A Prayer, A Protest

I’ve written before about how I didn’t think about race for a lot of my life—a luxury I didn’t understand at the time.  Having two children with visually obvious black heritage has taught me something different.

I was very aware of the racial differences between myself and my daughters at first, but over time, my day-to-day acknowledgment and awareness have abated because I am just so busy taking care of their daily needs.  I don’t have a lot of conversations related to my children’s heritage anymore, and I have learned to walk away from unsolicited comments or insensitive conversations with my hypothetical fingers in my ears.

Recent events remind me that I need to pay attention.  For my children’s safety.   

I have never hated because of race.  But some people do.

I have never moved into a neighborhood and wondered, “is someone peering out the window with hatred in their heart because of what we look like?” But it happens every day to people who look just like my daughters.

I look at mixed-race families and smile—to me, they look like the family of God.  But to some people, my family is an abomination.

IMG_2812

My innocence to these facts might feel more comfortable, but it’s also ignorant to the reality of what some of our country actually looks like, thinks like, acts like.  This is a country where people who look like me literally wave flags of prejudice—and care more about our right to do so than the sense of oppression it makes our brothers and sisters feel.  I don’t understand the hatred.  I don’t have to live in fear of it, either (and I don’t plan to).  But I have to be aware of it.

Oh, how I want more for our children.

When pondering what happened in Charleston, all I could think of was the interconnectedness Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (which is fantastic reading):

“Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 

…There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

…Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Abraham Lincoln: ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .’

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.

Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Lord, raise us up to be creative extremists in our churches, families, and communities.  Help us transform this stupid, messed up, full-of-potential world into a place that reflects Your love for all of us.

Advertisements

All About Riley

I realized the other day that Riley is almost 11 months old and hasn’t been the solo subject of a blog post since her birth story.  Oops!  I promise, she has had more accomplishments than being born!  It’s just hard to separate her news from Zoe’s news these days, since their lives are so intertwined.

That being said, here are a few Riley-specific updates. (Zoe will make her way into a few of these photos because, well, you’ll see.)

How big is Riley? SO BIG.

IMG_4216

As I type this, she is a week away from being 11 months.  She’s approximately 20 pounds and wears size 3 diapers, 12 month clothes, and 18 month PJs.  People always comment on her squeezable thighs and happy personality.  Many also comment on her hard-to-pin-down ethnicity.  Her skin tone is very similar to Zoe’s now, but her eye shape reflects some of the other aspects of her heritage.  She has a head full of curls, but her hair is finer than Zoe’s hair is.

She has one tooth.  It kind of makes my life.

IMG_4465

She is very affectionate.  Kisses, cuddles, skin-to-skin…she soaks it up, and returns it.

Photo on 4-8-15 at 2.39 PM

She had a great run with sleeping through the night, but things change, and recently she has been waking up once during the night about 3x/week.  She has also started to fight her predictable 2x/day nap schedule.  I have learned in my 2.5 years of parenting that the only constant with kiddos is change, so I’m not too grumpy about it.  The Keurig Rivo espresso machine that I got for Mother’s Day mayyyyyy also contribute to my positive outlook (#bestgiftever) and if she gets too fussy, there’s always the option of sacrificing my body to let her get a good nap in.

Photo on 4-26-15 at 12.31 PM #3

She started crawling at 7 months, waving at 8 months, and clapping at 10 months.  I may have made up the last fact because I haven’t written in her baby book since she was 8 months old and it all blurs together.  Anyway, she has no shortage of things to clap about, as her sister has several stage personas and two guitars.

IMG_1746

This is where I want to mention how special it is to have two girls who are close in age.  Riley adores her sister.

IMG_1734

IMG_4444

They don’t get along all day every day, but when they do, it’s beautiful to watch.

In other developments, Riley is experimenting with walking (with assistance or a walker).

r walking

She also loves to pull up on furniture.

IMG_4463IMG_4464“Did you miss me?!!”

Her favorite toys are a Melissa & Doug wooden stacker, the play kitchen (the doors OPEN AND CLOSE, GUYS!!!), and balls.  This is Riley’s demure face:

IMG_4346

This is her wild face:

IMG_4355

She says “mama” (mostly indiscriminately,) “hi da” on occasion when David gets home from work, and the occasional “buh” when someone leaves.  Like her sister at this age, her most consistent word is an excited “dohhh!” for our dog.  She loves to wave “hi” and “goodbye,” and (adorably!) will usually offer a goodbye hug!

She still isn’t a great puree eater, but loves her bottles.  Over the last month, I’ve tried to cut her afternoon bottle since her pediatrician told me to start weaning her, and girlfriend was NOT HAVING IT.  As of today, I’ve decided we’re back on the sauce, because I think she’s still hungry without that bottle and I can’t take any additional misery between 4:30 and 5:30 pm.

Her deepest and truest food love are the Plum Organics kale and apple teething wafers.  She squeals with excitement when you rustle the package.  Pavlov would be proud.

IMG_4446“Um, mom? I’m having a moment.  Please go away.” 

I would describe her overall temperament as fun, easygoing, independent, and loving.  I think the best description of Riley that I’ve heard is “she is the kind of baby that makes you want to have lots of babies.”  Unfortunately, someone says we’re done with babies (that someone is the smug looking guy in this photo, and Zoe, we’re in agreement).

photo 1-12

Since I have been told that this is my last baby, I’ll try to do a better job of documenting her life from now on 🙂

Riley is a fun, sweet, wonderful little blessing and we are so thankful for her presence and light in our lives!