Archives for Mar,2014

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Mar30

Sunday Specials: World Vision Waffle and Some Voices of Wisdom

*Sunday Specials are a weekly round-up of happenings on the web-o-sphere. So enjoy your coffee while checking out what’s caught our attention. 

World Vision Waffle

On Monday evening this past week I learned of World Vision’s initial decision to modify their employee policy to allow for the elligiblity of  Christians involved in a same-sex marriage to become part of the organization’s staff. Twitterverse was all energized around this particular issue. I witnessed celebration and hope as well as disdain and fear bleeding from tweet after tweet. I personally felt like I was witnessing a shift in Christian culture that restored my own sense of hope for the future of evangelicalism. This clearly divisive decision by World Vision was short-lived as they reversed their policy change by Wednesday. Though I am not ready at this point to expound theologically or psychologically or philosophically on my views of homosexuality, I will say that despite World Visions inability to live into their initial decision, I am still gut-wrenchingly hopeful that the voices of love will continue to revolutionize this relationally broken and busted-up world we live in. I have included some of the reflections on this decision that have sustained this hope below for your own explorations:

Michael Hidalgo – WORLD VISION: SOME QUESTIONS FOR ALL OF US
Kristen Howerton – WORLD VISION, THE REVERSAL OF INCLUSION, AND THE AFTERMATH
David Creech – YAY WORLD VISION
David Henson – I DON’T BLAME WORLD VISION. I BLAME HOMOPHOBIA AND HATE. 

 

One Man’s Story: Jesus is Better than You Imagined by Jonathan Merrit

The timeliness of this post from Jonathan Merrit goes without question. If you read nothing else this morning, please READ THIS undeniably honest reflection of this man’s journey through shame.

Jonathan Merrit – A THREAD CALLED GRACE

Did the childhood abuse shape my adolescent and young adult experiences, or were those parts of me already there? I’m certain I don’t know the answer to this question, and I’m not sure anyone does except God. ~ Jonathan Merrit

Voices of Wisdom

It is because of the voices of those I consider wise that I maintain a sense of hope. This week some of those voices consisted of Rachel Held Evans, Tony Jones, Jonathan Merrit and Sarah Bessey. Bessey’s post on leaving evangelicalism spoke to my heart this week so I thought I’d share it here.

Sarah Bessey – IN WHICH THIS IS FOR THE ONES LEAVING EVANGELICALISM

My friend, don’t stay in a religious institution or a religious tradition out of fear. Fear should not drive your decisions: let love motivate you. Lean into your questions and your doubts until you find that God is out here in the wilderness, too. ~Sarah Bessey

 

Malala’s Father: A Voice for Equality

In many patriarchal societies and tribal societies, fathers are usually known by their sons, but I am one of the few fathers who is known by his daughter and I am proud of it. ~Ziauddin Yousafzai

What caught your attention this week…or better yet, what broke your heart or inspired hope?

Mar28

Just Dance…Gonna Be Ok.

My firstborn turns ten next week and she is celebrating with a slumber party tomorrow night.  Our family hasn’t decided quite yet how we are going to do big birthday parties.  Lucy and Peter know they can’t have a major birthday bash each year (for myriad of reasons, one being that my anxiety can only handle that kind of expectation, expense and potential for disappointment every few years).  However, ten seemed like a significant year to celebrate extravagantly.  So, Lucy has been talking about and planning this party in her journal for months.

But every time she began talking about her party, she was stumped on a “theme.”  She had been to a friend’s party last summer and it was an “American Idol” themed party complete with blue and black banners, paper plates, napkins, a photo booth and karaoke contest.  Since then, Lucy thought it necessary to have a theme.  So, one day, when she was dancing with the Wii, a lightbulb went off and she discovered that her tenth birthday party was going to be a “Just Dance” party.  She bellowed that it was the perfect idea because she loves to dance and sing.  She went on to tell me that when she grows up, she wants to be a dancer, a singer, or a choreographer.  I knew that particular moment was not the right time to curb her enthusiasm.  It was not the time to inform her that if she wanted to be a professional dancer, she should have started dance lessons seven years ago, or that not everyone sings on YouTube and gets famous, or that being a triple threat like singer, dancer, and choreographer Paula Abdul is rare.  And yet, I couldn’t completely help myself and said, “Lucy, if you want to be a dancer, you have to practice, like all the time.”  She looked at me with incredulity and bent over so her face was very close to mine and said, “Mom!? Haven’t you seen me?  Watch this!” to which she proceeded to do her personally choreographed moves to the Kidz Bop song that was on replay.

