White Flour…Or The Day Clowns Overpowered Racism

I just finished reading White Flour, a children’s book written by peacemaker David LaMotte and illustrated by Jenn Hales.

White Flour is the story of what happened in Knoxville, TN in May, 2007, when a group of KKK members came to town for a rally in a public park there. As is often the case, a group of people opposed to white supremacy outnumbered the white supremacists. As the story goes, however, the counter-protesters came armed not with weapons, speeches or anger, but with props, costumes and humor. The Coup Clutz Clowns were ready. As the KKK members shouted “white power,” the CCC members “misunderstood” the phrase and turned it around in various humorous and positive ways. The clowns demonstrated a third path to peace, inviting all who would join them.

This story is written in rhyme, a poem that tells the story and the various ways the Clowns fought back with nonviolence and even humor. The book is elegantly illustrated, and the colors are masterfully blended to evoke the happiness the Clowns must have that day in May–as well as a glimpse into the darkness that still exists on the other side.

Well written and beautifully illustrated, this book reminds us that racism, hatred and power over another still exists–and that there are better, and probably more effective ways, of responding.

This book is recommended for middle school aged children and older–though some younger children may appreciate it with parental participation.

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Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

DIY: Chalkboard

I’m in charge of a bridal shower that’s coming up in about 5 weeks and I may be am ridiculously excited about it. I mean I have gotten in touch with parts of me that I didn’t know existed: menu planning and test run to make sure it’s good to go; selecting the invitation (thank you, Etsy vendors); going with a theme; finding ways to serve up the tasty goodness that’s gonna go down; and creating a chalkboard menu.

I’ve seen these in other places–and usually covet the ones I see in people’s houses. Trying to find one and buy it can be crazy expensive. But with all my HGTV and DIYNetwork viewing, I knew CHALKBOARD PAINT existed. Yes. This is a real thing. Because, like Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, you can put that s*** on everything. Tables, walls, and…glass that comes with the frame that comes from your favorite picture frame selling store.

So last weekend, I headed over to my local Target for the frame and Home Depot for the paint (Lowes didn’t carry it–at least according to the interwebs).

I picked a frame that would hold a good ol’ 8×10 picture since I figure this will rest on someone’s counter top and I didn’t need a lot of space. Also, just like the Myth Busters, I like to start small–and marginally to scale.

I waited a few days before trying this out–mostly because everything around here kept getting rained out–or the humidity was at 562%. But Tuesday evening was pretty nice outside and I could at least head down to the garage for some DIY magic. I set up everything down stairs:

The Windex is there to clean the glass from the frame before starting. Everything was laid out on a piece of poster board since I wasn’t getting to crazy with it. That little can that looks like spray paint over there is the chalkboard paint. It also comes in cans like regular paint and you can brush it on. My job wasn’t that big and I didn’t feel like going with the added expense (the can is about twice as much) or hassle (let’s face it–painting is WORK, people. And so’s the clean-up).

I took a picture after the first coat of paint (below) and let everything dry. Upon inspection, I decided to go with a second coat. It was a nice night for leaving the garage door open for a little while hours.

It starts out glossy but dries that nice chalkboard matte.

 

I actually left everything to sit overnight and moved everything this morning. The nice thing about spray paint is you just put the cap back on the can and store it like you would any spray paint. The poster board is still hanging out in the garage because I’m seriously considering spraying anything that will stand still long enough. Well, maybe not quite.

Add the glass back in the frame (the glass side looks like an awesome sliver of obsidian), and you’re ready to write…anything.

The nice thing about this particular frame is that it is small enough for sitting on a counter (sans easel), has room to write several things (or just a short message) and the frame is wide enough at the bottom for a piece of chalk to rest on it. The chalk and eraser (not pictured) are your run of the mill chalk and eraser and can be found at your local office or teacher supply store.

