It is Well With My Soul.

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I woke up this morning surprised at the election results. I really had no idea who would win, and to be honest, I would have felt surprised no matter who won.

Regardless of how you voted yesterday or of how weary you feel after this political season – the wounds revealed and created during this election must be addressed. This election was heartbreakingly divisive. My heart hurts – although today the presidency has been won, the path to get here makes it feel like no one really won.

There is no easy fix – the pain in our nation simply cannot be erased just because the votes have been counted.

I think moving on is going to be difficult for many on both sides of the vote.  Throughout the election, my eyes were opened as the band-aids were ripped off old wounds and as new wounds formed and festered in the issues that divide us all.

I may not be able to fix all that is wrong in our nation, but beginning to move on starts with me. 

Today, I step back and focus on TRUTH.

We have much to be grateful for. Today, the TV will stay off and social media can take a hike. My house is full of the best medicine I know – piano hymns, a baby babbling, and a little girl playing dress up. I thank God I live in a democratic country, and have the privilege to vote that many fought and died for. My focus is on the people I love, and the God I serve. Why not take time to be grateful every day? It is November 9. Today is a great day to begin th HABIT of practicing gratitude with your family as you prepare for Thanksgiving. Start a family gratitude journal or set up a gratitude tree.

There are no perfect voters or candidates. See me. See you. See Donald. See Hillary. Need I say more? Each is imperfect, and we pull from an imperfect pool of candidates for leadership. We make decisions based on carefully calculated glimpses of who candidates are. Then our voting decisions are clouded by our own imperfection and sin. The only true judge is Jesus Christ who knows all things, and who examines the heart and mind. And to this measure, we all fall short.

The only future we know for certain is in Jesus Christ. Just as we cannot ever truly know the hearts of those we seek to elect, we cannot foresee the future repercussions of our choices. We choose the candidate who best suits us and our own vision for our future.  Only God, the Beginning and the End, can see all of eternity. Thankfully, the Bible tells us that eternity has already been won, even if it doesn’t detail everything that will happen between now than then. We don’t know exactly how, but we know the victor is Jesus Christ and He mercifully invites each of us to join Him.

No leader can stop the plan of the perfect God. He is sovereign over ALL creation, knows all things, and has already won eternity. No matter our circumstance, He has overcome the world. If you are disheartened today, step back and look UP.

O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. 2 Chronicles 20:6.

One nation, under God. Many in our nation have tried to eliminate God from society. But the truth is, we are a Nation Under God whether we like it or not. He is still sovereign, even when we ignore, disrespect, or don’t believe it. Jesus is King, no matter who our president is. And He can and will use any leader to bring about His purposes on earth. Trying to stifle God’s presence has not done much to improve our nation has it? Instead we are more divided than ever. Instead of pushing God out, we need to cry out to Him and ask Him to heal our nation as only He can.

Our nation needs healing and love. Let it start with you as you love your friends, family and neighbors. Now is not the time for ‘I told you so’ or to tell others they got it wrong. What is done is done. Reserve judgement, offer encouragement, hope and practical help. Start listening more than talking. Freely extend forgiveness, love and respect. Since there are no perfect people, this means we need to give respect even if you don’t think a person has earned it – even those in leadership. Choose to treat all people as God’s beloved. Stop comparing – we are all in need of a savior. Here is a good place to start:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

There is peace that transcends all understanding. The Bible has a lot to say about peace offered by Jesus Christ. Months ago in the mess of the election, I chose to fix my eyes on Jesus. It wasn’t easy keeping them locked there with everything going on around me – only by His strength. Last night, I went to bed early with the firm trust that no election result can pluck me from God’s good, sovereign hand. I slept well. Have you ever felt such peace? It is more valuable and more powerful than any assurance a world leader can offer.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer keeps us grounded in Him. We can not be in line with the will of God if we are not spending time in His presence in study and prayer. He will give you direction and where to go from here. Focusing on WHO God is and WHAT He has already done in a time that seems hopeless gives joy and peace that transcends comprehension. Spend time now in His presence and ask for His view of our situation and practical ways to extend love and grace to others.

In this day of seeming uncertainty, I pray we can claim peace, cling to the certainty of God’s promises and let the healing of our nation begin with us.

