Healing race relations in the everyday ordinary

I never had to learn to love people of color because they first loved me.  Back in 1990 I went to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA.) Every student that walked those halls wanted to be there. It was a privilege and a commitment. Our days started early, as we all took multiple freeways, commuting in from all over the county. And we stayed late, rehearsing Shakespeare on the lawn. We were actors, instrumentalists and singers, dancers and visual artists. Long and lean black men, with jazz shoes hung over their broad shoulders; Russian and Chinese immigrants carrying violin cases and heavy backpacks; visual artists with their hair dyed blue, portfolios tucked under their arms. We were a hodgepodge of inspired, self-expressing youth. But the overarching theme of our student body was inclusivity.




There were no minority groups among us because there wasn't a majority of any one race. We were diversified, and therefore unified. 

My years at LACHSA shaped the way I view race relations today, more than any other single season or singular event in my life.

During my Sophomore year I joined the Student Coalition on campus. Our peer leaders were hippies, mostly the visual artists with a few female dancers who had dreadlocks and didn't shave their legs. It was the year we marched downtown to celebrate anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela's release from prison. We carried banners and chanted, "United we stand - Divided we fall." It was the first time I smelled pot.

I wore a tee-shirt that displayed Mandela's face. It looked like a piece of art by Andy Warhol, decorated in bright Rastafarian colors.

At the Coliseum later that day Nelson Mandela charged us, "We who have suffered and continue to suffer the pain of oppression know that underneath that face of Los Angeles lies the great and noble spirit of the citizenry. We who fight for human rights know the depths of the human spirit running through the hills and valleys of the state of California."

My eyes pricked with tears because I felt so deeply for the suffering of others throughout the city, the nation, and across the globe to South Africa. I purposed then and there to join the fight, though the attack was not against me. It was clear to me that day, and remains so to this day, that when a human hurts due to injustice, we should all hurt.

That was the year I also joined my friends in The Black Student Union. Looking back I don't exactly know why they let me in - though I wasn't the only white person in the room. We sang, "Freedom - Oh, let Freedom ring," then ate our lunches together each Thursday.

On the day of the LA riots in 1992, we were all called into one of the larger classrooms and told what was happening. We were asked to stay on campus, but not held there against our will. My mom's office was downtown, near the building that had been taken over by law enforcement. No one was picking up the phone at her work, and she wasn't answering at home either. I sat with a group of students, in a circle of classroom desks. I sought them out specifically because they were the only Christians I could find in the room. And we together prayed. They were all black, save one Asian girl and a blond hair, fair skinned white boy, and me. We held hands and prayed for a long time, and then I snuck away.

I drove the 10 freeway home, with smoke billowing up from fires on both sides of the road. Exiting the highway close to my home I crossed the intersection where Reginald Denny would be pulled from his truck and beaten less than an hour later. I knew that these riots were in response to the Rodney King verdict, where all four police officers were acquitted when the jury couldn't reach a verdict.

Maybe that's why I'm thinking of all these things today. 

That night, once my mom had returned home, we watched the news and saw protesters shouting, "No justice, no peace."

Yes, that's why I'm thinking of these things today. 

I've sent out multiple messages to multiple friends of color in the past 48 hours, two of them are from my days at LACHSA. I asked them what I could do to help heal race relations. I told them that I am personally committed to loving all of my neighbors, "red and yellow, black and white," but both of them said that wasn't enough. Both of them asked me to share my thoughts publicly, because I have a different readership, a different platform than they do.

Carvell and Diana both agreed that loving one another in the private places of our lives and relationships is crucial, but that's interpersonal and this topic is institutional.

I'm not sure, exactly, what that means, truthfully. I've never been a very political girl, except that day at the LA Coliseum wearing my Mandela shirt. I've only ever known racial healing on an interpersonal level. Like this afternoon when Jimmy, the UPS man, walked up to my house and I threw the door open and hugged his neck and cried, "I'm so glad you're here, I needed to hug a black man today."

I kid you not. He smiled and we prayed together.

I want to keep learning, keep marching, keep shouting publicly, "United we stand, divided we fall."

Because, when it all comes down to it, no matter the skin color, we all bleed red. Isn't that what we've discovered more than all else these past 48 hours? And back in March of 1992. We all bleed red.

But the only red blood that can ever truly restore us to one another is the reconciling blood of Jesus, who came to make all things right again.


