Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 Reasons I Give Thanks

For These Things and more I give thanks!

1. Children and husband who love taking care of me when ill. I was reminded of that just last week.
2. A husband that cooks, cleans, does the laundry and supports me in ministry.  I'm so thankful for my husband every single day as he prepares us breakfast, and provides in more ways than traditionally prescribed.
3. White chocolate covered pretzels. Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm
4. Supernatural strength to survive tough season and boy have I been through some tough seasons.
5. Encouraging Friends who always seem to know just what to say.
6. Non-Haitian friends who are not threatened by my rants on the need for more diversity, you know who you are.
7. All of those who financially support us as we continue to take our entire family on missions trips to Haiti, trust me your support however big or small has forever changed my family.
8. Mentors along the way.
9.  My pastor, Mark Mohrweis who saw my gifts in preaching and pastoral leadership and would not allow them to go unused.
10. My small group which has challenged me in many ways.
11.  Unexpected visits by new friends met on facebook.  Social Media does have its pluses.
12.  Though we have no family coming over for thanksgiving, the company of our neighbors will be a great reminder that we are not alone.
13.  Peace of mind
14. Warm covers on a cold day.
15.  Family movie nights, last night we watched hunger games all over again and the twins were as scared and sad as the first time we saw it especially when the black girl from district 11 died.  Good times!
16. A great relationship with my 15 year old, he often tells me things just to see how I will react.
17.  Imperfect children; they've taught me how to love unconditionally.
18. Nontraditional family; you'd be surprised as to how nontraditional we are and we love it.  We work well together.
19. Options; I hesitated putting this one on my list but I live in a country where I am afforded options and I'm so grateful.
20. Colorful friends; I can't visit all of the different countries that I'd like so I have friends to tell me of their countries and life experiences.  Did I mention how much I LOVE this diverse world?
21. A job; we often don't realize how important a job is until we don't have one. 
22. My nieces and nephews; it's like I birthed those children.  I love them so much.
23. Emma; I love that girl to pieces.  She's very wise, encouraging and an entrepreneur like myself.   
24.  After school stories from my boys; those are probably the funniest stories I have ever heard in my entire life. They talk about teachers, who's dating whom, lunch etc.
25. An education; the greatest lesson I've learned about education is how to use it; not to show how smart you are or to make lots of money but to serve others.
26. Sunday morning breakfast; our family's favorite meal is breakfast.  It's not just the eating part that's special but those mornings at that table have produced many riveting conversations.
27. Our bed; there we gather around to "pray" but prayer time isn't what you think it is.  Gathering for prayer is always done with everyone screaming, someone insulting someone else and when we finally gather which seems to take forever, we share prayer requests, concerns, we recite a verse and then we pray.  Good times!
28.  The women I've met in prison.  They've taught me so much about the presence of God which is all around us not just in "holy" places.
29. Time of Rest and Solitude; lately I've had to take moments of rest and solitude and just acknowledge the presence of God all around me.
30.  LIFE; the struggle, the chaos, the hustle, the joy and laughter and adventures in between.  I love being alive and I'm very thankful for every aspect of living.

Bonus: my entire family, in-laws and all; they all contribute to who I am today, I am so grateful for all of them!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When Blind Spots Turn us all Blind

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

One of the things that really bugs me is when we try to tell people how they should feel about situations pertaining to their unique life experiences, dismissing their real feelings. Ugh!

"Why would you ever feel that way?  You're just sensitive making a mountain out of a molehill." 


And I think one of the reasons we do this is because we all have these things called blind spots.  Scientifically defined: blind spots are areas on the retina without receptors that respond to light. Therefore an image that falls on this region will NOT be seen. Socially: Blind spots are things, people, or ideas that we cannot see; why?? Because we do not all have the same experiences.  Which is why we all have them.  

Blind spots cause us to dismiss each other's perspectives calling them wrong.  

Blind spots cause us to become defensive when someone disagrees with our views as they try to tell us of their unique points of views.  

Our environments, family of origin, religion, culture, socio-economic status, gender and sexual orientation all shape our unique perspectives. 

Here are some examples:

If you've never been a woman, your blind spot might be women's issues.  Chances are you will not know what it feels like to be the only woman in a room filled with men.

If you've never been a black man, your blind spot might be issues pertaining to the black man.  Chances are you will not know what it feels like to be feared and to be thought of as a criminal before you're even met.

If you've never been a single parent, your blind spot might be single parents.  Chances are you would not know what it's like to work multiple jobs to make ends meet and take care of a family?

If you've never been divorced, your blind spots might be those who have gone through divorce. Chances are you would not know the feeling of irreconcilable differences and your best friend becoming your enemy?  

If you've never lived in the "ghetto" your blind spot might be those who live in those tough neighborhoods.  Chances are you will not know of the complicated issues surrounding families in those rough neighborhoods?

If you belong to one religious group, your blind spot might be other religious groups.  You may not understand why others from different religious backgrounds would feel so strongly about their beliefs.

If you have never migrated from a different country, your blind spot might be those who are immigrants.  Chances are you will not understand the many challenges facing those coming from a different land or policies in favor of immigrants? 

And if you've never been a homosexual man or woman, your blind spots will certainly be those in our society who are homosexuals seeking to be understood and be treated with acceptance and fairness.

The point is: we all have blind spots.  

I wonder if that's why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Church "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn"  In fact he pleaded with them to Love one another in Romans 12: 

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

When we check our blind spots, we are actually doing the most loving thing for one another.

No, it does not necessitate living through every experience in order to understand and empathize with one another;  but it does mean you are NOT the expert on issues concerning them.  Your role is that of a student.  And as a student your role is to lovingly listen to their unique experiences and be schooled about those unique perspectives.  We can't simply sit inside of our own comfortable boxes, we need to reach across the aisle, ocean and culture lines, we need to step outside of ourselves and comfortable places so we can limit our blind spots. Stepping out is often quite challenging, uncomfortable and messy but to love as the Apostle Paul described, it is worth it. 

Are you willing to admit that we all have blind spots?  Are you willing to seek sitting with others with experiences different from your own and be schooled?  Or is your unique experience the only "right" lens from which to view the world? 

Check out these fun optical exercises to see how optical blind spots work.

Go for it and experiment with your blind spots both optically and socially.