Helping Moms Helps Babies

What’s faith without action? Why be pro-life if you think only politicians can fight abortion? Why care about an unborn baby if the only thing you can tell its scared, pregnant mom is to keep her legs closed and take responsibility for herself? If we don’t care about the moms, how can we truly say we care about the babies?

Would banning abortions in all fifty states keep abortions from happening? While it would definitely save millions of lives, abortions are a symptom of a greater sin problem.  As long as there are hurting and lost mothers, sexually abused women, men who are not willing to help take responsibility, an unwilling church presence of help in every community, and a clear picture that a future for a woman will not be lost if she chooses life, even then, abortions will still happen.  Even while Christ was walking this earth, abortions were taking place.  Aborting babies is not a modern problem.  The history of abortion is barbaric and a system to keep oppressed people down.  But it is celebrated today as a viable option of a woman taking responsibility of an unwanted pregnancy.  Today the church culture cries out to end abortion, but in its unwillingness to stand beside pre-abortive mothers, the cries are only heard as one more example of a moralistic, evangelical power agenda led by the greatest of hypocrites.

If we, who love God and are bold enough to claim a pro-life stance, are not willing to help the moms who find themselves thinking abortion is their only option, this claim we have is false representation.  

Is it easier to hold a sign screaming “End Abortions” or “Murderer” than to pray with a nervous, overwhelmed mother? Which action is more helpful for the moms?

Is it easier to donate to the political campaigns who use a pro-life platform to draw in votes or give a portion of your wage to a life-affirming pregnancy agency? Which action helps the moms?

Is it easier to clap and applaud the strictest abortion laws from your phone screen or begin the fostering process? Which action helps the moms?

Helping moms helps babies.  It may not end abortion, but it will save countless lives, and more importantly, countless souls.  It will save lives despite legislation and despite the stronghold of sin that permeates our world until Christ comes back.

Being pro-life means welcoming the post-abortive mother because her life matters too.

 

If we want to end abortion, we must begin with our hearts. Laws can’t legislate these matters. But the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ can always accomplish what is deemed impossible by man.

If you are still reading and desire to know where to begin to help stand with moms who need support to choose life, here’s as few things to get started:

Get involved in a 40 Days for Life Campaign.  It was through two campaigns I personally got involved in that helped me see pre- and post-abortive moms as humans, people to love, and people who need support…not as murderers or monsters.  This organization has helped bankrupt many abortion facilities and help women find a supportive environment to raise their children.

Find a local life-affirming pregnancy center or even a children’s home in your community to donate women, baby, or children’s items or give monetary donations.  They will even show  you how to serve local moms and children if that is in your heart.

Pray.  Pray always that eyes will be opened. Pray that a desperate mom chooses life and a future even though faith in that would be a major miracle in her life. Pray for your own heart that you will be able to love a woman even if you are not able to fathom why abortion could even be considered.  They Holy Spirit can soften our hearts for the work that we are convicted to do to help others.

Forgiveness matters.  Because we believe so strongly in life but have allowed the government, Planned Parenthood, or other agencies to address abortion matters, we have failed to really help women see that life is a more beautiful choice.  We have grown hard in our hearts, complacent, and used only our votes to fight back. But as a Believer in Christ, I know abortion is a spiritual battle that cannot only be fought by  politicians.  God is trying to prepare us for this battle, and if we want to be His warriors for life, we must realize how we have harmed women by our self-righteousness and lack of presence or compassion, before we can win in this war.

Strict abortion laws will save lives temporarily, but the Supreme Court will eventually strike them down as they have already done in the past.  If we want to save babies, let us all help give their moms a fighting chance.

 

Mr. Ratburn is Welcome in My Home: So Are You

Today, I saw that Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, is gay! In fact, he’s marrying a another male-whatever-he-is. Should I boycott and block all PBS shows? You know I love Jesus and I want to be a good Christian!  Seems like when Jesus people can’t fathom someone or something in our country, we must immediately purge them. (Much easier to deal with issues/people that way.)