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

It is well with my soul. How is yours?

On Our Son’s Sixth Birthday – What I Love About You!

Today our son Aiden turns SIX.

Somehow, six years have passed since we first saw his sweet face. Time is a strange thing – it seems like he has always been, yet it seems like I blinked because he was just born! And now I can hardly pick him up.

How. Did. That. Happen?

While I may not understand how time can fly and go slowly at the same time, I DO know this – we are SO proud of him.

We love him more than we can ever express.

And we are so grateful to be his parents.

I’ve spent the past few days savoring his birthday celebrations with friends and family. It has been so fun to watch him be the center of attention, and to see him laughing and enjoy being blessed by those who love him.

Today I want to celebrate his special day by expressing how grateful we are for who he is, and the way God made him.

Aiden, this post is just for you.

Love, Mom.

 

Six things I love about YOU & the way God made you

  • Cautiously Brave and Wise
    • I love to watch you make wise decisions. You have amazing, God-given discernment for a six year old! This is something you were created with. Since you were small, you have removed yourself when uncomfortable or afraid. You willingly step back from activities or situations you know you should not participate in, and you do it while still being kind to your friends or whoever you are around. You turn off TV shows that are not nice or are frightening without a second thought. ‘Be careful little eyes what you see’ is something you’ve always inherently known and acted on. While being naturally cautious, you bravely take calculated risks. You have regularly, bravely faced and accepted medical treatments that scare you because you understand you need them. And we have watched you excitedly try new things and boldly go new places while joyfully meeting and making new friends.
  • Puzzle-Loving, Problem-Solver
    • Not many six year olds I know get excited about doing a 1500 piece puzzle with their parents, especially when they know it will take a week or more to complete. It is fun to see how you approach problems and puzzles alike with determination and follow-through. You are great at following instructions and sticking with something until it is finished. You were building Lego sets unassisted so early, we were amazed at your ability to focus for long periods and to complete complex projects. It would not surprise me if you become an engineer some day. Certainly God has blessed you with attention to detail and a joy of taking on and completing challenges.
  • Lover of God’s Word
    • It was fun to help you fill in your ‘About Me’ book to bring back to school and share with your class today. My heart swelled with joy when you chose the Bible as your favorite book. And you know what? I believe it really is your favorite book. It amazes me how much you know about the Bible. We have read every night since you were a baby and you have absorbed so much from church and BSF. It is our privilege to read the Bible with you at night and to see how you apply what you learn from it to your life. You ask thoughtful questions that show you ponder what it says and take these things to heart. Some of the content in there has been concerning to your cautious mind, and yet you keep coming back to God’s word to learn more about who God is, and what the Bible has to say. I love how God is drawing you closer to Himself as we read.
  • Kind and Empathetic
    • At your school conference, your kindergarten teacher told us you are a good friend to others, and are always looking out for others. We nodded our heads proudly because we see this in you at home. You love others well and treat them with freely given kindness, compassion and respect. When you were three, we learned Ephesians 4:32 which states: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. We see you living this out daily in the way you treat family and friends. It doesn’t mean you don’t have conflict with others – you do, just like the rest of us. What it does mean is that we see you being quick to forgive others and to move on after conflict has happened. You are also really good at stepping back to see the perspective of others in the situation, and are quick to say you are sorry. It also makes me so proud to hear your concern for others who are struggling and to see how you extend help to those you know you can help.
  • Big Brother
    • Being a big brother to two little sisters is a BIG job. And it is a job you did not get to choose. But you are a big brother and I am so proud of you in this role. You are so sweet and gentle with your baby sister Audra. She lights up when she sees you because she loves you as much as you love her. And it is no secret that Adelyn feels the same way. I love how you spend time with her, playing with her and hugging her when she is hurt or sad. You are thoughtful and considerate to include Adelyn in what you are doing and in playing with your friends. It makes me so proud when you encourage your little sister to follow rules or obey mom and dad, and to demonstrate how to do so with your own behavior. I love the excitement you have every morning about seeing both of them. Thank you for loving your sisters so much and for being the loving, protecting and kind big brother that you are.
  • Uniquely Aiden
    • There is no one on this earth who is just like you. YOU were knit together with care and love by the God who created the entire world and all the people and things in it. God made no mistakes and did nothing carelessly when He created you. I love who you are and who God made you to be. It is our prayer that you will see yourself as God sees you and that you will know HE loves you even more than we can, with His perfect love. We pray that you will continue to grow in faith and confidence in who God made you to be, that the most important identity you have is in Christ Jesus

Today, and every day, I am grateful for YOU.

oct-16

A Letter To Our Son, Who Just Broke His Arm

Aiden sling

My son, you amaze me.

