community.

My life has been a whirlwind in the two weeks since my beloved was called home to the Lord. My heart is broken to a depth I don’t fully understand. Yet, my heart is also full because of the intertwining communities that have come together to celebrate Kenny’s life, support our families, offer gifts, prayers, food, hugs, and tears. How do I even begin to say thank you? There are not enough words.

I believe the community you belong to is the community you help build. As a super-introvert, I feel like I have been blessed to ride the coattails of Ken’s amazing ability to build community. His laughter, his generosity, his gift for conversation, his sparkling smile, his compassion, his encouraging words and actions, these are what brought people into Ken’s community and I have been so honored to join him as his plus1/partner in crime.

In the deepest of our sorrows, our true friendships emerge. Our communities draw us together. We cling to these words of encouragement, grace, and strength in a way that we didn’t know was possible. We see friends old and new, acquaintances, and strangers come from the woodwork of our communities to lift us up when we can no longer stand. And these communities seek no reward, they seek no gain–they simply give. This sense of community has humbled me to my core.

I have often repeated the words grace, patience, gratitude, and plain old, thank you in the last two weeks as if I don’t have a thesaurus big enough to express myself. So I will go on with these words and live to honor the man that has built such an incredible set of communities for our Thomuto Team.

Peace to you and may the souls of the eternal departed rest in peace and rise in glory.

what i’m reading this week.

No reflections today; my mind is too full. Here’s why…

 

War in the Middle East.

The New Yorker/Humans of New York

The New York Times-The Mountain of Uncertainty in Iraq

The Atlantic-Desperate Iraqi’s Flee ISIS

The New York Times-In Gaza, the Pattern of Conflict (infographic)

 

St. Louis.

Rage Against the Minivan-Racial Bias, Police Brutality

Sarah Bessey-In Which I Tell you about #Ferguson

Huffington Post-What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America

On Being-To Be White and Reckon with the Death of Michael Brown

Osheta Moore, Shalom in the City-I Raise My Hands

Rachel Held Evans-Pay Attention, #Ferguson Resources

 

The Border Crisis.

The New Republic-Let the Kids Stay

The Atlantic-An Immigrant Mother Dreams for Her Daughter

 

Robin Williams, Suicide, Depression.

Andrew Solomon/The New Yorker-Suicide, A Crime of Loneliness

Mother Adrien Dawson-Holy Living, Holy Dying and…unholy dying

The New Republic-Robin Williams’ Death is a Wake Up Call for Mental Illness

USA TODAY-Olaf remembers Genie.

 

Hope and Humor.

Jason Evans-The Risky Path

Momastery-Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt

Jen Hatmaker-Worst End of Summer Mom, Ever…A Sequel

Kid President-Retirement Party

 

That’s enough reading for your weekend right? Pray for Peace. Work for Justice. God have Mercy.

 

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who is the gatekeeper?

I have had a long history of insecurity in my thoughts on immigration. My views on the issue have not always matched my otherwise liberal views on many other social issues. I have often been closed-minded and ego-centric. I have been more aligned with conservatives. (Not crazies, just more homeland centered thinking types.) Who gets to be the gatekeeper to our nation of immigrants? Who decides who gets in and who doesn’t? The course of American history is fraught with struggle over our borders and ports. This is not a new issue. Check out these resources for history on immigration in America:

Wikipedia

Immigration Policy Center

Library of Congress (ahem, great teaching resource.)

I don’t see this current crisis as a political issue. I don’t see this as an immigration issue. I know this causes crazy financial hurdles for our country. But I don’t know how I (we?) can look at the faces of children who have risked their lives for safety and say, “go back.” For me, this is a humanitarian issue. These are not immigrants, undocumented, or aliens; these are humans. And for me, a person who claims to be a follower of Jesus, this is one of the moments where I can shy away or I can follow the message of the Savior.

And when it comes to kids, I don’t mess around. Kids are not and should not be responsible for caring for themselves. Kids, who put their lives into someone else’s hands to escape violence, poverty, trafficking, and death are not just seeking a better life; they are seeking LIFE.

I have read a lot of amazing responses to these in the last few weeks, these wise souls speak better words than I so I offer them to you, with grateful thanks.

Broderick Greer: Jesus is Undocumented.

 

Gay Clark Jennings: Christians worship a child who fled violence in his home country.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori: Crisis of Unaccompanied Children on the Border

Bishop Mariann: Why are so many children leaving Central America?

Jim Wallis: The Moral Failure of Immigration Reform

Mother Jones: Children Migrants Surge

NY Times: The Border Crisis

And this one…from a guy named Jesus…

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25.40).

Praying for wisdom. Praying for our leaders. Praying for peace and working for justice.

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live to fight another day

During yesterday’s 14 miler, it started as a tightness, then pain around 6 miles. It proceeded to deepen in pain, soreness and crampy feeling until my gait started to be effected around mile 8. My upper left leg was a mess. A lot went through my head; “what is this new pain?”, “will this going away?”, “what is causing this?” None of which I had immediate answers for except 2; no, this pain was getting worse.

“But I’m the coach”, said my brain. I’m part of a team helping this crew to the finish. “But you know your body.”, said experience. I needed to stop. I needed to stop running. Stop moving. Get ice.

I consulted the coaching team, all agreed I would stop and call Sherpa Fiancé and head home. This was the wise choice. It was also heart-breaking as the new coach on the team-wanting to be a role model.

