation of that covenant. This is what they don’t teach you in sex-ed. It’s personal. It’s Holy.


And, well, it’s great. Shh. Don’t tell anybody.

Mark 10:8 And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

All in Good Fun

Two years ago, Tomas did what I thought he’d never do. He handed me a little box with a tiny brown and white maltipoo puppy in it on the night of my birthday. I was shocked because over the previous 10 years of our relationship, he wasn’t at all shy about stating his dislike of house dogs. It’s not that he doesn’t like animals or doesn’t (secretly) think they’re cute. He just doesn’t like the idea of a barking, slobbering, shedding ball of fur running through the house demanding walks and food and treats that she can’t pay for herself.
- Which is why the dog that he gave me, Winnie, has only grown to a whopping 5 pounds, and is hypoallergenic and doesn’t slobber.


He spent the next several months taking a beating from our friends as one by one they made jokes about his lack of backbone. I beamed when I would catch these conversati
ons because he’s usually such a hard-ass and has never been big on displaying affection. Through our entire relationship, that present was one of the sweetest gestures he’s ever made to me. It was a true testament to doing something selflessly. There was really nothing in it for him.


This morning, I woke up a little disappointed because I went to sleep early with a headache while he sat up on the couch alone. I have friends who often go to bed at separate times, but this is something we both decided we never wanted to get in the habit of.
Let me side track for just a sec: When our middle child, Natalie was just a few months old, we shared a conversation with my good friend and most trusted spiritual advisor, Chris, about bedtime. Having had a toddler in the house and then a new infant who was nursing full-time, I was having a hard time getting into a routine of getting the girls to bed at a decent hour. Every night, Tomas would go to bed first, and I would wait up in the living room for Myah and Natalie. I didn’t even realize how much it was affecting me until Tomas and I mentioned it to Chris. I remember she kind of sat back in her chair and folded her arms and was like, “NU-UH! You’ve gotta get those kids in their own beds at a decent hour!”
Me: “But they’re little. Natalie nurses to sleep and Myah doesn’t want to go to bed while         Natalie stays up! It’s not fair! They cry!”
Chris: “Tough luck. (insert her mommy voice:) I love you, but buh-bye! It’s night-night time!” *chuckles..“You need time alone! When are you gonna have time together? How you gonna have SEX?!” *more chuckles..
I wasn’t immediately sold, but Tomas was! Several days later, he recruited me to enforce bedtime. It took us a week of hour long screaming fits to get Natalie to put herself to sleep but Tomas wouldn’t let me give in.

People, that week changed our lives!

Since then, we’ve both really valued our nights together. Sometimes we make popcorn or get out the hidden snacks and watch a movie. Sometimes we embark on a 6 month long Netflix adventure or listen to 90’s music while we play rummy. We bake cookies or laugh at funny memes or old vines, or.. well… you know. Most importantly, most of us use quiet time at night to consider our goals, triumphs and concerns. A big part of my nightly thought process is shared with my partner and i don’t want it any other way.
And so, I had to say all that to explain why I was so disappointed to go to bed alone last night. I find myself doing it too much lately and it’s my goal not to let it happen.
As I got up from the couch to walk toward my room last night, I joked with Tomas about how he … “don’t even love me! You never gives me a massage! I’m uncomfortable, have a headache and you KNOW physical touch is my love language! Gimme a massage!”
-in a calm voice without even looking at me, ”No.”


...Ten years of a losing fight with this man, all I want is a decent back massage! This kind of unbreakable will is what made me so shocked he caved and gave me the dog.


While a massage WOULD BE NICE…..(hello, are you reading this?).... I know there are still many things to be thankful to my husband for.
This morning as I slumped over the Keurig machine in disappointment of my husbandless night last night, I noticed a half eaten candy bar in the cupboard and smiled. I was reminded of another sweet thing Tomas does for me without fail. Once a month, during the most crucial week of the month, he buys me a candy bar to make me feel better. He buys himself one too.. and it seems as though he only ate half of his last night. So, I took it upon myself to finish his for him. (Fine. Keep your massage. I’ll eat your candy bar!)


