Ferguson, Garner and Cop Killings through the Eyes of a Bi-Racial Family

racism

 

I sat on the couch breathless as the Grand Jury results were released on CNN. There would be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the tragic death of Michael Brown.  Brown’s death was tragic because it was unnecessary, no matter where we place fault. And the tragedy continued as small business-owner’s had their life and livelihood burned down, stores were ravaged and an entire community was completely ruined.

I watched until I couldn’t watch anymore.

We talked about it, for days. We muddled through the events, the quick shift in the tide of the Nation and how our world needs, well let’s be real, it needs Jesus. But we didn’t just talk about it from a middle-class, churched, Suburban America perspective. We talked about it from the perspective of black, Hispanic, white, mixed and law enforcement—because our family is all of those things.

I am white.

My husband is black—his background is in law enforcement, he is currently a forensic investigator with a Masters in Criminal Justice.

My two (step)daughters are black.

My son and daughter are half Hispanic, half white.

My youngest son is half black and half white.

We are a blended, bi-racial family.

We have learned that the world is very jaded and racism is alive and breeding right here, down your street, in your family, at your church. It is based on ignorance, and lack of respect for the whole of humanity.

We have heard comments like:

“What is it like to have a black step dad?”

“Wow, your kids look really Mexican.”

“Your mom is white? That’s not your mom!”

“How is that your last name, you don’t even look Hispanic at all?”

When my husband and I started dating, I was on the receiving end of racism for the first time in my life. I married a black man, and the black community has not always welcomed me.

Recently my son texted me this photo found on the wall in his high school, where the demographic is predominately Hispanic:

 

taft racism

 

When we walk into a restaurant, we get glances and blatant stares. People don’t know what to make of us.  My kids have fun with it. I was at Walmart with all five of them, and they convinced everyone I was their adoptive mom, who rescued them from the foster system. I walked out of that store a saint that day.

 

But I am their mom, 3 of the 5 came out of my womb. My husband is their dad—biologically 3 of the 5. We don’t see our race, our color, or origin. We are family. I don’t think about my husband being black, and don’t look at my kids as Mexican or Hispanic. They are just my kids. We don’t have to “work hard” at not seeing the color of our eyes or skin or hair as a definition of who we are.

So when these things happen—these racially charged issues, these murders, these injustices—we are forced to reconcile who we are individually and as a whole—and re-examine our worldview.

My husband’s perspective is unique. He has been a patrol officer, in dangerous situations with all races. He is military combat trained, he is highly educated, and considering law for his future. But he is also black, and has been on the receiving end of profiling of police officers, where respect and courtesy only come to him AFTER the police officer finds out he too is in law enforcement. Being a former officer, and a current investigator he also has great respect for law, and the reality of consequences for our actions.

I grew up in a predominately white family, although my step-dad is Hispanic and my younger brother is white and Hispanic. I lived a somewhat sheltered life, and my grandparents, who were influential in raising me, grew up in segregated Texas. They were loving and accepting of all people, yet traces of their childhood remained.

My son and daughter are also mixed with Hispanic and white.  They are influenced by both races, and are exposed to their Hispanic culture, yet don’t see themselves as anything but simply, people.

My (step)daughters grew up in a predominately black community. They went to an all black private school, and attended an all black church. As they have grown up, they have embraced the diversity of our world, and love people just because they are people.

Then there is the youngest: Half black, half white, with 2 black sisters, and a Hispanic brother and sister. He gets lots of questions, and I’m grateful that he has yet to experience any overt racism.

But as we sit and watch CNN and read the tweets—and we hear of police officers being murdered, it all hits us, because we are all of those things. We aren’t just the white cop who was the shooter, or the black teenager who was shot—we are both. We aren’t just the people angry at the injustice of the world or just the police officer who got killed leaving his family behind, we are both.

We can’t pick a side, because there is no side to pick.

I remember dreading time on the playground during recess when teams got picked to play soccer. That was the worst feeling, not knowing if you were even going to get picked at all. But it didn’t really matter as long as you got to play.

Somehow, our society believes that we have to pick a team, but by picking a team, we are leaving out the most important thing—the privilege of humanity. We watch the racial divide growing, and are stunned at the growing fire of racism because we know it’s possible…It is possible to look beyond stereotypes.

It is possible to look at a person’s actions apart from their skin color.

It is possible to embrace humanity.

It is possible to take responsibility for who you are, without blame.

It is possible to co-exist.

It is possibly to live in harmony.

It is possible to simply love.

I don’t have any other solution but this:

We must learn to love, in an unconditional way, with deep humility and passionate servanthood. We must teach our kids, and every other kid we are in contact with, ever in our entire life, that people are human—not black or white or Hispanic or Asian or … We must push our kids out of their comfort zones—we must push them into situations where they are forced to see the world through a multi-colored lens. (I know too many kids who live in middle-class bubbles whose parents won’t make the effort to expand their perspective on the world. Not just from a race perspective, but from a socio-economic one as well). We must take responsibility for our own thoughts, ideas, and the conclusions we jump to because it’s the way we have always thought.

