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And the love quote of the year goes to… “Oloff”- from the Disney movie Frozen

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Someone great told me to watch this warm film about the cold, which creatively tells an exciting story about the dangers of a frozen heart and the journey of one young princess to find the answer- and the answer- as in many Disney movies- is, true love.

But what exactly IS true love?

In this movie the queens sister is about to die from being struck in the heart by ice accidentally by the queens rage of anger and pain. The princess’s heart was growing cold and the only thing that could heal her was true love.

Without giving away the entire plot… When true love does in deed heal the princess, Oloff, the most adorable character in the film, a snowman, says it perfectly in a voice that lets you know that it dawned on him suddenly “Love is putting someone else’s needs before your own.”

And there we have it folks, plain and simple. The love that heals us; the love that saves the world; the love that builds bridges and tears down barriers; The love that is the answer to wars and famine; That lifts others up and lowers ourselves at their feet in service- Is the love that puts others needs before our own.

That’s it- that’s Jesus. That understanding is why He was born- in a barn, poor- to serve others. That’s exactly why the story of a king is told humbly- Because that’s who he was- born to serve; born to love. Born to sacrifice himself for the needs of others- And so were we. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Good night- Merry Christmas.
Happy New Year!
Love others the best you can- even if you get angry and smash their gingerbread house 😉 Love can help you repair it.

One year of Love and Truth-
Tulani

Good Fathers- Now that’s LOVE

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Good Fathers- Now that's LOVE

I recently realized what a sacrifice it is for my husband to get up in the morning and drive our son one and half hours to private school and back. I thought to myself “How in the world did he learn how to be such a great father when he didn’t have such a great example of one in his life?” Where did he pull from to know how to take such great care, pay so much attention and be there for our children when they need him?
He doesn’t just say he loves them or just believes in his heart that he does. He shows them! Not only by being there for them consistently, supporting them in life emotionally and financially, but by sacrificing his own wants and desires for theirs.
I thought of lots of other men whom I know who are also EXCELLENT fathers! There are so many who have fallen down on the job, but there are also so many who have not, and then there are others who have not only not fallen down but have persevered through their own fatherly disappointments and childhood heart aches to do better; to give their children more than what they were offered in the way of a father growing up and not just to give more, but to excel at fatherhood.
Many fathers have had dreams and hopes for their lives, but no matter which ones were realized, the accomplishment of being a great father surpasses them all and makes up for what was not. These men have righted in the lives of their kids a wrong that took place in theirs and have broken what could have been an ongoing pattern of behavior. I am amazed by them and in awe.
Many men are great, but you awesome father surpass them all- this I am sure! And though you do it not for accolades, your glory I will not ignored. TJ
Honoring those men who take care of business with their children! (Especially the ones who did not have an example to follow)
I wish I could have posted a picture above of every awesome father, but those were the ones whom I know and that came to mind immediately when I began to write this, interestingly enough, every one of them had a picture of themselves with their children as one of their profile pictures on Facebook- so they made it easy for me to put together that small collage.
Ya’ll inspire me- and so many others –
Now THAT’s LOVE!

Whites in the American Civil Rights Movement- Now That’s Love!

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Whites in the American Civil Rights Movement- Now That's Love!

I recently saw a few movies that inspired me to love in a way that I have not previously had to love.
The first was The Butler, where it reviews the history of African Americans from just after slavery until today and takes us through the life of a man who lived as a boy in the abusive south on a cotton plantation and was alive to see Obama inaugurated. His generation is the last of those who are still alive today who could have had the experience of being born to people who were slaves on a plantation. In the story it showed some of the experiences of those who were the Freedom Riders in the 1960’s.
I knew of the atrocities that took place, I knew of the abuses that the people who were determined to ride on non-segregated buses together to make change endured, but what I had never before really thought of were the experiences of the white people who road and marched and were beaten and spit on and murdered alongside the black people whom they fought for.
I wondered what makes a person decide to trade comfort and a normal life to endure adversity and hardship and even face death to fight for an equality that they already had, and simply desired for someone else. What would make a person do such a thing?
I then, in the same week, saw the movie of the book to Kill a Mockingbird, which is told from the perspective of a little girl who was white and raised in the south during the time when blacks were free from slavery, but hated and severely mistreated and discriminated against. The book shows a window into the normalcy of living amongst discrimination as a child, that does not necessarily impact you directly and what that looks like. It would be easy to just do nothing about the injustices around you and to not even see them as such when it is the status quo. It would be normal to just live and do nothing and who could blame one for just minding their own business? But in the story, the girl’s father is faced with a decision to defend a black man for rape, and against a lot of opposition and threats, he decides to do what he believes is right and defend the man, putting not only his safety, but the safety of his own family at risk. His integrity would not allow him to do any less than what he believed in his heart was the right thing to do no matter the cost. What would make a person do such a thing?
What would make a person interrupt the comfort of their lives to see to it that others can live free?
I understand why black people would be involved in the civil rights movement because we would be fighting for ourselves and if not our own equality, for that of our children and their children, but what makes a person enter the hated side of a world of danger and grave injustice and fight until the death for another’s freedoms? What other than love?
Before now, I had never considered the grand capacity to love that must be in the heart of people who would do such a brave, compassionate and selfless thing.
Dr. King was a great man who understood and taught an aspect of love that is hard even to comprehend. He said that you cannot drive out darkness with darkness but rather only with light and it is the light of his non-violence movement to love his white brothers and everyone equally despite how he was treated, that shed light on how unjust racism is and convicted the hearts of men and women who would not have otherwise been moved to change, People were changed when they saw innocent people enduring such abuse and not returning evil for evil but rather humbly returning good for evil.
But what has recently boggled my mind even more is the love that the white freedom riders had, who were beaten and killed to give to their black brothers and sisters an equality that they themselves already had.
Today I honor those who were not African American who fought and even died for the civil rights of all.
That’s love.

