The Cry of the (White) Kids

Yesterday there was a 4th of July party at my parents house. I walked in the door, hugged my mom, and willingly exiled myself to the kids room. The kids table, outside with the kids after dinner, the whole deal.

I am 23 and I have been working with kids for 7 years.

When I was in Chile, who did I miss? Right: kids.

I do not have my own kids and I do not want my own kids.

However, it is clear that I like kids. I want to be around them. I do not like them because they are small and say random things and I can boss them around and sound smart while telling them historic or scientific facts that everyone who has any sort of middle school education knows. No, actually, I like them because I respect them. I feel that by being the only ones here brave enough to be vulnerable and ignorant and small, they earn my respect. When I am in a room with adults my interior screams: WHY DONT WE ALL STOP FAKING IT. When I am with kids, well, it gets quieter.

The most shocking cultural behavior that has impacted me this year during my re-entry has undeniably been the way people in the U.S.A. treat their children. White kids, in particular, get my attention because I have only ever been one, and I know exactly how it feels to be a sensitive creature at the other end of that repremand, that painted smile, that flippant laugh.

Interactions in restaurants, at the gym, in the neighborhood–anywhere!–have exposed me anew to the egoistical disrespect with which children are treated. We have got to stop! If we do not acknowledge our children as humans, and being a human as intrinsically good, how will we love this world back to life?

The lie of badness is daily hammered into children, in all spheres of our culture. Home. School. Play. Good Lord, no wonder we are killing each other! I almost do not blame us. Except for all of the goodness I have seen, and have learned to see. There is so much goodness & we are truly all intrinsically good, accepted, loved, and valued. This darkness cannot last long. Our souls were made to be free, if not as children, then as adults.

I wrote the following piece after witnessing a particularly harrowing parenting episode in a restaurant. Parenting truly must be difficult, but I know it is not impossible to hear the cry of our children. I know it is possible for each adult in the U.S.A. to welcome their the truth of their goodness home into their deepest selves that they may pass it on. That the cry for love may be heard, and may heal the generations to come.

The Cry of the White Kid is a cry for respect & love. May we, as adults, receive the love and respect that is freely poured out on us from the Divine, and may our children absorb it and thrive.

The Cry of the White Kid

Mom, Dad,

Please dont look me in the face and tell me that I am bad.

Please dont teach me to see the patterns of my shadows–I need you to teach me to see the light that will lead me into and through that darkness.

Please dont smile at your friends and tell them how bad I am while I have tears streaming down my face.

Please dont laugh at the way I swim or only point out my weaknesses.

Please assume that I am right where I should be, instead of stressing constantly that I am behind the others.

Please dont use me to puff up your ego or make your decisions or shield you from your emotions.

Please dont always point out my imperfections–I already see them in full color. I need you to show me my perfection. No one else ever will.

Love unconditionally and with all my respect,

Future You in the World

 

Amen,

Lydia Nomad, a white kid 🙂

 

P.S. Here is a Great Parenting Blog Post.

 

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Tend-and-befriender

It is odd to tell a story as if it was a thing that happened and it has an end and tra la la. This story is a chapter, it is a leaf only recently flipped over, and I am not sure which parts of its’ green vines to write, and which to leave for later.

Yet today, here, now, all I have is cute little me and my inhospitable life story and path. Here, friends, is a part.

August 2015 I am in a restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama with my best friend Emily. She is chewing red and yellow tortilla chips in the magical way only she can, and I gaze at the shiny bottles of alcohol propped on and around the bar caddy-corner to us.

“I’m just afraid that I will marry him and go to be with him and then hate it and not want to be there,” I say. Emily and I do not talk about everything but we talk about most things and all the deep things, yet somehow there is a unique heaviness to the fear I share in this moment. Emily nods like the sane, level-headed being she is, and validates my concern with restraint.