We must challenge ourselves to walk through Samaria, and talk to those we wouldn’t normally talk to, regardless of how they dress, or what type of education they have or what they have done in their past. We can’t change this generation, but we can change the next!

But we can’t do that alone.

Until we admit that we need help, until we humble ourselves, and admit that we need the power of Jesus to flow into us and then out of us, we will remain the same—living in the impossible.

It is only in Christ that all things are possible.

I’m grateful for my possible– for my bi-racial, blended family. I believe, even in our imperfections and failures, we are a picture of the power of the love of Christ!

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To My Christmas Eve Shoppers

Fellow Last Minute Shoppers,

I look forward to running into you at Target on Christmas Eve. Christmas is only two weeks away but we have absolutely nothing to worry about.  Stores will be open just for us early on Christmas Eve, and hopefully awhile  into the evening (because we will run out of tape). Besides us, the world will be none the wiser that we waited until the last possible moment to buy presents for our family.

Our kids will be completely fine with Designer Impostor Perfume of Marc Jacobs Honey, and the leftover Xbox Games in the $19 bin. When you can’t find the exact Airsoft gun, then you can just pick from the pink one’s that are left and tell your kid he can paint it whatever color he wants.  And even though they will only have size 4x left in that shirt, I guarantee it will shrink a size or two or four in the dryer.

And if all else fails–gift cards.

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Whether you are a crazy procrastinator, or waiting on getting that last paycheck right before the big day, know that  I got your back.  I, too, will be up until 3 am wrapping gifts. And those beautiful gifts can sit under the tree for a whole 3 hours before they get ripped open. Then there is always the big, big decision to make: do I go to bed or just try and make it through until the kids wake up?

I know. I just go to sleep, too.

Friend, I am not sure when I got to the place where Christmas became so overrated for me. When I was younger I absolutely loved the whole magic of the day. I loved the family and the lights and the songs. But now, no matter how much you try and keep CHRIST in Christmas, we are swimming in commercialism and marketing, and the BS that is daily shoved down our throats.

And then there are our kids who we desperately want to re-create that magic for. But being a magician can be so exhausting. Can I get an Amen?!?

My Reindeer Game plan:  focus on spending time with my kids, sit around the tree, talk about Jesus. The presents can wait.

Merry Christmas,

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Robin Williams, Heaven & preaching the Gospel

When I think Robin Williams, I think big muscles and spinach. I think sailor suit. I think Popeye. Popeye is how I see Robin Williams. Strong and confident and in love with Olive Oyl. Never ever did we think that Popeye, or Peter Pan or Mrs. Doubtfire would take his own life, which is currently the rumor. Battling addiction and depression, at 63 the comedian and actor decided he just couldn’t take this life anymore.

Yesterday, all forms of social media was on fire with pictures, stories, memories, shock and grief. There were prayers sent up for the family, and genuine tears cried over the idea that such an outwardly happy person would take their own life. No one can truly attest to the condition of his heart. We don’t know about his faith in Christ. So that leaves questions.

As a Christian how do we handle this? How do we handle the reality of darkness of an iconic person who shaped several generations with his personality, wit and talent, not to mention his genuine love for people and support of our troops? How do we balance the idea that good is not good enough? By not knowing for sure if Robin Williams was saved, how do we wrap our minds around the possibility that he may not be in heaven? That even though he may have spent his life contributing good to this world, that he may not spend his eternity in the presence of Christ?

And how do we speak truth to people, the truth that Hell is real? When do we act in love, and when do we use situations like this as a way to show people the preciousness of life?

I’m asking these things because I really want to know your thoughts?

No doubt what has happened to Robin Williams is tragedy. The tragedy is that out of all the joy he brought into the world, he couldn’t find any of his own. The tragedy lies in that for a moment in his living, he felt the only way to end his pain was to end his life. The tragedy IS the lies that he chose to believe: that he was unworthy, unloved, and it was unnecessary for him to continue in this world.

But as a person who believes not only in a loving God but an equally just God, I wonder how we handle the idea that Robin Williams might not have been saved by grace. How do we discuss it with our unbelieving friends? How to we show that equality of God’s attributes in a way where they can see the amazing-ness of His sacrifice for us, and that the sacrifice was not only love but justice?

Some think we just preach truth with the scriptures that talk about the consequences of not following Christ and eternal damnati.on Some want to focus only on the love of Jesus: The grace of Jesus. The mercy of Jesus.

But God is both…

what do we do about it? Because doing nothing is not an option.

Share your thoughts with me…. (With kindness, please, this could be a tough subject to tackle)

I’ve Tricked You

I go on these rollar coaster rides of blogging. For days and days I will post, post, post away with all my brillance and knowledge and wisdom and insight. Then something happens…and it stops. This time, it stopped for an entire month. I just needed to refuel. I am always in need of refueling.

