I can't just be "not racist"...I need to be anti-racist. Steps to help move us forward...

Thursday, May 28


Friends, maybe like me, you've been outraged, infuriated, and incredibly sad for the killing of our black brothers and sisters. And maybe like me you wonder "what can I do? How do I enter in?"

And often when we ask this question,
the weight of the task feels overwhelming,
and we worry that we might say something offensive,
and we get fearful because we know so little...
so.....we.....just.....don't do anything.  

And that, the ability to walk away, is invoking our white privilege. 

What I've learned on this journey is that doing nothing is choosing to be complicit with racism.
Our silence supports systemic injustice.

I am learning that I can't just be "not racist"... I NEED to be an anti-racist. 
There is a huge gap between the two, and it is what has compelled me to write this post. 

I am a novice in this conversation, there is no expertise here.
So I am speaking to myself as much to anyone else,
not from a place of authority, but a place of growth.

I am just someone who has been asking these questions myself, because I know ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ, who's just love for his people runs deep, will ask it of me.

This blog post has come together from the wisdom of select friends (who have been fighting this fight for a long time), and from the storehouse of great authors and teachers wh.
I hope this provides a launching pad into your own journey. 

First, we need to posture ourselves to enter into this conversation. Two postures most common when we come up against this conversation are guilt or pride. 

We either feel guilt ("how could other white people like me do such terrible things?"), 
or 
we feel pride ( "I'm not racist. It's those rednecks in the Deep South who are the problem!").

Both of these postures are a dead end to true kingdom work.
Guilt is not of God. Your guilt might spark you to share an article on FB, but it will not take you the distance of bridge building. The minute there is pushback, guilt bails.

Pride will keep you from even entering the conversation. God abhors it. There is no room for the work of the Holy Spirit in a heart that is full of pride.

What we need to begin this journey is humility and love. Anything less will not do.  

With an open heart, we need to:

SEE & LEARN 
We need to ask God for new eyes.
We need to explore and challenge our own biases and assumptions. 
We need to understand history in a new way so that we are not tainted by our own world view. 
This is going to require us to READ/LISTEN to new things and ENGAGE with new voices. 

READ
Here are some books I would recommend on this journey:
(this is a short list to get started, all of them have been helpful to me and others I know. I would love any other recommendations you have) 

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
This book might be one of the most impactful books I've ever read in helping me gain a new perspective. Wow. The author does a brilliant job telling the story of the American Church's role in systemic injustice and its complicity with racism. I could not put it down. Please start here. 

White Awake by Daniel Hill
This book does a great job of unpacking "white culture". What is white culture, you say? Well, that's precisely the problem...we don't even realize there is a white culture because we are so entrenched in it, it's just the way we live. It's the dominant narrative. But the problem with it being the dominant narrative is that it makes anything that is not white culture, a negative cultural deviant. Daniel Hill does an excellent job sharing how to understand white culture and where to go from there. 

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo 
Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively. (text taken from amazon) 

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilites—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their posionous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society. (text taken from amazon)

FOLLOW
We also need to diversify who we are listening to. I have found it incredibly helpful to follow people of color and those doing antiracist work on social media. 

If you have IG, a few accounts that have been tremendous resources of truth and knowledge have been: 

@latashamorrison
@beabridgebuilder
@faitthb
@theconsciouskid
@austinchanning
@blackwomenplantseeds
@blackcoffeewithwhitefriends
@mspackyetti
@moemotivate

LISTEN
There are some great podcasts that have challenged me and made me uncomfortable. But we NEED to be uncomfortable in order to grow and learn and break free from our white cultural norms. We need these voices in our hearts and head. Here are a few helpful podcasts...

Truth's Table
Pass the Mic
Code Switch by NPR
Someday is Now
Speaking of Racism
Black&

STUDY
Did you know that there are many online courses that specifically teach how to become antiracist? While I haven't done any of the courses below, they have been recommended to me, and is something I hope to pursue in the future.

