Heal this land.

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Less than twenty-four hours ago I was clothed in self-righteousness and drafting a blogpost in my head intended to prove to the world that the emphasis the media has placed on the number of black men killed by police officers was nothing more than a conspiracy driven by the gun-control agenda.

And then…

I started searching for statistics to back up my argument. The second article I read wrecked me. Two of my four children have autism. People with intellectual disabilities and special needs are SIXTEEN TIMES more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic. As I held my breath and burst into tears I recalled that less than five minutes earlier, as my sixteen-year-old son with autism was walking out the door to get the mail, I reminded him (as I always do) to try and control his “pretend”. You see…. he stims. So does his sister. He calls his stimming his “pretend” because his imagination comes out in the form of erratic movements and sound effects. Stimming helps him cope with the world around him. Only the world around him doesn’t understand that. He’s no longer an innocent-looking six-year-old. Onlookers no longer dismiss his stimming as pretend-play. He’s now almost six-feet tall and has a 5:00 shadow by the time he walks to the end of our block to collect the mail every afternoon. When people see him behaving erratically, they stop and stare and often take a few steps back. And my. heart. aches.

I didn’t get through the first paragraph of that article without “getting it”. Yes, all lives matter. But when I fight against discrimination and fear of my two children with autism, I am in NO WAY saying that my other two children do not matter. I’m saying that we as a human race have GOT TO stop treating any person differently based on fear.

What has taken place in this nation in the last three days is the result of deep-rooted fear and hatred. The police officers who killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were carrying deep-rooted prejudices and fear of the men they killed and they acted irrationally and impulsively based on that fear and prejudice. The snipers who killed the police officers were filled with fear and hatred towards law enforcement and they acted on their fear and prejudice. The people who step back and keep their fingers on their phone when my son walks past making erratic movements and loud noises are acting on fear and prejudice.

And I’m an emotional basket-case over it all.

To all my black-Mama-friends who’ve tried to make me understand that black lives matter does not equate other lives not mattering, I apologize.

To all of our friends and family in law enforcement that are good and noble, but fearing for their lives today based on the actions of the small percentage of those who are not good and noble, I apologize.

We, as a human race, simply HAVE TO do better!

When we call ourselves “Christians”, we are declaring that we are “like Christ”. More than 70% of Americans claim to be Christian. People, Jesus didn’t act like this.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Fear is not from God. Period. Jesus was incapable of carrying fear and if we want to represent Jesus we have to stop acting on fear. We HAVE TO stop acting on fear.

Joshua 1:9 “…This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

And we have to love better. We just have to.

Mark 12:30-31 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.31 The second is equally important: ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Starting today, I’m praying this prayer every day until I see breakthrough. Feel free to join me.

Father God,

I ask that you invade our nation with your presence and that you bring about the invasion through me. Thank you for filling me with your presence and for giving me the privilege of showing your heart and character to the world.

When I am fearful, remind me that fear does NOT come from you.

When I am not seeing every human as equal and worthy of you, change my heart and my thoughts.

When my words do not express your goodness, shut my mouth or give me your words to speak.

When I hurt, let me experience your comfort.

When my feet are dug in to a stance of beliefs that do not align with your heart, wreck me and move me. 

Father, I thank you for helping see this world through your eyes. I thank you that Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for us to CHOOSE to live outside of the fear, hatred, and prejudice that are governing the actions of many. 

Help me love every human being the way that you love me.

Help me give the same grace to those I encounter that you have given to me.

Heal this land.

In Jesus’ name.

Amen

Live life. Be FREE. Pursue Happiness.

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Forty years ago, in honor of America’s bicentennial birthday, a bunch of important American history stuff was put on display on a train that was driven across America. My Dad took my sister and I when it came through Louisiana. My five-year-old brain captured memories of the smell of the train, the moving sidewalk (a memory I recall every time I step on one at an airport), sparkly dresses behind glass, and the souvenirs we collected. My Dad – red, white, and blue cowboy boots.bicentennialboots My sister and I – bicentennial belt buckles. beltbuckle‘Merica!!