However, if I allow my kids to watch this show, or others like it, I could be called a liberal. I could be accused of watering down the Truth.  I could be helping homosexuals go to hell!

The struggle is real for many.

Honestly, I’m not going to boycott the Arthur cartoon on PBS.  I’m not going to condemn it.  And I’m not going to try and rewrite Scripture. You can call me a liberal or blasphemer.  That’s your prerogative and so is boycotting Arthur, for that matter.

The truth is, I’m going to let my kids watch it if they want.  I’m going to answer their questions about homosexuality (like I already have been doing). Most importantly, I’m going to teach them not to use degrading language regarding gay people.  I’m going to make sure they are not preoccupied with someone else’s sexuality but are busy learning about all sorts of things.  I’m going to guide them in entertaining the thoughts that even if it’s a lifestyle we do not understand, what we can understand is that we love people who are gay.  We love people who we’ve always known as gay.  We love people who have since come out as gay, and we are not going to condemn anyone.

Unfortunately I’ve already done all of the hurtful things: used ugly language, boycotted, gotten angry, and judged.  I’ve lashed out on people who have lived a battle I’ll never face. In fact, I’ve spewed hate from my Jesus-loving-mouth regarding gay people.

Fortunately, I’ve decided that since Jesus did not spew hate or boycott gay people, and He’s the greatest example of love, I’m going to be more like Him.  I don’t have to water down or rewrite Scripture to fit my beliefs because it’s already all there.  On Judgement Day, I don’t want to be accountable for how much hate I put out in the world in the time He gave me.  I want to be accountable for loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I want to be accountable for loving my neighbor as I have loved myself.

If I tried to “protect my kids from homosexuality” I’m fighting a losing battle.  I love people who are gay.  I don’t want to protect my kids from them.  I used to do that, but it’s a lost cause.  This world has so many things that I can’t “protect them from” as much as I’d love to at times.

In fact, I want to prepare them for real life. They are going to grow up and probably have gay friends.  They might be gay even though their Dad and I love Jesus.  However, I know people who are gay and love Jesus as much, or more, than me, and that gives me peace.  That’s not an easy road for parents, but we don’t have to choose hate, ever.  This may be counter-church-culture, but He doesn’t expect us to hate our gay kids. He does expect us to love them, unconditionally, as challenging as that already is for all of us parents!

Boycotting and protecting children from issues has its place, I’m sure.   Through my own sin and mistakes, which have humbled me, I’d rather my kids be loving and accepting instead of degrading and angry.   

Too many times, we Christians think we need to exert our judgement and control on everything that goes against The Bible with a complete lack of grace, humility, mercy, and love which also goes against The Bible.

We tend to be legalistic and fearful, shutting down people who need Jesus the most, when we ourselves came willingly to a God who gave us the choice to accept or reject Him.

Who or what is more likely to damage our children? Mr. Ratburn, a fictional character? Or could it be the behaviors we teach that instill fear, superiority, or judgement over people who are unlike us? The answer to this question reveals so much!

Losing Those We Love

Today marks three days of a dark cloud of grief sitting on me.  It’s not something to be shaken off, it can only be felt to it’s entirety until the light takes over again.  I know the light will take over again.  I have faith that God is walking this road with me.  He knows the pain of losing, and He knows suffering.  He knows the reasons I’m feeling pain.  I can hide nothing from Him, nor do I want to. I thank Him for the wonderful family and friends He’s blessed my life with, even if that means that I have to suffer the pain of losing them.

Writing is so cathartic for me.  I’ve picked up the phone to reach out to friends and family, but have only made one call to my Mom.  Perhaps it’s that I’m far away from so many whom I’ve always relied on the most that has made this grief so much more intense.