Monique Melton offers a 12 week workshop called Unity Over Comfort: the Story

Nova Reid offers a Anti-racist course called Diversity Matters Online: White Privilege 

WATCH
Watching images leaves a lasting impression in our mind.

Just Mercy
13th
Selma
This article offers some great movie suggestions and discussion questions for each movie. Movies can be a powerful medium to help discuss these issues with your children.

There are also many powerful Ted Talks, including...
Kimberle Crenshaw on The Urgency of Intersectionality
Brian Stevenson on We Need to Talk about an Injustice 
James A. White Sr. on The Little Problem I had Renting a House
Alice Goffman on How we are Priming some kids for College and Others for Prison 
Clint Smith on How to Raise a Black Son in America


TAKE ACTION
While it is both imperative and foundational to do the work of relearning history and approaching this subject with new eyes, it is equally important that we engage. Below are some practical ways to move forward with action.

In talking with some of my black friends, here are some of the things they have encouraged me to do...

1) TALK ABOUT IT

Bring this subject up with friends and family. Encourage them to read the books you're exploring, start a discussion group. My hope is to challenge my family to read The Color of Compromise this summer, and then discuss it when we meet for our annual family vacation.

Share posts on social media. We can't sit on the sidelines...we need to take a stand that what was done was not ok, in fact it was evil and abhorrent. Friends of mine who posted have had an impact on me, and in the same vein we can also make ripples by what we choose to post.

2) START ADVOCATING FOR JUSTICE

For each of the unjust killings that occur, there is generally a way to demand justice to someone in authority. I have tried to look up the phone number or email address for authorities in the town where the atrocity has taken place and engage.

For instance, right now you can go to www.justiceforbigfloyd.com and sign a petition to demand that the police offices responsible for his murder would be arrested and charged. You can also text Floyd to 55156 to demand the same thing.

You can go to www.fightforbreonna.org to sign a petition demanding that justice be served for the officers who took her innocent life by their own mistake.

A simple google search will usually lead you to the information to contact the right authority. Many of the IG accounts I mentioned above will also point you in the right direction.

3) WORK AT A SYSTEMIC LEVEL

This is an excellent article, entitled 75 Things White People Can do For Racial Justice. While it's a few years old, it still has some helpful ideas like...

Google whether your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Write to your city or town government representative and police chief and advocate for it. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.

Donate to anti-white supremacy work such as your local Black Lives Matter Chapter, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, United Negro College Fund, Black Youth Project 100, Color of Change, The Sentencing Project, Families against Mandatory Minimums, A New Way of Life, and Dream Defenders. Join some of these list-serves and take action as their emails dictate.

I've read over this article multiple times and have been chewing on how I can engage with it.

Lastly...

 Reach out to your friends of color, love them, support them. Listen to them, learn from them.

But let's not demand that they be the ones to teach us. We need to take the initiative to educate ourselves. Buy or rent books from the library! Go on google and get your questions asked. 

I know this is a lot of information.
My prayer for you and I is that we don't assert our privilege of walking away from this conversation,
but instead,
challenge the systems and discourse upholding our privilege.
This begins with us...choosing to take a step to engage.

Please feel free to share additional resources you have found helpful in this journey.

Everett's First Birthday

Monday, May 18



{I love this picture above of my dad holding a phone so Everett can FaceTime with my brother, who had to work out on the farm. He was LOVING it!} 


How is my baby already A YEAR OLD!!! 
Goodness me, life has flown... Everett William we love you so much!! 

 Despite the quarantine, we had such a fun day celebrating our sweet boy. I made the BEST paleo cake (like really, everyone loved it...recipe here) and my parents and a few other family members came over. It was so lovely to have a small group just love on him so directly.

He busted out his new walking skills to everyone's delight, smeared cake all over his face, laughed and smiled as he opened his gifts, and just generally made all our hearts melt.
What a gift children are:)

Here is a little something I wrote about his birth on IG...

