That’s what she said

Hang on to your seats, people, there was just too much good stuff on the webs lately this is going to be especially long.

I’m a Jesus Feminist by Idelette. Yes, this

I am all for beautiful mutual submission–becoming servants of the highest good in each other–but I’ve had enough of skewed  submission language clubbing our girls into a distorted picture of the heart of God.

Purple Boots, Silver Stars…and White Parents by Frank Ligtvoet in The New York Times had me chocked up this morning. 

Raising kids of color by white parents is not just a matter of love; it requires a racial consciousness that is common in families of color, but rarely developed in white families. And it needs an understanding that one’s family is not only challenged by the centrifugal force of the adoptive identity of the children, but also by the tensions of their broken cultural and racial identity. These fractures cannot be fixed, but need to be addressed with empathy by competent parents. We cannot take away loss, but we can teach our kids and ourselves to learn to live with it, and to live good lives with it.

This timely piece by The Oatmeal, Christopher Columbus was awful (but this other guy was not). 

Can’t really quote this one, just read it. 🙂

Anyone who knows me as listened to my curmudgeon-esque ranting about sugary snacks at school, sporting events and the like. Stacey Connor wrote this and I was agreeing all along the way.

If we don’t want to raise kids who struggle with the food issues of our generation we need to stop the constant association of positive social events and sugar.

Love Tara Livesay’s blog and particularly In which I talk about hair and adoption

It feels like I am free to be a normal human fallible parent with the kids that are stuck with me because I pushed them out of my body, but with these children we’ve adopted – I don’t allow that same measure of grace. For them I need to find a way to never make a misstep, always understand what they are facing, never allow people to decide things about them based on untruth, and protect them from experiencing pain in their lives.

As for the most disturbing/enlightening piece I read: this monster, Porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today.

‘When you interview young women about their experiences of sex, you see an increased level of violence: rough, violent sex,’ she says. ‘That is directly because of porn, as young boys are getting their sexual cues from men in porn who are acting as if they’re sexual psychopaths. ‘Pornography is sexually traumatising an entire generation of boys.’

Loved the vulnerability in Glennon’s post 6 reasons social media is dangerous for me. I think we can all relate on one level or another. 

 I had become unable to just sit with myself. I have Be Still tattooed on my wrist because I know that feelings, creativity, inspiration, wisdom, peace and the rest of the good stuff knock during empty moments – and that if we’re too “busy” to answer the door – they sneak into our souls through cracked windows and haunt us. We have to answer the knocks we hear in the quiet because it’s our LIFE knocking. 

 ’12 years a slave’ portrays religion at its best and worst. Calling myself a Christian means I’m entering the tension of disassociating with the ones using religion to control and associating myself with the ones who see it as a freeing force-but still loving them all. 

This perspective should particularly resonate with Christians because much of the Gospels tell of explosive conflicts between the Pharisees and Jesus. They are more than personal disagreements, but rather clashes between those who insisted on using religion to control and One who rightly saw faith as a freeing force. The difference between Jesus and the Pharisees is, to some extent, the chasm between slave owners and abolitionists. “12 Years a Slave” forces audiences to enter this tension and determine which side of the chasm they are on.

As someone working in the fitness industry, I adored this post and wanted to send it to everyone I know. What people really look like. 

Everybody on a massage table is beautiful. There are really no exceptions to this rule. At that first long sigh, at that first thought that “I can stop hanging on now, I’m safe” – a luminosity, a glow, begins. Within a few minutes the whole body is radiant with it. It suffuses the room: it suffuses the massage therapist too. People talk about massage therapists being caretakers, and I suppose we are: we like to look after people, and we’re easily moved to tenderness. But to let you in on a secret: I’m in it for the glow. I’ll tell you what people look like, really: they look like flames. Or like the stars, on a clear night in the wilderness.
If you have an hour, watch this. Just. watch. Girl, Adopted.
I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary discussed in this post at Salon.com. It will be a fascinating commentary on how we consumers of media let it overtake us too often. 
Media can be a form of brainwashing depending on the viewer/listener. Most people who choose to ingest one type of media are going to get influenced by that media. Unless people read a lot on their own—and most people don’t have time to—they will listen to and believe whatever is fed them. And that’s easier to do when you have uneducated masses of people. A less educated mass also serves the corporate purpose…There are also those who gravitate toward an authoritarian media who blame others for your troubles. If people aren’t doing well in life, it gives them a passion to be angry and have someone else to blame, like poor people and minorities.
Nicholas Kristof’s article From the Streets to the ‘World’s Best Mom’ gives a glimpse into the sex trade in America.
In short, there are steps we can take that begin to chip away at the problem, but a starting point is greater empathy for women like Simpkins who were propelled into the vortex of the sex trade — and a recognition that the problem isn’t hopeless. To me, Simpkins encapsulates not hopelessness but the remarkable human capacity for resilience.
What are you guys reading?
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on chores

I’ve always been a big proponent of “encouraging” our little cherubs to do their fair share of chores around the house. Since they were little they’ve been responsible for cleaning up after themselves and as they’ve gotten older their list of responsibilities grows as well.

Last week I decided the oldest 4 were old/responsible enough to really help me cook. For Trysten and Tariku that meant measuring out ingredients and doubling them, also chopping produce. They basically did the whole thing with me supervising.

For Tomas and Dailah that meant me helping them measure it out but them cutting produce and actually depositing ingredients/stirring them.

I never cook anything really fancy though I chose dinners that were a little more advanced than say-Tombstone pizzas (which the 4 of them have made on their own before).

I was shocked at how excited all of them were to cook with me. Though they’ve helped me in the kitchen before they’ve never been quite so responsible for dinner. Not only were they geeked up about cooking for the family, they were thrilled to get some one-on-one time with me.