Benny and Me

My most unlikely friend from college.  He was known on our campus by his handlebar mustache!  He was an elementary ed student like me, but he worked full time at his family’s shop/station so it took him even longer to graduate, but he did finish!  He decided to pursue a degree after an incredible back injury almost took away his livelihood. He fought hard to gain his life back and decided to pursue something he’d always wanted to.  That’s how we met.  In Dr. Fridley’s Foundations of Education class.  We had some foundation classes together that included science courses and a educational drama class.  I graduated ahead of him as I was a traditional student.  But we were fast friends and we stayed friends after both of our graduations.  I can still hear him trying to school me on some fact of life, “But Mel, look here….”  or laughing when something that seemed so far-fetched to me was actually true, “Mel, I told ya….”  Once he even almost convinced me he was cooking up oppossum in his slow-cooker.

He was there for me in many ways.  So many ways in my young, adult life that trying to pen them all down right now feels overwhelming.  But more than anything, we laughed so much.  We laughed at ourselves.  We laughed at stupidity in life.  And sometimes we had really serious conversations.  We talked about God, love, relationships, family, and music.  I saw small-town life through his eyes.  I learned to appreciate a meal of catfish and the best nachos in his presence.  We went camping and fishing and explored the flooded damn on the Red River.  He always had a cold Coke and candy bar when I’d pull up to his family’s station.  I ate dinner with his family several times.  I’m pretty sure they thought it was bizarre that we were such good friends but not dating.  I’m pretty sure they thought my Missouri/Yankee ways were bizarre, too, but they accepted me and our friendship.  My heart hurts for them so much, right now.

Our friendship changed over the years as I married and moved away.  Of course we didn’t see each other as often and the last few years were mostly just phone calls to update each other on life.  But he was there when I brought my first-born home and I was there when he married the love of his life.  Time had passed, but it didn’t damage our friendship.

The last time we really talked was at the beginning of his cancer diagnosis.  He assured me he was fine and that I didn’t need to come.  Of course, I should have gone.  We played phone tag this year a bit before my family moved to Alaska, and of course I should have gone to see him before we left.  But I do know the last few years of his life were filled with the love he’d always hoped to have.  He was happy.  He was faithful to Christ.  I know that in Heaven I will see him again.  I hope my Dad recognizes him and gives him a hug for me until I’m there, too!

Dad

It will be my Dad’s second birthday since he passed in January 2018.  Missing him is so much different than I could ever understand it would be.  There are times I’ve forgotten he’s gone and want to call him up to share something or get his advice before the sadness reminds me that is not possible anymore.  Missing him comes in waves that sometimes I’m not expecting.  Sometimes I wish my kids could have known him more.  I get angry over the brokenness of our family and wish things hadn’t gotten so ugly at the end of his life, things I cannot change in my own power.  I can’t even watch baseball or football games without feeling sadness that he is not here watching them, too.  I just miss him.

My Dad was not my biological father.  I constantly think about that, how he chose to love me as his own.  To love and miss a dad as much as I do is a gift because I know he really loved me.  He wasn’t perfect, but none of us parents are, right? But he showed up in my life from the beginning.  Though my parents’ relationship ended in divorce, he did not divorce us.  That is real love.  I think of Dad every day.  While I wish there were things that could have been better for our family, I am so privileged to have had him as a father.  He is part of me; the part that won’t quit, the part who enjoys a good game, the part who laughs at myself, and the part who encourages my kids they can do things they want.  My Dad believed in me, I never doubted that for a second.

I will make a birthday cake for him tomorrow.  His presence in my life was such a gift.  Thank You, Lord. 

 

Hope in Christ

Losing the people we love is inevitable.  Two of my closest friends also lost their dads within months of my loss.  Being in my late thirties means that I’ve started to experience loss more regularly.  I hate it.  It’s really starting to weigh on me.   It also leaves me thinking of my own mortality.  Does anyone else feel a moment’s paralysis when they think of their own mortality?  I have to hand it over to my Creator, who already knows the number of my days because we have to live every moment we have.  Living in every moment looks different for us, but finding a connection to my own family is my main goal at this point in my life.  Growing in my faith, being the wife my husband needs and the mommy my kids want to be with, these are all the things that drive me.