What my little-girl-brain failed to grasp (maybe because I couldn’t read yet), was the importance of the documents on display.

Two hundred and forty years ago, the thirteen states that existed at the time, declared their independence from England. How beautiful would it be for all of the United States to agree on anything something today?!

At the ripe old age of five, I didn’t appreciate this. Today, I grasp that the declaration made on this day, two-hundred and forty years ago, is a gift. If you are an American, I encourage you to read it. And then get up tomorrow and get busy appreciating your unalienable rights.

Live life. Be FREE. Pursue Happiness.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


 

OUR Pulse

client-pulseThe image above depicts a pulse. The list below depicts the names of individuals whose families have been notified that they no longer have a pulse. It is a list of lives that were lost this weekend to hatred. The names in this list are not strangers. They are not defined by the fact that they lost their lives in an LGBT establishment. They are the names of sons and daughters. They are the names of brothers and sisters. They are the names of friends, co-workers, classmates, and neighbors. Members of our human family were lost and instead of spouting rhetoric or pushing some political agenda, ALL humans should be grieving right now.

My firstborn packed her belongings last summer and moved to Orlando in pursuit of her dreams. In the early morning hours of June 12th, as I learned of the terrorist attack that had taken place during the night, I held my breath for a moment as I tried to reach her. The goal of terrorism is to inflict fear. Mission accomplished.

The moment I knew that my daughter was safe, I was overcome with dread. I KNEW that people with platforms would immediately use the attack to promote an agenda. For those who’ve done so, I have some harsh words.

If you’re doing anything other than LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR right now, STOP IT!

Mark 12:30-31  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Who’s “your neighbor”? It’s the LGBT family with a child on your son’s baseball team. It’s the Muslim family living at the end of your block. It’s the Republican living to your left and the Democrat living to your right. It’s the gun-owner standing in line with you at the grocery store and the journalist on the mat next to you in your yoga class. Every. Single. Human. Being. Is YOUR NEIGHBOR!

Using tragedy to promote an agenda, be divisive, or to justify prejudice and hatred, is sin. Plain and simple.

1 John 4:18 … Love expels ALL fear…

When you’re busy loving, fear is expelled. If you’re afraid right now, I have a solution for you. Get busy loving!

Take a moment to read this list of names. They’re our neighbors. They are/were loved. They deserve to be grieved.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

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muffins with mom in a mental hospital

This post is for every girl who struggles to find joy on Mother’s Day.

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Little girls play with dolls and dream of someday mothering real babies. But those little girl dreams never quite match reality, and for this reason many grownup girls have a love-hate relationship with Mother’s Day. I’m one of them.

This year marks a decade since I’ve been able to call my Mom and wish her a happy day. She wasn’t perfect, but she had countless amazing qualities. She screwed up in big, huge, monumental ways and she never got a grasp on grace. For that very reason she did not want to live a long life and she got her wish. But she was my mother. And today I miss her.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted…

I have two babies that I will never hold this side of heaven and I know far too many Mamas longing to hold their lost babies today. Whether you’ve lost a child through miscarriage, abortion, adoption, illness, or tragedy…. this is still your day. You are a Mother.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted…

My baby girl has been hospitalized in a neurobehavioral unit for almost seven months. In anticipation of Mothers Day, these signs were posted all around the hospital…

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I know far too many Mamas who struggle through this day because their children are hospitalized, living in residential care or group homes, or unable to utter the word “Mom”. I know Mamas who are spending this day watching their children self-injure, destroy everything in their paths, or praying that their child’s aggression isn’t directed at them today.

No matter what it is about this day that makes it hard for you, know that you are valued. Know that your job as a Mama holds worth beyond measure. Know that God is near you.