Sadly, utter heaviness was no stranger to my experience of life then, and still maintains a fairly reliable presence (always forward, always healing, always hopeful). At that point I was back from an emotionally stressful overseas trip, and had returned with a new tend-and-befriender. What is that, you ask? Using language from Teresa B. Pasquale’s book Sacred Wounds, tend-and-befriend is a defense mechanism used by someone in survival mode or trauma response. It is associated with the bonding hormone, oxytocin, that serves humans by helping us feel connected to others. It becomes nefarious, however, when a person is stuck in a trauma response and feels dependent emotionally on (often potentially hurtful) people or communities.

At the age of 21, I had spent the majority of my life (read: every second) moving from a stress response. The emotional and religious trauma of my developmental years left me stuck in frozen distress (things can get reeeeeally hairy there is distress-arctica, let me tell ya), and there I was, about two months after the difficult trip, feeling a deep obligation to return to be with someone in a foreign country who had helped me through a VERY rough 13 days. I felt that I owed him something, and that to return and live the life I assumed he wanted from or with me was the undeniable right thing to do.

I felt it not on a spiritual level, nor on a level of dutifulness, nor on an intellectual level. It was deeper than those parts of me, and now I know that when I feel that deep, guttural obligation it is coming from my very evolution. Those stress responses are a part of me because I am a part of an evolving body of humanity; sounds beautiful, sure, but in that moment, I was very stuck. Living in this kind of stress response is like trying to breath with air that is only 0.09% oxygen. It is having your insides in the fetal position when you need them to open and flourish and say things and be responsive to people. It is a jack-hammer in your mind that leaves you vulnerable to re-experiencing the abuse combined with a sense of badness that stings and prods like horse flies on the beach. It is no sleep and avoidance of every love-light ray that comes near your personal darkness.

The religious trauma compounded with this process has continually led me to my knees, trying to bargain with push-and-pull gods off in the cosmos who made me, so must want me, but also must not want me since here I am in this turmoil again.

Thankfully, the kind man who helped me when I was overseas, lived, yes, overseas. After 5+ months in contact with him, I suddenly cut all conversation–text, calls, video. He offered advice and was kind and looking back I think he must have sensed the turmoil I was in though he did not understand it either, and I said goodbye.

January 2016 I am at my part-time cleaning job the day after cutting off the relationship and the air is back to 20% oxygen. Sweet, sweet clear oxygen filling my shriveled lungs. I lift my Pledge-covered rag over my head and dance; I feel elated, happy, for the first time in months. I am happy because I see that I am mine. As the jack-hammer lifts off my mind, I am thinking over and over: this is my life. I clean this house. This is my heart. I feel these things. The fetus my insides had become is suddenly a seed of new life, rather than a posture of protection. I am mine again, independent, and my muchness is slipping back into the ghost of myself that has been living misguided and drained for the past months.

I still wonder if people without an over-active stress response system feel that elated all the time. I wonder how many times I will have to survive a response like that again until my Holy Trinity (body, mind, soul) can look a stressful situation in the face and know that I am enough, and that it is going to be okay and I am going to make it regardless of what goes down.

I never should have accessed this place of stress and trauma. I certainly never should have gotten stuck in it for so long. But this is my life. MY super unique and immense life, people. I am grateful that I get to live it, know it, figure it out. This life is path and path is where my insides and outsides come together and I experience joy and love and laughter. Here, on path, I take the hands of my loved-ones with my own, even when I feel that my hands are not worthy to be inside of someone else’s.

Last week someone I love very much was angry and I could see the anger that she was trying to protect me from as I stroked her black hair.

I could see. I have lived. It has hurt. I can see.

Live free, live inside of the Big Love.

Namaste, nomads.

 

LN

 

 

 

 

will I go?

Visiting the Wycliffe (Bible Translators) headquarters in Dallas last week, I guess I asked for it. The Holy Spirit came knocking (per my own bold request) on Sunday night, solidifying all I’ve known to be true since 8th grade….I’m destined to follow God’s call overseas, and following that call is not going to be easy. There is a reason not all languages have translations of the Gospel. Living overseas is hard. Trusting God (rather than your own ability to pull up them bootstraps!) to provide your daily bread is not comfortable. Living oceans away from your family….daunting at best. Let’s not even mention the powers of darkness at work.
Life is full of heartache (wherever you live) and following Jesus takes immense courage.

