Thursday 2020

We had flights booked out in advance.

Two round trip tickets that would drop us off in the land of back porch pasture views and reluctantly bring us home to ATL traffic and the day to day sound of early morning alarms.

They were booked. Ready. Waiting.

All we had to do was don our masks and get to the airport.

Only, two days beforehand we cancelled those two graciously purchased tickets.

Because 2020.
Corona.
Quarantine.

Blame it on what you will, but we ultimately decided that with a Christmas drive right around the corner, we’d make the difficult and heartbreaking call to not go home for Thanksgiving.

No cooking in my home kitchen, no playing with my beloved niece and nephew, no slow days and full glasses.

It wasn’t an easy decision, and it carried with it emotions from all walks of life. Perhaps it wasn’t even the right decision; with so many swirling opinions and facts and he said/she said out there -it really is hard to say.

But alas. Thursday morning we awoke in our own headboard-less, queen-sized bed in small town Georgia.

Last year I was waking up early; energized by adrenaline and fueled with mimosas to cook and host my first ever Thanksgiving for the in-laws.

This year I woke up at a late 7:30am, moved slowly and made some coffee without an obligatory green apron. Eventually, I would wake up the husband so that we could venture up north for a day out in nature.

No big meals, no long hours of dirty dishes and hot ovens. No crowded table in an almost too-small apartment.

Simply a crisp and sunny day with a long drive on a winding road. A hiking trail that at times mimicked the bends of the road and left us embarrassingly out of breath. A pup that sniffed every tree, leaf, rock, and stick on his first ever hike, and a view spotted with the hints of a fall palette that made it worth every drop of sweat.

The husband and I have always processed better when walking side by side. The dreams, and fears, and vision, and thoughts seem to flow out with more ease and energy as our feet slowly find the rhythm of lockstep hearts.

2020 has been one worth reflecting on. Full of everything from job losses to quarantines to mask-ne and new jobs, social injustice, heartbreak, frustration, and deeply necessary conversation.

This year was one for the books, and it’s a chapter not too many of us want to reread anytime soon. We have felt pain, been faced with trials, found discomfort when looking in the mirror and perhaps at our country, and many of us have felt hopelessness, loneliness, and fear.

All of these things are true. Most of them I have felt myself.

In so many ways, my life didn’t change in 2020. I kept the same job, stayed introverted when I got off work, and repeated my routine morning after morning. I never missed work, I never had to quarantine, and up until thanksgiving, I didn’t really have to make too many hard decisions about traveling during a global pandemic.

I am very blessed in that realization, and grateful that in so many ways we were spared the hardships that many of my neighbors felt.

What I am most thankful for however, is not the consistency that remained in a world turned upside down. My gratitude comes from every bit of challenge and rude awakening and heartbreaking fight I had to encounter. It has come from being forced into the awareness that I no longer want to be a woman with no opinion solely because she hasn’t made the time to form one.

In a year of chaos and confusion, of division amongst almost every family, denomination, and political party; I have realized that the Voice I treasure the most – is the one I have found most lost in the noise.

I have felt the tension and anxiety in my mind, my heart, and my spirit as I seek to find Truth above all else. I have felt the doubt rise up as I put to voice the thoughts in my head that often times challenge the perspective I’ve always had. I have felt the pain of growth that leaves you feeling awkward in high water jeans that you’ve most definitely outgrown – but can’t toss out because they’re simultaneously perfectly broken in.

It’s hard to throw away comfort.

But if there’s anything the women in my life have spoken over each other it’s this:

We can do hard things.

You and me.

We can change and overcome and grow and gain new perspective and understanding. We can have opinions and lively conversations and then we can change our opinions and still engage in lively conversation.

We can see people, we can learn and utilize the gift of empathy, we can grieve with those who grieve, and also rejoice with those who rejoice. We can lay down comparison. We can use our voice and speak our mind and take a stand against things that are not of this world.

Perhaps we can even gain vision of a Kingdom already here.

This year. It has been what it has been and 2021 holds no promises or guarantees.