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Whether you are having Muffins with Mom in a mental hospital, longing for a Mom that isn’t here, longing for a child you cannot hold, or trying to find a way to feel like a success when your child has lost its mind; I pray that you find some joy today. Eat some chocolate. Drink some wine. Celebrate YOU.

Find a way to have a Happy Frickin’ Mother’s Day!

Excruciating…

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Throughout the Lenten season this box has greeted anyone that walks into my home. For six weeks words of repentance and forgiveness have been scratched out on pieces of paper and dropped into the box.

“I forgive _____ for hurting me.”

“God, I repent for not trusting you.”

“God, I forgive you for not yet healing my child.”

etc…

All those words meaningless without the power of this day, the very best and the very worst of Fridays.

The word “excruciating” was created just to describe the events that took place on Good Friday. Its Latin derivative is literally “out of the cross”.

    Excruciating:
    adjective
    1. extremely painful; causing intense suffering; unbearably distressing;torturing:
Every single thing that holds you back in life? Every bit of suffering, pain, distress, and torture.. Let it all go. Jesus experienced “excruciating” on Good Friday so that you don’t have to carry any of it. ANY of it!
As a tangible reminder of what died on the cross, the forgiveness/repentance box that greets those who enter my home will be burned on Resurrection Sunday.
Today, on Good Friday, I encourage you to let go of anything that holds you back. Build your own box to burn on Sunday.
Resurrection is coming.
Redemption is yours for the taking.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful to forgive.
Matthew 6:14… Forgive others. …Be forgiven.
Hebrews 4:16 Boldly approach the throne of grace…
2 Corinthians 12:9 His grace is ALL you need…
John 19:30 IT IS FINISHED!

 

 

 

Being The Church

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After a restless night, I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. Just before heading to bed last night I learned that the Quesenberry family from York, PA traveled to Bulgaria this week, along with one of their biological children, to adopt two boys with special needs. The Dad, Eric, had a heart attack and passed away yesterday in their rented apartment in Bulgaria. The Mom, Natalie, now has to get her husband and three children home. I cannot even imagine what she is going through or what life will be like for her when she gets home. Our transition home with Sofija was incredibly difficult with two parents and I keep thinking that it would’ve been impossible to do alone.

A fundraiser (click HERE) has been set up to help the Quesenberry family with all of the costs involved with getting home and what is to come. Please help if you can and if you cannot, please pray for Natalie and the children.

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

This is when The Church gets to BE The Church!

22 secrets to staying married…

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Dear Hubby and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary on February 18th. For the first time in many years we were able to get away for a couple of days to celebrate. It was a quick trip to New York City with no real agenda except to spend time with each other. I still love walking by his side. I still drink in our conversations. He still makes me laugh. He’s still my favorite guy.:)

Because it’s become an annual tradition for us to grow this list…

22 Secrets to Staying Married

1. Treat your spouse better than anyone else treats them. We all want to be around people who build us up. If the person who does that for your spouse is someone other than you, guess who your spouse is going to want to spend time with.

2. When you fight, don’t vent to your friends and family. They’re not in love with your spouse and long after you’ve kissed and made up they are going to remember the dirt you’ve shared with them.

3. Have friends who love their spouse. Nothing good will come from keeping company with a person who constantly complains about the person they chose to marry.

4. Trade the worst for the best. When your spouse shows you the worst of their character, think about all of their best qualities. When you remember the things you like about a person it’s easy to forget the things you don’t.

5. Be the first to apologize.

6. Don’t go to bed angry. It is easier said than done, but it is a very worthy goal.

7. Spend time with couples who will speak truth. It may hurt your pride to be on a double-date and have someone ask you, “Are you treating him the way you want to be treated?”, but it will never hurt your marriage.

8. Avoid alone-time and personal conversations with anyone of the opposite sex (or the same sex if you find yourself craving more time and/or sharing more with that person than with your spouse).

9. Keep a common interest (other than your kids). There was something that the two of you couldn’t stop talking about when you first met. Keep talking about it and when you lose interest in it, find something new to talk about.