[Tweet "when it all comes down to it, no matter the skin color, we all bleed red..."]


We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)



It is absolutely time to talk about friendship - A lesson from Job


Friendship - reaching across tables  - girlfriends calling long distances to cry with one another - pray over one another encouraging words - Friendship - heart-felt silence - compassion buying a plane ticket - hugging sagging shoulders - wet collars from shared tears - Friendship - bringing meals when there is illness - emptied pockets - emptied calendars - emptied agenda - Emptied tear ducts -


It all started when I was reading through the Bible and found myself in Job, thinking about friendship, asking myself if I am like Job's friends, with all my Religiosity and opinions about fault. And then McKinney... and now 88 more people of the cross... and I don't want to be a Christian talker anymore! My brand of Friendship is too small, too self-absorbed.


It's time for Global Friendship - where neighborhood boundary lines stretch wide and far into the Muslim world, and into Texas, because people are hurting, and "Why can't we all just get along?"


There I was, smack dab in the book of Job, with all the unmerited suffering and spiritual attacks. Friendship, in light of global gaping wounds. Friendship. The sort that holds a woman up under the enormity of life, raises her again from the sidewalk to her full stature, lifts her when she's been bent low for a month of sorrowful Sundays. I don't care who's at fault. We all need to lift one another up.



Friendship is a great big word, sort of like "Neighbors." Religious people always want that word defined.  "Who exactly are my neighbors? Who are my friends? Who must I love as well as myself?" Of course, Jesus answers that question with a parable:


Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Luke 10:29-37


It was the religious people who passed by a beaten and bruised man.  Today there are religious people saying it again, over this video, over this epidemic of race that divides: "But she's not our sister, not our daughter, not our color, not our race, not our responsibility. She was cussing, disrespectful, when she should have respected authority."  And weather I agree or not is not the point. You see, I can't help but think of Job and the way his friends came and wept, sincerely, or so it seemed for three whole verses and seven long days.  Weeping with their neighbor, commiserating with their friend, until all their opinions exploded like bombs on barren, wounded turf. They had all the answers... told Job how he was disrespecting God, how he was getting only half of what he deserved!"


"Are these people really my neighbors?"  Yes, but more than neighbors, we must become friends.  The term Global Friendship comes to mind in light of all the pain throughout the world today. How desperately we all need one another's helping hand to get up off the cracked sidewalk.


Nobody needs our interpretation of cause and effect, they simply need our bleeding hearts, our friendship, without one spiritual word,

sharing their grief and binding their wounds.

Red and yellow, black and white. And in so binding up their hurting places we just might have the healing we're desperate for too.


It's easy to say, "I would have picked that girl up and demanded the beating to stop. Or laid down next to her, on top of her and let my tears mingle with hers." But I wasn't there and who knows what sort of neighbor I would have been in the moment, there in my bathing suit, with a video recording and a policeman raging. And maybe the video doesn't show the whole story at all.  No doubt. But I don't want to be like Job's friends, with all the wisdom and none of the love.


When I read these words by Eugene Peterson, in The Message's introduction of Job, I had to wonder how religious I am, and if my religiosity stops me from radical real-life love.


"There is more to the book of Job than Job. There are Job's friends. The moment we find ourselves in trouble of any kind - people start showing up telling us exactly what is wrong with us and what we must do to get better. Sufferers attract fixers the way road kills attract vultures...

The book of Job is not only a witness to the dignity of suffering and God's presence in our suffering but is also our primary biblical protest against religion that has been reduced to explanations or 'answers.' Many of the answers that Job's so-called friends give him are technically true. But it is the 'technical' part that ruins them. They are answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy. The answers are slapped onto Job's ravaged life-like labels on a specimen bottle. Job rages against this secularized wisdom that has lost touch with the living realities of God."



"Sufferers attract fixers the way road kills attract vultures."


Those words caught my heart and rattled me something fierce, "Maybe you are like them... not such a good friend... not a real neighbor." That's what I heard.  I heard it clear, maybe because I wasn't talking.


Friendship knows when to shut her mouth and simply love.


Oh, how do we go from sitting and crying in the dust, tearing our clothes and mourning for seven long days, then suddenly stand up and make a religious case out of who's at fault?


