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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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?

That’s What She Said

Being laid up for 6 weeks has its perks, namely-I get to read lots. Take advantage of my situation.

Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan with this.

Now as I kiss my 10 year old brown boy on the head at night, I wonder when he will be too big, too tall, too scary to walk to the corner gas station without risking the assumption that he doesn’t belong. Will he be labeled a thug if he dresses like Justin Beiber (hat turned around, baggy pants, big shirt)? I’ve been assured by friends that my boys are “good Christian boys” and no one would ever mistake them for thugs. But what if they shoot first and ask who they are second? I always knew I would have to teach them to navigate what to do if pulled over for DWB (driving while Black) but I had not really put a lot of thought into teaching them how to not look suspicious in their own neighborhood.

Nicholas Kristof with this.

Big Agriculture has dug in its heels, backing “ag gag” laws that punish whistle-blowerswho secretly document abusive conditions for livestock or poultry. The House of Representatives recently had the gall to amend the farm bill so as to nullify many state laws protecting farm animals. “In a single legislative act, it could undo two decades of state lawmaking to protect animals,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States; let’s hope the Senate-House conference committee will drop this amendment.

Rachel Held Evans with this.

Jesus used his privilege to extend the kingdom of God. We, on the other hand, tend to use our privilege to contract the kingdom of God. Jesus used story-telling to give voice to the Other and invite the Other in. We tend to use story-telling to give voice to ourselves and help us identify like-minded others. Jesus’ story-telling was other-centered and inclusive. Our story-telling tends to be me-centered and exclusive.

Again Rachel Held Evans with this too.

Though it affects more of us than we tend to realize, statistically, homosexuality affects far fewer of us than gluttony, materialism, or divorce. And as Jesus pointed out so often in his ministry, we like to focus on the biblical violations (real or perceived) of the minority rather than our own.  In short, we like to gang up.  We like to fashion weapons out of the verses that affect us the least and then “clobber” the minority with them. Or better yet, conjure up some saccharine language about speaking the truth in love before breaking out our spec-removing tweezers to help get our minds off of these uncomfortable logs in our own eyes.

Kristen Howerton with this too.

Simply put, privilege refers to an unearned advantage. It usually refers to something inherent . . . something you were born with rather than something you worked for. There are many types of privilege: economic privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, and of course . . . racial privilege. Racial privilege can take many forms, from minor things to life-threatening things. White privilege can look like being able to grab some shampoo at the grocery store and being confident they carry products for your hair type. White privilege can look like being able to find a band-aid that matches your skin tone. White privilege can look like waling through an upscale residential neighborhood without anyone wondering what you are doing there. White privilege can look like wearing a baseball cap and baggy pants and no one assuming you are a criminal.

Emily Wierenga with this.

A culture that has lost the scope and art of beauty. The curve of beauty. The shape of beauty found in the rounded tummy, found in the soft cushion of an arm, found in the maternal hug. We’ve forgotten the beauty that can be found in a nurturing figure, in a real-life person, in the struggle and surrender of a body to nature.  We are hard on you, Kate, because we hate ourselves. But enough. We need to stop. Because we are hurting you and ourselves. We are hurting our daughters and our sisters for all of our self-loathing. And perfection isn’t attainable, no matter one’s size.

As always, link me to some of your favorites you’ve read lately!

That’s what she said

So much good stuff in the blogosphere. I know these aren’t my most popular of posts but I really hope you read the links. And as always, let me know what you’re reading so my eyes can be opened too!

Sex, Part 2: Why Wait? by Jamie

To top it off, we’ve done a really bad job of teaching about sex in the Church. Our approach has been to shame girls for having it, and shame boys for wanting it. And when the smart kids ask, “Why wait?”, we shrug our shoulders like a hillbilly and say, “Because the Bible says.” Then we give the girls a purity ring and we give the boys nothing and we cross our fingers and hope they’ll cross their legs. So dumb.

A Woman’s Voice by Rachel Held Evans

And when I speak, I better find the sweet spot—that elusive, ideal combination of smart and cute and not-too-intimidating or else they’ll call me a bitch, or they’ll call me dumb, or they’ll call me emotional, or they’ll call me a traitor. But they won’t just be calling me those things.  They’ll be calling all women those things, because I’m here to represent my gender; I’m there to speak with a woman’s voice.  Should it falter, it will falter for many. 

