Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving and Expectant Hope

We spent Thanksgiving in Chicago this year, visiting my little sister and her husband, both of whom are chefs and therefore the perfect choice for a Thanksgiving visit. On our way to Chicago, we made a quick stop in Indiana to visit the ever-lovely and gracious Shannan, whose friendship is for sure one of the best gifts that the internet has ever given me. Not to mention that our kiddos played together like well-behaved champs (Thanksgiving miracle?) and our hubbies both have impressive beards and a penchant for prison-dwellers. We ended our whirlwind cross-country trip with a stop in Michigan for my aunt's wedding celebration. The only thing that could have made our trip better was if I didn't come down with a nasty stomach bug as we were leaving Goshen that lingered for basically the whole trip, and made it near-impossible to enjoy any of the festivities. Whatever man, just my luck.
Now that we are home and my children are blessedly back in school, I am bewildered to find myself smack in the middle of the holiday season that somehow snuck right up on me. Jayci has made Christmas countdowns for the whole family, and according to her math there are only 26 days until Christmas. This must not be right, I argued, but it turns out that indeed her math skills live up to her straight 100s on her report card.

All that to say, I am desperate this year for a chance to slow down. To buy less and give more. To choose carefully which "festivities" and celebrations and holiday markets and other activities are worth our family's time and energy, and will contribute to a heart attitude of expectant waiting for our newborn King's arrival. So easily I find myself caught right up in the hustle and bustle of the season, both by default and by FOMO attending all-of-the-things; this year, however, we are trying to pare down and focus our eyes on Jesus.
That said, we are practicing Advent (or trying to anyways), and will be reading Ann Voskamp's book together as a family. True confession: we don't do the Jesse tree and ornaments, because I just cannot with the printing and cutting out and stringing up. Reading something every day seems a far more (possibly) achievable goal for our family. We are all about managing expectations around here.

I've also been paring down my online reading to spend more time between the pages of a book and less listening to political rants via Facebook. For me, there are a few trusted and wise voices that I find myself revisiting time and time again in this season. And because I love you all dearly, I wanted to share some of those voices with you here:
Shannan (obviously) - Two Kinds of Buckets
Sarah Bessey's advent newsletter and devotionals
DL Mayfield - Day 26
Kelly Nikondeha- Insistent Hope 

As one last side-note, today is #GivingTuesday, which is a way (in theory) for us to take a step back from all the busy consumption in order to give generously to people and causes and places that are close to our hearts. In practice, I feel like the whole thing is another cacophony of "advertisements" and flurries of voices insisting where we should point our money. I am weary of all the noise, and so hesitate to add my voice to the din. Instead, I'll just say that if you feel led to contribute to what we are doing in Atlanta (through our nonprofit Blueprint 58, meaning tax-deductible), you can visit our website for more information on how to do that. As always, we are honored and grateful and humbled again and again by the ways you all support and encourage and carry us on our journey.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

On the Election, from a Canadian in the City

If I am going to begin anywhere, I suppose here is as good a place as any: I will not be voting today. This is because I am an immigrant, with a green card to prove it. My Canadian heritage also provides me an excuse to slip myself neatly out of election conversation and political arguments alike. (My non-voting status aside, let’s assume I lean Canadian in my political views both as a result of upbringing and the particular path my life has wrought).

Caden went back to school yesterday, not even two full weeks after his heart was wrenched open, re-plumbed, and wired shut. I was somewhat of a nervous wreck all day, reminding him of no climbing or big hugs, no wrestling, lots of water, no gym class or climbing wall. He practically rolls his eyes and pushes me out the door at drop-off, no worries in his sweet little heart over the bottom-dropping-out. A few nights ago (and then again last night) he had what seemed like a night-terror combined with a flashback to post-surgery in the hospital. It was horrifying, he sobbed for me to help him and wailed over and over how much it hurt. Jayci cried and brought him water and Adam and I stroked his forehead and whispered he was safe.

I have been struggling through Caden’s recovery the past two weeks. A combination of anxiety and cooped-up-ness has brought on a bout of depression that I can’t quite shake. The truth is that there is always always much to fear, so many things that could (and sometimes do) go wrong. I know his heart will always be a risk factor for Caden, but just as reasonably I could fret over car accidents and cancer diagnoses or perhaps which candidate will emerge victorious today.