This week you broke your arm jumping off a swing. It is thankfully not a bad break, but painful nonetheless.

Always the cautious child, I was surprised the first time you showed me your new swing-jumping skill. I was so proud of you for trying something new, and a little riskier than I expected from you.

And you jumped SO HIGH!

And stuck the landing.

WOW!

I considered the risk and whether I should ask you to not do it again. But your dad and I want you to be free to be a KID. Plus, I jumped off of many swings and monkey bars when I was your age.

And sometimes I fell too.

Many jumps later, you got off balance and broke your fall with your wrist. On the grass. Who knew a bone could break from something simple like that?

I knew you were really hurt when you were hoarse from screaming before you could even tell me what happened as a neighbor walked you to the front yard.

Even then. In your tears. You were so brave.

Many tears, deep breaths, an ice pack, and a root beer float later, you actually decided you’d rather play than go home.

It’s OK that after a few minutes you came back in tears, ready to go.

It really hurt. And you were brave for trying., and wise to know when it was time to stop.

That night, we iced it, and you went to sleep with nothing more than Tylenol in your system. It’s OK that you woke up several times in tears.

Knowing what we know now, I’m surprised you slept at all.

In the morning, you woke bright-eyed and said you thought it felt a little better. I watched you all morning, playing, but careful not to move it up and down.

When I asked, you were willing to try moving it. You winced in pain, but tried anyway. You were adamant that you could go and play with friends that morning.

You played all morning long and had a blast, arm cradled close to your body. After seeing you cradle it all morning, we headed to the doctor.

The doctor isn’t your favorite place, but you are always willing to go and to do what they ask of you.

Even when you’re terrified.

Through the years you have battled some serious woes – reflux, repeated pneumonia, ear infections, allergy skin and blood testing, wheezing and asthma, and more. Many kids don’t know the doctors as well as you do. But they also don’t have to be truly brave because they haven’t experienced the things you have as you head into the office.

I am always amazed that even though you are afraid there, you understand that they are going to help you and that we need to be there. You don’t fight me as we go in the door, and you accept that some of what may happen might not be fun.

I promise to always be honest with you about what will happen there – I know you can handle it, and will always be right there with you.

As we waited to see if we needed an x-ray, you asked all kinds of questions. I love your curiosity and how you carefully listen to understand. I love watching you quietly process the words and to hear the next question.

You are incredibly smart. A wise soul in the body of a 5.5 year old.

As the doctor asked you to move your wrist, you knew it was going to hurt, but you did everything she asked you to do. You held still as she gently examined your arm.

I was so proud as I heard you thank her before she left the room. And then you thanked the nurses and x-ray technician, too, as we saw them one by one.

You weren’t so sure about that huge x-ray machine, but you sat still, and watched with cautious curiosity as they prepped everything. Even though the position for each x-ray wasn’t comfortable, and I had to leave your side to stand behind the wall, you sat still. You anxiously looked for my face in the window, but did exactly as they asked.

When we told you ‘good job’, I saw you light up. You knew you did it just right.

Then it was fun to see your face light up when they showed you your x-rays and you saw your bones.

You were so excited! It isn’t every day you get to see a picture of your bones! Although a broken bone isn’t fun, you still emanate joy despite your circumstances.

Tired of waiting, I could see that deep down, you just wanted to know what came next – even if it meant the bone was broken.

As with so many other doctor’s visits in the past, you are always willing to hear the hard news – sometimes more than I am.

You meet these battles head-on.

When the doctor returned, I could see on her face that the bone was broken. She soberly explained what happened to your bone to cause a buckle fracture in the radius.

You listened carefully. You asked a couple of questions.