Feelings of loss come with the love we have for others. We must face both to fully live. The family and friends we lose truly remain in us when we think of them.  I look forward to the day when I can meet my Baby in Heaven, hug my grandparents’ necks, my Dad’s, Benny’s, and other sweet friends and family members who have left for Heaven with a piece of my heart in theirs.  The truth is that we are blessed to feel such loss because it comes with the love, that has, and will continue to enrich our lives.

Thank You, Lord.  Thank You for the time with loved ones here on earth.  Thank You for Your comfort when I don’t have the words in my lost moments of grief.  Thank You for the promise of Heaven and the end of suffering here on earth.  One day I will meet You, but until then, thank You for the strength You give when I don’t have it within myself.  

Amen.

Alaskan Adventures Part 1: the Adventures of Reality, Doh!

We haven’t learned how to spray Bear Mace, but we have seen our first moose on the road! We haven’t hiked up a mountain nor seen the Aurora Borealis, but we have driven up part of a mountain and looked out and down on the world above! We haven’t found our new home in Anchorage, but we are learning to be grateful for the three-bedroom two-bathroom duplex complete with neighborhood friend, while we House-Hunt!

The first two weeks in Alaska have taught us the difficult kind of adventures that come with relocating, but it’s also shown us the beauty of God’s Amazing Grace through the kindness of new friends.

It wasn’t chance, it was a miracle to meet my only Alaskan Facebook friend the first day we were here at an Olive Garden! She and her husband knew it was us when they counted our kids! At first, they thought it couldn’t be us because they only counted four, but when they saw me carrying the baby, my friend turned and asked, “Melody, is that you?!” Yes, yes it is me! She treated me to a coffee date that weekend and gave me the Eagle River rundown!

No car? No problem! Three families, during the first weekend we were here, after a homemade meal of chicken cordon-bleu, made arrangements so we could drive a vehicle large enough to carry our whole family. They didn’t pool together for a rental, they sacrificed one of their own vehicles to make sure we could get around without paying a week and a half of rental fees! Who does that for near-strangers????? Alaskans who love Jesus, that’s who!

Dinner date: ✅ Babysitter: ✅

Yes, we went out to dinner with friends and our kids were in the care of amazing sitters. All in one week of being here!

And this last week, we’ve been dealing with a nasty stomach bug and our youngest three have paid an awful price. I threw a pity-party for my sleep-deprived self and learned how much mercy my husband has for his wife. After angry words of frustration were exchanged, instead of holding on to outrage, he encouraged me to sleep. About five minutes later, we were working as a team to fight the battle of vomit and diarrhea, apologies exchanged and relief that we could, indeed, count on each other in the sh!+storm of life!

When it felt, in the moment, like it was all too much to deal with, especially without our washer and dryer, I reached out to a friend who’d moved to China with her family. She reassured me my feelings were all normal, that things would look up soon, and that this adventure business is hard work.

We have our own vehicles now, but instead of driving to nature trails, they take us to the laundromat and Wal-Mart for more cleaning supplies. It’s only frustrating until we realize that we could be living in a world without these two places and then where would we be?!?!

It was too cloudy last weekend to star gaze and see the amazing Northern Lights, but today we have 13 hours and five minutes of sunlight. The snow is melting, the weather is unusually warm for this time of year, and we are all still here, together.

And yes, it’s been an Adventure!

We Have To Say Something

Two summers ago, after a racist comment was made by our president, a pastor declared that we as Christians should always denounce racism, stand up and fight against it, and seek unity. I sat in a pew closer to the back, but that message was for me. It was for all of us sitting in the mostly-white congregation, but God knew I wouldn’t ignore it. Not because I’m trying to be a hero, but because He’d already planted that seed in my heart and I had friends of color whom I love and it was time I used my voice to say something.

But before you stand up against something so deeply ingrained in our society, you have to acknowledge it exists. You have to examine your own heart. You have to own your mistakes and be honest as you grow. You have to find a balance of grace for yourself and others trying to grow, but you also have to firmly stand against evil. And sometimes evil can be tricky to spot.