Exactly one year ago, at this very time, I went into labor AT THE HOME DEPOT....emotionally scarring the poor college aged Home Depot worker. “Ma’am!! Are you ok Ma’am??? What do you need Ma’am??!!!!!” ⁣

⁣“I need you to stop calling me Ma’am and help me sit down!!!!”

⁣We rushed to the hospital and soon after the most beautiful boy was in my arms, healing a place inside of me with pure unadulterated love. ⁣

⁣I kid you not when I say I didn’t see his eyeballs for 3 days! The πŸ‘ boy πŸ‘ could πŸ‘ sleep πŸ‘ (I kept asking the nurses if he was ok, especially when I pulled him out of the womb and he curled up peacefully in my arms and didn’t make a peep for an hour. ) ⁣

⁣And that has been his story, the sweetest most docile good natured human on the face of the planet. ⁣

⁣Which is saying something, because as I shared...⁣

⁣The few months leading up to his birth were some of the hardest of my entire life, mentally and physically. ⁣ ⁣

⁣And my biggest fear was that all my anxiety and stress would permanently damage Everett. ⁣

⁣But his very name was an indication of his life...⁣
⁣Everett....brave + strong ⁣

⁣He has literally tackled life with a smile, bent and flexed with every day tasks with a grace I’ve never seen in a baby. ⁣

⁣With his toothy grin, and loving hands, he has blessed me just beyond. When I look at his face I see the grace of God. ⁣

⁣Happy birthday beautiful boy!! ⁣
xoxo 

There was a time...but hope

Wednesday, May 6



There was a time I looked in the mirror and despaired. I struggled with acne for so long and wondered how anybody would ever think I was beautiful. I wondered if I’d ever find a man I thought was Godly and handsome and kind and funny.

.hope.

There was a time when I was temporarily paralyzed, and then spent the next few years taking 9 painkillers a day just to walk in the morning and make it through the day, only to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I wondered if I’d ever feel normal again...if I ever would run and play and be able to wear a swimsuit and not be allergic to the sun.

.hope.

There was a time when I felt deeply wounded by a best friend. The pain went deep and the unreciprocated relationship cut my heart out daily. I wondered if I would ever not flinch when her name came up or someone asked me about her.

.hope.

There was a time when a doctor looked me square in the eye and said "you have Lupus. You probably won't ever be able to get pregnant".

.hope.

There was a time when I believed the lie that I was “too much” and believed that others opinions about me mattered more than Gods opinion about me. I wondered if I’d ever get my life back...because “lost” is what happens when you put the control in others hands.

.hope

Oh dear sweet friend,
wherever you are,
whatever situation you face,
whatever has been said to you,
whatever lies you believe right now.

there is HOPE for something different.

right on the other side of where you are,
God sees a different picture.

When I felt ugly and despairing of finding my love....
God brought healing to my skin and a husband who loved me flaws and all.

When I was incredibly sick....
God brought me to a holistic doctor who nursed me back to thriving health.

When I was wounded by a friend....
God restored and redeemed our relationship into something beautiful.

When I was told "you'll never be able to get pregnant"...
God gifted me two precious children from my womb.

When I believed I was "too much"....
God freed my heart to joyously bask in HIS love as I live my life.

Oh dear one.
This is why, all those years ago, I called my blog hope engaged.

Hope...
it's what I cling to.
And when placed it Christ,
will not disappoint.


" and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5:5
 

How Covid-19 is affecting Ecuador- An interview with Alicia

Monday, May 4


Whenever we travel, Kevin and I make it a point to meet up with locals, either that we know personally or that mutual friends connect us to. As we prepared to head to Ecuador, we were given a contact for an incredible woman named Alicia, and let me tell you...it was one of the sweetest connections ever:)

Alicia's dad was actually the president of Ecuador years ago, so if anyone knew the country, it was her! Not only that, but she continues to serve her country. She and her husband bought a crumbling mansion in the historic district of Quito and have fixed it up to serve as a community center for families in the area. Kevin and I were privileged to stay there for a few days on our trip and volunteer at her center. Alicia's heart inspired me in such great ways! (You can read about our time at Casa Victoria here) 


{Kevin and I with Alicia} 

I interviewed her about how covid-19 is affecting Ecuador right now and she was so gracious to share her experience. 