Three of Job’s friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him. When they first caught sight of him, they couldn’t believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! They cried out in lament, ripped their robes, and dumped dirt on their heads as a sign of their grief. Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering. (Job 2:11-13, MSG)


Let's not get up too fast, Christians - let us not get up out of dusty grief so quickly that we go to fixing our neighbors with our Christian-ese.  Instead, let us keep on crying longer, caring more about the hurt in their hearts than if it was justified or not.


 Does our religiosity stop of us from love?


We desperately want an action plan, don't we?  When it's time to rise from the ashes we want to love like a friend, like a neighbor - though our skin is different our hearts beat alike, bleed alike, need to heal alike.


Today my offering is small.  A blog post.  And the overly available smile to every person I meet who looks, acts, speaks differently than I do.  If his head is shaved and tattooed, you can bet I'm smiling and holding the door open.  If her lips are a sin-stained shade of red, I'm touching her shoulder and complimenting her purse. Though their skin is ten shades deeper and darker than my own, I am cooing at their baby in the check-out lane, asking for his name and finding joy in the expressiveness of his big brown eyes.  How beautiful he is.  I want them to know that this white woman, this friend, finds their boy beautiful, there in our neighborhood Target. And the man out in front, with a woman fully wrapped, eyes averted, standing in his shadow, I try to reach out to her as well.


I try.  Try to love more than have opinions. Friendship. 


Is it enough?  For me, today, it is all I have to give to bind up the wounds of my African-American Sisters, my displaced sisters on the other side of the globe, the white women around me who are not necessarily part of the problem but neither do they know how to be part of the solution either.


And then there are those 88 more people of the cross are taken by ISIS, and again the question begs, "How can I be their neighbor? Lift them up? Bind them up? Do more than talk? More than cry one moment and expound religious ideals the next. How can I love the afflicted today, as the Samaritan would love? As God would have me love? Pouring out and falling down, crying out, and giving to causes and being the ministering hands and feet beneath ruble in Nepal and on American streets, and in the face of terror and those terrorized.


Global Friendship requires more than Religious Speak of me today. I've spoken enough.



Sole Hope and Rosemary Infused Peach Lemonade

I joke with her on facebook and instagram, this woman just exactly like me only different.  She's in Dallas, Texas and I'm in San Diego, California; she's raising girls while I'm raising boys; she's the color or milk chocolate and I'm just the color of milk (no matter how much chocolate I eat.) Wynter and I met in South Carolina last fall at the Allume conference for Christian bloggers and ended up walking with mutual friends to a restaurant just down the road.  We sat across the table from one another, at the far end, up against a glass pane window, and both of us put up our menus.  But God, in His Grace, put the allegoric menus down in our lives, and said, "I'm placing this order for you."

And He did.  He ordered up an unlikely friendship when she ordered cheesy grits and shrimp, and I marveled, "Yes, Ma'am I'll have the same."  Then I ordered a glass of Rosemary Infused Peach Lemonade, and this petite little person that was suddenly starting to look and sound just like my own self hollered over the din, "Me too.  I'll take one of those."  And we locked eyes and knew something had just been forged - something that state lines, color, and the vast differences between raising boys and raising girls can't keep separate.

We slurped down those drinks, nodding emphatically because it was good.


Good, like how God looked down on all He created and said, "That's good."  Well He created this new friendship too, He ordered it up when He ordered us to lower our menus and raise our glasses to sisterhood.

And we've joked, like I said, on various social media threads ever since.  Now I'm following her all the way to Uganda with Sole Hope, a ministry to children in impoverished communities, offering care for children's soles as a means to get in and minister to hurting souls with the love of God.




There on the other side of this world she's bringing shoes and smiles to children who've run too long with jiggers in their feet.  I'm reading about her travels and seeing the pictures she's posting of flesh torn up by poverty, nakedness, and the disease of this sin-stained world that reaches from here to there and all the way around the other side.




This woman, who's holding another mother tight, is bringing me along to see just how far God takes this radical love and knits people together.  Two women without menus or walls or different languages coming between them - because God can cross all lines when hearts are involved. This world isn't so big when boundaries, barriers and borders are all under His sovereign hand.  And heels and healing and health aren't so impossible with Him either.




And I got to thinking about feet; hers and mine and theirs, and how they are all beautiful to the One who imagined skin and toes and walking... out of clay.  And I thought of Wynter Pitts going, and this woman above smiling, and me here on the other side of the globe taking care to teach her own children about the Good News of a boundary abolishing God amidst first world problems; worn out shoes, and a trip to the mall to buy another size up.