But if I have learned anything by walking through Caden’s two very different heart surgeries it is this: there is always always going to be fear and loss, and there will always always be the overcoming of it. A friend reminded me this week that the two are not inextricable, and that God is good and holy through it all. And so the real truth is that whoever wins, whoever gets sworn in as the next president of our nation, God will not lose His throne, and we will be afforded many chances for the overcoming of fear and loss during the next four years.

That said, Adam and I have always talked about how to find ourselves on the right side of history, and we conclude that we must always side with the least powerful, the marginalized, the poor. I worry about the climate that would be fostered by subjecting our nation to a leader who leads with rhetoric of fear and hate. Who is not afraid to mock, to debase, to threaten, and to otherwise demean the very humanity of people and groups that I have to believe Jesus would choose again and again. (As a side note, I don’t believe a word he says about who he will put on the supreme court -or anywhere - because he has made it clear that his own words and promises mean nothing to him). When the neighbors who we love and choose to live in solidarity with say they are actually afraid for their lives and safety if a certain candidate wins, I can and will not ignore that. In the same breath, of course, I recognize more chances for us all to overcome fears on every single side of every single issue and debate. I see and understand and agree with many fears surrounding the future of the supreme court, and a Hillary presidency as well.

There are people who I respect and love and who are voting for Trump based primarily on the singular issue of abortion. And I am pro-life, and absolutely agree in the value of every life from the moment of conception. I just submit that if this is the only issue you are using to determine your vote, if it actually matters that much to you, than perhaps you should let that issue matter all-the-time. Volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers, write about it, lobby against it, educate teenagers about it. The number of babies that Adam and I have offered to adopt in order to dissuade girls in our neighborhood from abortions is currently four. And when girls (some of whom are basically babies themselves) decide to choose life instead of an abortion, they need lots and lots of help (I mean, I’m barely surviving motherhood and I have a degree in child development). So if we want to be citizens and voters who are known for our ethics of pro-life, then let’s live that out every day instead of once every four years. Let’s teach our children how to be pro-life by the very way we live, the ways we celebrate and fight for life and dignity for every single person every single day.

I recognize both my lack of political knowledge and my own privilege in this conversation. I am an immigrant, and I have never once been stopped or asked for my green card. When politicians discuss dangerous immigrants and refugees, about building walls, I am always certain they don’t mean Canadians (mostly because we’re so polite and kind, eh?) My life in our neighborhood with higher levels of crime and in which I am the minority is by choice, not circumstance. I can always leave. We could, quite easily, head back to my oh-so-polite homeland. But Adam insists we cannot. I get it, he said. I understand why we would want to flee. But what if he wins and then all the Trump-opposers actually leave? If everyone who stays in the United States is either a die-hard Trump supporter, or a minority/marginalized person without the means to flee. What a disaster, he says.

So no matter the outcome, we will stay, I suppose. Dashing my dreams of idyllic Canadian countryside in favor of staying to stand for our belief in a bottom-up Kingdom. We will practice the sacred and brave sacrament of staying put. Of planting our feet and loving our neighbors, of doing the laborious and beautiful work of practicing kinship with the marginalized no matter what.

We will stand for truth and goodness, for welcoming the stranger even as leaders build walls to keep them out and then expect them to foot the bill. We will actively work against greed, even as the leaders of our country promise to restore it. We will move down the ladder as often as we can, gently placing our feet alongside those we love, no matter what it means for our own futures. Because the Jesus we love always works mightily in the soil of oppression and fear, moving His people towards justice and peace in ways unseen and powerful, right there on the margins and at the bottom.  Because we do not fear the powers and principalities of this world, but rest in the knowledge that the one who holds all our futures will sustain and carry us through even the most frightening political climates and careers. We will choose not to despair, to believe God has lost control or the world is going to “hell in a hand basket,” but to actively remember the ways that God’s people are fighting for what is good and true. We will believe in goodness and in what is right, and we will march towards it no matter what happens today.

ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...