Brian and I have been in this kind of season for the last two months. We’ve had workers repairing and preparing walls to accept new coats of paint and more since we moved back into our house, but we’ve also been doing the same in our relationship.
Honestly, before he retired, I would have said we didn’t need this kind of work in our relationship. I considered our marriage to be a great one but slowly over the last six months, it became obvious that there were several flaws/holes that needed repair.
As our painting crew was painting one wall in particular, they repaired the obvious holes and then primed and painted the walls. It looked beautiful until about 2pm. At that point of every day, the sun shone in through our palladium windows and lit that wall with bright light. Every day at 2 pm, five spots appeared on that wall that were almost undetectable at any other time of day.
The little things that slightly annoyed us about each other while Brian was working and commuting 13.5 hours a day were easily pushed aside in favor of reconnecting at the end of the day. But when you are with someone nearly 24/7 you are also with all of the things that irritate each other. The raw sunlight of togetherness had the holes in our marriage on full display.
So we are repairing and preparing for the new season to come. We aren’t repairing on our own because we’ve found that simply doesn’t work. You hire a professional.
Most of the holes in the walls of our home here and been spackled and sanded by our son. He attempted but they needed professional help. They are filled now and the walls are painted and spectacular.
We’ve hired a professional to do the same work in us.
What repairing and preparing needs to be done in your home or life?
You may, or may not be, wondering why we dance with instructors of the opposite sex. There’s a very simple reason. Brian is learning to lead and I am learning to follow. (Those who know me well are probably laughing at the thought of me learning to follow!)
So much of ballroom is unspoken communication through the hand-to-hand connection in the frame. If the frame is not strong, leads can be misread and steps missed so that the dance becomes choppy.
I’m learning that so much of ballroom dancing applies to marriage.
If our marriage is choppy and not flowing well, perhaps we should go back to the basics of our frame. Do we still know each other well, are we cultivating friendship and a deep connection not just physically, but also emotionally?
I gotta be honest. Our marriage, while strong initially, is improving with each new ballroom dance step.
It’s been a while since my last blog post. Primarily because I’ve been hiding out. I’m not generally thought of as being shy or timid, but the last few years, I have been an ardent avoider. Not in all areas of my life, just one in particular. This one.
If you scroll below this post, you’ll see that the last post here was in 2015. Hard to believe that I haven’t written anything here in 2 1/2 years.
You might well ask why.
I didn’t realize until recently that I was having a Jonah moment.
Jonah, according to scripture, was also an avoider. He was given a specific task to go to a specific group of people to tell them to repent of their sin. This group of people, the Nineveh-ites, some 120,000 strong, were a vile society and God had called Jonah to call them to repentance. Jonah, instead, goes in exactly the opposite direction. He’s trying to avoid the difficult task.
Four years ago, I began working on an idea. I set up a separate blog and a facebook page and worked at it here and there. Two years later, after a move, I resurrected said idea and developed it into a presentation which I gave at our current church in January 2016. I had several people tell me at that time that I was a gifted speaker and that I should turn it into a book and maybe start looking at giving that presentation elsewhere. These were people who I respected, who knew of my spiritual gifts and were encouraging me to seek God’s leading in this area.
Instead, I decided to hide.
I stopped writing altogether and focused on easier things. I was still using some of my gifts and abilities but I was really hiding out. In January of last year, I even took on a new job. This new job totally fit my skills and abilities, but it was really just another place to hide out.
Well, I’m not hiding any longer, thanks to a mission trip and the devotions during that time which God used to call me out of hiding and point out that I was acting like Jonah.
It’s a very important distinction which affects every part of the process of entering the U.S and it’s critical for you to know if you expect to have an informed opinion on the matter. I’m only going to discuss the US process here as my illiteracy in most foreign languages makes researching their processes more difficult. We’ll start with immigrants, then asylum seekers and last refugees.
Global migration patterns have become increasingly complex in modern times, involving not just refugees, but also millions of economic migrants. But refugees and migrants, even if they often travel in the same way, are fundamentally different, and for that reason are treated very differently under modern international law. (unhcr.org)underlining added for emphasis
Immigrants/Migrants (referred to as Lawful Permanent Residents by USCIS/DHS)
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the definition of an immigrant is “any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories (INA section 101(a)(15))“. The non-legal definition of an immigrant is “apersonwhomigratestoanothercountry,usuallyforpermanent residence.” (Dictionary.com)
For practical purposes, in this discussion, it would be someone who wants to come to America to study, to work, to live here permanently. Within this broad definition, there are also asylum-seekers and refugees. The difference is why they want to come to the U.S.