Another follower said, “Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father’s funeral to take care of.” Jesus refused, “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.”
~Matthew 8:21-22, MSG

So there I stood, in the highest building at the International Linguistics Center, as they sang:

Letting go of my pride
Giving up all my rights
Take this life and let it shine*

How can I give it all up? I can’t escape the thought. I’m standing on the brink of the rest of my life and all my weak heart can cry is: I love my life! I love Little Rock! I want to stay.
Yet, I know what staying would mean. Happiness laced with hollowness. Wondering. A curiosity that would never leave me be, that would make me restless everyday of my life. The knowledge, achy like a stomach cramp, that I had not said “yes” to the Lord of my life. How can I slam the door in his face? How can I sing the songs….

Surrender?

do you people know what that means? I thought, as everyone sang happily around me. It means no more truck rides with inner-city kids and hot Cheeto fingerprints, no more Halloweens spent driving from one side of my beloved city to the other; no more drop-in visits to friends who have known me since before adolescence, friends who rode the high school roller coaster with me; no more knowing the ins & outs of one place, one people.
No more weekends at mom & dad’s.
Will I get to see my sisters…even once a year?
God, I love my life.
It is a gift.
Is it an idol?

You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20, emphasis mine

Do I love my life more than I love the God who gave me life? If I truly believe that all good things come from God why would I run away from him instead of towards him?

He has given me time, talent, & the treasure of my heart & free will. He won’t force himself on me, but he allures me towards the adventure my soul longs to play its irreplaceable role in.
And all I can do is shake in my little gray Skechers:

Surrender.

Truly, it is the only option. I don’t have to be smart enough. I don’t have to be healthy. I just have to be willing. I just have to trust him. It is hard to sing the words:

It will be my joy to say
Your will
Your way*
(Chris Tomlin, Lay Me Down)

…so I will whisper them, tears flowing from the depths of my shattered heart.

I surrender. I will go; I will go if You go with me.

And He said to him [Moses], “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”~Exodus 33:14, ESV

He is enough. Who else has a bottle full of the tears I’ve shed since birth? Who else loves me enough to make me whole? No small part of my heart is isolated; He cares for every inch of my eternal soul.

Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16, CEV

Dare to follow him, and join the deluge of people who have taken the plunge into the ocean of his grace;
His grace for you.

LYDIA2

Judy Griffith (pictured in blue) spent her life translating the Bible for people groups in Papau New Guinea. What will your legacy be?

https://www.wycliffe.org/

Rope Route to Rest

Don’t clean up to come. Even in the heated sin-moment turn we can, upwards. Soul lifted high when eyes are too heavy with remorseful tears. The refuse we find ourselves wrecked in is not bigger than redemption: sanguine drops of Jesus etched into human heart history ages ago. In the hating, the lying, the cussing, the spitting, the yelling, the venting at computer or dog or self or other, look up and find the rope strong enough to lift. Don’t hesitate because of the nasty you haven’t got clean of: you can’t clean you anyway, trying only makes you more dirty. Unclean is the only way we can come, out of our soil, into his Son.

Amazing grace the sweetest thing, this I know.~Crowder

Let there be less focus on the beautiful big words we’ve bivouacked next to steps God guides us through and more preoccupation with the transcendent power of living in God’s love right this minute. This solitary moment is a speck on eternity’s sandy shore yet in it we have access to the great God our Maker. Don’t neglect to latch your soul onto this moment, let it come alive, climbing the rope to heavens peace like a muscly gymnast using only upper body power. Let us climb not by the strength of our forearms nor the gnarled stout of abdomens but by the divine rope within us tied tight by Jesus’ outstretched arms.