Then you quietly accepted the truth, turning to tell me it was broken, just in case I didn’t understand.

You held very still as they prepared the splint and wrapped your arm, even as your arm got tired from holding it out and above your head. I could see the fascination on your face as you watched what they were doing. Even though the splint and sling were uncomfortable, you were willing to wear them.

No fuss.

And when the doctor explained how we couldn’t take the splint off, you quietly nodded.

Always willing to do as they ask, even when it may mean the end of summer water fun.

Walking to the car, you kindly asked for help with your seat belt, offering suggestions for how the sling could go on top of the belt.

My little troubleshooter. If you want to, you will make a brilliant engineer one day.

And as the sling belt dug into your neck, you told ME it was OK, you were going to be fine. You were so sweet, thanking me as I placed a soft towel underneath to make it more comfortable.

You are one tough, thoughtful and grateful kid.

It was surely disappointing when we came home and all your friends were outside playing but we had to go inside because the temporary sling wasn’t dry or set yet.

And as you asked me questions about playing in water, riding your scooter, and bike, and more that wouldn’t be a good idea right now, I saw the sadness in your eyes.

But then you took a deep breath and again, reassured ME, saying…’It’s OK mom. I don’t care if I broke my arm. I’ll be OK’. And, even better, ‘I’m glad God made our body so it can heal’ (be still my heart!).

What more could we ask of you?

Easy going. Brave. Calm.

With a good attitude even with a broken bone in the middle of summer.

We get the cast on Monday. It wont’ be fun wearing it for the rest of the summer, but I know you are going to be OK, just like you told me. There will be disappointment, but I can already tell you are going to make the most of this.

This morning you made me laugh as you asked me to put your eye patch on you so you could play pirate with your sister.

pirate

A broken arm cannot touch your imagination, sweet pirate.

Today I’m writing this because I see you. I am proud of you. I am grateful for your positive attitude and joyful heart. I see your childlike faith and trust that God will heal you.

Today, you have encouraged ME, your mom – and I’m not the one with the broken arm.

Thank you.

I love you.

I promise you I will find fun activities for you to do with a cast and your one arm.

And to tell you just how much I love you and just how proud of you I am – today, and every day.

You Know What Takes CHRIST Out Of Christmas? Complaining Over A Red Cup.

Is anyone else confused by the hype over the Starbucks red cup? When I first saw the image of the 2015 cup, I thought it looked nice. Simple and a clever use of the Starbucks green logo on the red background.

No problem right?

Well, I guess not. It seems that some people are upset over the cups and think they do not stand for Christmas.  I don’t usually pay attention to these things but the articles that kept popping up specifically mention that Christians are the people making the fuss. I like to know what I’m being associated with.

SO, I looked at the last 6 years of cups that TIME put together for easy viewing. Do you know what I see? Nothing that says “Merry Christmas” or any mention of Jesus. In fact, the apparent change that makes people upset is the lack of a snow flake.

A snow flake?

Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ – since when is a snowman, snow flake or a person sledding on a coffee cup a symbol of Christmas? I don’t remember seeing any mention of these things in the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible. Haven’t read it? Check it out for yourself in Luke Chapter 1. These symbols are completely and totally unrelated to Jesus Christ.

I can see how this may sound harsh, but it needs to be said. You know what takes the CHRISTmas out of Christmas? Complaining, slander, and overly vocal disgust at red cups. Beloved of Jesus – there are so many more important issues to take a stand on. This distraction does not draw unbelievers to know and love Jesus. If anything, it makes Him less appealing because those who claim to follow and love Him are preoccupied with coffee cups.

As Christians, let us instead CHOOSE to celebrate Jesus, despite what is happening around us in our culture. Regardless of who says “Happy Holidays” and who says “Merry Christmas”, the culture does NOT decide the status of our hearts. We choose who we worship and what our focus is on.

It is either the world or Jesus. He longs for us to choose the latter.

So, as His chosen, and beloved people, CHOOSE to set your eyes on Jesus. Then CHOOSE now to let the rest of it roll off of you. All season long. Spending our precious time boycotting coffee cups is simply a distraction that takes our eyes off of HIM – All God’s grace in one tiny face.

How do we focus on Him?