 

Father’s Day

Some of you have asked whether I was going to craft a litany for Father’s Day as I did for Mother’s Day. I must confess that I don’t have nearly the same sentiment around Father’s Day as I do for Mother’s Day. I am blessed with a father who is magnificent and with whom I have an extraordinary relationship–a relationship many may find to be improbable or even impossible with their own father. (I was blessed with a mother who was also magnificent and with whom I had an extraordinary relationship. All of which ended way too soon.)

So I was less inspired by my own experiences around Father’s Day and more inspired by the experiences of some of you. I hope this litany does for men, fathers and their children the same things it did for women, mothers and their children at Mother’s Day. Once again, please feel free to use this litany as best fits for you and your context.

God of creation, you have been in the business of fathering children for generations.

On this day, we thank you for the fathers who have desired to do the same, who have contributed to the process of new life through creating children and adopting them. We thank you for the ways in which they teach us to love and care for ourselves and the world around us.

We pray for the men who deeply desire to become fathers but labor to do so. We ask that you provide hope in the midst of distress and struggle and that you remind these men that they are no less of a person because of imperfect biology.

We pray for the men who have loved and lost children–for whom this day is fraught with painful reminders of who and what they have lost. We pray that they may encounter you in new and different ways through other children in their lives and find peace.

We thank you for the men who have made a difference in our lives as fathers, who loved and cared for us in the ways you would. Who taught us how to work hard, enjoy what we do, and get outside and play.

We thank you for the men who have worked to be the best fathers possible but whose experiences of parenting have not matched their expectations. We ask that you bolster these fathers of children who may be prodigals, of children who make choices for themselves that may be different than what we would like. Remind them of the ways in which they lived up to your idea of fatherhood and that love and grace is neverending.

We thank you for the men who tried to be fathers, but who may have failed because they lacked the resources–emotional, financial, physical–required to be present as such. We pray for those sons and daughters who mourn the father they are or were not able to have, that they may find in you, and in this community, the deeply loving and nurturing presence they have missed.

We pray for those sons and daughters who are fatherless because of disease and death, that they may have a sense of your presence in the midst of their pain and the solace and joy that come with fond memories.

We pray for the sons and daughters of fathers lost to war–the ones created by man and the ones that brew within–that we might recognize the complexities of this world and work for peace in spite of them. In the meantime, we ask that you bring peace to these families.

We thank you for the ways in which our lives are shaped by our fathers, by our quest for fatherhood, and for fatherhood itself.

Above all, Creator, may we all work to be the kind of parent for our children and the children around us that you have been for your children for generations. Help us to look to your Spirit as a guide for being parent–for knowing how to love, when to speak, when to whisper, when to stay silent, how to play, how to nurture and comfort, and how to be present.

We ask these things of you, in the name of our Brother, Jesus. Amen.

The Jesus Life: A Book Review

I continue to be struck with the number of books that are on the market that focus on living The Way. Clearly there is a desire to live in the Way of Jesus in a new way, in a way that returns to what it really means to follow Jesus beyond the daily “quiet time.”

Stephen W. Smith offers “eight ways to recover authentic Christianity” in his book The Jesus Life. Not only does he offer, by way of introduction, a prompt to recover your own life, he also describes living according to rhythm (just as Jesus did) so that we might sustain this new way of life. From there, Smith provides eight ways of living according to the Way: dailiness, hiddenness, family, companionship, the table, doing good, ritual, and suffering. With each chapter, Smith offers practical and profound suggestions for going further with each theme.

One of the things I really appreciate about this book is that Smith explores and describes themes many people may not have previously considered to be part of the Way. These themes, however, are themes with which we are all familiar and themes which shape us as travelers along the Way–and are perfect for finding a new way to interact with and walk with Jesus.

Although I was reading this book quickly to adhere to a deadline for reviewing it, know that this book is NOT to be devoured. It should be read at a slow pace, one theme at a time…perhaps with another person or a small group of trusted friends with whom you can engage in dialogue that arises with material such as this. Indeed, Smith provides discussion questions related to each chapter at the end of the book.

This book is a fantastic starting point for many reasons, including a means with which one can begin to find the courage to live according to the Way. It may also pair nicely with (or be a good foundation before reading) Mark Scandrette’s Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love.

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Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.