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Eavesdropping at Chick-Fil-A

The other day, I took the babies to Chick-Fil-A, because I didn’t have enough time to go home between appointments, but couldn’t handle another minute of sitting in the car with whining children. Chick-Fil-A’s play area door is super hard to open for people younger than 6, so I could sit in a booth and read Facebook in relative peace, while they got their energy out.

Maybe it’s because we have so many seminaries and churches in Louisville, but there’s almost always Christians meeting up at our Chick-Fil-A. This time was no exception. In the booth next to mine, a couple of young guys were discussing ministry and theology.

I was a bit intrigued. (Like when you’re in a foreign country and see other Americans. You don’t necessarily introduce yourself, but you listen in to what they’re saying, just because the conversation is in English and they’re kind of your people.)

So one of the guys was sharing how his mom had asked him, “Do you know anything about Charismatic theology?” He went on, “And I told her, ‘It’s not good! His friend listening to the story reiterated, “Yeah, not good.

The thing is, my church upbringing was Charismatic. So my eavesdropping brain was thinking, “Wait? What is ‘Charismatic theology’?” Last I checked, we come in a lot of different flavors, with a plethora of theological perspectives. But apparently these guys could write every one of us off with one broad brush stroke.

It kind of made me sad, there in Chick-Fil-A. Because the other bits and pieces of their conversation sounded like stuff I would agree with, from their theology to their politics.

Really, we had more in common than we had separating us.

But I think we all do this way too often. Most of us have a group of other Christians we dislike. There is some segment of brothers and sisters that we write off, because we dislike their views.

We roll our eyes. We say, “Can you believe they think ____________ ?”

Now, I’m not saying we can’t discuss non-biblical theology. It is important to bring correction to errors within the Church. I even recognize that we might disagree so strongly, that having a friendship with those on the other side of the discussion would be a strain.

But maybe we should still give each other some grace. We could try to celebrate the places where we do agree and still hear where they’re coming from when agreement isn’t possible. We should let love cover the weaknesses we perceive and choose to learn from their strengths. Really, we must speak about our differences from a place of love, since that was Jesus’ prayer for us (John 13:35).

Because probably, we have more in common than we have separating us.


Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC
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How to Respond to Racial Unrest

I grew up thinking racism was dead, outside of a couple of backwards thinkers in the deep south somewhere. I mean, the Civil War ended slavery and the Civil Rights Movement ended racism, right?

If only.

The more I read history, I see how little we’ve really changed. Our laws may be different, but our hearts are still hard towards each other.

As a country, we have been in a heightened season of racial unrest for a while. There is so much sorrow, which ever way you examine the situation.

But our hearts. Our hearts are what I can’t stop talking about.

There are people who would walk old ladies across the street, who would shovel their neighbors sidewalk, who would buy a single mom some groceries, who would fundraise for disabled veterans. But when they see a struggle that is outside their own homogenous community, their words become harsh and ugly.

Guys. Calling someone a “thug” is name calling, not too far from the “N-word.” Calling people “animals” is pretty close to calling them “monkeys.” When we see a grieving family and our only comment about their loved one is “they got what they deserved,” there is a hardness in our heart. When we say, “Those people…” we’re reinforcing the very attitudes that kept segregation alive for so long.

In my own little social sphere, I find those expressions almost nonexistent in a few distinct groups:

  • People of Color (meaning anyone non-white).
  • Teachers and social workers who serve multi-ethnic communities.
  • People in interracial relationships.
  • Adoptive families, especially transracial ones.

Why? Because they either experience life as a non-white person or they love someone who experiences life as a non-white person.

When we love someone, we see things through their eyes. We have compassion for their struggle, even if we don’t understand it.

If one of my girl friends comes to me with a story about a guy that just dumped her, I don’t say, “You brought this on yourself,” or “I’m sure he didn’t mean it when he called you fat.” Nope. I’m all, “Let’s get a taser and go after him!” (more or less.)

When you love someone, you have their back. Love changes everything.

There are so many Black people that are hurting right now. They don’t live in Ferguson or New York or Baltimore. They aren’t on the streets protesting. They would never dream of setting things on fire. But they are afraid to live in America. Their hearts are broken for their community.

They are in our neighborhoods, at our workplaces. And when we spit out, “Just a bunch of thugs, got what they deserve,” their hearts break again. Because when we say, “those people,” it includes them too.

I don’t care how many Black people we claim to know. If we don’t love them enough to take the time to understand their perspective, we have no right to tell them how they should feel about events across our nation. If we don’t love them enough to grieve with them, we’re still missing it.

Let’s lay down our defensiveness about an opinion shaped by our own experiences. Let’s lay down our need to be right. Instead, let us choose love.

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-I-have-decided-to-stick-with-love.-Hate-is-too-great-a-burden-to-bear-600x600

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Date Expectations

coupledateYou know dates? Like in the movies?

I’m talking about the kind where the people hold hands and gaze soulfully into each others’ eyes, while talking about feelings. Yeah. I’ve rarely had one of those.