1) Where do you currently live and what brought you there?
I am from Quito, Ecuador. My husband and I live in Casa Victoria, a Foundation which has been serving the community of San Roque, in inner city, Old Town, Quito. I founded this organization 19 years ago and, together with many volunteers, have been caring for average of 40 children ages 5 to 12 from very poor families in this part of town.


2) What do you love most about where you live?
I love that is right in the middle of the Historic Center, lovely Colonial houses, churches, plazas. I love the city-neighborhood idea, where everything you need is right here. I love that the people know us and care for us, as we care for their children. And what I love the most is that our Casa Victoria is a gorgeous 100-year-old restored house, and we get to live in it and share it daily with joyful children and their families.

3) How has your city and country been affected by Covid-19?
The worst part about it is that the children have not been able to come to CV for 13 days now! We miss them terribly! But I must say, it has been a wonderful time of rest, of organizing, deep cleaning, thinking, praying, doing our gym in a room we adapted a year ago for that purpose.

The city has been on strict lockdown since March 12: first, NO schools, no events at all, no church services, no pubic transportation. EVERYTHING is closed, except for grocery places, pharmacies, neighborhood tiendas (little convenience stores) BUT ONLY UNTIL 2PM, time in which, first Quito, now, the whole country is on strict CURFEW from 2PM until 5AM the following day. Fines are steep for those out and about...
During the mornings, there is controlled private vehicle circulation, depending on the last digit of your license plate number. And you can leave your home ONLY to get groceries, bank, pharmacy, and ONLY until 12:30 midday.

The amount of confirmed COVID 19 people in Quito, to this day, March 29, 2020, is 181. In Guayaquil where they did not observe such strict preventive measures, especially at the beginning-two weeks ago--the number is 1400 with COVID 19

4) How have you personally be affected?
Healthwise, thank God, not affected. None in my family here. My husband, his 35 year old son, and I, are fine...so far....

5) How have you seen God work in the midst of this time?
I think the biggest and most beautiful result of this "putting on the brakes" in a radical way, has been to see and feel the pureness of the AIR! No contamination, no trash, no peeing on the corners outside CV, no noise, no honking, no soot from the busses.....it´s been heaven!! Our garden and middle patio have beautiful, brightly colored flowers. There are so many visiting humming birds...! The planet surely needed a REST from humans and our toys!!
There is also more meaningful communication with family, friends, and even acquaintances, the chats, zoom, face time...we are truly much more connected than before! I even have a little nightly prayer group via zoom...!

6) Any last things you want to share?
I pray we ALL learn important lessons from this Quarantine. It has all been shared and said already: closer families, more creativity, more appreciation of TIME, family, space, clean air. We NEED to do things to KEEP them going...


Thanks so much for sharing Alicia!

We are an environment

Saturday, April 25


On Monday morning, Avonlea emphatically exclaimed "mama, today we should go on a walk, eat dinner (what she calls breakfast, ha), and have a party with a cake and tea!"

There are quite a few things I can't make happen for her right now, but I could most definitely make this dream a reality, haha!

So, after our planned walk and breakfast, we got to work making a cake and tea. I used this paleo cake recipe which is the BEST cake I've ever tasted, seriously so so good. Go make it! For the tea (which is "hot chocolate" but not) I actually use almond milk mixed with chocolate protein powder, haha...keeping it healthy and the sugar content low.

Avonlea was quite particular this day...she asked if we could wear our fancy dresses. I let her pick mine out (side-note...she picks this dress out for me every single day to wear, but I never do) and she and I twirled and talked in our "Fancy voice" which is essentially a very bad British accent, haha!

When we went to go set up our spread, it dawned on me how many beautiful tid bits we have here and there that could enhance the aesthetics. I mean, there is nothing wrong with sitting at our kitchen table with normal plates. But I thought about the choice I had to make things "fancy" (as we were already doing) and chose to try to bring a little air of "specialness" into our quiet, ordinary little life.

