Headlines and Hope

It’s been a hell of a summer for things coming out of downtown Raleigh.

And don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. Our state government makes decisions that capture the attention of the likes of The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow, and Bill Maher. Any time that happens, it can’t be good.

In fact, it’s been pretty frustrating.

The most recent headline out of downtown Raleigh is something you’ve probably seen or heard of by now, as the story was picked up by pretty much all local media, Good Morning America, Huffington Post, Time, NPR, and Al-Jazeera…and gone viral with the help of social media.

Love Wins Ministries was told by local PD to stop their typical weekend Saturday and Sunday morning routine of going to Moore Square to feed their friends who live outside. Failure to comply (because they were in violation of an undisclosed ordinance) would result in arrests. I’m not sure what prompted this particular event on this particular Saturday morning when Love Wins has been operating in this manner for 6 years, unobstructed.

Needless to say, people were outraged. Love Wins has done their best, though, to respond well and engage in conversation with the appropriate people on all sides of the issue…including Raleigh mayor, Nancy McFarlane, and the Raleigh City Council. And the conversations have already begun…an effort which seems to have promise.

In all honesty, I have felt, deep within my innermost being, THE most hopeful about this headline from downtown. The situation is not resolved–far from it. But for once this summer, people from different sides are actually having conversation in an attempt to understand and reach a solution that is beneficial for as many people as possible. And THAT is the key reason I have hope.

For more on the story, you can go here: http://lovewins.info/2013/08/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-moore-square-indicent/

In the mean time, you can continue to follow along on Love Wins website and, for more immediate updates, on their Facebook page.

 

Advertisements

Don’t Nominate Me for Sainthood Just Yet

In a matter of a few months (this year), hubs and I went from one child to three. Those of you with more than one child know there is a HUGE step from one child to two. Those of you with more children than parents also know there is a HUGE step from man-to-man coverage to zone defense. After that, though, it doesn’t seem to matter how many children are running around your house.

Until you see how much money you spend on food.

Many of you are aware that we currently have three teenagers living under our roof. One was legally adopted from another country. The other two were fake adopted after late Tuesday night phone calls three months apart requesting a safe place to stay for a little bit. All of them have ugly parts to their respective beginnings, brought about by parents who, for one reason or another, just didn’t have the capacity to do that job well.

I can’t tell you how many times we have received praise for bringing these kiddos into our house. Usually we are called saints or heroes, told we are incredibly good or nice people with big hearts.

Maybe.

But don’t put me on the ballot for sainthood just yet.

Because parenting–no matter the form it takes–is hard. It is work. And it doesn’t matter whether you are a single parent (who I think are usually the real saints), have a partner, parent one child or several, parent healthy children or those with significant limitations, parenting is hard work.

And you never get a day off.

On my best days, I hope and pray that all of my children will become healthy, well-adjusted, independent adults. On my best days, I tell them I love them or give hugs or laugh at their jokes and degenerate ways.

Some days I just hope and pray that I don’t maim or strangle them.

I wouldn’t qualify most days as my best.

Many days, I take my introverted self out of the house and put myself in time out because that’s what I need at the moment. Some days, it’s onto the deck with an adult beverage. Just to hear the quiet hum of a neighbor’s HVAC unit. Because that is way quieter than the circus inside.

Eventually, though, I go back into the house and resume my duties, thankful that I have a solid partner by my side.

And maybe that’s worth an award.

Or maybe every parent worth their stuff should be handed an award. Just for showing up.

I am no different (I don’t think) than those of you outnumbered by children. Some days I love it. Some days I don’t. Every day is a challenge and adventure and hard work. I’m not as inspired by my children as other parents are–though, with the stuff they carry around with them, they get points just for getting out of bed in the morning. It’s not the parenting experience I imagined or hoped for. It simply is mine.

It doesn’t make me a saint.

It might mean, however, that I am legitimately crazy.

 

The Evangelicals You Don’t Know: A Book Review

I have long struggled with the evangelical label–especially having grown up in an evangelical context. Thankfully, my foundational church experience was more moderate, and I never really considered myself one of “those” evangelicals. Even so, any time my religious background comes up in conversation, I feel the need to quickly explain that I am different than the preconceived idea about being Baptist in the South and everything with which THAT is loaded.