First, if you aren’t familiar with micro-aggressions, click on the link. Examine the stereotypes you’ve developed. Are you guilty? We all are guilty.

Now, read this article written by an amazing educator and speaker, who as a Black Woman, has faced our micro aggressive behavior more than once.

Can you see, feel, understand why we have to acknowledge this evil lurking inside our hearts, minds, and actions? When we see blatant racism happening we are quick to condemn, but what about the silent behaviors that are more real and even more harmful to our friends of color?

Maybe this is more fresh on my mind because two people, whom my husband and I considered close friends, decided we could not be friends anymore because I won’t stop listening, growing, and speaking up. As much as it hurts to lose good friends, it’s nothing compared to the daily mind games that our friends of color go through.

At any time, I could quit being so vocal and probably there are a few people who would like my posts on social media, again, and not feel uncomfortable around me, anymore. That’s my privilege as a white person. When it gets too hard and people are sick of me speaking up, and I start losing friends, and my feeling get hurt–I can just quit.

But that message two summers ago was for all of us. The truth isn’t pretty, it’s damning. I’m so angry reading about my friend’s experience at the airport and her car: how she had to justify she wasn’t stealing her own luggage or breaking into her own car!

So I am going to keep speaking up. And more importantly, I’m going to keep growing and recognizing my own micro-aggressive behaviors or tendencies. Not because I’m better than anyone, but only because I recognize that we all need each other, but we are so busy hurting each other and rarely acknowledging it. We have generations of people still being harmed by racism that too many people say doesn’t exist!!

My kids are watching. God is watching. One day I’ll stand before Him, and I refuse to waste the time on earth He’s given me, so I’m going to say something.

When You Can’t Go Back Home

It hurt to leave, I’ll admit, I cried. I couldn’t look back, because if I did, the adrenaline pushing me forward would have dissipated, and my family was counting on me.

But now the home that we bought as a family of three and grew to a family of seven…a home in which three of my babies took their first breaths in, well that home is ready for a new family.

And God, who knew how much that would tear us up? Starting over in Alaska was our aim, our chance at adventure and healing, so who knew the thought of not going back home would even enter my mind?

Because we can’t go back home. And we need our home to sell quickly, tears or no! Our home sitting on the market for months while we live thousands of miles away could destroy the dream we are now pursuing.

Of course, this makes me reflect! There’s just so much to this challenging life lesson, but what sticks with me most is that we can’t move forward if we won’t let go of our past. We loved our home, but it’s not our’s anymore. It’s ready for a new family to live, laugh, and love in.

We started house-hunting in Anchorage and it was really sad. There will not be our home from Texas in Alaska. And as long as that is our goal, we will feel disappointment, every time. So we regroup. We remember why we came, why starting over is such an amazing gift and privilege, and that it’s not a building that makes a place a home. It’s having each other.

We are so used to a fast-paced, relentless life, that slowing down, living in a temporary duplex feels agonizing. I remind myself to be grateful, but as long as I mourn what I’ve left behind, I can’t feel grateful.

Someone said we are going on an adventure with five of our favorite people and whomever said that was correct. If we had to return to Texas after working so hard to be where we are now, it wouldn’t even feel right.

I’m reminded of the verse that there is a season under Heaven for all things:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ASV

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

There’s so much here. This season of life is filled with so many purposes, I keep returning to the thought that I’m with the people I love most. We have a fresh start. This is a gift. And mostly, I want to grow and be faithful. I want to be the wife and mother my family needs. I want to sleep in peace knowing we are exactly where God has placed us.

And we can’t do that while looking back. We can’t go back home. Home isn’t back there anymore, it’s wherever we are, together.

When Politics Become Religion

I grew up believing that Christians were Republicans and non-Christians were Democrat and only Heathens didn’t vote. No one told me this, I just figured it out by my environment. And needless to say, we were Republicans! One of my earliest memories is of a night my parents came home from a Bush/Quayle fundraiser and I wore some memorabilia on my head! Pretty sure there’s a picture to prove this, too. I was seven or eight years old at this time. There was jubilation in our home when Bush won in ’88. Fast forward to ’92 and deep sadness when Clinton won the Presidency.