Trysten and I covered the most, probably. He’s typically quiet around people but you get him one-on-one and he’s positively chatty. We covered topics ranging from boobs to drugs, minecraft and puberty. My relationship with Trysten is so awesome, I’m so thankful for where it’s at right now.

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Tomas typically just giggles incessantly when we have some alone time, he really is that precious. This time though I had ulterior motives-namely I had to get him to realize how vital choosing good friends is. Because this son of mine is so sweet, he tends to believe everyone is just as sweet as he is. As he’s gotten older the kids who love to manipulate have done so with my sweet Tomas. It scares the hell outta me. So I told him, “My friends from elementary school are still my friends. They have seen me at my best and my worst and they would still argue with anybody who tried to trash my name. If your friends wouldn’t stand up for you and if they try to talk you into trouble, they are not right for you-move on. Find friends who will put as much energy and love into you as you do into them.” Today I got a note in his planner that he’s much improved in school from last week. They are listening, mamas! Side note: Tomas was actually the most skilled chopper!

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Tariku is also one of those who isn’t necessarily an over sharer lest you get him on your own. During our kitchen time he told me about a kid in school who usually gets made fun of for being stupid and how he answered a question no one else knew during class. Then Tariku gave the kid a hug and almost cried for him. I’m not worried about Tariku’s ability to make friends, his ability to discern true motives is years ahead of where it should be at his age. No, for Tariku I only worry about my heart. Because one day he’s going to grow up and leave my house and I’m not sure how I’ll ever recover.

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Dailah is never one to shy away from conversation, no idea where she gets that. 😉 We just had a great time being together. I’m so aware of how I used to get so frustrated with math (and still do) and don’t want to put that whole, “Girls are bad at math” thing on her. I made her do math the whole time we were cooking. She definitely has a fixed mindset and gets easily frustrated when things don’t come naturally or quickly, I think cooking with her will be good for us both to push past our comfort levels and just enjoy it.

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Binyam isn’t quite ready to do full on cooking but on his days with me he’s responsible for setting the table, serving the food and clean up.

Zach and I believe very much that this big family of ours is a team. That’s how we’ve got the kids to buy into their chores as well and why they don’t ever complain. Also, they are old enough to get the correlation that if they want to do more fun things (stay up later, read more mature books, etc) then they have to prove they are responsible enough for it all. Only way to do that is by playing a bigger role in the family!

What about you guys? Do your kids do chores? Which ones do they love? Do they typically do them shirtless like mine? 🙂 

October

I’m not quite sure how it is October already. Here in the great midwest the temps are still in the 80s and the ground is so brittle it breaks beneath my footsteps. It’s unlike any October I can remember and so it just surprised me the other day when a participant in one of my classes wished me a happy October.

October means a lot of things around here, but mostly (for me at least) it means planning Wine to Water. It’s the 5th year this event is happening which boggles the mind. I think because it’s taken up such a big place in my heart the last 5 years I’ve become quite reflective this year in particular.

Truth be told I considered not doing it this year. It takes a lot of energy to get it up and going and even though I have all of the contacts who more or less agree to whatever I ask, I hate asking people for things. I mean hot, hot hatred hate. Even though I believe so strongly, more strongly than ever in what we’re doing-it’s just not in my comfort zone.

But lately I’ve been really thinking about things like poverty, orphan care, jobs and the like. I’ve actually read some really great stuff on those subjects too.

Kristen Howerton talked about it in her blog, “How the Christian orphan care movement may be enabling child abandonment.”

I really think that Christians need to be more vocal about the way we are approaching orphan care, so that we are not doing harm. We need to stop setting up ministries that encourage desperate parents to relinquish their children, and funnel our resources into programs that support families.

And Jen Hatmaker wrote The Truth About Adoption: Two Years Later and explains how orphan care becomes a huge narrative after 2 years.

We need not shy away from these hard conversation, because they can only make adoption stronger, first families better, second families healthier. The more we know, the more we are responsible for, and it is a privilege that God has invited us into the story of orphan care. We are a committed, resilient bunch, I’ll tell you. We love one another and love each others children, and I am grateful to the core that this is my tribe.

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary had a guest post, Would Jesus be cool with keeping poor kids in orphanages?

All over the world we are confusing poverty for families not loving their children In Haiti, in Cambodia, in Kenya, in Brazil, in Honduras. I’ve spoken to folks working on the ground in all of these countries and the common experience is that not enough is being done to help poor families keep their children.

Perhaps to the outsider orphan care and Wine to Water have little to do with each other. But or me, they are inexplicably entwined.

The more I research orphan care the more I am sure poverty cannot be a reason children are relinquished to orphanages. It says so many horrible things about our world that parents are having to surrender their children because we would rather spend money on adopting their children than supporting their intact families. I say this knowing I’ve been a part of this in large and small ways, I am not blameless by any means. But now that I know better, I’m doing better.

In January I got to go to Haiti to witness The Adventure Project in action. You can read my posts here, here and here. I really believe their model of job creation works and is one of the best models at fixing so much of what ails us as a global community.

So we’re doing it. We’re gearing up for Wine to Water 2013 because it needs to begin with me (as Glennon Melton so eloquently wrote).

We’re doing our best to create jobs, eliminate poverty, keep families intact, provide clean water, give kids shoes, send kids to school and empower people around the world. We’re doing it all by creating well mechanic jobs in Uganda.

November 16th in Davenport, Iowa. We would love to see you and, as always, there is plenty of space to stay for free here at camp. If you’re not able to make it but would like to donate-email me at tesileagh@gmail.com. You know a phenomenal artist who would want to become involved by donating a piece of their art? Contact me.

I love this life. I really, really do. The least I can do with this incredible life of mine is work my butt off to provide a glimpse of it to others. Join me?