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How to End Gun Violence

free photo/pixabay: user/DomAlberts

Ending gun violence begins before the gun is ever purchased, it begins before there’s a supply and demand. Ending gun violence, ending VIOLENCE: verbal, emotional, physical, spiritual; must begin with exposing fear for what it is: a liar whose tactic is to divide and isolate us, a liar that would lead us to believe in “us vs. them.”

Fear is real because we breed it. We believe something about “others,” ourselves, or a situation that’s simply not true, but we perceive it as truth.

When God made it all, us all included, God said it was, “Good.” Good. Period. When we ascribe anything other than that to ourselves or someone else, we are misaligned with God’s original design.

We have thousands of thoughts go through our heads in a day, but not every one of them is true or real. However, those we entertain, those we welcome or give space to, become real, whether good or bad, healthy or sick, hopeful or jaded, true or false. We are the ones created in the image of God to write and tell and live a better story, a story through the lens of God’s miraculous design, rather than through our limited perspectives.

No one is born an asshole. We become them with the layers and layers of filters that cloud our perception of God’s original design, in the mirror and when we look at the world.

Fear is the ultimate destroyer: the enemy kills, steals, and destroys its unsuspecting prey, people who believe and succumb to fear by isolating, retreating, over-protecting, controlling, projecting fault, and not owning our stuff.

One second ago, Adam and Eve were naked, and it was fine, in fact, it was, “Good.” Then their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil and their perception was that being naked wasn’t fine. Except it still was. God said this “knowledge” would kill them. God never said their nudity was “bad.” But God knew their “fig leaves” wouldn’t suffice in a world where their perception was off, so he fashioned them better clothes. God’s good like that.

I’m so grieved by the heinous sermons and historical movements that have hijacked God’s message of extravagant LOVE for God’s own creation. Man’s religion, each one of them, including systemic state “Christianity”, have attempted to box in the Creator of the Universe, God, the One who designed us and all that is, in caustic doctrine, dogma, and fear-mongering. It’s all come down to heaven and hell destinations, rather than reminding ourselves and everyone else that Jesus came declaring GOOD NEWS: LIFE, as originally designed children of God, NOW, Kingdom Come, sins forgiven, go and live abundantly.

Fear has no power in the presence of Love. And God is Love. Actually, God is perfect love, and perfect love casts off all fear.

So, we have to ask ourselves, “What is true? Am I functioning in fear or love at this moment, toward myself or another?”

Someone asked how they could be a practical point of help during a tragedy like a shooting. Shootings, suicide, rape, assault, violence…no one was born an asshole, remember, so when we live in the Light of God’s love, letting our light shine as a reflection of a bigger love than we could ever contain, darkness has no place.

So how can we help?

Show up BEFORE the shooting.

Show up BEFORE the violence.

Show up BEFORE the belief that isolation and separation are a choice, a safe, protective choice.

Show up without the platitudes and pre-rehearsed sermons and invite our neighbors to dinner.
Show up without words, but just be. Be there. Be present. Sit in the silence. Listen.

Show up BEFORE with authentic love, authentic community, authentic spaces where we don’t let fear win, but where perfect LOVE drives out fear.

Show up without pretense, on each other’s doorsteps, across the backyard fence, across the aisle, with a cup of tea and a gallon of repentance.

Show up with arms unfolded and hands unclenched.

Breathe. Let’s close our eyes and SEE the image of God of the handcrafted human in front of us.

Show up and share a cup of water together, and love each other, in spite of each other, before the assholes of fear and filters begin to layer thick and alter the perception with which we were designed:

The truth about each of us is that we are first all children of God. Treat one another accordingly, not as sinners in the hands of an angry God…God’s not angry. God is grieved over how we wield at one another.

Let’s not confuse our righteous anger with our self-righteousness.

We don’t need guns.

We need community.

We need to gather around tables and break bread, together, confessing we aren’t perfect because we all know we aren’t, and owning our stuff…all of us, not just “them.” WE.

Because if you’re passing me the bread, and I’m receiving it, we can’t be pointing weapons at one another.

And if we’re owning our imperfections, bringing them into the light, their power and strength weaken and are exposed for what they are: attempts to steal, kill, and destroy the Creation that God said was Good, the very Creation we are accountable to steward.

So, in the wake of another campaign season where words were just shy of murder…in the wake of another shooting in a nation that believes the right to own a gun is more important than the right to human life…in the days leading up to holidays that often leave people painfully believing there isn’t room for them at anyone’s table…on another day in America where we’ve forgotten to individually and collectively own our shit and stop pointing fingers, it’s time for our knees to bend, our heads to drop, our eyes to pour out, our hearts to rend at how we’ve treated one another.