Friends, finding beauty has been getting us through this quarantine.

Choosing to accept my reality right here, and then looking for the gifts and treasures inside it.

Oh friends, do you know that we are an environment in and of ourselves? Edith Schaffer (one of my favorite authors ever) wrote

"In the power of the Holy Spirit ....we are an environment which is affecting people around us. People who come across us or who walk into our presence, become involved. Whether we choose to be an environment or not, we are. We produce an environment other people have to live in.  The effect on them is something they cannot avoid."

Goodness.
At home,
in my ordinary days,
with my two small children...
what environment am I choosing?

But ohhhhh...how this lifted me up in the most inspiring of ways...

"Enthusiasm and excitement infect other people: expectancy that God can intervene and do something in this moment of history and doing something practical to show that expectancy in prayer, affects the attitudes other people are going to have to their troubles"

Today I choose to be an environment that is EXCITED about what GOD CAN DO in this moment of history.

I want to invite Avonlea into praying for our friends and neighbors.

I want to invite my babies into an environment of creativity and beauty that displays the splendor and loveliness of our God.

Beauty can be brought forth in any form...
worshipping with your children
flowers picked in your garden
twirling in a pretty dress
music played and listened to
prayers uttered together
delicious food
reading a book aloud
laughter

Friends...we get to CHOOSE.
Oh how wonderful...what wonderful news!
We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to choose beauty within the space God has given us.
Even in frugal conditions, with not much to spare financially, God will enable us to bring beauty. As Edith says "sacrifice does not mean ugliness, nor does it mean carelessness"

Ohhh....love that!

So let's accept our reality, and press into an environment that leads other straight into the heart of our glorious King! The most BEAUTIFUL one of all! 











My English Cottage goals…our climbing rose

Monday, April 20


When we moved into our house 4 years ago, I had grand visions of transforming our humble abode (truly) into a thing of British beauty! Since I've always been a devoted Anglophile (ie: I LOVE all things England!), my vision for the house was a precious country garden and proper little cottage, with climbing roses of course!

 The facade of our house was a an extremely lackluster brown brick (poopy brown as I referred to it), and it.had.to.go. Sooo.....

The first month we lived there my mother in law flew up and we painted the entire front of our house! We borrowed paint sprayers from a friend who used to own a painting company and went to town. We scrubbed and primed and painted our little hearts out, and the end result was so satisfying! (For reference, the color I chose is called China White.)

I will show you are before and after of the front of our house soon, but today I just had to show you how gorgeous our climbing rose is in all it's blooming glory! Last year I put a pink climbing rose on my birthday list, and my brother and sister-in-law surprised me with it a few days before my birthday in March. It was like 2 feet tall and maybe had about 10 roses on it last year.

A little over a year later, this beauty has CLIMBED!! It is now half way across our library and garage, and I can't wait to see it continue to grow. This year it has just bursted at the seams with roses! It's a Cecil Brunner climbing rose, and it has just been spectacular!

When I step outside onto my porch it is filled with the natural perfume of these lovely buds. It has brought so so much JOY to me in this season. Every day the kids and I sit out on the porch with a popsicle and enjoy the roses…Avonlea has started saying "mama, aren't they so so so so beautiful?", it's adorable.

What are the small joys in your world today? xoxo 








How Covid-19 is affecting Turkey - An interview with Jocette

Wednesday, April 15




 Kevin and I traveled to Turkey in 2014, and it was a life changing trip. The people we met, the scenery we saw, the history that came alive...all impacted my life in a sweet way. One of the friendly Turkish people we met was Salih...he was a friend of a friend who kindly showed us around the Asian part of Istanbul and took us to a cool coffee shop. We've stayed in touch, and were recently invited to his wedding near Ephesus. Sadly, we couldn't attend, but I've gotten to know his wife through IG, and asked if I could interview her. 