In fact, Chris and I were already dating for a couple of weeks before we even had our first date date.

We’d been getting along fine taking walks through my apartment complex or sitting in his truck eating Wendy’s. But somehow, dinner at a fancy restaurant (we were college students, so fancy was like Mexican or something) seemed different.

I was 19 and melodramatic and so I started thinking, “We’re sitting here awkwardly, not talking. Maybe we’re incompatible. Maybe he doesn’t like me any more. Maybe we don’t have chemistry!” Chris was probably thinking nothing. Because not-talking was normal for him. I just didn’t know that at the time.

But I shouldn’t have been surprised, because my favorite fictional guys are always dark and angsty: the silent, mysterious types, with deep inner brooding.

Favorite Jane Austen hero? Mr. Darcy.
Favorite X-Man? Wolverine.
Favorite Disney prince? The Beast. (But then he had to go and turn into that annoying prince. I’m sure Belle was disappointed, although she hid it well.)

I mean, I’m not saying my husband is silent and angsty… but I do have a type. So.

What movies don’t tell you is that when you go on a date with Wolverine, he doesn’t talk a lot. In fact, if you try to get Wolverine to discuss his feelings, he actually gets a little surly. I’m just guessing about that, though.

Back to Chris and I. After lots of semi-silent dates, Chris asked me to marry him on the day before Valentine’s. Which I’m REALLY glad about. Because I hate cliché sentimentality. And it’s so hard to get a dinner reservation on actual Valentine’s.

So last night we went out to a new Mexican place to celebrate our engagement anniversary (if that’s a thing). And not much has changed since that first date. We’re still eating Mexican (although, this place was way more upscale than the little hole-in-the-wall where we started). And we we didn’t talk a lot about feelings (trust me, I tried).

But the silent, mysterious guy I’m on a date with… is my best friend. Turns out we’re very compatible. And the lack of verbose conversation is more companionable than awkward now. I mean, we actually have our best conversations while the kids are trying to shoot us with Nerf guns, anyway.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit using dates to try to talk about feelings.

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An Open Letter to My Husband

Dear Christopher,

I’m glad we got married 9 years ago. I couldn’t live without you!

No, seriously. If you weren’t in my life, who would pay bills and figure out a budget and all that? And who would take out the garbage? (FYI, the kitchen one is a bit full.) Who would open pickle jars and fix my phone when it’s not working? Who would get the oil changed on my car? (Actually, it’s saying it needs one.)

And who would love me unconditionally? Who would listen to me ramble and never judge me for silly stuff I say? Who would do that?

Who would think I was pretty without makeup on? Who would say I smelled good when I haven’t showered?

Who would discuss theology with me and set me straight when I’m off? Who would watch silly Sci-Fi with me and like it as much as I do?

Who would be my best friend?

I love being your wife.

Hannah

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Leah and Boys and Crazy Love

Leah has barely gotten going in Kindergarten and she only turned 5 a couple of days ago. My baby girl is just getting started in life, but she’s already found love.

Her first day of school she came home and told me all about a boy in her class who didn’t speak English and had plugs in his ears. I inquired if the “plugs” were skin colored (hearing aids?) and that seemed to be the case.

As the days went on I heard more and more stories about this little boy, who Leah referred to as “That ENGLISH Guy,” because she couldn’t remember his name (it’s Yaziel) or the name of the language he spoke (it’s Spanish).

Leah told me she frequently bounded over to Yaziel, threw her hands up in the air and exclaimed, “I LIKE you!” Another day, she informed me that Yaziel always had a little smile on his face because, “he is happy being by me and I am happy being by him.”

When the Kindergarten class went on a field trip to the nature center, they visited the “hugging sycamore,” where you have to hug someone. I asked who she had hugged and she replied, “One of the girls. I can’t remember her name. And Yaziel!”

Yesterday on the way home from school, Leah told me about a game they played where she got to be partners with Yaziel. She babbled on:

“I love Yaziel! The first day I saw him, I loved him! I loved his name and I loved who he was. He’s so handsome. I wish I was a Spanish person. I wish I spoke his language. I know some words he says, like ‘Hola’ and ‘Ocho.'”

And I know I should be freaked out or something, because she’s only 5 and she’s already crushing on boys. But I can’t.

Because I’m so undone by her big heart of love that sees people for who they are. Leah doesn’t look at language barriers or physical difficulties or differences of any kind. She sees a person and simply loves. She loves lavishly and freely.

I wish I could be more like her.

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Company Policy

An arm-chair-quarterback was sharing her opinions about a prominent Christian leader the other day. I’d never heard of the leader (or the quarterback) before, so she could have been totally right. But she made a statement that bothered me.

“I think [Christian] leaders should be held at a higher standard, even more than the lay members.”

I guess. Yeah. But not really.

Because when we say that leaders are called to a “higher” standard, it implies that the rest of us are called to a lesser standard. And that just doesn’t work for me.

I mean, think of it like this:

I worked at Wal-Mart for 3 hellish months (OK, it was 3 mildly aggravating months). And there was not one standard for the managers because they were “leadership” and another for the regular employees.