Killed in Mississippi in 1964 for fighting for the rights of blacks to vote:
Michael Schwerner
Andrew Goodman

Love is an Individual Choice

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Love is an individual choice

As many times before, last weekend I debated world issues with some wonderful and wise people. We discussed social and individual responsibility, the role of government, race and religion in our lives and we agreed that for those who are still disenfranchised something needs to be done, but we did not know what.
I agreed with every point that ever person made just about regarding the hurtles of discrimination on various basis that still exist and pose a barrier, I agreed that there are numerous barriers to progress other than discrimination and then I thought, but what about individual responsibility?
No matter what the powers that be decide, do we not each have a higher individual choice to make in our own lives and in the lives of others to improve things with in our circle of influence?
Despite all of the social injustices; despite unfair laws and policies; despite historical abuses; despite familial dysfunctions; does not each person have an individual choice to make that could make things better collectively for everyone?
Now I know that situations and life are extraordinarily complex, beyond simplifying it to a one sentenced inquisition. But I ask on a very basic level, does not how the community scene plays out affecting everyone in it collectively, not boil down to individual responsibility and choices?
I think back to Nazi Germany and I always wondered what each individual soldier told himself in order to carry out the heinous commands of Hitler. I wonder if each person had purposed it in his heart to take individual responsibility for his own individual actions, if there could have not been a cooperative change on a basic level to not do what would cause harm to others; if the holocaust may have been prevented by numerous individual refusals to hate. What if each soldier chose to not do to any human what they would not want done to them, or their family.
What of American slavery? What if each man identified buying a human laborer as unjust? What if each man said to himself “Would I want my daughter or son purchased and bred like farm animals?” What if he asked himself “Should the mighty American dollar have more value than the sacred human life?” or “Are fighting for my own freedoms and liberties more important than helping someone else live so that we can all be free together.” I wonder if American history would be different if each person asked himself those questions. I wonder if American history will be different in 200 years if we can start asking ourselves some of those questions today.
It seems that we, as an American community, are so consumed individually with the holes in our own shoes, that we no longer care that there are many right around us here in America who are still walking miles without shoes.
In our debate someone said that the downfall of the black community was the introduction of crack into the community. I wonder if the introduction of mind destroying drugs into other communities devastated them as well? I do not know, my primary experience living around poverty has only been in the black community, but if drugs were the downfall of the community, did not the crack or meth user have a choice to make at some point? Did not the crack or meth dealer have not a choice to make?
Do not the people who pull the trigger, who buy the gun, and who sell them, have not a choice?
What of individual responsibility?
I grew up hearing from my parents and grandparents firsthand accounts of an era when black people were dragged out of their homes and innocently shot or hanged with no justice expected to be pursued. When black girls were burned alive and black boys were lynched for no reason other than hate. When blacks were not permitted into various neighborhoods nor social groups and neither could use the same bathrooms sit in the same seats on the bus, drink from the same fountains, neither vote nor attend the same colleges as their white peers.
If my grandparents and parents remember these events then they weren’t so very long ago. But my have things changed! There are still a ways to go in the way of true equality, but we as a people have come pretty far…
… Except that
I grew up seeing my neighbors shot on the corners over petty arguments or drug feuds. I saw people being killed for gold chains and sneakers. I, before I was 18 was help up at gun point twice. The first time they got a cheap pager I had and a brand new Eddie Bauer jacket. The second time I ran for help as my friend lost her jewelry. Someone, ironically, the neighborhood drug dealer saw me running and did come to our aid, thankfully neither time I was shot, but not because the stick up boys were far beyond shooting the young teenaged victims that they robbed.
So now then, what of individual responsibility?
After our debate, we figured a lack of leadership is a part of the problem. Many people have had these experiences, they decide on an individual level to do something better, but have no idea how to help the community as a whole. There are way more good apples around than bad ones still, but how do the good ones come together, raise their children to do better and not tolerate the terrorism of the bad apples? I don’t know- I do agree that there is a lack of leadership. Or even just a lack of role models, but I am hopeful that we, who are now the adults will give back and each one of us has to individually figure out in what way we will. I confess that I have fallen down on my individual responsibility to give back to the community that I was raised in. I made it out, I know better and now I have to do better.
It is not enough to just blog about love, but I, we, need to get out into the city of brotherly love and do just that.
Will let you know what I come up with.
Here is a story that I came across today that I found very inspiring.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Journeyman/167865816737032 (this article is about the men in the photo above)
Don’t let anyone judge the way that you decide to express your love for others. Individually, selflessly, fearlessly, we can collectively make a change!