In trust let him tear down the tower that you stand on, built by wounded ego, trampled on child hidden behind. Put away pithy apologies to the Prince of Peace and put in their place war by God almighty strength, bowing no longer to Satanic bonds. Throw vices off your chained neck. Let wretchedness no longer rub shoulders raw. Flex spirit muscles and use prayerful pleas from the heart to overcome belittling whispers claiming that the rope God offers isn’t really there, that what you hold onto isn’t made to carry such weight, that the unreliable rope will snap (because, as the lie goes, your nasty is heavier than everyone else’s). Wrong. You know it won’t snap because you know the Vine from which it grows. You’ve tasted his power and felt his kiss on the sweaty skin of your soul.

Four letter words are allowed in his presence because he knows once your soul desert experiences the eternal oasis you’ll spit them out for the fire on your tongue. Fire that crackles fervent fury for injustice inflicted on family members who don’t look remotely like you.

When your boss makes you feel like a thumb tack stuck in Titan toe…

When your hair is not pretty,

Your muscles not strong…

When your career has chewed you up and spit you back out…

Or your marriage has done the same,

When you are tired and pulled on from every direction…

When no one seems to notice how much or how little you do…

Then they will know that I love you. ~Revelation 3:9

Up, up, up. Point that soul in the higher direction, ask for the good way, and walk in it, that you may find rest for your tired, tired soul (Jeremiah 6:16).

Voiceover

Thursdays are not typically exciting days in my life. The usual order of events goes like 1) class, 2) study, 3) work. That’s it (what a trip, I know). Today class happened and after beating my head against a Physical Science textbook for a good 30 minutes I scuttled into my creative writing instructor’s office for a visit. Ms. Sandy is a Northerner (from the upper half, give/ take a state or two, of the U.S.A.). I have had mixed experiences with Northerners due to cultural differences but one thing I will say: they call it like it is. Cut and dry. Black and white. “You stink.” “You’re extraordinary.” “What exactly are you referring to?”

That being said, nearly the first thing out of Sandy’s mouth to me was: “You have what it takes to go as far as a writer as you want. If you want to get your master’s [degree], write [professionally], you can do it.” 

Compliments happen. Warm fuzzy feelings, gushed gratitude. Blah blah.

But when Ms. Sandy said those words my heart sang. I laughed until I cried in my truck on the way home because the words Ms. Sandy said are true.

Truth is the driving force behind joy.

At a dear friend’s request I met with 4 other women this afternoon to form a panel that was consulted on issues faced by young people today. We contributed our voices hoping that the curriculum our interviewers create will offer insight and guidance to a generation in tumult. Sitting in the dim light I noticed something about the 4 of us. Two of us, myself and one other, have lived the most utterlysplendidprivilegedlives for which any girl could ask. Have they been hard lives? Yes. But they have been lives filled with love and Truth and opportunity. We are extraordinary blessed. The other two–girls dear to my heart–have not been granted the same gifts. Neither have Godly father figures to turn to for help or support and both carry deep scars not yet fully healed. Of the four of us, myself and the second “privileged one” were the quickest to speak, the most eager to voice our opinions. Though their stories and opinions are arguably more gritty and riveting, the other two had to be coaxed, and still did not speak as much.

When I have something to say a fire burns in my belly until it is said. I know that it is my human right to be heard. I know that my words are important. Knowing this leads me to treat the words of others with equal importance. It’s respect, the right thing to do.

But when you’ve been ignored your whole life? When a man has never asked you what you think about…anything? When no one has taken the time to get to know you? When you’ve been yelled at and treated like an unwanted pest?

Inevitably, you start to doubt the value of your own voice. You begin to question the importance of what you have to say. You decide it is better to keep quiet because no one wants to hear it.

So there they sat, the girls with the most to say keeping quiet. I blame the powers of darkness for the loss of anything on their hearts that went unsaid. I praise the One who gave them the courage to utter the few words they did into floating microphones. And further, I recognize my small role in the puzzle God is masterfully putting together.

