Monday, June 26, 2017

Enemy to Brother

Last night we watched Remember the Titans, based on a true story about the newly integrated T.C. Williams high school football team in Alexandria, VA in 1971. These are two powerful scenes from the movie that demonstrate the incredible change in Gerry and Julius, a white and a black player, whose relationship changed from one full of hatred toward each other to a bond in which they considered each other their brother. 


In the first scene, the two of them are unhappy roommates during their pre-season football camp and are forced to learn some facts about each other so that their coach will ease up on their 3-a-day workouts.


"What I have to say, you really don't want to hear. Cause honesty ain't too high up on your people's priority list," Julius challenged. "Honesty?" Gerry countered. "You want honesty? Alright. Honestly, I think you're nothing. Nothing but a waste of God-given talent. You don't listen to nobody."

This conversation turned out to be transformative as Gerry (the team captain) took Julius' final words to heart: "Attitude reflects leadership." When he then exploded at his long-time friend Ray for not defending for his black teammate, the atmosphere began to change. The ice melting between these two leaders, combined with the leadership of Coach Boone (their new black coach) and Coach Yoast (the white previous head coach), set the stage for most of the players overcoming their prejudices toward each other and learning how to play together as a real team.  Their transformation and resulting winning streak that season had a huge impact on the whole town. While celebrating their victory at regionals, Gerry was tragically struck by a car and the second scene shows Julius arriving at the hospital after he heard the news.


"I was afraid of you, Julius," Gerry confesses. "I only saw what I was afraid of. And now I know I was only hating my brother."

This movie is both inspiring and sobering to me, when I think about the racial tensions that still exist in our country today, 46 years later. How desperately we need to get to know people who are different from us so that we can see the "other" as our brother or sister, as Julius and Gerry were able to do.


Thomas' sermon this morning at Pulpit Rock went right along with this theme: "Being us is better than being right."

We want to be about "seeking common ground as we seek higher ground."

"If Jesus put Simon the Zealot, an insurrectionist who hated the Romans, on the same team with with Matthew the tax collector, a collaborator with the Romans, and made them roommates, I'm not sure why we can't set aside some differences for the common good."

We need to really see and really hear the people around us in order to experience the kind of self-sacrificing love Jesus intended for us. 

And if we find that the people around us are too similar to us, then we need to go beyond some borders to find brothers and sisters who look different and have different beliefs than us.

As Thomas said, "We are known for our beliefs but remembered for our love."

Who might God be asking you to step out of your need to be right in order to love? Do you have enemies who could become your friends, if you let go of your need to be right?



Friday, June 23, 2017

Be Loved

As David was telling me about his dream last night, he seemed to be glowing. His whole countenance was unusually peaceful and reflective.

“I was fighting in a battle with Legolas,” he smiled as he remembered the scene. “We were a team. I was kind of like—you know—his vice president.”

I nodded.

“He gave me one of his arrows to use. But his bow was broken so I couldn't shoot the arrow. I had to use a gun instead and it was too heavy.”

“We were fighting the dwarfs, and there were too many of them so we lost.”

“But it was really cool to be with Legolas. He's really kind and I can always count on him.”

“I wish I could have more dreams like that....I wish I could meet the REAL Legolas!”

What an honor it was for David to be Legolas' vice president. He felt so treasured and valued in his dream.


This afternoon he was working on an exercise to distinguish linking verbs from action verbs. I was thinking about the word beloved (the theme for Velvet Ashes this week) and how the word could be separated into two: be loved where “be” is a linking verb. There is a necessary receiving on our part. God calls us his beloved but we don't always feel that way.

Shame, self-condemnation, perfectionism, and pride can block our ability to experience God's love.

As I was reading The Jesus Storybook Bible to the boys today, we got to the parable of the Hidden Treasure again. And David said, “I bet I know what that's about. God is the farmer who dug up the treasure and the treasure is us.” I really like that view of the parable, not just that our greatest treasure is God but that His greatest treasure is us!