I’m not writing tonight to bash Republicans or Democrats or even non-voters. Politics has its place. Politicians will get our votes, but the question is: who has our hearts?

I’m writing this as a person who has gone through a political and faithful metamorphosis these last few years. The election of President Obama in 2008 took a toll on my family and split us apart. A family member gave us an ultimatum: vote for him or you are not family. Well, as I said, the election split us, so you can infer how that ultimatum turned out. But we were not the only family this happened to I’ve learned. And so this truly opened my eyes that many of us worship our politics. Instead of living our faith and trusting in God, we place our hopes and dreams in political leaders who constantly promise better days if only we’ll cast our vote for him/her! And when we’ve placed all of our hope in man, not God, he has become an idol. (And we often find that unlike God’s promises, man’s promises fall flat.)

But that’s the American dream…the American way, right? Maybe it is, but this dream keeps my kids from knowing their cousins. This dream has severed friendships. This dream is false and disrupts what our faith is trying to teach us. This way of life disrupts how God is trying to reach us. My hope is that our connection to Christ will convict us when necessary. My fear is that this conviction is snuffed out too soon because we have chosen to worship our politics and we can’t even see it.

A few years ago, my family attended a Vacation Bible School program at a Baptist Church near our home. We went because our kids had participated in their VBS and they had a singing program. Before the service began, they brought out two flags: the USA flag and the Christian flag. We were to say both their pledges before prayer. I had never experienced this before, and I consider myself extremely patriotic! But it felt so wrong! It felt like…idolatry. I began to question what place does our patriotism have in our place of worship? And I vowed that we’d not go to this church again, but more importantly, that my faith in Christ would, and should, far exceed my faith in our imperfect government.

Are you still with me?

At this point I started noticing how often politics had been preached at the pulpit throughout the years, and always biased for one party. I started noticing my bias that all good Christians are conservatives. When I found out some of my closest friends and even a mentor was Democrat, this rankled me?!? How could it be? Do they really know the Lord like me? Could God be okay with their political affiliations? Could I?

Throughout the years, I’ve learned that, yes, these people know their Savior as much, or more, than me. I’ve learned that, yes, God is okay with their political affiliation as much as He’s okay with mine–there is no “Thou shalt only vote Republican” in any version of The Holy Bible. And getting to know my friends more deeply, and seeing their hearts to be genuine, yes, even I could be okay with their political affiliation, too.

This conviction that I felt deeply, that I had been worshipping my politics, started me questioning everything. I’d like to say that I was completely transformed instantly, that I no longer felt afraid when my party wasn’t in control, but that’s not how I’ve grown. I’ve grown through times when my party wasn’t elected, in control, and my life didn’t stop. My hope didn’t cease. I’ve grown through not voting when I didn’t feel sure how to cast my vote (and not hating myself for not voting). And I’ve grown because I refuse to vote straight tickets.

I’m not writing to be your Holy Spirit’s conviction, but as I’ve lost good friends recently who could not forgive me for dropping the Republican Christianity, I hope that maybe I help open some eyes that we’re not called on by God to be good voters. We’re called to love our God with all of heart, soul, and mind and strength. And we’re called to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:30-31)

Signs that politics have become religion:

1. Not allowing opposing political ideas to be heard, immediately discounting people who think differently.

2. Trying to prove God is a _______ (fill in the blank for whichever party you prefer).

3. Ending relationships with people you love because they vote differently than you.

4. Allowing yourself to hate a human of a different political persuasion.

5. Justifying the right to shut people down, belligerently, in the name of Christianity.

6. Feeling hopelessness or despair when your political party loses control of whichever branch of government.

7. Justifying disgusting and sinful behavior in a political leader as okay because they are _______ party even though The Holy Bible does not excuse said behaviors.