Love and miss you today, Tomas.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Heap of Humanity


I don’t know how to begin this. I’m almost shaking as I type. It’s so hard to put my opinion out there. It’s hard as a white woman to speak up about this issue, but that point alone is what is driving me over the edge.


In the last 3 days, I’ve caught word of 2 deaths by cop followed by an attack that left 5 officers dead and 7 more injured. 7 people lost their lives. 14 parents grieved the loss of their sons with an agony I can’t even imagine. As soon as I heard about the two men shot by the police, I was heart-stricken. I couldn’t finish watching the videos. I saw 2 men in uniforms roll off of a man named Alton Sterling with curse words in their mouths, seemingly disappointed that the altercation ended in a life lost. Alton was 37 years old as he took his last breaths with his body shaking. It killed me to see that. He was younger than some of my siblings. In another video, I heard a young woman, Diamond Reynolds speaking in a tone that was most likely fueled by pure adrenaline and fear as she wondered if her partner, Philando Castile was dead or alive next to her in the passenger seat. I didn’t watch it long enough, but I heard she had a young daughter in the back seat. Could you imagine the fear?


While I wondered about the heart of everyone involved, I knew as soon as I heard of the stories that both their intent and the details of the events would be worthless. We would be hearing from two different groups of people very soon. The first group would disregard the immediate threats leading up to the guns going off and any detail that would point to a justified action on the officer’s parts. The second group would search for any excuse for why it took place, with no regard to a big problem that IS, IN FACT HAPPENING IN AMERICA.


I’m not going to argue why these black men had to die. They didn’t have to die. For one reason or another they are dead and their families will be forever affected by it. It SEEMS like police tried and struggled to taze and disarm Alton, who looked to be resisting and possibly violent. I can’t really say whether or not he was a true threat or what was going on in the officers’ minds as they pulled the trigger and either can you. I’m especially in the dark about Philando, whose family was in the car with him. The video starts too late to have a CLUE about what went on for ourselves. I’m skeptical, but I can only hope all of these officers were just doing their jobs.


Bottom line is, I don’t know these people, their integrity or the situation enough to make a judgement, and either do you. I can only hope that the result was decided with a pure heart. I tried to put myself in the shoes of those involved. What would I do as an officer if I knew someone I was fighting to the ground was reaching for a gun? I’d shoot first. Honestly, in a panic, I probably would have pulled the trigger a lot sooner. What would I do as a citizen if I were being confronted by a police officer? I’d listen up and follow orders.


ESPECIALLY IF I WAS A MINORITY.


Why did I say that? Because as much as we want to believe the best out of every person, there is still very much racial hate in this nation, This is not a race problem. This is an individual person problem. White people are not racist. Black people are not racist. Hispanics are not racist. Police officers are not racist. People are racist. Men who tell their little girls they can’t marry outside of their color are racist. That’s not pride for your heritage. That’s hate. SHOOT ME DOWN IF I’M WRONG. We have a big problem going on here and it’s not coming from the police force. It’s coming from the individual  who dehumanizes and devalues the life of another human.