  • Tell others you are grateful for them.
  • Tell GOD you are grateful for Him and spend some extra time with Him in prayer.
  • Set your grateful hearts on Jesus – on how He loved us and came to DIE for us so we could be saved. And how we can never deserve such a sacrifice and gift of grace.
  • Be grateful that in the United States you can speak the name of Jesus out loud without being tortured, exiled or killed.
  • Pray for those who are dying for their faith and have life and death concerns that make a preoccupation with coffee cups look foolish and careless.
  • Go out and treat others with kindness, respect, and love.
  • Tell others WHO Jesus is and WHY you love Him.
  • Intentionally spread some joy and cheer.
  • Find someone to help, serve or surprise.
  • Let Christians be known for spreading good will among men instead of complaining about things that have no eternal value.
  • Choose Jesus and show others WHO HE IS by sharing His LOVE.
  • Show the world that His love reigns in the hearts of Christians and speak well of others, regardless of where they buy their coffee. Or what color the cup is.

It’s a paper cup, people. We put coffee in it and then throw it away.

Doesn’t CHRISTmas mean more to us than that?

It’s the second week of November. There will be plenty more things this year that do not include Christ. There will surely be over-saturation of Santa, Happy Holidays and commercialization of the season.

Will you choose to allow those things to take your eyes off of Jesus?

22 Practical DO’s And DON’Ts To Show Love On Valentine’s Day {and Every Day}

22 Practical DO's And DON'Ts To Show Love On Valentine's Day  {and Every Day} | thisgratefulmama.com

Valentine’s Day is not my thing. While I will never poo poo a chance to go on a date with my husband, I could care less about going on February 14th, when the restaurants are packed. I’m not big on fancy chocolates (and basically none exist that meet the nut-free criteria to enter our home), or flowers (ah-choo!). By far, the best part about Valentine’s Day paraphernalia is the Gobstopper Sweet Hearts that show up in stores, right after New Years Day (oh, man we just can’t survive even a week without a section in Target devoted to the next Hallmark holiday).

Although the actual day is no biggie to us, we always make a point of going on a date on another night in February. I’m happy to have dinner on a less-crowded night and to not be forced to find something in the color red to wear. As busy parents, we can embrace and use any reason to go on a date and are happy to oblige the ‘love’ in the air by going out without our kids.

But our date is more about us than a pink and red ridden Hallmark holiday.

Whether you jump for joy at the thought of Valentine’s day or feel like it is no big deal, Valentine’s day (like any day) IS a great time to focus on the one you love, and to make an extra effort to make them feel loved. While this is written with marriage in mind, these are simple ways to love or not to love in any relationship.

22 Practical DO’s And DON’Ts To Show Love On Valentine’s Day {and Every Day}

1. DO acknowledge that Valentine’s Day is a reminder to celebrate your relationship, whether you like the holiday or not

2. DO NOT see a movie that isn’t about love at all – take the excellent advice on scissortail SILK blog and honor your spouse with your choices about what you watch and read. Play a game, sit and talk, or find another way to entertain yourselves

3. DO tell them how grateful you are for the way they love you and how they provide for and love your family

4. DO NOT cop-out and buy a huge heart-shaped box of chocolate unless nougat filled chocolate is what your spouse would really be excited about

5. DO kiss and hug your spouse at least 5 times more than usual, and I don’t mean a peck on the cheek

6. DO NOT just sign your name to a Valentine’s Day Card…write at least a paragraph to express what they mean to you

7. DO tell your kids how much you love their mom/dad and be clear that your spouse is your valentine, not your kids

8. DO NOT assume your spouse doesn’t care about Valentine’s Day just because you don’t or skip planning something if you know they want to celebrate it

9. DO volunteer to give a back or neck rub, or do a surprise run through Starbucks drive thru while you’re out and about (hint, hint!)

10. DO NOT be too busy making your child’s Valentine’s Day special to do something special for your spouse (even if it’s something small like ea special meal, card, small gift, coffee date)

11. DO put the kids to bed 30 minutes or 1 hour early and use it to spend quality time together

12. DO NOT spend your evening (or day) on your phone, laptop or tablet. Put the internet DOWN!

13. DO compliment them and those special characteristics that you fell in love with way back when and reminisce about your first date, engagement, etc.