I am sure we could add more signs to the list. I am guilty of all of these behaviors. In fact, I cringe just knowing my part in alienating people who had a curiosity about knowing God, but couldn’t align their political briefs with mine and decided He wasn’t for them.

Politics has its place. Voting is a powerful right as an American citizen. Yet, political leaders and laws made will never regulate a man’s heart. No leader nor law can compete with the immense power of a faith built on Perfect Love.

So why do we allow our politics to separate us? My sister said one day, her relationships meant more to her than her politics and so, I think our Faith has helped us come a long way.

My Fellow White Savior: Let’s Get Uncomfortable!

I recently watched this clip, shared by a friend who, as a person of color, felt a certain frustration about being subjected to “white savior” films as a high school student. Click on the words white savior to see this clip of how Hollywood transforms the real narratives (of struggle) for minorities to be more palatable by using a white hero.

Seeing this short clip was eye-opening for me because I liked some of these films! The emotions I felt after seeing some of these films were aptly described in the clip and because of those feelings, the “danged if I do, danged if I don’t” feeling of defense surfaced, too. The thought that maybe I’ll never get this right tries to influence my mindset, but then I realized something powerful: it’s good to feel uncomfortable.

In fact, I often reflect on all my uncomfortable emotions. Defensive attitudes can naturally be the first emotions we feel when we sense white privilege in our lives or see it being played out before us. But feeling defensive is not helpful if you are trying to grow in understanding other people’s perspectives on the realities of life. Sadness is also natural, but wallowing in this emotion fuels “white guilt” and asking others (usually non-white friends) to comfort you is very selfish and harmful for those you ask. I typically respect anger the most because it spurs me into action for necessary change, but anger needs to be checked closely as it can be fueled by self-righteous attitudes and therefore turn off people (who might possibly be influenced to see injustice not noticed, previously).

It’s such a fine line. Emotions can be the lighter fluid of change in a person’s life, but too much can burn the process down to the ground and leave you, and everyone around you, burned…or seriously alienated.

So, what’s a white person to do? This is actually a question I think on all the time, especially when encountering a behavior I do that is discouraging for people of color, such as believing all the Hollywood portrayals of white saviors and believing I’m not racist because I like these films.

So again I ask, what’s a white person to do? I don’t have all the right answers, and if I pretended to know, I’d be lying. But there are some things that help me, and I’ll share those ideas, and maybe you could share ideas with me, too?

First of all, if you are just entering this journey, or have been on this path for a while, I’m so glad we are connecting and I wish you all the best and even hope to have courageous conversations!

I think understanding white privilege and moving away from a white savior mentality is that you have to observe it, and when you do, don’t ignore it. I wasn’t able to see these behaviors or thought processes on my own, but thankfully my friends of color felt comfortable to speak into my life and the scales fell off. So find your close friends of color and initiate a conversation, and if it’s your first time, just know that it will be uncomfortable as many of us were raised “not to see color” or refrain from making a person feel uncomfortable by speaking about our differences. BUT embrace the discomfort and lean in. That pain, that conviction, that challenge to what we previously believed is the catalyst for growth.

And then what? I don’t know, just keep learning. Follow Twitter chats like #ClearTheAir or #BreakRank or #EduColor. There’s no way you can follow these discussions without feeling all the feels. You will feel the whole gambit of emotions. And if I were you, I wouldn’t offer much, just listen to others’ words. Understand the anger non-white people have regarding the injustices and stereotypes they encounter every single day. Understand that there is more to their stories than how we grew up. AND If you’re brave enough to ask a question, you’re feelings might get hurt with the answers- so embrace that, too.

I realize that I cannot predict your path of understanding nor speak for anyone besides myself, so know that your path may look different than mine and that’s life.

But, Mel, I don’t have any friends of color?

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Maybe start there. Why don’t you have a diverse group of friends? Do you really want that in your life?

I do. My friends are incredible people. Who doesn’t want to know incredible people?!?

My Fellow White Friend, there is no easy answer. That’s why I ask so many questions!!!