Truth be told, she does dance and sing all. the. time (another reason why a minivan would be handy, she could sit in the back row and sing loudly while not being right behind my head when I drive in our very small sedan).  And yet, I didn’t champion her and say, “Lucy, I can tell how much you love to dance and sing and I hope that you will always let your body move and groove with joy and enthusiasm for life no matter what!”  Instead, I couldn’t help myself and inserted a reality check that the world demands perfection, when she was simply talking about her passion.

There will come a time when Lucy will face the stark reality that being successful in an entertainment industry exacts a very high cost.  But she doesn’t need to know that now.  One day, she will be disappointed when she hears that what she has to offer is not enough for what others want.  Then, she will suffer the heartbreak of realizing that “wants” don’t always equal “haves.”  But I’ll be damned if when that time comes, I have not fostered her heart’s desire with such enthusiasm that though she is knocked down, she will get back up and try again to live a life full of passion.  Because to live life any other way is not whole…it is not complete…it is not living!

For today, it is not only enough that Lucy loves to dance and sing, it is beautiful and good and whole and complete.  Today, she is living a life of passion.  So, for now, Lucy knows, and often knows better than I, that the best way to live is to “Just dance…gonna be ok.”

What are your passions that aren’t perfect?  Did they disappear a long time ago?  What if you could start again without having to be perfect?  What would you do?  Where would you begin?  What is it that your heart loves and why?  Let us know in the comments below.

photo-3

 

 

Just Dance by Lady Gaga
Photo credit by Lucy Law

Mar25

Mama Bear Mode: Embracing My Imperfections

I had a recent experience where I found my heart rate escalate, teeth clench, and eyes bulge. My emotions were boiling and ready to blow at any moment. The person on the other side of my intense rage…a 5 year old boy at the Chick-fil-a play ground pointing at my son and calling him “butt-boy.” If you’ve met my 4 year old Keaton, you would remember his vivacious personality, cute bouncing blonde hair, and his bum crack. My sweet boys crack shows At. All. Times. We have tried every possible way to keep it contained (different types of underwear, belts, tucked in shirts, elastic pants, zip pants, etc.) but the kids little bum just wants to be free. I find it to be rather cute, but I must admit, it’s a bit out of control. I know it hangs out 90% of the day, so why was I so enraged when a 5 year old bed-headed boy pointed it out and called him “butt boy?” Those two simple words caused mama bear mode to ignite with a fury. I’m fairly certain I encountered an out of body experience. I’m not quite sure of the exact words that came out of my mouth, but I do know this rather cute little boy felt my wrath.

I’ve felt a similar reaction before, many times in fact, with situations that didn’t necessarily deal with my own children. I remember watching the public stoning of Miley Cyrus after her 2013 VMA performance with Robin Thicke. While I don’t condone her actions, mama bear surfaced when I saw the double standard as Miley was condemned and no mention was made of the 37 year old husband and father grinding her backside. I experienced similar emotions when I watched the reaction to Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman’s post game interview and comments about Michael Crabtree. The term “thug” was used to describe this Stanford graduate and amazing athlete. I couldn’t help but think of his mom in that moment. I had intense mama bear emotion surrounding the reaction he faced from the public, so I can’t imagine what she experienced.

The Urban Dictionary defines Mama Bear Mode as “a mom who can be cuddly and lovable but also has a ferocious side when it is necessary to protect her cubs.” Does that describe you like it describes me? I’ve always looked at my mama bear mode as an ugly personality flaw that I needed to contain. But perhaps it’s a beautiful thing when the ugliness of our selves marks its presence. It means we care deeply. It means we love passionately. It means we feel immensely. I’m learning to embrace my imperfections, and even look for the hidden beauty within the ugliness.

What “mama bear mode” moments have you experienced? We would love to hear your stories.

Mar23

Sunday Specials

*Sunday Specials are a weekly round-up of happenings on the web-o-sphere. So enjoy your coffee while checking out what’s caught our attention. 

2014 International Day of Happiness

Did everyone realize that the 2nd Annual International Day of Happiness was this past week?! The Gauthier household started the day with the infectious Happy song by Pharrell busting through our speakers. How can anyone resist the urge to dance while listening to that song? I dare you to try. Or better yet, go watch the first ever 24 hour music video.

Speak Fear, Praying Shalom by Osheta Moore

Osheta Moore’s honest reflections on both her fear and her desire for a shalom that irradicates the US and THEM dichotomy is incredibly moving.

So I write my friends with blogs and I confess that as a black mama with Stand Your Ground Laws picking off our children one by one—I’m terrified of ‘them’. I invite them to write prayers as we stand together for God’s wholeness in the brokenness the justice system. We are white women and black, American and Canadian, young and old, urban and suburban and my fear will no longer perpetuate ‘us’ and ‘them’. ~Osheta Moore

She references the poem below in her post so I thought I’d share it here as well.