14. DO NOT complain or grumble in any way about what you’d rather be doing on Valentine’s day

15. DO that chore or task that neither of you likes to do and do it joyfully before they can (in our house, it’s taking the Diaper Genie out to the trash…disgusting!)

16. DO NOT speak ill of them to your girl friends or guy friends. Defend them and speak well of them

17. DO something special about a week after Valentine’s day, and every week thereafter (email at work to say you love them, note in their lunch, extra kiss after they get home)

18. DO NOT eat too much, drink too much, or do too much of anything that detracts from the night your spouse will have on your date

19. DO snuggle, hold hands, hug, kiss, and so on…

20. DO NOT have expectations. Put away those expectations and be happy to spend the day together wherever you are, whatever you are doing

21. DO treat love as a choice. Do it when we are happy, sad, mad, silly and cranky

22. DO (or DO NOT) do these things every day, not just today. Love each other in thoughtful ways every day

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My Thoughts On Riots…More Heartbreak…More Damage

In wake of recent events, I think few of us have escaped the images on our screens and newspapers after the rioting broke out. No matter what your view of the Ferguson decision is, I think we can all agree that the rioting is heartbreaking. News stories like these grab the attention of even the most sheltered news consumer.

I have often been guilty of turning off the TV during times like these. To shut it out and pretend it isn’t happening. My life is easier that way. My soul, lighter. But this summer the news of persecution in Iraq threw me for a loop and I was challenged to approach difficult news differently. While I don’t write about emotionally charged topics like these often, sometimes I can’t sleep until I do. In fact, I’ve written and rewritten this post several times, searching for peace-of-mind over these events in the haven of writing. Here are my thoughts and reflections – I apologize in advance that they are a bit jumbled; this is hard to wrap my head around.

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, “ri·ot (noun): is a situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way”

I guess if rioting had a purpose, it would be to attract attention. So, in that way, I guess the rioters in Ferguson achieved their purpose.

Attention.

However, I must say, the effectiveness of rioting goes no further. The kind of attention they have drawn does nothing for their ’cause’.

Now, I am a suburb-living, stay-at-home mom, living a generally sheltered life. So let me be CLEAR that I make ZERO claim to know whether this decision served justice or not. It is not mine to decide and I am so far removed that I would consider myself far too ignorant to pass judgement. Please don’t read into these words as me saying what was right or wrong about the incident that sparked these riots. What I am pondering here is the riot that ensued. What I know is that what has resulted from the decision is utter chaos.

And yes, rioters, we are ALL seeing this; WE SEE YOU.

But instead of making me want to understand what has transpired, and who has been hurt and why, I find myself shrinking back, and just SAD. This behavior isn’t going to change or fix anything. A riot is painful to watch; painful to ponder.

Damage being done to the physical property of residents of the community, BY other residents. And to what end? Neighbor against neighbor. Creating a greater rift between the people and those who swear to protect it. And which of those store owners who were looted were involved in the event that sparked this? On what planet did their store and livelihood deserve to be the punching bag for your unleashed anger?

Where healing is needed…an already deep wound is instead ripped open. Exposed. Infected.

Uncontrolled anger and hate is a tangled and sticky web, snatching up more as it spreads. Those whose lives were already at risk serving the people are at even greater risk of harm.  In danger, just because of their uniform as people stew in emotion.  A riot can begin from just ONE person, intent on violence. I wonder if those who began this riot were trying to express an opinion, or just to stir up trouble and cause chaos? I wonder if the decision had been different if the riot would have occurred anyway?

Whether the anger and hurt are justified or not, these actions are NOT.

I’m sure some who joined in the chaos did so because they got swept up in the moment and did what others were doing.  I’m guessing many ended up where they maybe didn’t intend to be. These hurt, frustrated, and at-the-end-of-their-rope people rioting in the streets, requiring force to be subdued to restore the peace. People finding themselves arrested. Jailed. Now a part of criminal acts against their own city. For many, a city they actually love.

Was it worth it?

As the national guard and police restore the calm…the peace is fleeting. A mask. Covering the swell of emotion, rising up, and uncontrolled. Deep rooted. Bubbling over. What has been accomplished here? Nothing. Just more damage.