Then came the realization that this was a form of role modeling. Sometimes you have to stop, and as Sherpa Fiancé channeling Phil Liggett says, “live to fight another day.” Experienced runners know when pushing through is just going to cause more hurt. I could have hammered our the last 2.4 miles but at what expense? Six months is a long training cycle and cutting short one 14 miler doesn’t mean that I won’t have the chops for 3-20′s. It means that on this day, on this run, I needed to stop. Two cups of coffee, a protein laden breakfast, an ice bath, compression, 3 Advil, and a nap later, things seemed a little better. A walk today and maybe a run tomorrow, we’ll see.

This PLB coach (thanks Jeff!) will be back in stride ASAP. And hopefully set an example of “it’s ok to say uncle” when the body needs it.

the ice bath

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so many names, only one matters.

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Labels. Names. Some good. Some bad. Some easy to shake off. Some scarred onto the heart. There was a time when I let the labels others gave me sew into my soul and define me. I always took on the negative labels and allowed them to permeate my self-confidence, worth, and belief. No matter what positive labels people placed upon me, the negative would always win out. Sucker punched by names, some of which many of us face and some of which are not FCC compatible.

Even with a life firmly rooted in faith, the names can still seep into my mind and allow myself to spiral down the rabbit hole of pain and doubt. But they shouldn’t. I am first and foremost, Sarah, a princess, the daughter of a King. If this is who I am first and I daily am graced with new mercies, why would any other name matter? It only matters if I let it. If I let the world break past my faithful assurance, I am prone to hurt, prone to take on the labels that come from the world and come from myself.

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As we learn from Ruth, Naomi, in her hurt and exhaustion, gives herself the name Mara. She has seen her life go from Pleasant to Bitter. In the pain of losing her husband and sons, she returns to her birthplace a broken woman. Through the great plan of God and through her daughter-in-law Ruth, she is restored. Ruth too is restored by her humble faith and becomes the mother in the lineage of Christ. They are restored. They are redeemed. The only names they need are beloved.

When we allow the world to enter our hearts and minds and give us any label other than those given to us by God, we are contributing to our own downfall. We can break away from these names, these labels. We can write the Word on our hearts and surround ourselves with the message that we are loved beyond measure. We are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. We are restored. We are worthy. We are ALL daughters of the King. This is the best label of all.

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#shesharestruth: Titus 2

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Titus has been a really thought provoking study for me. If I were to synthesize it’s message into three words, they would be: teaching, self-control, and obedience. In Titus 2, we hear from Paul about how elders should behave and what they should teach their younger charges. The themes remain the same-temperance, sound teaching, self-control, obedience, integrity, fidelity, and godliness through grace. All noble and wonderful pursuits.

The devotional piece (day 4)  about mentoring or spiritual mothering really struck a chord with me. I read Lean In last summer and there are pages telling of Sheryl Sandberg’s experiences with mentoring in her professional world. While I am desperate for mentorship in the professional world, I had never really thought about mentoring in the spiritual realm. I have women I admire in my church and a large swath of female clergy to whom I look for inspiration and teaching from the periphery (mostly on facebook.) But I have never sought out or been sought out for mentoring or spiritual mothering by anyone. And of course, I need it. I long for someone who will teach me in the ways life through the lens of Christ. I need someone who will challenge me on my walk with God and encourage me to first seek the biblical view. (And then I feel pangs of guilt in thinking somehow this means I am denying the awesome and incredible power of my own amazing mother, which I certainly do not deny. EVER. Since my Mom is one of my five blog readers, I feel like I should make this explicit! Then I remember the concept of “it takes a village” which I think, knowing Mom, would be ok with her.)

While Sheryl Sandberg would say, “don’t ask someone to be your mentor!”, I figure we live in such a big world and I go to such a big church in a crazy metro area where self-advocacy might be the only way to stay afloat at times so….I am opening up the courage box and reaching out. This is scary as it implies that I am seeking help for what seem to be selfish need(s). Our times are not like the times of Paul and Titus where the village raised up around its people. Our times are busy, crazy, and revolve around a much more complex world. So if it is wrong to jump out in faith and courage and ask for a spiritual mentor, then I’m ok with being wrong. For this crazy Christian walk, we need each other. And I’m so thankful for the courage and grace to take the leap.

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Titus 2: Teach Sound Doctrine

But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back,10 not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,[a] 12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior,[b] Jesus Christ. 14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority.[c] Let no one look down on you.

 

 

Community (p31)

As part of the proverbs31 community, I am joining in for the blog link-up. Our prompt this week is:

COMMUNITY – What does community mean to you? What do you need from community? What can you give to community?

The societal definition of community has changed so much with the advent of social media that it is hard to determine where to start. My initial response would lead me to define community as a group with a common vision or mission living, working, growing, and supporting that commonality. We interweave our communities in person and online as we try to lead our best lives.

I am part of large communities-the global running community, Bearcat alumni, teachers, Christian women, etc. I am also part of small communities-my church group, my running pace group, my prayer warriors, and the gals I shoot the breeze with at work. When you add the large and small communities on social media, a whole new realm forms.

For me, I seek affirmation and love from community. I seek the opportunity to join with like minded souls and those who will argue intelligently with me. I seek inspiration and challenge. For my community(ies), I hope to give affirmation, encouragement, challenge, and love. I think these traits cross the lines of time, space, activity, subject matter, and belief.

In Matthew, Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Whether we gather face to face or online, in large groups or small. The force of community is strong. A community can wield a mighty power for good or evil, or somewhere in between. A community can be held together with bricks and mortar or needle and thread, but as long as two or three hold dear to a common belief, vision, mission, or need–the community can be strong.

As I link up to this new community with Proverbs 31, I pray that I may be a voice of affirmation, encouragement, challenge, and love. columbia people tree

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