Thankfully, Tom Krattenmaker presents us with, for lack of a better term, the “new” evangelicals. He identifies as a person of faith, although more theologically liberal, and writes for the religion section of USA Today. In The Evangelicals You Don’t Know, Krattenmaker provides one example after another of how today’s evangelicals are more than meets the eye–and should be approached less with suspicion and more with the possibility of partnership. These evangelicals have become more progressive in their desire to address complex social issues such as the environment, abortion, sexuality, politics, human slavery and trafficking, and the broader contributors to poverty at home and abroad. These are the things that are making these evangelicals pro-life and prompting a desire to make the world a better place–indeed more like the Kingdom–for everyone. And so it means working alongside of people with different beliefs, or none at all, in partnerships that work to make communities stronger…without the requirement of a conversation about where you would go if you died tonight. These evangelicals are committed to partnerships for the greater good, honest conversations with those who want to have them, and their own theological positions–even if they differ from someone else’s. What Krattenmaker reminds us of in the end, is that both sides of the religious spectrum–as well as those with and without religion–should be more gracious with the other side, more willing to have honest conversations and meet in the middle, and more willing to work for the greater good, putting our theological differences aside. Because in the end, it’s more about what we do for our brothers and sisters than how solid our theological presuppositions might be.

*******************************

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.

 

Running with Heart

Six years ago, sitting on a balcony in Mexico with my best friend and a copy of Endurance Magazine, I was talked into registering for the City of Oaks Marathon.

“We can so do this,” she said.

Keep in mind, I’d NEVER run a race. She’d done a few, but not anything longer than a 10K.

“I will if you will,” I said.

So we signed up. And then I started a PhD program and she resumed life with her husband and five children (whom she’d had for just over a year at that point). Needless to say, our lives blew apart and so did our training. So we made another pact. Let’s change our registration to the HALF MARATHON. Brilliant. No problem.

My longest long run between August and the beginning of November that year was 8 miles.

On a treadmill.

Yeah. I know. I can hear you laughing from here.

No really. Pick yourself up off the floor. It’s unbecoming at this point.

As you might imagine, that race sucked. But I finished it. And the feeling I had coming across that finish line…I rode that high for a good three days.

And the day I crossed that finish line, I knew I’d do it again. With a more than a little more training.

Post 13.1 City of Oaks 07 2

And I have. Over and over. Seven half-marathons, one full, a couple of 10 milers, several 10Ks, and…finally…a few 5Ks.

I became a runner.

Even though running and I are frenemies.

So I was excited today to register once again for the City of Oaks 13.1. And even convince a potential new running (or at least racing) buddy to join me.

I mean, really excited. Because, y’all, I’ve been doing Insanity this summer. And NOTHING has made me miss running more than that.

In spite of the fact that I’m not the world’s greatest runner. Certainly not the fastest. Usually I’m the most self-conscious when it comes to running with other people–even my best running friends.

Maybe it’s because, when all else fails, I run with heart. Because it’s the activity that helps me stay healthy…mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s the thing that contributed to the machine beeping at how low my resting heart rate was when I went in for my most recent physical. And what contributed to my blood pressure being only marginally higher.

It’s the thing that sometimes helps me to appreciate my body and all the many things it can do.

And I was reminded of that even more acutely this afternoon as I sat in a hospital room, visiting a man and his family–none of whom I’d seen in years. But they have always been so special to me. He is working to become strong enough to have surgery to install a heart pump. Without that…or a brand new heart altogether…he won’t be with us for much longer. As I watched the ways in which his wife, daughter, granddaughter, son-in-law and neighbors take care of him and pour love into him, I was reminded of just how powerful it is to work from the heart. Whatever the work.

I know how powerful the heart can be–and how devastating it can be when the heart no longer functions. And maybe it’s another reason I keep running. Because at the end of the day, I can still run and move my body in so many beautiful ways…ways in which other people cannot. And sometimes, I run for them.