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:15)

Again and again I've thought of this verse as pictures of her trip fill my Instagram feed.  When I saw the picture of the feet, the one there above, the Scripture-truth of Romans 10 morphed into this:

Blessed are the feet that show the Good News by bringing shoes to these sweet feet.

More boundaries fell hard as I thought of the Good News, how it's not always sharing four spiritual laws or walking someone down that old "Roman Road".  The Good News is every road, every road from here to Uganda, where men and women walk into villages and towns, neighborhoods and cul de sacs with hearts open to love.

Put that on your feet, walk that out from Dallas, to San Diego, on to Greenville, and all the way to Uganda and back again. Walk it out with feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace.

Are you ready to shod your feet in that?  To drink that Rosemary Infused Peach Lemonade with a woman different than you in most every way but what's most important?  Two hearts beating love in two different breasts...  Two feet walking love on two different roads.

Dear Lord, Help us to walk the Gospel out right where we are today.  Loving and breaking down barriers by the power of your Holy Spirit, that we might walk together throughout this earth with feet wrapped up right and tight in your Gospel.  - Amen


Looking for practical ways to bind up the broken hearted by binding up broken soles?  Partner with Sole Hope as they set up a permanent home in Jinja, Uganda.

All these amazing photos by www.garyschapman.com


Lent: The People of the Cross

It was a holy kind of cold that enveloped me this early morning, with shivers and sweats.  I dropped my kids off at school and came home all aching on the inside; anxious and out of sorts, though I didn't know exactly why.  I knew I'd been off my routine both practically and spiritually these past few weeks. Actually, if I'm going to be honest here, I haven't been consistent in my time with The Lord since 2014.  And then there's been so much in the news to shake a grounded woman loose.  And to top it off... we've been busy. In the busyness of life, I'd lost track of the cross.




Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  A time to give up in order to give in... into the cross.  And so I gave in, full heart and full attention to the Lord.  And as I prayed and read and meditated upon the cross, I thought of these men.




In the days before Lent, 21 Christian Egyptians were martyred for their confession of faith.  21 People of the Cross.

There have been news reports, editorials, blog posts, pictures, heated debates, and prayers circling social media - ones I've read, names I've prayed over, and conversations I've had.  But today, on this first day of Lent, it all came together for me.


We must commit to being People of the Cross this Lenten season.


In the face of persecution, People of the Cross.

In the midst of uncertainty, People of the Cross.

In the busy places of our lives,

in the frightening places in the world,

in the aching places of our souls...

People of the Cross.


But what does that mean to you and to me in our everyday,

waking up,

getting kids dressed,


doing laundry,

loving our spouses,

getting dinner on the table,

teaching the kids to clear their plates

and brush their own teeth lives?


What does it mean to be People of the Cross in this distracting, unpredictable, terror-tempted life?

That's what I want to know, because that's who I want to be in the midst of it all.

And so this Lent, I will fast from those extra minutes of sleep, to find my rest in the One who died upon the cross.  I will pull back warm covers when the morning sky is not yet light, to gaze upon the Light of His Countenance.  Here in these Lenten days, before each one bombards me with her headlines, I will dive headlong into the hope we have, secure, because of the Cross.

Come with me this Lent.  Come with me to the cross, through the rich love letter of God's "Radical Word." For they might threaten us with radical Islam, but we choose to set our minds and our hope upon radical love as displayed upon the cross.



"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,

but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

(1 Corinthians 1:18)


Let us commit to being People of the Cross!


sponsor a child


The boys are down for the night and I just wrapped up the last crusty pots and pans and swept away the crumbs of our day.  One full rotation of the sun has ended it's journey, and already I am looking towards tomorrow.  Early alarms are set on clocks and spelling test review sheets lay beside the boys' breakfast bowls.  Only a handful of hours separate now from then.  I turn to the three empty lunch boxes that clutter the counter top and decide to get a head-start.  

But that's just back-story... The real lesson came as I slathered thick layers of peanut butter and jelly on fluffy potato bread.


I make PB&Js like a rich person.


It was a solid, clear inner voice, said without conviction or pride, just a realization.  I make PB&Js like a rich mom.  I remembered then the woman at Legoland, with her children gathered round her in line for a ride, how she brought out two small Tupperware, half a loaf of white bread, two apples, and a plastic knife.  Squatting there, right in front of us, she used her backpack as a work station.  Four children waited patiently as the small knife spread a teaspoon of peanut butter across a slice of "day old" bread, then a smaller quantity of jelly followed.  Another piece of bread was placed on top, and the same plastic knife cut the sandwich diagonally.  Halves were passed to two of her children, then she repeated the ritual for the next two, followed by a third sandwich - the one she shared with her husband.  And the apples... the two apples were passed from one family member to the next.