When did we stop holding one another up.

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When did we stop holding one another up.

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the acquittal of the man who killed him the most prevalent statement that I have heard by those who defended the killer was that “Black people kill one another all of the time- now they want to make a big deal about someone else killing one of them.”

While that statement is corrupt and intrinsically evil on so many different levels, the issue that I have to address is the slither of truth in it that black people regularly kill one another.

I have postulated many times why this occurs, poverty, oppression, greed, selfishness, lack of knowledge of history and the past, effects of slavery and so.

BUT none of that changes the fact that each person has his own choice to make. When a person pulls a trigger and commits murder- that was a personal choice that he could have made differently.

I have seen impoverished peoples living together in peace and harmony, helping one another with what little they had and surviving- content together with very little.
Sacrificing what little one has to help others is love.
Standing on your tippy toes and reaching above and beyond over your head to boost another up so that they can reach higher is love- and what happens is that the love that you show returns to you in multiple ways. What that person grabbed for and reached because of your support, may be the very thing that turns around and feeds you as well.

How did the love get lost in the black community? What happened that we stopped banding together to help one another so that everyone’s child was fed? At what point did my car and house mean more to me than your child’s life?

I don’t know precisely at what turn in black history crack became more prevalent on the streets than human kindness, but I know that for each individual it came down to a choice.

Was it a choice to abandon God and forget the real source of our provisions? Was it a choice to abandon the knowledge of yesterday, our history, and ignorantly run forward with an each man for himself mentality only looking at the gain today and not the cost to our people tomorrow.
Was it a choice to not gain wisdom and understand that it is better to hold your brother up and be there to catch him if he were to fall? Or was it a combination of it all?

I don’t know what the beginning of the problem was, but I believe that the answer is to turn back to the true and living God, to search for the truth, and learn to love.

When you are a jerk- APOLOGIZE

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When you are a jerk-  APOLOGIZE

So what should you do when you are a jerk and you realize it-
APOLOGIZE
There are numerous stories that I can tell of when I am the jerk and need to apologize, but you hear enough about me, so today I am going to talk about my youngest daughter Louise.
Louise is a wonderful 7 year old who is loving and kind and sweet and generous, but also is very bold and straight forward. She will give you the shoes off of her feet on a rainy day, her hat scarf and gloves on a snowy day and her last bite of candy on Halloween night. She is naturally a giver (like my husband; and I have a lot to learn from them) But she also is blunt and speaks her mind (also like my husband)
So at Louise’s school they assign 5th grade buddies to every second grader and the 5th grade buddies read to them in class, and help them with work- It’s a great idea. But Louise goes into mute mode when she is uncomfortable around someone she does not know well and will refuse to speak. So all year long she has not said a word to her 5th grade buddy, just shakes her head, smiles or high fives her in the hall, but zero conversation. She told us yesterday night that at their last ice cream social today with their 5th grade buddies that she was going to finally say something to her- we were happy about that.
So today while they were eating banana splits, Louise asked her 5th grade buddy her name, and she replied “Tammy” Then Louise turned to her classmate Thelma and says “Tammy creeps me out!” And that was her one sentence in front of Tammy this year!
Is she kidding me? Nope she’s not!
Louise, who has been just giving Tammy wide eyed stares all year, finally said one sentence in front of her, one short, rude sentence. And so that you can picture this scene, Louis has some huge eyes that she opens even wider when she’s staring at someone she doesn’t want to talk to, I mean she’s adorable, but has eerily gigantic eyes- To give you an idea, her stair is sort of like that wide eyed marsupial pictured…. So go figure whom the real “creepy” one must be between Louise and her fifth grade buddy-