Why I Love Thursday Nights by Shauna Niequist

I recently read Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. It was perfect bathtime reading material that catered to my love for food and desire for community. This post on her blog gives you just a taste of her appreciation for what happens around the table.

As the months go by, as we build this little tribe week by week, hour by hour around the table, I find myself bubbling with joy in anticipation of Thursday evenings. I love planning the recipes, prepping the food. I set the table in the afternoon, and I pray by name for each person that will gather around our table later that night. I’m rarely “in charge” of the discussion or study that happens after dinner, but the table is my contribution, and it’s one that I love. ~Shauna Niequist

A Few Thought Provoking Posts on the Passing of Fred Phelps:

Fred Phelps is Dead and I’m Grateful by Emily Timbol
Fred Phelps’ Death Isn’t a Cause for Celebration by Brandon W. Peach

Soul Pancake

I love Soul Pancake (producers of Kid President) and a video they posted this week fits nicely in with our pondering upon wholeness vs. perfectionism.

 

Divergent

I know I’m a little late to the game here…but I just started reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. My hope is to finish it quickly so I can see the movie while it’s still in theaters. Not surprisingly, it was number one at the box office this past week. I’ll do my own book review and subsequent movie review in the coming weeks!

 

What’s Happening in Russia?

I try to keep up with world news in an effort to hold in my mind the reality that I am a part of a larger narrative and moment in time. Slate has been generating some interesting articles related to what is currently going on Russia:
Crimea is Putin’s Revenge by Masha Gessen
Russia Will Never Be Like Us by Anne Applebaum

What captured your attention around the web-o-sphere this week?

Mar21

Blooms and Blunders

Seattle is gorgeous in springtime and its people are like ants at a picnic.  Everyone comes out to enjoy the feast of sunshine and flowers.  Each year, I try to photo document the rainbow of colors that bloom in my neighborhood.  I take pictures of the pink and purple hyacinths, the white and yellow daffodils, the jewel toned sapphire and ruby primroses, the pink cherry blossoms, the magenta crocuses, and the nearly transparent paper whites.  Tulips haven’t bloomed yet, but when they do, there isn’t a color in the world that a tulip can’t carry.

Yesterday was one of those delightful days of spring when the sun shone through the buds on trees and everyone was out walking and talking and drinking coffee.  I strolled merrily to work with my headphones on and my iPhone out ready to snap pictures of any color I hadn’t yet collected.  I was primed and ready to photograph a patch of brilliant yellow daffodils I spotted in a corner raised bed by the stop light. I took note of a few people around that I would have to make sure didn’t get caught in my picture.  I noticed two women, in particular, who were walking toward me for whom I would need to pause.  As I approached the corner, I tripped on a root-bumped sidewalk and rolled my ankle.  Then I lost my balance and heaved forward sloppily trying not to drop my phone or my purse and stumbled right foot, left foot, right foot with my chin jutted out for balance and did the trickiest don’t-fall-and-wreck-yourself dance.  I felt like Sven slipping on the ice in the trailer for the popular Disney movie “Frozen.”

When I caught my balance and collected myself, I smiled and said “Whoa!” out loud acknowledging to the world the sentiment of “Yes, I just did that, folks!”  I looked up anticipating the gaze of the two women walking toward me, but instead, they moved over farther on the sidewalk and both looked down as they walked past.  I think they imagined my embarrassment and didn’t want me to feel shame over their seeing my blunder.  However, I realized in that brief moment of their averted gaze that I had actually wanted them to join me by acknowledging what happened.  I wanted them to say something like “Are you okay?” or “Wow!  That was a close one,” or “I’ve done that before.”  Even a smile and a chuckle would have meant that I wasn’t completely alone in my embarrassment.

After I recovered from my near tumble, I wondered what I do with other people’s mistakes, accidents, or embarrassments.  Do I meet them in the midst of their awkwardness, or do I look away?  Am I afraid I will add to their embarrassment if I address an accident? Will I feel guilty by thinking I’m hurting their feelings in naming what has happened?  In my avoidance, am I missing an opportunity to offer empathy, kindness and compassion?

I’m not sure how I want to address these kinds of situations when they happen to others.  However, one thing I can rule out is extending pity.  I don’t think that would be helpful at all.  Pity puts me in the position as someone that never blunders and addresses the other as a “poor little thing.”  Instead, I think I’d like to name reality by acknowledging that something awkward did just happen. But I’m not sure exactly how that would sound.

In any case, I know that yesterday, I wanted someone to laugh with me. And I will keep that desire in mind next time I witness a blunder like mine. What would you do for others in an embarrassing situation? What would you like others to do for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

As for me, I’d like to take a lesson from Sven and Olaf on how to handle slippery situations – at least they were in it together, right?