Economic migrants are choosing to leave their country of origin in order to seek out better economic conditions, etc.
According to the UN High Commission on Refugees, an asylum-seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated. Bear in mind that the only world organization who has the authority to confer refugee status is UNHCR.
An asylum-seeker has left their country of origin in fear of their government or fleeing war and could also fit the following definition of a refugee but has not yet had refugee status conferred on them. Asylum-seekers may or may not be living in refugee camps (think Soviet defections on US soil we’ve all seen in movies), and may or may not be traveling with their families.
According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” (unhcr.org)
In 2013, (unfortunately the latest year for which I can find compiled statistical data) the number of lawful permanent residents (aka immigrants/migrants) admitted to the US, was 990,553. In contrast, the number of refugees admitted to the US that same year was only 69,909.
We are not likely to forget the stirring images we are seeing of the humanitarian crisis taking place in Greece, Hungary and Turkey involving people fleeing from Syria anytime soon. Like many people, I was stirred to action and went looking to help in a place where I could truly help. I found such a place in World Relief. I had never heard of them and would probably have never heard of them if it hadn’t been for Ann Voskamp’s post urging action. She, along with The Justice Conference and World Relief launched a movement called #wewelcomerefugees. You can find their website here.
So my first training as a World Relief volunteer was last night. I learned so much that I had to share it. The first thing that I learned was that the only entity with the authority to confer “refugee” status on a person is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It’s their responsibility to stabilize and safeguard refugees and to mediate on their behalf. They have 3 options for refugees – voluntary repatriation to their country of origin, local integration into the country where they are currently located or resettlement into a third country. No one is called a refugee until UNHCR says they are. So you may have heard the Syrians fleeing their country called “refugees” or “migrants”. Migrant is the correct terminology until they have been conferred refugee status by UNHCR. The UNHCR is working in the camps to register migrants and determine whether they meet “refugee” status. You can imagine the nightmare this is.
The second thing I learned was the size of the problem and this astounded me. Here’s some data for you which pre-dates the current mass Syrian migration…
10-12 million identified refugees
30-40 million potential
Of the 10-12 million, approximately 1% get resettled in a third country
Only 22 countries take refugees to be resettled: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruquay and the US.
Average wait in a camp situation: 15 years (average!!)
Average wait to be resettled: 5 years
Refugees have to apply and countries have restrictions on who they will accept.
The US takes the majority of the 1% who are resettled. This year it was capped at 70,000. In 2016, the US will take 80,000.
This is a huge problem and we as Christians should be responding… but what’s the best way to help? There are three big things any of us can do.
Donate to an agency providing food and services to people in the camps
Donate to an agency who resettles refugees in the US
I encourage you to check out agencies through guidestar.com or charitynavigator.com before donating, find one that is reputable and give, please give.
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:36-40
In Did You Know #1, I shared that all slavery was not abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. In fact, it was not fully abolished until 1942 when it was ended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Convict leasing was practiced primarily in the South and peaked in 1880, but was still being practiced in various forms until it was formally abolished. In this system, persons convicted of a crime were leased to landowners or private companies to work in plantations, mines on railroads, for logging etc. Even a conviction for vagrancy would land you into the convict leasing system. As stated in Did You Know #1,a white person could ask a black man walking on the street if he had a money in his pocket. If the answer was no, they would report him for vagrancy and the white person would be paid a fee for finding an able-bodied man for the convict leasing system. The system of paying these fees encouraged further abuses. If a white man asked if you had money in your pocket and you did, he would take your money and then ask the question again. This time, you had none and were reported by that man for vagrancy.
Want to know more about the Not-Slavery Slavery that existed between the civil war and 1942? Check out the following resources (book titles are linked to Amazon.com):
Did you know that the 13th amendment to the constitution did not abolish all slavery? I didn’t. In fact when I googled, “When did the 13th amendment pass?” This is what I got.
December 6, 1865
Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States. The 13th amendment, which formally abolished slavery in the United States, passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the House on January 31, 1865.
Note that the entire text of the amendment is linked but not stated, which leads us to believe that all slavery was abolished. It was not. Here is the text of the 13th amendment as passed and ratified.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
After the passage of this amendment, it was a common occurrence in the south for an able-bodied black man to be arrested and convicted of vagrancy for simply having no money in his pockets.