Jocette is adorable, and is championing the unique Turkish lifestyle and cuisine on her blog Hasat Gunu.  She has a masters in gastronomy from Boston University (which is pretty amazing...I didn't even know that was a thing) so she's pretty qualified to write a food blog, ha! I can't wait for you to connect with her! 

I asked her a few questions about how covid-19 is affecting Turkey. Here are her answers....

First....Tell me a little about yourself:
Proudly born in New Mexico and raised all over America - Texas, Colorado and New Jersey. I went to university in Boston and studied business for my undergrad and then received an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. This gastronomy program was founded by Julia Child and it shaped my perspective on using food to study culture. I first came to Istanbul on a week-long family vacation and instantly fell in love. The next summer after my sophomore year, I came back to Istanbul with a summer service trip through my university. At this point, I was hooked and I just had to live in Turkey for more than just a summer. At the time, I worked with an organization that helped to teach the English language and culture in Istanbul. Through mutual friends, my husband, Salih, and I met! He had been living in Istanbul for nearly ten years but is actually from Izmir. Even though we both love the culture, art, people, and restaurants of Istanbul, we wanted to be closer to family and away from Istanbul traffic (it's a huge problem - think LA multiplied by 5). Izmir is often referred to as the California of Turkey - it has long coastlines, acts as an agricultural powerhouse for the country and has a much more relaxed social culture. From our local beach outside of Ephesus, we look out over the Aegean sea and can see the islands of Greece in the distance. It is a dreamy place, especially in the Spring and Summer.

When I was in America, I realized that many people do not know a lot about Turkish culture. I primarily started my blog, Hasat GΓΌnΓΌ (which means 'Day of Harvest' in Turkish), to teach my friends and family more about the language, culture, food, and my life in Turkey. I want to bring more awareness and love for this place because a big part of our family and hearts will always be in Turkey!


1) Where do you currently live and what brought you there?

I live in Izmir, Turkey with my Turkish husband, Salih. We were recently married in Izmir and had a wedding weekend, with both a western and Turkish ceremony! We actually met while we were both living in Istanbul but then moved to Izmir to be closer to my husband's family.

                                 

2) What do you love most about where you live?

Izmir sits on the western coast of Turkey, directly across from Greece. My husband's family lives in a beautiful coastal village an hour outside of Izmir and it is our favorite place to interact with nature and detach from city-living. We have spent some time and effort to redesign a little summer house in the village - it is five minutes from Ephesus, the local beach, a freshwater spring, and the family olive orchards. After a weekend here, we always feel rejuvenated!

3) How has your city and country been affected by Covid-19?

Turkey is taking it hard, this is a very warm and social culture so the idea of isolation is particularly challenging for Turks. But I can see Turks uniting right now, every night at 9 pm, people come out onto their balcony and start to applaud the healthcare workers that are risking their lives to fight this virus. It is really encouraging to see everyone emerging from their apartments and cheering for each other. 



4) How have you personally be affected?

Salih and I feel very grateful and fortunate because we know how many people are struggling right now. We can continue to work from home with some modifications. Of course, this pandemic throws off some of our plans for the Summer and even the Fall, but that is such a minor issue at this point.


5) How have you seen God work in the midst of this time?

As a newly married couple, I can see how God is using this time in our marriage to work on communication, have deeper conversations, be silly together and to be a source of comfort for each other. Before we were married, we did long-distance for one year and it was so hard. I am so grateful we are in the same place during this experience.

On a larger scale, I can see that God is using this time to encourage people to return to what matters to them at their core - family, friends, faith, joy, and hope. For good or for bad, we are coming face-to-face with what we put our trust in - this can be a really pivotal experience for many to make changes and restructure their priorities.


Thank you so much for sharing Jocette:) I always love getting a look into how other people are experiencing life in places all around the world! And...don't forget to swoon over the whimsical way in which Jocette has brought to life scenes of Turkish gastronomy through her creative team of artists! To see and learn more about Turkish life and culture, check out her blog here. 

And...for links to my Turkey & Greece itinerary, click here!