It tears me up that my husband has to worry about how his Latino family will receive me. I don't want him to be negatively effected for choosing me over someone of his own race. It bothers me that little Hmong girls are being prevented from associating with little white girls from their neighborhood. I was the little white girl who was rejected by my Hmong friend’s father. Statements from black women saying they’re afraid for their black children gets me a little angry. Not because I’m not also afraid for their children - I’m afraid for all CHILDREN. I’m afraid for every future heart that has the potential of being disliked or judged or harmed by their skin tone. We’ve heard it a million times, but we really need to receive this: We are all created in the image of our Creator. There really is no difference between us. Racial hate is not anymore an attack on the black community than on the white community. It’s an attack on the people of this nation and it affects every one of us. Don’t look at me like I don’t understand. Don’t act like this doesn’t affect me or my family. Alton is my brother, too. The police officers whose lives were lost last night are my brothers. If you say Alton’s death pertains to you more than it pertains to me because I’m white, you’re just as guilty of the racism you assume the officers to have. I recognize hate. I just refuse to believe hate against blacks is more important or happening any more than the hatred that is taking place against every race. I refuse to  believe that officer involved shootings are more than often an act of hatred toward black people. There were more than 600 officer involved deaths in this country this year. Less than 4% of those involved a black civilian. Every one of these lives are worth mourning over. I understand there’s fear. I understand there’s history. Don’t let those things make you blind to the big picture. Don’t let the devil trick you into thinking you’re the only one, or you’re the only race this is happening to. There are many, many good people; many good police officers-way, way more good than bad. There are many good black people; many more good than bad. The association between racial hate and police officers is an unfortunate misconception that’s been blown way out of proportion. It’s about as hurtful as the unfortunate misconception of all black men being dangerous thugs. Likewise, pretending there’s no such thing as a black thug is about as ridiculous as pretending there are no racist officers. Need I say that thugs and racist officers come in all races. This segregated mindset is getting us in trouble.

With that being said, we cannot fix this problem by holding up every racially diverse gun show as an example of racial hatred. It discredits a very valid problem. It hinders the cause. It sets us back. We need to look at these people, these officers and all those involved, as people. We need to be sure to identify hate crimes correctly and bring only those true accounts to everyone’s attention. Lastly, we need to raise awareness that constitutes peaceful change instead of violent change. Our nation is on the line. Our people are on the line. Our justice system is on the line. Our childrens’ futures are on the line. 1 race alone will not fix this. We need to come together.

God help us.
From the heart of a grieving American Citizen

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Mouthful for Ministry

I’ve found over the years that I have a disguised advantage that many of my Christian friends don’t have, though it’s taken a long time to train myself not to hide it, because being open about this sort of thing means allowing people the opportunity to judge me-many times with the same measuring stick I use to sift through my own peers. 

I’ve lived on both sides of “ the track”.  It’s this track, or line, as I like to better call it that often causes people to triumph, or to fail; to be confident, or hopeless. This line tells one little boy not to try out for basketball and another that he’ll be the star player. It might even contribute to your social class or income level. Are you familiar with this line?


I’m a Christian. Clearly. It doesn’t get more black and white. I’m head over heels for Jesus Christ. Likewise, I’m blatantly pro-life. There’s no reasoning that could convince me otherwise. I also believe in traditional family values. My heart bleeds God, husband, kids. I’m conservative. I believe women should save themselves for marriage. I believe sex is an amazing tool that God gave us to connect physically, emotionally and spiritually with our covenant partner. I also believe there are detrimental effects of abusing sex, but that’s for another post. I strongly believe women should put their household before ministry. In fact, I find it one of my strongest passions to highlight that in my life ministry. I believe in the tithe and the benefit of it on earth and in heaven. I’m pretty simple, right?


People either love me, or hate me based on my beliefs, but I can usually fit in just right with the usual church crowd. We share a lot of those beliefs in common, but telling a new Christian friend where I’ve come from or who my parents were, is kind of like throwing a stick into a bike wheel’s spokes… while I’m riding that rapidly-moving bike down a steep hill.
“Wait, what? Your mom was a stripper?” “But I thought you were oober conservative. I thought you frowned upon sex before marriage. Your childhood Thanksgiving memories were gathering around the table in the basement and passing around joints before feasting? I thought you were the spokesperson for abstaining from drugs and the very appearance of evil. I thought you were a stickler for eating at the table as a family. I thought you were THEE over protective mom of our group; ‘Mrs. Safety Police’. How could you possibly have slept in your car or lived with strangers?”