And then it’s time to stop the mourning and start living, all up in each other’s business, real time accountability and face to face living, hand in hand, side by side, not divided, not cut into pieces…because there’s room for all of us and we must love and treat each other the way we were designed and the way we want to be treated, not like the assholes we’ve become.

 

Why Voting Matters

Americana, pixabay user jill111

 

On the 4th of July, when I was a little girl, I remember decorating my tricycle with streamers and riding down the middle of main street in a sea of red, white, and blue.

We ate cherries until our fingers were stained and didn’t notice the sun tanning our noses or shoulders as we spent hours running through the sprinklers, doing wheelbarrow races, and eating hot dogs and watermelon until our bellies were round.

Despite the exhaustion a normal day might have brought, we pressed on as we threw sweatshirts over our stuck-on swimsuits and headed to the river to take in the fireworks up and down the banks, getting twice the show as the bright bursts reflected on the water’s surface.

Finally, after the excitement came to an end, my dad would peel my sleepy body off his shoulder and tuck me into bed, for what had easily been an epic 18 hour day in the mind of a child.

The memories are wrapped up in all sorts of warm feelings, thick with nostalgia, happiness, and the carefree existence of a kid growing up in middle-class white America around the day this nation celebrates its independence from a world across an ocean where our ancestors either faced existences worth escaping or sought new lives worth living apart from oppressive monarchies.

However, this nostalgic remembrance is not the whole story of how I was born into a “free country,” where I have the right to vote and continue making it free for everyone. [Read more…]

May I Ask You a Few Questions?

pixabayuser: mland31

Hey guys, would you be willing to answer some questions, or give a little feedback, if you are inclined? Maybe we could sit for a while?

I wish we could…somewhere so your voice, facial expressions, and hand gestures and body language could accompany your answers! Maybe a park bench in NYC’s Central Park while it’s still September and the temperature is perfect, or a comfy couch in the lobby of a beautiful hotel with tall ceilings and exotic tropical planters, or in the warm sand on a beach in Mexico where the waves are washing up but not too loudly that we can’t hear one another…or at a cold keyboard in front of a stark computer screen on a boring desk…or whatever.

You don’t have to share these answers here. Feel free to ponder them, wrestle with them a bit, maybe journal about them or ask them of another person. I’d love to hear what you have to say, though, so feel free to share in the comments or shoot me an email.

I’m a curious person and people’s stories matter to me. It’s my life’s work. And I’d love to know you better.

An Interview with…YOU.

If you had 5 minutes and a microphone to share with the world, what would you share? Why is this important to you?

If practicality were not an issue, what job or career would you have, and why?

What strengths and gifts come naturally to you that you are offering to the world?

What’s your Highest high and your Lowest low?

When is the last time you felt like God was working through you to encourage or inspire others?

What do you think people say about you behind your back?

What breaks your heart?

How have you remained in community in our polarized country?

Has your faith or the way you practice your faith or belief, changed in the last 5-10-15 years?

Do you believe you are loved? Why or why not?

Do you believe God is good? Why or why not?

Has social media been a positive or negative aspect in your life? How so?

Do You Suffer from Paralysis by Analysis?

photo: pixabay user/publicdomainusers 17917

My husband will press buttons on his keyboard…

…buttons or tabs or keys he may not know what they are there for, but he presses them to find out what they do.

You guys, the thought of this has me over here breathing in a paper bag! [Read more…]

WOKE!

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

“I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred, I get so many things I don’t deserve…”
– Bono, The Miracle of Joey Ramone
 
It’s no secret I’m a huge U2 fan. Their music has impacted and influenced every season of my life.
 
This morning I woke up before 5am CST. The lyrics above were the first things that came to mind, and I gave Thanks.
 
Four years ago I was in Mountain Time Zone on this day, and it was around *right now that my Mom’s presence left her physical dwelling and continued on into eternity. I had just drifted off, having pulled 2 all-nighters in a row, but something stirred me and I simply knew.

 There’s a 100% chance our earthly bodies will all come to a close. We all “die.” But what percent chance will we fully LIVE? What percent chance will we wake up and realize each day, every moment, is a miracle, and if we’re breathing in it, we’re meant to be part of it, bringing love and life to it?

[Read more…]

“I Love Her More…”

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

 

I can’t sleep.

I’m not sure if it’s the hormone expressions of a 46 year old woman, the fact that I had to use the bathroom, a text from a friend in the middle of the night asking for prayer, or the fact that my 7 year old son has been sleeping with me for the last week and periodically throughout the night I get a heel in my side or an elbow to the face. We call him a sleeping octopus.