He has nurtured and grown me via parents and community, literature, travel, and music, to speak eloquently and boldly on behalf of the Truth. Not just the blessed Truth of the Gospel, but also the Truth of individual experiences all around me. Harsh realities, tragic memoirs, unique celebrations, epics of the downtrodden: the stories of timid ones need to be told. Minorities are cast aside, virginity is cruelly stolen, words are misunderstood, drugs drive knives through families. And those people keep quiet because they have been told that their words carry no weight.

Their words do carry weight, and they are burdens God created me to bear.  He sent a blunt Northern woman to reiterate the truth of my gifts: I am a writer. Not every word I pen is perfect (HA!), but writing creatively is one thing on this earth that will come naturally for me. Oh, the freedom of knowing that is true! By His guidance and mercy I speak, I write, and in so doing I will flesh out a small corner of His plan.

One woman with a host of hushed people trailing a humble King. It’s a weird story, but it’s mine.

When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The Great I Am the Lord is here
Oh praise the One who fights for me
And shields my soul eternally

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I’m running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty.

~Rend Collective Experiment

All the other Thursdays have (and will) serve an equally great purpose, but today was a big mile marker in the journey of arriving for my purpose here on earth.

Your story is valuable, as is your voice.

Speak.

Surrender Poem

Tears fall

my chest with a knife lodged

my abdomen tied like rope

my shoulder scalpel-ed by every inhale

my feet with naked bone touching ground

all remind me it was born to die,

this natural map, from toe to pony-tailed tendril.

I laugh white teeth with gap in between

because I’m closer to Heaven than ever before.

No spiritual song, no kiss in moonlight,

no day on the lake nor mountaintop moment

offers this free fall forward so explicitly.

In front of my face, inches away,

is a God who says,

“I’ve put your soul into a broken jar.”

All I can do is flatten my feeble frame

against the floor and say, “Thank you.”

This is where I get my faith:

debate between Emergency room or living room.

He waves white flag for me,

ushering me into the abundant existence.

This broken jar is brimming,

to breathe is to be blessed.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.~Romans 8:23

I’m laying down my sickness and pain for the glory of the Lord~Darrell Evans

Year of Two Griefs

2013

2013

2 years ago I tutored a girl named Aaliyah.
1 summer ago I met a woman with 3 daughters trailing behind her.
That summer I realized that I had to have real faith or no faith at all.
I knew that it was not enough to serve people I did not know.
I knew I was cheating God to emotionally clock in and out of “ministry”.
I knew I had to care.

Then I said, ‘behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’~Hebrews 10:7

Back to the girl named Aaliyah.
I started showing up at her apartment, chatting with her mom.
I started bringing strawberries after school.
I felt awkward and unsure of everything except for one thing: God’s plan.

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.~Micah 7:7

He was leading me, Little Old Me, and I was doing my best to walk in the shoes He had for me.
I searched and searched and kept coming back to apartment 119 in the projects.
Then I took three girls to the park.
Then I took three girls to the library.
Suddenly–I can’t remember when exactly–a relationship was born.

Rumor has it that other languages have words for what English speakers call “adopted family” or “fictive kin”. I wish English had a word for it. The three girls are not my sisters, they are not my kids. “Entourage” doesn’t cut it either. They are something more miraculous and unusual. We became blood-kin not by our parents but by our Savior. His love compelled me to their door. His love made sure there was a place for me in their life. God’s whimsy, His creativity, His mission brought us together and made one great year.
There were apologies and snacks by the pool. We ran spontaneously into the sprinklers at Peabody Park and we went to church together on Sunday afternoons. We danced in the talent show and we played tips with the Church’s Chicken basketball. We read books together and we watched Beatles videos until we got bored. We wrestled, we danced, we swam, we clapped, we sang, we prayed. We were humans–little girls–together. Jesus’ loving ability to meet our needs bridged the gaps between us.
There were times when I felt I was banging my head against a wall of sin and rebellion. There were times when dancing in the kitchen with them was therapy for me.
Our love for each other turned heads. I like to think that people felt an inkling of divine involvement when they saw me and three chocolate swirled girls happily packed into my truck.1452329_763019423714930_46172494_n

Now they have relocated and left a gaping hole in my life.
The anvil is on my heart again,
Like wounding a wound.

