I want to tell you something about that kid who had to cut his dreads to wrestle.

The ref is the villain of this story. But the failure is not his. He has been honest about who he is.

The failure rests elsewhere.

Andrew Johnson is 16 years old. I know 16 year olds. They were my whole career. And I don’t need to know him personally to know things about him.

Like how he’s stuck in that difficult place between childhood and adulthood where it’s not always clear to him when he has the right to speak for himself.

That his default is still to defer to the adults in charge when he thinks he’s on shaky ground.

That he still believes people like teachers and coaches will defend him from those who would hurt him.

They are on the ones who failed him.

I watched the video of the trainer cutting his hair once. I yelled at her to stop, stop, stop. I waited for a coach to grab the scissors. I waited for someone’s mama, anyone’s mama to rush to the floor, wrap her arms around him and protect him.

We don’t know how Andrew feels about all this today, because he hasn’t spoken yet. But we saw how he felt about it after the match. And as I watched him cry, I knew one thing:

Not worth it, not worth it, not worth.

I wish to God that the story had been about the high school athletic trainer who was fired because she refused to cut a boy’s hair for a wrestling match. Or the coach who was arrested for unruly behavior towards a ref. Or at the very least, suspended from coaching for forfeiting the whole meet in protest of the ref’s decision.

I wish the video was of parents who came down from the stands and stood around the boy to protect him. Or all the coaches at the meet throwing the ref out of the gym.

Instead, there were adults who thought a forfeit was worse than cutting a child’s hair off his head.

Adults who thought their stony silence was enough.

Adults who should have known better.

Just a few years ago, I would have read this as a story about a nasty bigot. But since then, some of us have been forced to face truth about how far we have come with racial equality. Not as far as we thought. Only 13% of Division 1 college wrestlers are African-American, which means the sport is weak at recognizing and responding to racism in its ranks.

This was it.  An abuse of power by a man who had previously demonstrated his bigotry and been allowed to return to interacting with young athletes. And the complete failure of the adults around Andrew Johnson to protect him from that abuse.

Bigots need permission. Everyone who stood and watched gave it to him.

Dasher

Sisters, we got a puppy.

I KNOW. But here’s what happened. Two weeks ago I was driving the kids home from Sunday school and when I got to the intersection where the Humane society is located, I felt the command to turn.

“Where’re we going?” Gabe asked.

“Let’s go look at dogs.”

“Are we getting one????” Annie squealed from the back seat.

“Only if there are puppies” I said. In the almost two years since Sugar crossed the Rainbow Bridge there have never been puppies at the Humane society. Not. Even. Once. But that day, there were four. Litter mates, surrendered without parents so only God knows a single thing about their pedigree–probably closer to ketchup than whole wheat. Two of them were all black, one looked like a black and white Springer Spaniel and one was colored like a German Shepherd.

He was the most chill. I sent Shea this picture:

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He texted “You had one job. Go to Sunday School. WHY ARE YOU AT THE HUMANE SOCIETY???.”

“God made me” I texted back. “I’ll explain when we get home.”

Other kids wait for their moms to say “Yes”. But my kids know when I text dad the picture, the deal is sealed. If it was up to me, we’d live on five acres and breed bassets. If it was up to Shea, we’d own a zoo.

Surely it is not news that our crazy sits on the front porch and hollers at the neighbors. What’s one more dog? Especially when he’s cute.

 

 

 

 

 

From One Jen to Another

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Dear Jen Hatmaker,

I just finished Of Mess and Moxie. Thanks for the laughs.

Like all good books, it taught me a lesson. I thought I should share it, because sharing is caring and all that jazz.

You wrote this in Chapter 21, How To (Part Four): How to do the laundry:

“8. Remember the darks! Yay, you! Despair at the light load in the dryer. This is like discovering the dishes in the dishwasher are clean. Throw load of lights on your bed to “fold in a few minutes” while you move the darks to the dryer. 9. Co-Sleep with the light load that night. Give them their own bed space, like a person.”

When I read this, even though I have Jesus in my heart, I judged you. I did. Who sleeps with laundry? I thought in my most OCD voice. Someone should tell Jen Hatmaker that laundry day is a process, not a string of one-off events where it’s ok to skip an event here or there. Wash. Dry. Fold. Place in various laundry baskets to be put away by minions when they get home from school. This is not rocket science, although it may have been informed by a scientific approach. For the love, indeed.

I read that chapter Thursday night.

On Friday, we picked up our new puppy. Saturday morning, I awoke at 6 am so that my son and I could drive 8 hours round trip to his play-off football game in cold and pouring rain. I left Shea home with the new puppy, the grumpy old basset hound, our two girls, a volleyball game and two soccer games. Divide and conquer.

My sweet husband thought he would knock out the laundry. He did four loads. He did them all the way to dry, good man. In the middle of that, I called in a panic because I had a flat tire on the 5 in the middle of nowhere Oregon. You may think my panic was about the tire, but it wasn’t. I needed my husband to find the nearest teammate traveling up the 5 and send them to get my football player.

(Full disclosure–there was a screw in my tire. I saw it two weeks ago. It was wedged in there good and I figured it would hold.)