All this time I’ve tricked you into thinking I’m something I’m not. I haven’t done this on purpose. In fact it took me years to figure this out about me. And so here is the BIG secret. The BIG trick…

I am an introvert

Yes it’s true. I actually prefer to be alone, I refuel in my solitude and there are times I just need to sit on my couch. Not because I’m lazy but because I’m an introvert.

For those of you who know me, you are thinking, “NO way!” But see here is the deal, just because I’m not shy, doesn’t mean I’m extroverted. In certain situations, I can shake hands and hug. I can lead groups and speak in front of thousands of people. I like being around people, I love hearing stories, and meeting new faces. But eventually there is a price to pay…and usually the cost is a week or so curled up in bed with a book, or chilin’ on the couch with the remote and a large Coke.

I’ve learned that blogging is a victim of the introverted world I battle with. I can write all day, in fact it’s one of the ways I process things, and refuel. But blogging is a different world. Blogging requires me to connect with the social media universe. If I want anyone to read it, I have to be the colorful bird in the twitter-verse, promoting and marketing. Tweet Tweet. I have to Facebook and connect with people throuh comments and online conversation. I sometimes hold my breath, those days I think I’m super brilliant, every time I look at my stats.

It’s exhausting.

Especially for an introvert.

So I take these breaks, and sometimes these longer sabbaticals. And then after I refuel, I am ready to get back to writing and connecting and sharing my thoughts. And I’ll do great, until I can’t anymore. I’m working through how to fix this. I have so much wisdom to share with the world (sense the sarcasm). Thank you for sticking with me and still reading my snippets on life. And forgive me?for not being such a great friend?

Are you introverted or extroverted? Comment so we can chat–I really want to know…and want to know you better! I’m changing, I’m growing. I need you to help me with that….

How has it affected you most? Can’t wait to know…

 

 

Father’s Day For The Fatherless

I flipped through my grandma’s Avon catalog. She was a big believer in Avon, therefore, so was I. I came across all the Father’s Day goods. Cheap cologne, and pens in the shape of baseball bats or golf putters. A golf putter it was. My grandmother placed the order and I waited with great anticipation for it to come in. I wrapped it up, and couldn’t wait to give my prize. Father’s Day came and proudly I walked over and gave the coolest gift ever…to my mom.

She deserved that pen, after all she was my mom and my dad. Although through the years I had a step dad and a fantastic grandfather, I grew up without a dad. In fact, my biological father’s parental rights were terminated when I was eight, and I was never adopted by anyone else. So 29 years ago, I officially became fatherless. Like legit fatherless.

My life has been a struggle of wondering and wandering. Searching for acceptance, fighting rejection, asking myself why I wasn’t worthy enough. Even now I struggle. Especially watching my own kids with their fathers. I hear them call them dad, and I have no ability to even begin to wrap my mind around what that feels like to call someone dad.

As an adult I’ve reached out to my father and he still has no desire to be part of my life or my brothers. I can’t answer for him, or find any reason. He’s not a drug addict or homeless. I see photos of him on Facebook playing with my cousins kids and celebrating Christmas. But still he has no longing to be a part of our lives.

Periodically I’ve had to answer questions from my kids, who have grown up without a grandfather:

Why doesn’t your dad love you?

Why doesn’t your dad want to be our grandpa?

Where is he?

What does he look like?

I show them one of the only photos I have of me and my dad, tell them he lives somewhere in California or Colorado and then answer the same questions I’ve asked myself throughout my life with an emphatic: I really do not know.

As I’ve searched for my earthly dad, my heavenly father has gently drawn me near to Him. The teenage years of crying in my room, God was there, listening. The years of self-destruction as I longed to be loved, God’s grace covered me. The moments I sacrificed my dignity to be accepted, God’s mercy rained–in fact, it poured. When I found the man to spend the rest of my life with, God gave me tremendous love…a love that is patient with my pain, and understanding of my lifelong grief. A husband who is a loving, caring and wise father to all five of our kids.

So to those who are like me and are fatherless on this father’s day, hold tight to hope. You indeed, my friend, are not truly fatherless. God has sent his love to you in some fashion–whether it’s your mother, your husband, your children. And even if not…even if you feel as if you are all alone and unwanted, God has never left you, abandoned you or rejected you.

The pain you feel for yourself is the pain God feels for you, with you. He never wanted this for you… He never wanted this for us.

I cannot answer why, or tell you when the pain will end…but I assure you, the depth of his love for you is immeasurable. He does what every father should do….

He listens.

He quickly forgives.He comes to your rescue.

He is proud of you.

He is patient.

He willingly gave His life for you.

Because He loves you.

So happy father’s day….to all the dads who have loved …to all the dads and grandpa’s who have passed….and to the husbands who love their kids more than life. Happy Father’s day to my Father in heaven.

Happy father’s day to MY husband who has taught me the love of Christ…and gives my kids a better life than mine, a love that I have never had for myself.

Jesus said:

….You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33