The English language falls short once more.
Suffice it to say, God’s dreams are the dreams that overwhelm and delight.

As I read Isaiah 30 I can feel God whisper to my tore up soul:

This is the way. Walk you in it.

All Praises Be

I greet my God in the morning as though I woke up beside Him.
Praises be to the One who chooses to be near me,
Praises to the One who is patient with me, and tender.
He is always doing something but it seems like I see that more tangibly when I travel, even just one hour away for 5 days. This gives me time to look at and comprehend just a string or two of the tapestry He is weaving
Here.
On this planet
With these children
And each other,
All disciples,
Of the living God,
Of our Savior Jesus.
We are claimed as His beloved
And we’re fighting for these children whose lives appear to be hanging in the balance.
I don’t know how many heads I’ve kissed.
I do not know how many weeping girls I have lifted from their beds and brought down to my bunk so that they could sleep their troubled sleep, clinging tightly to my arm.
I don’t know how much ice I have put on wounds
Or how many kids have heard me say, “You’re important.”
But I meant every single one.
All this may suffice to say,
God is here among us.
He is working.
His plan is being fulfilled in hearts and lives.
Little nuggets of knowledge we have laid in hearts we ask our Father to nurture, to protect.

I will continue it all until He points my compass elsewhere.
I need God to keep me humble,
I need Him to make me strong.
I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.~Psalm 138:2-3

Be persistent in your efforts for good.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the example in your speech, in your conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.~1 Timothy 4:12

My hope is set on the living God.
Can I shout it out?
May I cry aloud, “He is MY God! He has claimed me!”
My hands work hard to make Him known.
I ask no other portion
Than to know the One whose race I run.

Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of every value, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.~1 Timothy 4:7b-8

I still have so far to go, but my Lover is answering my prayers.
He is teaching me (in all my stubbornness) to have grace and love, and to build others up.

More grace.
More love.
More healing.
We all live in His sight.
Let us be ready and willing to take hold of that which is truly life.

Get up at 6 A.M. four days in a row this week and spend 35 minutes with God. I dare you to see what He will do in and around you.

Little Bits of God

Working as a counselor at summer camp this week I got a card from my sister. It did not say much but it contained a piece of construction paper shaped like a heart. On it were words I wrote months ago: God’s powerful and patient grace is rescuing us all.
I had given my sister a jar full of hearts with truths written on them. This week, as a way to encourage me, she sent one back. What a blessing. What an example of how we are supposed to operate, passing on the Truths that we encounter. The little bits of God that we stumble upon are meant to be treasured first, and then shared.
How tightly I feel His arms wrap around me even as I trudge through trials and confusions.

…You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43:4)

Is there any Scripture sweeter than this?

It is the Lord’s house that I work to fill up with worshipers.
I can write their names in my book a thousand times and it will do no good.
In His arms is the book of life. And I pray that these names are written there.

PIC

Unforced Grace

You, Lord, are enthroned forever.

In my little life, You have already done so much.
You raised me up in Your word via loving parents.
You ignited that knowledge of the Scriptures by Your Holy Spirit.
You took me to Jamaica to break my heart for the nations.
You led me to a Native American Reservation in Washington state to set me face to face with the choice of who I will worship. In a fierce competition between me and You, You won.
Blessed be Your name.
You broke my body and wholly took control, though I fought it tooth and nail.
You shattered my pride and claimed my heart for Your own.
You led me to Mexico to discover grace and peace.
You drew me to North Little Rock to glimpse Your heart for the marginalized.
You allowed tragedy to strike as close to my heart as possible outside of my nuclear family.
I don’t know Your plan but I can see Your hand
Moving, shaping, preparing, making.

Few delights can equal the mere presence of one whom we trust utterly~George MacDonald

When I take a moment to reflect on the road I am walking,
I quickly become overwhelmed by what an eloquently written story my life is.
This God–His way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30)

Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.~Matthew 11:28-30 MSG