The company never said, “If you’re management, you must come to work on time, but if you’re a cashier, you can come in 20 minutes late.” No. Or, “Management is not allowed to steal from the cash registers, but if you’re only part time, we look the other way.” No.

They had company policies. It didn’t matter your role or how many smiley stickers you handed out, you still had to wear a shirt to work. You had to show up for your shift. You couldn’t beat your coworkers up. You couldn’t sell alcohol to minors. Stuff like that.

And the Kingdom of heaven is no different. We all work for the same company and we all have to follow company policy. Yeah, some of us have roles that require more responsibility, or more time, or more skills than others of us.

But. None of us are allowed to sin. Leaders or non-leaders. We’re called to be perfect, like God. Dead to the flesh. Free from sin. And if we do sin, we all receive the same grace. And are all made the same righteousness of Christ.

So, back to this whole, “Leaders are called to a higher standard” bit. Why do we say that? I mean, most of us have probably spouted something akin to it at some point. I know I have. So, why?

Because it makes us feel better. Just like any form of judgementalism, it lets us think we’re really doing OK. If so-and-so is a leader and she just checked into rehab, then my little gossip problem isn’t too much to be worried about.

And guys, Jesus is so beautiful. The grace and forgiveness He’s extended to us is nothing we could even remotely deserve. Let’s just quit trying to play this little “God grades on a curve” game and live our lives in response to the love He’s lavished on us.

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Fighting about Jesus

My husband and I like to learn from a pretty diverse group of Christian leaders. Listening to different movements and schools of thought keeps us well rounded.

But if we put all of our favorite pastors in the same room, a brawl would probably break out. Not between the pastors. No. I mean between their followers, who would freak out that their favorite leader was hanging out with “so and so.” Of course, this is just a theory…

Which kind of makes me think of my kids in the car yesterday. They asked me to play a specific song. “I want the one about baby Jesus!” Leah exclaimed. Which means Misty Edwards’, People Get Ready.

So we were listening to Misty sing:

“He’s not a baby in a manger anymore
He’s not a broken man on a cross
He didn’t stay in the grave
And He’s not staying in heaven forever!”

And my kids started FIGHTING. Leah was singing along, which compelled Isaiah to complain that he couldn’t hear the song. Even though I’d already turned it up so loud that the car next to me wanted to get saved. Leah defended herself, avowing that she was singing “quiet.” And back and forth it went.

I mean, normally I love a good irony, but I really was compelled to intervene, “Guys. We are fighting about listening to a song about Jesus. Do you think that makes Jesus happy?”

So really, guys, when we fight about Jesus, does that make Him happy?

Pre-trib versus post-trib. Eternal security versus losing our salvation. Miracles versus cessationism. Grace versus law. Free will versus sovereignty of God. Alcohol versus no alcohol. Fighting about Jesus. And what He said and what we think He thinks.

Studying the Word to learn the truth about the nature of God is not bad. Personally, I love long drawn out theological conversations… but we’re not supposed to be mean. For reals.

You know how I know? Because Jesus said so.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Jesus doesn’t want us to fight about Him. He doesn’t want us to use the Bible as a sword to hack each other in pieces. He wants us to show off our love for each other.

So play nice, kids.

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He Still Needs Me…

My kids are gone. Yes, every morning this week they’re spending 3 hours learning about Jesus, thanks to VBS. I’m pretty OK with that. Especially the quiet house part.

We have a church in Louisville that is part of Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 church planting network. We like them. They’re a lot different than us, but they love Scripture and think it’s all about Jesus. So they’re a lot like us too.

The description for their VBS said this:

Lessons focus on who Jesus is, why we can trust him, why we need him, and how he sends his people on mission.

Um, yes please. Can I come too?

So that’s what my kids are doing this week. Isaiah wasn’t too thrilled when we let them in on our plans for them. Leah was ecstatic.

I’ve worried about Leah, because I never put her in preschool or took her to library story-time or anything (second child). And she’s starting ALL DAY Kindergarten this Fall. Cold turkey.

But I’m pretty sure my fears were unfounded. Before we left for VBS, Leah exclaimed, “I’m so excited for today.” Isaiah moaned, “This isn’t going to be any fun.” When we got to VBS, Leah was dragging me into into the church while Isaiah tried to sneak out the door (slight exaggeration). Leah announced, “I’m glad Mommy’s not staying.” Isaiah said, “I want to go home with you.”

Turns out my son got my fear of trying anything new. I took him aside and discussed things with him. We talked about how the first day of school was hard, but things got better. And how the other kids didn’t all know each other either (the church has 4 services on a Sunday). And we reached a compromise that I wouldn’t leave until the music started.

So I waited off to the side, probably looking like one of those freaky helicopter moms. But when my son looked back at me and smiled a little because I was there, I can’t lie: it warmed my heart. And when the music began and he motioned me over and asked for a last kiss, it was a sweet moment.

I mean, he’s normally pretty independent. And I doubt he’s going to do that when he’s 15.

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