Either way, I just had one of those “Love You Forever,” moments and so now I have been awake since 3:54am.

Parenting isn’t easy.

[Read more…]

Are You Burned Out on Religion?

Since our son Noah died in 2007, I’ve been on a journey reassessing pretty much E V E R Y T H I N G.

People, things, involvement, passions, even thoughts or beliefs at times have met a death grip in my hands. Some days only purging keeps me grounded. Recently I attempted to strip down to few possessions, selling our home, even shaving my head, in search of the essentials. It was my outward reaction to an internal battle. I decided to apply this perspective to my relationship with God.

"Hope is where the door is, when the church is where the war is..." Lyrics by U2 from the song, Sleep Like a Baby Tonight, Songs of Innocence album

“Hope is where the door is, when the church is where the war is…” Lyrics by U2 from the song, Sleep Like a Baby Tonight, Songs of Innocence album

 

My experience in American Christianity had become a compass for measuring God’s pulse, as well as my morality, and truthfully, the morality of everyone else. I justified, “I’m part of ‘non-denominations,’ so at least I’m not religious, but I’m definitely more dialed into God’s Spirit than so and so.” [Read more…]

Sex Ed: 101

ME: “Sweetheart, do you have five minutes?”

Him: “I always have five minutes for you.”

My husband and I both work from home. During the week, he and I tag team the morning routine of kids, food, and hygiene moderation. Then, he usually drives them to school, a 30 minute round trip event, while I get in a quick workout. (Bonus: If I’m the one driving the kids to school, I love the 5 minutes on our local classical channel where the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor tells us word-nerdy things on The Writer’s Almanac.)

Anyway, either way, after we’re both back home before 8 o’clock even rolls around, Jason makes himself a little breakfast while I finish my squats and then we have a 5-minute stand up meeting to start the day. [Read more…]

I Had a Dream

typewriter

Right before waking up this morning, I dreamt a friend and I were standing in the middle of a four-lane road with cars flying by in either direction. We were discussing the vital importance of practicing the act of writing for 20 minutes everyday, no matter what…

And then I woke up

Prior to waking up and prior to standing in the middle of the road, where I was, incidentally, holding a vintage typewriter under one arm, I had been at a beautiful gathering of writers and journalists who were sitting at tables together, sharing and listening. [Read more…]

Practicing His Presence: The Effects of the Wind

IMG_0855.JPG

Woolly sheep resting in a pasture under a bent pine atop Auckland, NZ. (photo: #loneviajera)

Right now all I can hear is a wind from the north raging and whistling the sweet tiny lake cabin where we are presently staying. I’m kind of surprised my youngest hasn’t run down and jumped into bed with me yet from the ruckus…a sign he really is exhausted playing as hard as a 5 year old does. The elements have a way of carving, forming, shaping, anything that’s in its path. I’ve stood cliff side at the ocean’s edge, dared the railing at the Grand Canyon, sat above the tree line atop the Andes as the sun beat down and the winds and height made it clear no life could live at the peak too long. And we wonder, wonder why all the suffering, why all the pain and erosion? We raise our fists to the sky, maybe to the God some don’t even believe in, but whose fault it surely is for all the agony, and no answers come, at least not ones some may care to hear. It’s amazing houses withstand northeasters, but more miraculous is the beating a tree may take day after day after day. And it’s a variety of trees, too, not just those rooted down deeply. On the shores of warm beaches spanning the globe, shallow rooted palms sustain gale force winds regularly. And some days they don’t. Some storms are weathered by all sorts of trees with all sorts of root systems on any given day. And then, one day, whether it was a storm or just the specific day and time established, it was the one, the one where the uprooting determined the final number of rings to be counted. Therefore I don’t wonder. Well, I do if we think of the word wonder in a way that conjures up awe and continued pursuit and a life of curiosity, but not “wonder” in a despairing way, because we are all only here as long as we are here. Only alive hearts feel the stretch, ache, and deep pain of being bent low in the path of the screaming wind. But the elasticity with which we are made, the brilliance and endurance with which we were created, resurrects us to our original design, rising tall, again, on our firm foundation.

(*This morning I only had 10 minutes to write, so often I just don’t because it doesn’t seem like enough time to finish a thought. But I followed the cheering and advice of my writer friends and put my butt in the chair (I stayed in bed and pulled the laptop in…) and sat with my eyes closed and my fingers on the keyboard, and this is what came of it. There are links to other posts I’ve written like this if you follow the tag: Practicing His Presence.)