10. Pay attention. I try to make mental notes of everything my husband says he is interested in. “I love this band.” (Get concert tickets) “I’d like to eat there some day.” (Make reservations for date night) “I’d trade a kid for one of those guns.” (Buy him a weapon for father’s day.) When you pay attention to what your spouse talks about, you will never run out of ways to show them you love them.

11. Have sex. Lots of sex. In premarital counseling, I had a little old lady look at me and say, “Kaci, sex is as necessary to a man as food. Just always think of it as a meal. Sometimes he’ll give you several courses of fine dining and sometimes it’ll be like going through the drive-thru at McDonald’s.” She was a very wise woman.

12. Give grace. The Bible tells us repeatedly to forgive others so that God can forgive us. We’ve learned that giving the same kind of grace that we hope to receive is our only hope for a peaceful home.

13. Confess. Confess. Confess. When you hide things it’s an absolute certainty that a little voice will start asking you, “What is she/he hiding from you?” Secrets and half-truths lead to guilt, distrust, accusations, and insecurity. If you feel the need to keep something from your spouse, share it with your spouse immediately. Wine and cheese get better with age. Not sin.

14. Don’t let the kids come between you. Believe me. They will try. And try. And try. When your kids can turn you against each other it makes them insecure and it damages your marriage. Remind yourself often that when two people have a child, they have a common enemy.

15. Remember that your spouse IS NOT your enemy. It is very easy to assume that every pain they cause you is intentional. It usually is not. Go back to number 12.

16. Date. It took us nearly eighteen years to start dating regularly. We don’t know what took us so long, but date-night is now our favorite night of the week.

17. Study your spouse. I sometimes ask my hubby, “Tell me something I don’t know about you.” Even if it’s a small detail about his workday that I would likewise have never known, I feel closer to him because he’s shared something new with me. This one is actually a pretty big deal. It is easy to get bored and to watch years slip away filled with the mundane. Married life and a faith life are exactly the same. When I study and seek the heart of God, I fall in love with Him over and over and I get a glimpse of just how much He loves me. When I study and seek the heart of my husband, I fall in love with him over and over and I get reminded that the love he has for me is the closest I have ever come to the love God has for me.

18. Pray for each other. Out loud. We went on a marriage retreat in the summer of 2003 where we were told to find a spot in a room full of people where we could pray for each other. We were both scared. Quite certain that we were the only couple in the room who had never prayed together, we held hands, closed our eyes, pressed our heads together and listened for a few minutes to the people around us to see if they knew how this was supposed to work. Realizing that nobody around us sounded any more comfortable than we felt, we started praying. In that half an hour we took turns thanking God for all the things we love about each other and claiming His blessings over each other. When we were done we looked at each other and discussed the fact that neither of us had ever felt so loved or so secure in our relationship.

19. (This should really be #1) Figure out what it means to be in relationship with Christ and work on that relationship BEFORE you deal with issues with your spouse. If you do not have God in the proper place in your life, you WILL expect your spouse to be your savior or to fulfill needs that they will never be capable of fulfilling.

20. The Do-Over… This is probably the most valuable communication tool we’ve discovered. A couple of months ago I said something to my hubby in an unintentional nasty tone. He looked at me and said, “Would you like to do that over?” Since that moment, every time one of us feels hurt or offended by something the other one has said or done, we offer a do-over. See numbers 15 and 12.

21. Laugh. A lot. Maybe even more than you have sex. Here’s the biggest thing you should know about married life: It’s hard. REALLY hard. If you let it, the hard stuff will destroy your marriage. No matter what you’re going through, look for something to laugh about. I’ve known several couples who stopped having sex and stayed married, but few who stayed together when they stopped laughing together.

22. Resolve to stick it out. Even if you’re doing all of the things listed above, you’re going to want to call it quits. Make up your mind that quitting is simply not an option. Remind yourself that there are dark nights between sunny days, but the sun ALWAYS rises.