Black men who were unemployed for even a short time were at high risk for being channeled into the prison slavery system. The practice was called convict leasing and it served as an important part of the Not Slavery-Slavery system of that time. The convict leasing system had risen up to fill the need for cheap labor after most slavery was outlawed and the threat of the “lease was a powerful source of intimidation”… Convict leasing was also referred to as “the chain gang”. – The Wheat Money by Kristi Tyler
Whites were paid a fee for identifying a black person as a good worker for the convict leasing system.
Did you know about the full text of the 13th amendment?
“Look, you have this one life. If you keep being selfish and unkind, it’s going to come back to you. Ask yourself why you’re scared, why you hate.” – Clemantine Wamariya
Sometime in 2013, I joined a Facebook group called Transracial Adoption. It’s purpose is to bring together all parts of the adoption triad (Adoptees, Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents) to tell the truth about how it is to be an adoptee of a different race than your parents. I have learned so very much and my perspective has been molded so much by this group. It’s made me a better parent to my boys… not perfect by any means, but better.
Regularly there are posts of articles to this group from varying different perspectives. Listening to these perspectives has been on of the things that also helped me change my perspective on life, parenting and my faith (see Why I did a 180).
Today, there was an interesting link to a blog post written by a woman who survived Rwanda, Clementine Wamariya. She was a refugee in Africa for years, and then moved to the US. She is a public speaker, blogger and a great storyteller. I am sure she is many more things as well. I read the entire post and in the last paragraph was the truth nugget I posted at the top of this post.
If you keep being selfish and unkind, it’s going to come back to you. Ask yourself why you’re scared, why you hate? Volumes could be written in our collective journals answering these questions if only we would ask them of ourselves. But we, Americans, alas, are not so self-reflecting.
This is the question I will unpack for a few days.
18 years ago, you would have found me listening to Sean Hannity and MIchael Savage. I started listening to Sean Hannity as soon as he came on the national scene. I was conservative through and through. I bought the line that led us to believe that to be a Christian you had to be a conservative.
15 years ago, you would have found me calling in fairly regularly to Bill O’Reilly’s show, Sean Hannity’s show and Glenn Beck’s show spouting conservative rhetoric.
10 years ago, I was still listening regularly to all of them.
9 years ago, in the middle of the summer, our church, Calvary Church in St. Peters, MO (@calvaryonline) announced that they were partnering with a predominantly black church, Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis to plant a purposely-integrated church in North St. Louis county. Brian and I were intrigued and immediately volunteered to be part of those sent by Calvary. The commitment was for a year to help build the church.
In January of 2007, the beginnings of that church were established with several couples who committed to combat racism by learning to love each other as the body of Christ. It was a beautiful thing. We opened our doors to the public as “Calvary Church at the Mall” in a movie theater in the St. Louis Mills mall on Easter Sunday, 2007 with a black pastor and a white pastor and a black worship leader and a small but committed congregation. The church has since moved to northern St. Charles but still is an integrated church and we worshipped there every Sunday until we were transferred to the Chicago area in August of 2014.
I will never forget a passage that we studied early in January of 2007 and is what I feel to be the founding passage of that church which is Acts 2 where Jews from all over the world heard Peter’s preaching, accepted Christ and repented of their sins. Acts 2:42-47 in particular describes the early church. Now keep in mind this included people from all over the known world:
“42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” NIV version from Bible Gateway
We did that and in those early days of the church, those of us who were white listened to our black brothers and sisters in Christ describe what it was like for them to live in St. Louis. For me, the scales began to be chipped away from my eyes and I began to see the injustice which they lived with every day. Deep friendships with the Pierson, Draper and Washington families continued to chip away at those scales.
These families were patient with me as I began to see that conservatism too often has a negative view of our black brothers and sisters. Yes, I said that. And yes, I meant it. Please let that sit with you for a few moments.
Conservatism, too often, has a negative view of our black brothers and sisters.
The Political Right, too often, has a negative view of our black brothers and sisters.
Neither will acknowledge the systemic racism in our country. Neither will acknowledge white privilege. Instead, they claim that all the blame for all of the wrongs which currently exist in the black community belong solely to blacks themselves.
This is untrue. It is a lie.
Take a look at this video which tells the truth.
Because there really is systemic racism in our country and because there is such a thing as white privilege, I can no longer subscribe to the political right or to conservatism. As a follower of Christ, I cannot subscribe to a philosophy that denies injustice and points the finger of blame at those it oppresses.