When you pray, move your feet

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John Lewis marching in Selma prior to being attacked by state troopers

They say it’s an African proverb (who knows if it actually is):

When you pray, move your feet.

The reason I know this phrase is not because I grew up in South Africa, but because it is a favorite saying of John Lewis, one of the key leaders of the USA Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Lewis was responsible for helping to lead a lot of the grassroots college protests in the 60’s– the Freedom Rides, lunch-counter sit-ins, and also led the famous march in Selma for voting rights.

In other news, we just finished a small group study of the book Generous Justice with some people from our church. The book systematically goes through the Bible and shows how justice is central to God’s character, and to the way he expects his people to live. One of the most interesting things Keller brings up is the term righteousness in the Bible doesn’t mainly refer to private personal morality, but rather refers to the individual’s role in bringing social justice. Throughout scripture (but especially in the book of Job), we see the definition of an unrighteous person is one who advantages himself at the expense of the community, while the righteous man disadvantages himself for the sake of his neighbour. Whether that is clothes, food, legal counsel, or paying a fair wage–righteous people actively seek justice for their neighbours, even at cost to themselves.

I’ve been thinking about prayer, and justice, and what it means to pray while moving your feet this week, because South Africa just had possibly its largest ever prayer meeting. Thousands of people gathered to pray for our country, and for just leadership in our nation. I believe the work of justice is spiritual work, and so I was encouraged to see so many people willing to travel for hours in order to pray for just leadership. Continue reading

Moving On & Finding Home

AtHomeInTheWorld_CVR_500I’ve written before about this tension I always feel as a TCK between trying to be content where I am, and at the same time missing the place or the culture that I am without.

I read books about the spiritual discipline of rootedness, of staying in one place and getting connected even though it isn’t perfect (heck, I’ve even written about that!) … but it’s still always a struggle. I live in rented apartments and I get itchy and long to paint the wall, to pick out my own dishes, and not just use ones from Goodwill (because why invest?) I get tired of feeling like there’s no place that’s really mine. I want to build a nest. I want to borrow sugar from my neighbor.

But the other part of me wants to travel the world and live out of a backpack, and never settle anywhere. The thought of getting a mortgage makes me feel like I’m signing a death notice (even though I know you can always sell a house). As I accumulate stuff I am mentally thinking, “Will this fit in a suitcase?”

So I loved getting to read Tsh’s new book At Home in the World, where she wrestles with some of these same ideas. Tsh’s book is all about their family adventure of traveling around the world in a year. They go to China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Morocco, France, Italy, Croatia, Kosovo, Turkey, Germany and England…. all with three kids, all with one backpack each. Continue reading

Adventures in Simplicity

simplifyAs my husband and I have been on this journey of trying to think more critically about our stuff, one of the voices I have appreciated is Tsh Oxenrider. If you haven’t checked out her blog “the Art of Simple” it’s worth a skim. Most lifestyle blogs have you getting to the end of a post and thinking, “I need this, oh gosh, and I need that. Aw, and why don’t I have this other thing, too?” Whereas with the Art of Simple, you finish and think, “How can I simplify and embrace contentment where I am?” Continue reading

Loving your neighbor starts with noticing your neighbor.

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TIME

Don’t give up chocolate for Lent this year, said Pope Francis. Give up indifference to the poor.

“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”Describing this phenomenon he calls the globalization of indifference, Francis writes that “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”   – TIME magazine

Notice your neighbor. Continue reading

Black History Month

 

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It’s black history month in America, and too often that just means token quotes from Martin Luther King Jr (selectively chosen for their inoffensiveness) pop up on Facebook. So this month I’ve been educating myself about awesome black women in American history , and there’s a lot of them. There’s Katherine Johnson of Hidden Figures fame– if you haven’t seen it, go watch it—to Ella Baker, the middle-aged woman-power behind the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to Ida B. Wells’ single-handed campaign to end lynching, to the many rural Southern Women who not only changed the diapers and washed the laundry of the white people’s kids, but also housed student volunteers during the Civil Rights movement and led the Montgomery Bus boycott—it’s good that America take some time to say “thank you” to reflect on and celebrate the many black people in our history who have made America what it is today. Continue reading

On confusing Jesus with the Statue of Liberty

 “People are confusing the Statue of Liberty and Jesus…But in fact while the real historical Jesus did urge compassion for those in need, but he also said, ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ In other words, support government with your taxes because they have a legitimate function like protecting citizens. Those of us who believe in the sanctity of life believe that sanctity serves to not only to protect the unborn but to protect the born from terrorist attacks. That’s a Christian value as well.” – A certain pastor of a big church on Fox news

Once they wouldn’t let my Dad on a plane. He had to stay behind in Germany a few extra days to go to the US embassy because he didn’t have enough pages in his passport. It was inconvenient, and frustrating, but we knew it would all work out in the end. Continue reading

What worked for me in 2016

class 1991.jpgThere’s this thing that a lot of bloggers (also ) I follow do at the end of the year– reflect on “what worked” and what didn’t. It’s a great tool to reflect over the past year and integrate new things into the year ahead. Since things have been pretty serious around the blog the past few months, I’m going to be sprinkling in some more stories on our experiments with minimalism starting with my variation of the 2016 “what worked for me”: the things we did without in 2016… Continue reading

The violence of nonviolence

“Get up, boy!” the voice hissed in my right ear. I could feel the chair shake as the person stood behind me and tried to forcefully shake me out of my chair.

“He said get up, you filthy ***. This place ain’t fer your kind.” The counter to my right banged sharply in my left ear as the other man slapped his hands down on the counter, trying to disrupt my calm state.

The noise in Woolworth’s cafe was loud, and jostling, and while not everyone in the crowd was coming up to the counter to intentionally harass me, there was a continual throng of noise, of people telling me to leave, of people telling me they knew where my family lived and if I cared about them, I should leave, of people dropping plates on the counter right in front of me, the glass shattering. I kept my eyes closed as long as I could.

I opened them. The red digital clock in front of me read 59 seconds.  Continue reading

The Christmas Movie List: the most un-Hallmark version ever!

I have my favorite Christmas movies. They have to be watched, or it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Charlie Brown, The Little Matchgirl, Elf…. but aside from Santa, there’s not much that makes these movies actually Christmassy…. you know, as in real meaning of Christmas, real Jesus-coming-to-earth-incarnation stuff.

So here’s an alternative Christmas movie list. They probably won’t all fill you with warm fuzzies and holiday cheer. But probably will get you thinking about Jesus and what he was all about!  (Click the links in the titles to watch the Previews).  Continue reading