Imagine watching that thought process on someone’s face! It’s kind of funny, but when it’s happening, it’s downright frightening! Over the past almost 10 years, I’ve grown really comfortable with my circle of friends. My people know me. They know where I come from, but they know who I am now and what to expect from me. Lately though, I’ve been introduced to so many new faces. All of these people come from different churches, different backgrounds and have their own take on scripture, so I’m overwhelmed with this weird type of culture shock almost and I’ve found myself drawing back from talking about my own life and my own past, or as I call it "B.C." - Before Christ - out of fear of rejection! And so, that’s my disadvantage, while we’re here. If my new friend is still standing there after I get myself off the ground, dust my clothes off, and pull the stick out of my bike tire, I’m thankful, but I’m seeing that too many people are using that measuring stick I mentioned earlier against people’s history to determine their worth instead of judging their heart despite any history and giving them an opportunity and a message for hope.

But, what threatens my relationship with fellow believers in new circles, proves a great advantage to a lost and dying world, and that is the reminder that I so recently needed.

Here I am now. I’ve crossed this line. When I accepted Jesus, I hardly noticed, but during that march with Him I took on His thinking, and as I did, I dropped my own poor choices; the choices I had been watching and had been trained to make since birth. I dropped the idea that I would never make it. I forgot the messages that had been drilled into my head throughout childhood: “There’s them, and there’s me. WE never make it through high school. WE never get through college. WE can’t hold a GOOD job. WE don’t keep nice houses. WE settle. WE take who we can get. We’re not worth it. Welfare will back us up. Smoke another bowl. It’ll all be alright.” I know what they’re thinking. I didn’t even know then how broken I was. I remember dreaming as a kid or even a teenager as I passed by nice houses, or seeing a doctor and looking at his family picture on the office wall and wondering what their lives were like. I remember “knowing” I could never live like them, "knowing" I was destined for failure, or barely getting by at the least. I was born into generations of food stamps, high school dropouts and teen pregnancies. We do what we see. I didn’t decide consciously to repeat that, but I sure didn’t reach for the stars either. I didn’t dare reach. How could we be any different?


I lived it and then I met Jesus. The real, Living, Loving Jesus and He saved my life long ago. I don’t speak out against smoking weed because I think I’m better than the pothead next door. I can say that with confidence because I WAS the pothead next door. I was born to potheads; sometimes a crackhead; a partying teen. If there is a low, if there is someone to look down upon, I was it! It went on for generations and I, myself took on many of those bad habits at my own fault. It’s scary to share my heritage and my past. Even though my present life speaks nothing about it, it’s scary to open the book and consider the consequences of allowing friends, acquaintances and even strangers the option to their own response, whatever it may be, because there are so many different scenarios of outcome.

But staying quiet means shadowing the work that God has done in my life and drawing an ever bolder black line between US and THEM. “We’re free from poverty. They’re not. We’re free from addiction. They’re not.” The first time someone associated me with the opposite side of that line, I sort of got a smirk on my face. "I've never been a them!" I thought to myself, but someone had now characterized me! My emotion was quickly turned to rage, followed by panic. How could I convince that person that there was no difference between us? My life is a testimony to the lie in that line. I HAVE to talk about Jesus. I have to talk about the importance of training up my children and serving my family. He's who changed me. Him and these life lessons are what saved my life and gave us a solid foundation, but I have to talk about being real, too. That means talking about my parents, talking about the drugs, shelters, moving around; all of it, because people have to know that we’re people. Real people. Not just perfect people with unachievable lives. I don't want to lose my ease. I don't want to forget how to be real in front of people. I'm all for professionalism when it's called for, but the world needs real in the church of all places, not a fake smile. There is a medium. I'd rather wear my faults on my sleeve and let my victories train those behind me than cover my failures in a tight neck and perfect speech to keep up my image, and cause people to think they don't measure up. After all, we're all the same. There is no us and them. It's only a matter of believing in God, believing in yourself and reaching. I’ll burn a million bridges with so called Christians to reach the heart of one person who dares to dream AND reach. And I’ll put a new stick in my bike tire spokes again and again if it takes that to prove that Jesus is the hope to every shortcoming, every generational curse and every sad story-especially in my life.


Psalm 66:16 Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.