The same time I arrived in pouring rain to watch a football game (new tire safely in place), he arrived in pouring rain to watch two pee-wee soccer games. We left the middle child at home with the puppy and she called no less than five times to give and get timely updates: “Dash pooped on the floor. I cleaned it. Is Gabe still winning?”

When we got home, my son jumped in the shower and my husband took him to a Halloween party. I sat down for a whole four seconds before the grumpy basset hound decided she’d had enough and started nipping at anyone who came near her. Took me a good twenty minutes to recalibrate her attitude, by which time the puppy had pooped on the floor, the five year old was screaming in a cold shower and I’d lost my drink. That is not a metaphor. I had a nice vodka tonic and I set it down and I can’t find it.

You see where this is going right? When I finally dragged myself to bed, there was all the laundry. My husband and I stood there looking at it in silence. Then he said “I’ll sleep on the couch with the puppy?”, I said “Yep”, shoved the clothes over to his side and climbed in to co-sleep with the laundry.

God is good, Jen Hatmaker. Grace is good. Humility too. Honesty. Sisterhood. And sometimes, co-sleeping with the laundry .

 

 

 

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I Know Where Jesus Is

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An hour ago, I was snuggled up on my couch in the soft glow of my Christmas tree, reveling in how ready I am for Christmas.

God has since flicked me in the forehead.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes posted this on Facebook. Then CNN. Then I started looking around.

Then I was ashamed, and here I am.

I know about Aleppo. I know about the refugees. I donated money to Together Rising, which has since sent over $2 million to help Syrian refugees. But I didn’t want to really know. I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want suffering to invade my Christmas–which in part is the story of poor refugees looking for a place to give birth to the Savior of the World.

Then this question was whispered into my heart: If you could go back in time and help Mary and Joseph bring Jesus into the world in calm and safety, would you go?

In a hot freaking second.

Well?

On the night Jesus was born, the world didn’t know he was coming. But we do. And we know where to find him, right now.

You guys, Jesus is in Aleppo.

Maybe this is not the business of our government, and maybe that’s good. You could contact your representatives anyway, to let them know you are standing on the side of the persecuted and hope they are too.

But we are people of the one true God and we know this is FOR SURE the business of our churches, temples and mosques.

This link will take you to a list of agencies who are providing relief to refugees and some who are trying to get relief into Aleppo directly.

More than the tree, more than the nativity scene, more than the advent calendar and prayers–Aleppo is Christmas.

 

Reap What You Sow

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Women have a wound of fear in our spirits. We have it because we are from Venus. We carry it with us, generation to generation. It’s not about men.

This is not the fault of men.

But we have this wound, from whispered family gossip and front page tabloid stories. We have it when we are large with child and when we are middle aged and when we are 13 and our bodies already don’t look like the lies on the cover of fashion magazines.

I can’t explain it. It’s primal. When we make a family with our bodies and our hearts we step out in faith and fear. We put it all on the line. And we need to believe that the partners we choose for this most amazing journey are faithful, loyal people.

But we’re scared they aren’t. And we hold that fear so tightly, for so many reasons, that it creates a wound.

I know women whose partners have betrayed them.

Some of them have stayed. Some of them have not. None of them have asked my opinion, which is as it should be. I can know and love them as friends, almost as sisters. But I can never know the truth of someone else’s relationship. No one can.

I told my one of my friends who stayed that I thought she made the harder decision and I admired her for it.

I told one of my friends who left the same thing.

Both were true, and my way of saying: “I don’t know what I don’t know, but I know you and I trust you to know what is best for you and yours in this moment. And I know that tomorrow, it may all look different but the point is, I see you trying to work it out and whatever that means, I am praying for you all.”

The most basic part of my womanhood rose up in rebellion against what Donald Trump did to Hillary Clinton on Sunday night.

It was despicable, to line those women up in her face. And not just for her. For every woman who has walked in her shoes.

It spoke directly to our fear: This was your fault. And you will never escape it.

I was amazed by her calm and grace. I would have been a screaming banshee.

Perhaps that’s what Mr. Trump forgot when he played such a vile trick just days after speaking about women in the most disrespectful of ways.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

See you at the polls.

Believe

This is Alejandro.alejandro

 

He’s ten.

We met him last year when he and Gabe played together during basketball season.

He’ll be mad at me for saying this, but he’s adorable. And a baller. Plays mean defense with his good buddy Alex.

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Oh boy. I’m going to be in trouble for this. She was tall. He took her on anyway.

But he was gone a lot from practice, and he missed some games. When I finally saw his mom Kyndra again I asked her “Is he ok?” And that was the first time she told me.

Alejandro was born with Stage 4 kidney disease. From Day 1, the doctors knew he would need a transplant.

Since then, they have lived their lives as normally as possible. Kyndra is a single mom and Alejandro has a little brother and sister.  He’s been sick a lot, but they make it work.

Last May, they found out his kidney function was nearing the 20% threshold for the kidney transplant list and doctors told Kyndra to prepare. Family members are being tested in the hope of finding a living donor. Insurance will pick up the estimated $500,000 cost of surgery, but there will be significant other costs.

They have to go to Portland for surgery and then stay there for 5 weeks. