"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Strangers in the store

I grew up in the South.  The real South.  The kind of South where if a non-white person was in line at the post office, everyone looked, intently, and wondered who that person was.  They didn't mean it to be cruel, it was just unusual.  The same kind of look people gave us in Korea... the kind of look that says "I would know if I'd seen you before.  You don't look like us."

I grew up with the rest of Generation X in a time where noticing race was supposed to be taboo.  Everything after my rural Southern high school taught us to be "color blind."

And I just can't be color blind.  I think our modern society is slowly figuring out that no one really can be color blind and no one really should.  It's just that they should ALL be our favorite colors.  Why should I give up the opportunity to find Africans charming, Asians fascinating, Europeans educational, and South Americans friendly... and the opportunity to see that reflected in their descendants, Americanized and settled.

So I might notice you in the store.  Even if I'm in your neighborhood.  And if I notice you noticing me, I might smile (because that's the polite thing to do) and I'm just Southern enough that if we're waiting in line together I might even strike up a conversation, though I'm a little introverted so I might not, too.

And so I was in line in the store in a nearby, rather suburban, rather urban, rather hardscrabble neighborhood.  (How a place can be both urban and suburban is uniquely Pittsburgh, but if you've spent much time here, you know what I mean.)

In front of me was an older lady, racially some sort of African brown.  And definitely not upper class.  She was buying her food at the local grocery, counting out cash.  She made a tiny error... and her whole presence was just so positive that I looked up (my kids were driving me nuts) and everything about the woman next to me, who by all logic should have been a little stressed out and testy (as I myself was on the verge of being) was so gentle, I couldn't resist her.  I smiled and lest she think I was staring (the South dies hard) I went back to what I was doing... turning away, I could feel her smile back.

After she checked out, she came back into the store for something while I was checking out.  She slipped in behind my kids and my middle child practically backed into her.  And she did something so atypical of America in our generation... she gently put both hands on his shoulders and just radiated gentleness. 

Nobody would touch another person's kid these days... not even in such an innocent way.
And in our charged society, for a black woman to touch a white kid she doesn't know would be seen as asking for trouble.

But she wasn't on guard.
She was just being herself.
And it made me wish she was someone I knew. 

America, be more like that, please.  When it comes to race, and strangers in the store, and little mistakes and inconveniences that are just part of life, let down your guard and don't be afraid to smile.

And lady in the store, whoever you are, thanks for blazing the trail.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stand Firm | CANA Bishop writes President Obama on danger to Syria’s Christians

Stand Firm | CANA Bishop writes President Obama on danger to Syria’s Christians

Everyone please read this.
While Christians are being persecuted globally, particularly in Egypt and in part due to our interference in the Near Eastern Political world, we go blissfully unawares into yet another unwinnable civil war between two radical and anti-Christian parties in a country whose political and civil needs we know next to nothing about. 
Christians are OUR people.  First and foremost, our family is the household of God.  If we fail to speak out to protect our own brothers and sisters, how then can we ever defend others?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Questions....

North Korea: Detained US man Kenneth Bae 'seriously ill'


2011 picture of Kenneth Bae Mr Bae was detained last year after entering North Korea as a tourist

The family of an American missionary who was detained in North Korea last year says he is seriously ill and has been moved from a labour camp to a hospital.

Kenneth Bae, who was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour for trying to overthrow the North Korean government, has diabetes and an enlarged heart.

His sister says the 45 year old is now too weak to work.

The US government has appealed to North Korea to release Mr Bae.

Mr Bae (known in North Korea as Pae Jun-ho) was detained last year after entering North Korea as a tourist and sentenced in May this year.

He was said to have used his tourism business to form groups to overthrow the government.

His sister, Terri Chung, said on Saturday he had recently been visited by a Swedish diplomat and that her brother was now in a hospital.

"We're terribly worried about his health. I think it has been deteriorating," she told the KING5.com news website in the US.

North Korea has arrested several US citizens in recent years, including journalists and Christians accused of proselytism.

They were released after visits to Pyongyang by high-profile officials, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

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This news report leaves me with a lot of questions, the biggest of which is "WHY IS HE STILL THERE?"  It seems to me that if you're famous, the US government will go through all manner of hoops to get you out of whatever international jam you get yourself in.  Lisa Ling gets arrested in North Korea, the media goes wild, and off goes a former president to rescue the damsel in distress.  A nobody Christian who runs tours across the Chinese border gets arrested, *yawn*....

The second question is related.  I got this report from the BBC.  BBC regularly reports on North Korea, sometimes favorably, sometimes not.  They're engaged and fair.  They're also not American.  They don't have a horse in this race.  Why is this not reported in the US media?  Not at all! 

Is it now okay for North Korea to detain US citizens if they're not famous?  This man has been in North Korean custody for MONTHS and while I heard a report from the media (US or BBC, I forget but I think it was both) when he was first arrested, there hasn't been a peep, a visible effort, or a "pardon me but you have someone that doesn't belong to you" since.  Now this man could feasibly die in North Korea and the news is coming in via the British media. 

Nice work American media.  Nice.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Its Not What It Looks Like...

A few years ago, I reconnected with a friend I had known since middle school.  Upon seeing a photograph of my three kids (all of whom were born in the years when she and I were not in contact), she gently asked me "am I right to assume that the youngest is adopted?"  She was apologetic, not wanting to pry or give offence, but curious.

I replied, "well, since you know my husband, either you are assuming he's adopted or you're assuming I'm having an affair." 

Yes, he's adopted.  Its obvious.  He's Korean, the rest of us are not.

An acquaintance, the father of a few biological kids, a biracial adopted kid and an internationally adopted Haitian kid, told me how his wife gets dirty looks when she walks down the street.  People in our semi-urban town assume that she's a "baby mama" with multiple daddies.

Yesterday, a very young looking woman told me what I hear from so many young moms, that she, too gets dirty looks from people who assume she's "too young" to have a child.   She frantically assured me that she was old enough, assuming I would judge her, too.

And all of those people who make assumptions and give nasty looks to "baby mamas" in the streets... every one of them is contributing to the rise of abortion, parental depression, and poor outcomes for those kids.

Every. single. one.

If you're old enough to produce a baby, you're old enough to be a parent.  There's no age limit.  Where we fail is in enabling those parents to BE parents. 

The same day I met the twenty-four year old mama, I met a divorced, tattooed, pierced, (etc!) single dad, who told me how much he treasures the times he gets with his son.  He didn't look like the kind of guy who would bother to be the dad, but when he walked around with that kid on his hip, he made a bold statement... he was a dad.  He was young, and "cool" and whatever else he wanted to be, but he was also a dad and he was going to be the dad every chance he got.

Yes there are moral laws governing how we should express our sexuality, make and raise babies, and generally live our lives.  But a lot of time those babies come outside the system of moral laws, either because the parents don't subscribe to those laws or because they have at some point stumbled.  But babies, all babies, are a blessing.  And when parents (birth and adoptive) step up to BE the parents, how dare society judge that.

I want to say to every "baby mama" out there, every presumed loose woman who has a multitude of multiracial kids in tow whether via adoption, marriage, or moments of human frailty.. don't be afraid to stare the world back in the eye and be the mama (or daddy).