I'm estimating I use two tablespoons of peanut butter per sandwich, with an equally liberal spread of grape jelly, and my children eat a whole one.  A bag of grapes and a clementine, followed by a cheese stick and a bottle of water complete my child's school lunch.  I place the boxes in our refrigerator to stay cool till morning.  It takes some maneuvering, because the fridge is so full of good healthy food.  I have cilantro and green onions to top our pork roast for tomorrow night's dinner, and cookie dough is all ready to pop in the oven after school gets out tomorrow.  And I sigh, both thankful and confused...


Is it too much?


I know it's only peanut butter and fruit, cookie dough, and potato bread and green onions... but is it too much?


And do I slather my children this same way with gifts and costly activities and always entertainment we have to pay for?  Do I slather with too much liberality?  And is there a cost to so much spending, a cost we have not factored into the budget of our souls?  Their souls.  Is it possible, in our spending and generous living, that we've lost sight of the simpler feasts and the more modest of joys as a family?  Passing the apple and breaking the bread in two.  And is there more for us to question, as we pack our children's lunches today?


This is a conversation without formula, maybe without even application, but I hope you'll join me in the dialogue just the same.


Is it too much?  The walls with their new pictures hung, and the boys with their endless flow of legos, and the man I love with his man-cave, and me with my shiny new countertops.  When is it enough? And how do we teach our children generosity, when we are so good at feeding our own appetites? And is it possible that our loving desire to give our children "the best," is actually making them into a generation of discontent consumers?


My children reached up and into my backpack as I watched that mother making lunch for her family.  Little hands tugged and pulled, then whined and complained, "but I want another fruit snack."


We slather it thick, the spending and the going and the gift-giving, but is it making them into men and women who slather the world with generous love in turn?  Or might our love, poured out at stores and restaurants and summer camps, one right after the costly other, indwell in them a self-love that only grows hungrier and hungrier?


Dear Lord, Give us an insatiable appetite for You,

Let it overflow into a hunger to fill the world with your love,

not keep it all for our own bellies...

that our children, as well, will taste and see the most satisfying way to live is to give.

And stir in us a love for those who are hungry throughout the world, 

that we might learn to give generously.  - Amen




The boys and I have begun reading "Little King Davie," a Lamplighter publication, written by Nellie Hellis in 1892.  It is the sweet and heart-wrenching story of a young English boy.  Though impoverished, he learns the abiding richness of a life in Christ.


Earlier this evening, as we wrapped up another chapter, we talked about the poor in more depth.  I reminded them of the children we support through World Vision and Holt InternationalXing in China, Napaworn in Thailand, and Kender in Haiti.  We talked about education and medicine and food, those basic needs our support helps provide them and their families.  My eyes pricked with tears as I read Xing's most recent letter to us:


Dear Sponsor: Thank you  for your help.  You give me hope when I am in trouble.  I will study hard to repay society.  I must study from you for your kindness.  Thank the people who supported and helped me.  I wish you a good health and successful job and all the best.  -Xing


"You give me hope when I am in trouble."




And it hit me as I read it again to the boys, that our abundance is intended for those in trouble, but when we horde it here instead, it causes trouble.  Selfishness, pride, strife, gluttony, ulcers...


For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) ...but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mark 4:19 )


But God has a plan for us to avoid the trap of simply feeding our own appetite, and it's bound up in the way we love Him.  "Feed my sheep."


Feeding sheep costs us greatly.  It costs our love, it costs us our time, and it costs our pretty pennies.  But it is love; demonstrative, sacrificial, agape love.  Love to the One who has first given to us, and Love to those whom He loves.


I want to be rich in love.  Slather it thick on Xing and Napaworn and Kender, the way I spread it out on the potato bread.  Like thick layers of peanut butter and jelly, not counting the cost.  Rich and thick, the way Christ slathered His love upon me.


Sponsor a child for approximately $35 a month.  It's a wonderful way to include your family in caring for those beyond your home.  See affiliate links in this post to start "feeding His sheep."


And blessings upon you as you bless those in need.