Personally, my blinders regarding the separate worlds and realities between our cultures and races, have come off through growing in my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. He put the desire to be united with His creation in my heart. I can’t help but think that all this separation saddens Him, or angers Him, to a degree we’d never understand with our human minds.

I believe that harboring racist thoughts and actions is a sin that separates us from each other and from God. You may not share my faith, but you can definitely see how being separate from our neighbors has harmed our country in quite a few ways.

So start listening to people who have more melanin than you. Maybe you’ll find many more commonalities than differences? Maybe you’ll grow a deeper friendship with someone you only thought you knew well, beforehand?

I’d love to hear all about it and wish you the best.

Let’s talk more, later!

Sandra Day O’Connor

This month is Women’s History Month! Today, my oldest daughter and I read Remarkable People: Sandra Day O’Connor by Jennifer Howse (Weigl Publishers Inc.) I had hoped it would spark some kind of interest in biographies, discussion about obstacles women have faced, and some inspiration, but truth be told, my daughter was mostly unmoved. This saddens me, but it also challenges me to make this more regular in her life. I’m hoping the more we read together, she’ll grow more interested, begin to articulate her thoughts, and give a rip about more than the latest Pokémon character!!!

However, I was extremely inspired by O’Connor’s life! Before reading about her today, I knew very little about her. She grew up during the Great Depression on a cattle ranch in Arizona. She went to a boarding school in El Paso, and before becoming the first female Supreme Court Justice, she had also become the first female Senate Majority Leader! As a young woman in the early 1950s, she was turned away by law firms because she was a woman, even after graduating from one of the finest law schools: Stanford Law! It really wasn’t so long ago that gender discrimination was acceptable.

In fact, I tried to draw my daughter out asking, “When she graduated, women could basically stay at home and be a house wife, be a secretary, nurse, or teacher. There weren’t many opportunities for us back then.” And we discussed for minority women, even less opportunities. So it truly is amazing when people break down these discriminatory walls.

Sandra Day O’Connor grew up surrounded my minority peoples such as Native and Hispanic Americans. This gave her a better experience as a leader in our world, as a Supreme Court Justice, regarding the idea of fairness.

She experienced breast cancer all while in the public eye, and resigned so she could be with her husband who had Alzheimer’s. She was a mother, grandmother, and author! She was recognized for paving a path for more women to follow.

The idea that she believed we should all do everything to the greatest of our abilities, even the most menial of all jobs, really impressed upon my mind. My daughter wasn’t as inspired as me, but again, this challenges me to give her more opportunities to learn about people paving a path for more to follow.

I’ve always loved reading biographies and this month, I’m challenging myself daily to learn and read about a woman who left her mark on our society. I’m hoping by the end of the month, my precious daughter will be inspired, too!

It’s just what I needed to tell myself!

Eighteen years ago I wrote myself a poem that I needed to remind myself of tonight! Why tonight? Because the big dream just ahead requires a bigger faith than normal.

I found this little scrap in an old hatbox filled with other memories.

It may not happen when you thought it should. It may not happen when you hoped it would. But He knows our hearts, He knows our ways, the Almighty Master who created our days. And sometimes He even lets us share in His plans, and that’s a gift He gave to man. 12-24-01

I just turned 21 a month before.

I can only imagine what I was thinking about when I penned those words 17 years ago, but I do know why He let me see them again tonight as the overwhelming feelings of impossibility are near the surface of my emotions.

Doubts and fears have me wishing for the normalcy that has become our lives even though I know if I press on, the rewards will be more amazing than I can even imagine!!!!!

So many wonderful friends and family are praying for us through this difficult process of moving our family to Alaska. We are purging material items but also the old ways that were making it so difficult to be a close, family unit. In fact, purging the tangible has become a representation of purging the intangible, old ways of thinking and settling.

So my 21 yr old self came through for my 38 yr old self. I used to write poems on random papers and lost track of them, but not God. He put those words in my heart then so the Melody could be heard exactly when I needed her most.