The only thing we can control is that person we see in the mirror. The one we never see fully, or probably purely. The one with the flaws and scars. The one who maybe speaks too passionately or out of turn, or comes across in a different way than intended. The one who desperately wants to seek understanding, and ask all the questions, and challenge the things that don’t make sense. The one that wants hear the Voice that speaks her name above all else.

The only thing we control is ourselves.

If this year has taught me anything it is that I want to be a woman who forms an opinion. An opinion that kindness surpasses policy. An opinion that I can be both seeking, wrong, and right – sometimes all in the same breath. An opinion that hope is worth holding on to, and that the reward of fighting for people far outweighs the cost of fighting with people.

This Thanksgiving didn’t include a Greenberg turkey or my mom’s mashed potatoes that usually get eaten between the two of us. It didn’t included the two Tollhouse pies my brother always convinces me to make or sliding my leftover crust to my Papaw.

It didn’t include so many things that I love and cherish deeply. Rather, with each step on a leaf-covered trail, it left me more grateful for the year that we have lived, and more sure of the life that is still yet to come.

Happy Thursday friends.

The Weight to Vote

The last thing you need is another “I voted” picture. It looks like every other one that’s been posted: instagram smiles and filtered faces to recognize that the civic duty has been done.

What isn’t pictured however, is the immediate weight that hit my gut as I stepped in front of the specifically crafted voting machine; sitting securely behind the cardboard walls that felt all too reminiscent of elementary school projects and science fairs.

The weight was a new feeling though. Tangible, real, heavy. Maybe it was the coffee and soy milk I had all morning, maybe it was the remnants of what everyone else felt who voted before me. Maybe it was the awareness that this vote – to put it simply – carried with it a weightiness unlike I had known before.

Maybe that weight should always hit me.

Regardless, after securing my ballot and walking back through the doors and into the sunshine on a crisp fall day – the weight began to dissipate, growing more and more distant with each step.

Yes. My civic duty had been completed and I had the sticker to prove it.

But all in all, the Authority I serve never left His throne. At the end of the day, or the end of the week – my peace and future sits with the One already sitting.

I honestly can’t say that I know who Jesus would have voted for – or if the rebel Himself would have even bothered to cast a vote (and I say that with all the humility and wonder I can muster).

But what I do believe is that it was obedient hearts and unwavering faith put into action that turned nations to God. It was through individuals who chose steadiness in the midst of fires, humility when outrage would have been understandable.

It was small decisions to love the Lord first and foremost – come what may.

So however you may have voted today, I pray that it was done with conviction; whatever yours may be.

I pray that we may be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry – come what may.

I pray that when the stickers have faded and been tossed away, the civic duty continues to be shown in our communities. That compassion and action would join hands and flood our streets with hope and justice and equality and abundant life; for every person I might call my neighbor.

I pray that what may come – will be met with the peace that was already left for us.

There will be work ahead. Regardless. So today may you breathe deep the faithfulness and security and provision of a King who will never be overthrown or outvoted.

The Violence of White Silence

The violence of white silence 

Those words haunt me almost as much as the images and videos of innocent people being shot, beaten, arrested, and stripped of all humanity. 

It haunts me because it makes me uncomfortable. 

And it should. 

Because my inherited skin color has allowed me to remain comfortable for 30 years. The box I check under the question of race has afforded me the privilege to keep scrolling right through my day. It’s granted me the ignorance of remaining deaf and mute, while simultaneously  diagnosing me with short-term memory loss.  

Just keep scrolling. Just keep scrolling. 

Medication for that memory? None necessary. Those symptoms I was born with – they just confirm I’m alright. 

I mean, after all, I’m white

Not by choice mind you. I came into this world not of my own volition. I was somehow fearlessly and wonderfully crafted in the womb of a woman I hadn’t even met. My entire outfit hand-picked for me. From the top of my bald head to the bottom of my pale, un-calloused feet. 

But I bet my scream for the breath of life sounded just like yours. 

I bet it sounded just like Ahmaud’s did 26 years ago. 

Just like Sean Reed’s. 

And Atatiana Jefferson’s. 

And Alton Sterling’s. 

And Mike Brown’s. 