Sex and the Path of Holiness also by Rachel Held Evans

Far too often, Christians talk about self-control as it relates to sex, but remain silent when it comes to self-control as it relates to justice.  Perhaps if we approach purity more holistically, if we talk about the importance of restraint and self-control in other areas of life, our feet will become more accustomed to the paths of wisdom, and sexual holiness will just be another part of a lifelong journey. 

Quit Pointing your Avocado at Me by Glennon

What we seek we will find and if we’re looking for a world full of judgmental mamas –  we’ll find it. Parenting is the most important thing to many of us and so it’s the place we’re most vulnerable. But even when we’re scared  – we can still choose. We can choose to see each other as competition or as fellow warriors – fighting the same fight on the same team. One goal – many paths. We can learn from each other. We can even ENJOY each other.

I Walked Away from Fox News by Tim Stevens (ok he’s a guy, but you know, still good).

And you know what, I’ve regained hope. Rather than being spoon-fed what Karl Rove or Dick Morris wants me to believe–I am hand-picking my news through online sites. I’m choosing sources that weed out the commentary and don’t seem to be slaves to one of the political parties. And guess what–once again I think America is a great place to live. I’m no longer convinced that my president hates America or that the speaker of the House only wants to schmooze with rich people. I feel like a fog has been lifted from my eyes and my spirit; I’ve regained perspective.

Smokin’ Hot Conversations by Amy Martin

But attraction doesn’t have to lead to an uncontrollable vortex of possession/lust in mind or reality, and that’s why this whole mess is maddening to me. By binding two fundamentally different experiences together and controlling them with shame, we risk teaching people to disengage from the experience of beauty altogether. We teach people that beauty is dangerous. And women, oh how we know our beauty is dangerous – especially if we’ve grown up in the church. Our beauty has the power to make men stumble, it has the power to ruin lives, it has the power to put ourselves in physical danger – our beauty has the power to send men to hell. Therefore, of course we should cover up, stay quiet, avoid eye contact, disengage, submit. Is it any wonder then, when dealing with issues of gender and attraction, we constantly find ourselves in the non-amusement park of shame?

On Body Image and Self Worth by Erin

Historically, women did not expect clothing from a rack to fit them perfectly,” she writes, noting that the majority of clothing was taken directly to tailors for a custom fit. “As our society moves more and more toward convenience and emphasizes fast fashion, we’ve eliminated the expectation that our clothing would be altered at the tailors. After all, that’s time consuming and expensive. Instead, we want clothing faster and faster for cheaper and cheaper. The result is that our clothing is expected to fit straight off the rack, but rarely does.

I Love Gays and I Love Christians, I Choose All by Glennon

And while we’re at it . . . that still, small voice suggests to me often that He’d appreciate if Christians picked up a couple more issues other than homosexuality and abortion to address. You know, maybe a couple He actually mentioned…like care for the poor and sick and lonely and hungry and imprisoned and widowed and orphaned and recently immigrated. Maybe we should all be required to pick an issue that requires US to change  and not OTHERS to change. I think that’d be good.

 

That’s what she said

I am the kind of person who often processes life through the written word. Sometimes I find I read something and it unearths an emotion in me that I was feeling but didn’t know what to call it. I love reading. The last week, I have loved reading the below links. Hope you do too!

Everyone’s fighting something by Kathy Escobar

“help us learn to live without assuming, without judging. give us hearts filled with compassion because of our shared humanity, our shared experience, our shared trying-to-make-it-through-the-day-as-best-we-can-despite-the-obstacles, our shared desire to be known and loved and accepted not for what’s on the outside but for what’s on the inside, too.”

Where’s the Sanctuary by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

“We met each other where we were at in the most primal way because there was nothing false between us. No pretense, no makeup, no shoes. …Ok. She had shoes… But what more could we have done than sit and cry and talk and listen?”

Your Body is Never The Problem by Hugo

 I want you to know that while not all men are safe and trustworthy, men’s bad behavior is never, ever, ever, ever, ever “your” fault. Your miniskirt doesn’t cause guys (of any age) to do anything they don’t choose to do (no matter what they say to the contrary). It’s not your job to dress to keep yourself safe from men.

A Nation of Wimps by Psychology Today

Behold the wholly sanitized childhood, without skinned knees or the occasional C in history. “Kids need to feel badly sometimes,” says child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. “We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope.”

When Your Mother Says She is Fat by Kasey

Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalising these messages. We have become our own jailors and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is crueller to us than we are to ourselves.