Daniel, as you know, often asks the same question multiple times. One of his favorites as we're reading through the Storybook Bible is, “Am I God's children?” Each time I answer, “Yes, you are,” he gets such a sweet smile of contentment. Being reminded of that truth is very comforting to him.

Don't we all need that reminder?

We can get so focused on the activity around us that we forget the truth that God calls us His beloved. His treasure. His sheep that He would search the ends of the earth  to bring back to Him. He longs to carry us close to His heart. Because we belong to Him. He has written us on the palms of His hands. He delights in us. He wants us to Be Loved. To receive His Love.

As we long for the day that we will see Him face to face.

Which will be even more incredible than meeting Legolas.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wearing the Hat of Motherhood for 22 Years

22 years ago CJ's premature arrival presented me with the gift of motherhood. There have been days when I thought I knew what I was doing as a Mom and days I was sure I didn't know what I was doing. But motherhood has been one of my biggest blessings in life and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Some of the different hats I have worn these past 22 years (as my hair underneath the hats has been turning more and more white):
New Mom
Toddler Mom
3 kids 3 and under Mom
Mom of TCK's (third culture kids)
Stay at Home Mom
Foreign Mom (in China)
Special Needs Mom
Mom of Adult/College kids

Out of all the Mom hats, the one that I won't wear for a long time is the one for the Empty Nest Moms.

A friend told me last summer after we'd spent time at the park together that her 11 year old daughter said how sweet it was that God had given us David and Daniel so that when Jordan left for college Charly and I wouldn't be bored and lonely at home with no kids.

We are not bored or lonely. That is true.


We have traveled the road of teething, throw up, temper tantrums, and tattling.

We have laughed, we have cried, we have worried, we have prayed.

We have walked the difficult line of giving boundaries and giving freedoms, sometimes better than others. Our kids have usually told us when we haven't done it well.

We have tried to find the balance in practicing Sabbath, teaching our kids about God and building character with times of being silly and just having fun together. Our kids have pointed out to us those times when they thought we were taking the fun out of life.


We have had heartwarming moments and heartbreaking moments. Moments when our family was truly united and moments when we really struggled with unity.

We've lived out of our comfort zones in different cultures, and adapted in ways unique to our personalities.

We've been separated both by oceans and by time zones across America (skype has been our great connect point). Times that all 7 of us can be together are truly a gift.

We've been learning how to parent all over again through adoption, as we try to understand the different needs and life stories our boys have (so much that we missed of their early years).

Now our kids' ages span from 11 to 22. You could call us parents who are seasoned and very much aware of our shortcomings.


On the way back from CJ's graduation in Indiana last month, I was taking a turn driving across Kansas when it began to get very windy. So windy in fact that I felt like our van might get blown off the highway. As I looked ahead at the dark threatening sky and saw the first drops of rain hit the windshield, I knew it was time for me to pull over and let Charly drive. But no sooner had I gotten out of the driver's seat when Jordan asked, “Can I drive?” “Of COURSE not!” I replied. “These are bad conditions.”

“I've never driven in the rain before,” her voice sounded hopeful. Charly (with no worry at all) agreed for her to take the wheel. She had a sparkle in her eye as she braved the storm head-on, while my eyes were tightly shut in the seat right behind her.


She did great. And I learned yet another lesson about letting go and trusting God with my kids, in scary situations that cause me to get a little panicky.

Even though I want our kids to be safe, I also want them to have courage and not be filled with doubt or shy away from the hard. And God has given each of them this brave desire to do hard things. They are willing to take risks, when they're unsure of what the outcome will be.

As my children demonstrate courage, they are teaching me to be more courageous too. (But I am almost positive that I will never personally want to drive in a thunderstorm!)

That's ok because as our kids get older, much of Motherhood is not in the driver's seat anyway, but coaching from the passenger's seat or praying hard from the back seat.

Bless all you mothers who can relate. My hat is off to you.






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