And Tamir Rice’s. 

And Philando Castile’s. 

And Freddie Gray’s. 

And…

Nevertheless, my scream eventually faded  off and learned the systematic art of constraint and control; muscle atrophy at its finest and its most deadly

I’m not sure Ahmaud was ever granted that privilege. The privilege of blissful, ignorant silence. 

Instead, he died by the hands of violent men. He died fighting violent men with violent voices and violent hearts. 

Yet, here I sit in my violent silence. 

It’s deafening at times. 

Because “there comes a time when silence is betrayal,” and I will be remembered for what I chose not to say. 

A time where I will question who I betrayed the most.   

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

So is your conscience awake? Or is it just wearing the mask of being “woke?”

Too many people have died fighting for their basic human right of life. Too many others never had that choice.  

Oh, but I get to choose. If my privilege has afforded me anything; it is the undeniable freedom of choice. The choice to remain silent and diagnosed, or the choice to open my eyes, rise up and speak. 

If you bow your head for grace before you sleep, if you jog in your neighborhood as a healthy pastime and not from being chased, if you drive your car with a fearless mind, if you shop at your local grocery store, if you play loud music, if you sit in your house surrounded by family, if you live and breathe, if you dream of a better tomorrow for your children…

Please, choose the latter. 

I can never know the fear, the reality, the suffering. I can never imagine the pain that has been inflicted or the tears that have soaked the pillows of too many mothers. 

But I can humble myself. 

I can repent. 

I can act. 

When this news cycle passes; what then? 

Whose names will you remember?  

Who will you chose to break your silence for?

What then?

What now?

….

The violence of white silence. 

Those words haunt me. 

But they will not remain true of me.

*quotes borrowed from Martin Luther King Jr.

Gold

I wrote these words hoping to post them with the above picture. I let perfectionism, pride, and fear stop me. Instead, I quickly wrote a short caption that pushed the depths of my feelings and thoughts to the side.

I can’t change that post. I can however, share those original words here; in a space with no word limit.

Attempting to finish up the second bedroom/office this week and finding a place for this print is at the top of the priority list. ⠀⠀

These words are from another time – but the motivation that sparked them is sadly all too relevant. Conviction and inspiration and deep moments of ponder are what I would call ‘equal opportunity offenders’ and these words have stayed with me since I heard them. They have sat on the back of my mind and applied pressure to my heart. They carry weight – powerful words not spoken lightly. ⠀⠀

Lately, I’ve been surrounding myself with movies, shows, books, and conversations filled with words that are constantly challenging me – that make me uncomfortable. Even posting on social media pushes me out of my comfort zone. Words these days are far more permanent than they used to be – and one person’s opinion or question or thought can start a feud no one bargained for – and a fight that people rarely actually want. ⠀⠀

I’ve always been one to believe that if you’re going to talk – you should be saying something. ⠀⠀

Maybe it’s why I don’t talk very often (granted I talk more than I once did). I tend to stay quiet with my thoughts. I voice my opinions to the person in the mirror and move on with my day; sometimes hoping someone will offer me a penny along the way. ⠀⠀

I believe that our voices have been severely attacked by the enemy, and in finding a taste of freedom, a warped perception of truth has snuck into the mix. In a generation and time when people have all begun to speak – words have been shot out with an air of domineering entitlement rather than the humble authority we were born to speak with. ⠀⠀

Our words seem to be thrown around like participation trophies and we are being saturated and overwhelmed with never knowing what’s real gold and what’s just painted metal.⠀⠀

Oh, how I desperately want to be real gold. Not flaky nor easily chipped. Not too shiny. Just pure, unarguable, simple gold. ⠀⠀

But real gold means fire and hammers and sanctification and then most likely – more fire. It means time and patience and pain – something rarely found in a one-click, just swipe, do what feels good society. ⠀⠀

Real gold means I’ve got to start somewhere. ⠀⠀

So I’m starting here. With words that challenge me to do and be better; that remind me to say something when I talk. I’m starting here; with a post that in my head, has no resolution. ⠀⠀

It just is what it is; a messy process of life painted pretty in a square photo.