And this one I absolutely needed today, For the dog days of motherhood when you want your money back by Lisa Jo

These are the good days, the glory days, the slow-as-molasses days. These are the fast years, the wonder years, the how-do-I-find-words years. But we do. They usually start with “help” and end with “thank you” and the middle? The middle is a thick layer of reliable wonder sometimes whispered, often shouted, always answered. The middle is me. The middle is you. The middle is just this one, sacred, take-off-your-shoes-worthy syllable, “mom”.

Mommy’s Got a Potty Mouth by Salon (explicit language)

In fact, researchers say, she’s not wrong. According to a recent study in Perspectives on Psychological Science by Timothy Kay of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, swearing offers plenty of compelling psychological benefits, including a sense of catharsis and pain relief.

What have you guys read that stuck lately?

That’s What She Said

A few bloggers I follow always have a “That’s what she said” series and I LOVE them. It’s always a great place to find new articles that often resonate with me. More often than not I want to share them but they are kind of random so they never have a real place to fit in on my blog.

Thus, I’m creating my own “That’s what she said” series.

“How I lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement.” As someone who once considered herself pro-life this spoke to me in so many ways. In order to truly be pro life it means WAY more than anti-abortion.

Obamacare stands to cut abortion rates by 75%. And yet, the pro-life movement has been leveraged in opposition to Obamacare, and most especially in opposition to the birth control mandate. They don’t believe women should be guaranteed access to free contraception even though this access is the number one proven best way to decrease the number of abortions. That access would, to use the rhetoric of the pro-life movement, prevent the murders of 900,000 unborn babies every year.

Heather’s guest post on Momastery. I loved what she had to say, especially the excerpt below. Can’t wait to read her book.

The greatest shock of my life was to discover that the exposure of the very secret that I thought would kill me brought me the greatest relief. It turns out that when you give up on looking good, no one can make you feel bad.

Adoption. Ethics in adoption. It’s all Big Business. The more I know the less I wish I knew (not really, but-yikes). I have been following the discussion for as long as I can remember. Oh how I wish my eyes had been opened before I started. If you are starting out on adoption, or if you have friends/family who are you owe it to them and their possible future children to send them to some of the below links. The conversation has to be had. We can no longer bury our collective heads in the sand.

Jen Hatmaker is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. After this, she shot to the top of my girl crush list (right after Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, obviously).

What would happen if we reallocated a percentage of the millions we spend on adoption toward community development? What if we prioritized first families and supported initiatives that train, empower, and equip them to parent? This would absolutely be Orphan Prevention, not to mention grief prevention, loss prevention, abandonment prevention, trauma prevention, broken family prevention. What if we asked important questions about supply and demand here, and broadened our definition of orphan care to include prevention and First Family empowerment?

My friend Amanda (she’s my real-life friend y’all, I’ve met her. I’ve talked with her. She’s amazing. Zach makes me distinguish between blogger friends-ones I’ve only “met” online and real-life ones. I have pictures with her, it’s legit.) is brave, strong, beautiful and amazing. You know those moments when you feel like you’re in the presence of greatness? I get that feeling from her right now. Read this. Read about her adoption. Read about the painful choices her family has made to ensure they’ve done everything they can to look their precious son in the eyes and know they did the right thing. She needs our help. Let’s rally around her.

We hope that, after reading our story, you will support us for this simple reason: we will not sign a gag order to protect our former adoption “agency” and their facilitator in return for the easy release of our documents.

Tara Livesay is a blogger you have to follow. I won’t take no as an answer to this. Go to her blog and follow her now. She has written about missions (more on that later) and adoption. She is intimately aware of both. One of my favorite posts she’s done has been this one.

It occurs to me that our western culture of capitalistim, materialism, and consumerism all play a large role in our attitude toward and approach to international adoption. Due to our wealth and ability to provide, sometimes without even realizing it we begin to believe that our material wealth makes us better suited to parent the child of a poor mother. What began as noble and pure and loving can farily easily begin to look a lot more like ethnocentrism and entitlement. 

I have family in missions, I have friends who have went on short term mission trips. I have never went on one because I just felt, for lack of better term, “icky” about them. Jamie has done an awesome job (as has Tara Livesay above) with the issues that can come from missions-both long and short term.

I’m telling you all of this because there is blatant fraud going on in the world of missions and in the name of Jesus. And that bothers me. If you support a missionary, if you’re a church that supports missionaries, if you’re interested in becoming a missionary, you should be pushing for clarity and transparency from the Missions world. Most missionaries will be able to answer your questions without resorting to evasive language and obscure ideas. But if they can’t? That should be a serious red flag and you should feel emboldened to push back until you clearly understand what they’re doing with their time.

Any other links you guys have loved lately?