The damage is much more than bruises, burned cars, and broken glass. The cost is higher than the insurance claims. Riots perpetuate despair. Afterwards, all eyes have seen the emotions, but little has been accomplished. Now those who have felt wronged are seen as wrong.  Their purpose of being seen has certainly been accomplished, but they’ve tarnished our empathy. The problem isn’t their emotions; they may have been justified in feeling hurt, angry, bitter. In fact, I have no doubt that the emotion they felt was powerful and painful and awful…it was the ACTIONS that were born out of those emotions that were not right.

Now they have taken what is already a deep-seated issue that needs miraculous healing and have made it worse. Adding to the pain. Adding to the fear. Adding to the damage. Collateral damage. There was no healing here. No pain was relieved. Instead, this historical, emotional pain leaves another physical scar.

And it breaks my heart.

Riots for this reason are not new. Perhaps you remember Cincinnati in 2001. It has happened before but we haven’t prevented more from happening. And as of now, I don’t see an easy way to prevent this from occurring again. This is not a post saying I know how to fix this. I don’t. The solution is not clear-cut. It will take WORK from all in our country, or history will repeat itself in a different city, as it has before.

So while I can’t fix this, I can do my part to step back and ponder if I can do my part to love others. If I can do my part to make sure my actions do not cause others to hurt, or to feel that lashing out is OK. On days like these, especially before a holiday when we’re supposed to gather together and express our gratefulness, we must consider how our actions affect others.

We must realize that justice is only rightly served by God. People are, well, human. Flawed. And our system is equally flawed. Regardless of the issue being decided, someone will always disagree. This is WHY we have courts to decide these things, or we’d have vigilantes deciding for us. The emotions will be strong any time a life has been lost and people have been hurt. Because we love and miss what is lost. I know the rioters are hurting. I have no words to soothe them.

When we lose what we love, why respond with hate? No matter how much it hurts, hating never brings a GOOD solution. It brings more darkness. More pain. More grief. We must THINK before we ACT. And see the long-term consequences of our actions. We must learn that emotions betray us and that they can lead us down a very dark, and destructive path. We must think about how our actions teach children, and how they will learn to either promote peace, or chaos by our actions. 

Chaos and hate are dangerous things. Adding to pain, fueling the fire where emotion has been smoldering, waiting for a chance to erupt.

There are some deep and very real issues at the root of this riot. As a society, we must acknowledge those issues and the hurt and pain associated with them. As a Christian, I know that we are the ones who need to lead the way. We are called to LOVE others by the one who CREATED love. And we are called to love with not just a ‘feeling’ but with action – With a sacrificial, laying-down-MY-rights-for-another kind of love. When so much hurt and hate has ruminated like this for so long…only love can overcome.

While I am saddened by these riots, I find myself angry. But I don’t see how my anger helps anything. I’ve written this post 4 or 5 times in the past couple days, and pretty much every word has been typed, deleted, and rewritten. As I mentioned at the beginning, it has been very difficult for me to write about this, to find words, any words, that adequately describe the mixed emotions I have been thinking and feeling. And now that it’s written, I am sure I could rewrite it again a few more times, but at some point, I need to move on. To think of happier things.

To move to action. But what action? Here are the best I can come up with for now:

First I need to set aside my own anger. While the riots do infuriate me, today I set aside my anger and say that I know I don’t understand where the rioters are coming from. Who am I to judge? I have no right to judge them. So while I do not condone the actions performed by the rioters, I also know that they are hurting. Not a surface level hurt, but a deep and profound, hurt. I won’t diminish it. They don’t know what else to do. I decide to love them and to pray for them. And I ashamedly admit that I was not ready to pray for them yesterday – I know that isn’t right. Lord, forgive me for my OWN anger. It only adds to the problem.

Today, I pray for softened hearts around the country. Hearts open for healing. Hearts willing to seek change and to lift others up when hurting, rather than lashing out and causing more harm. And I pray for the country to stand up and choose hope and love over hurt and hate.

And I pray for a mighty healing work to overcome the hate, so the next riot doesn’t happen. 

I’d love to live in a world without riots. Wouldn’t you?