Needless to say I had a brief conversation with Louise about how we should treat people, especially those who are going out of their way to help us. I told her that we shouldn’t be mean to mean people either, but it takes a special kind of meanness to be mean to kind people. Now don’t get me wrong, although I do teach her kindness, when it comes to bullies, she has my full blessing when she puts the smack down on ’em and I think that the public should thank her for that. She is just giving a bully the spanking that his momma forgot to give him that morning; and when that bully is accepting his Nobel Piece Prize in 30 yrs., he will remember to thank Louise for beating the daylights out of him when he was in 2nd grade and teaching him the path that he should not go down.
…But I digress.

Louise said that after she saw the look on Tammy’s face and realized that she’d hurt her feelings, she felt terrible about it. I told her that the best that she can do now is to APOLOGIZE. I told her that we will all make mistakes and say mean things at times, but what’s important is to recognize it and APOLOGIZE. Simple as that.

Now some of us, like myself really beat ourselves up over verbal snafus. I mean we can really put ourselves in the WWE against ourselves and break chairs over our own heads then put ourselves in the car, hit the ejection seat button and then run ourselves over. But condemning yourself is counterproductive, you are still a good person, just APOLOGIZE- everyone makes mistakes.

And anyone who points their finger at you for making a mistake is making a mistake themselves in that moment.
Remember that wonderfuly generous heart that I told you Louise has? She still has it- dispite her mean remark. And now she gets to show that sweet heart of hers and APOLOGIZE.

So when you are a jerk, don’t sweat it- APOLOGIZE.

(Names were changed to protect the identity of the people in this story)

Jesus Love You, But-

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Jesus Love You, But-

I copied this hilarious phrase plate from a friend’s page. The funny thing is that when you read it, your first thought is of a picture of someone in your mind that that would apply to, and then your second thought is of a huge mirror slowly rising from your computer screen like reverse movie credits and stopping directly in front of your own face- and- YIKES! – Does that apply to me???- Uh oh- am I one?” And slight panic or laughter ensues.

In my case laughter and confession that I know that at times that phrase has totally applied to me. Funny now, but I laugh regretfully at myself. What stuck out to me about this phrase were two things: True- Jesus does love that person and all of us no matter what and secondly what characterizes an “asshole.” As I thought of this I began to create a definition.
Asshole: used in describing someone’s serial mal treatment of others; and that perception of mal treatment varies based on one’s own standards of how he/she thinks people should be treated, or how one would have treated someone in a given situation. Basically someone “mean.”

We have all met someone who we thought was mean- the lady serving fried chicken after church, the person behind the customer service desk, the friend that sees you crying hears your story and tells you to “Get over it!”- That last one was me years ago. I can understand how I would have been given that title when I was extraordinarily insensitive to others feelings, harsh, or what some have described as “brutally honest.” And in the same span of time using that now outdated phrase “They just need Jesus!” How could I have been regularly insensitive, bold and harsh and mention Jesus in the next breath? I believe that I just did not realize that I was a jerk at times. It was usually unintentional and came from my own deeply rooted issues and ignorance. I began to see myself for who I really was, I grew and matured over time and then one morning, I woke up and saw the real Face of Jesus as Love.

Is there ever a reason to speak harshly to someone out of callous non-concern- no? Is there ever a reason to tell a hurtful truth without the honest intention of helping someone heal?- I don’t think so. Wouldn’t the world be a better place for everyone if all of the “assholes” learned what love looks like and decided to live based on the standard of loving others? Picture someone who you would say is a sweet, wonderful, kind and compassionate person. Got that picture in your mind? Well someone at some point in time has probably thought they were an asshole. My point is that the vast majority of us have good and bad personality traits and that we are working out our personality quirks and issues with time and maturity.

There are times where boundaries of acceptance for certain behaviors have to be put up, but more often than not, what someone could have done and can do for me when I behave that way is to love me anyway. It is the only way to help a person change if change is necessary. Treating them kindly anyway and leading by example in their very lives with them. I do believe there is a time and place to confront certain behaviors, and to surely separate yourself from ongoing abuse, but more often than not ongoing jerk-like behaviors will only be extinguished if there is someone who knows how to be continually kind in the face of adversity.

Thank you to those who stuck it out and still do with me.

If Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re an asshole (and people will tell you- you just have to start believing them) then just hold on to the fact that Jesus loves and accepts you for who you are today. Know that there are some characteristics with sharp edges that need to be honestly self-assessed and not denied and buffed out over time, but-

Jesus loves you, and so do I.

(please pardon my french in this post to all who may have been offended)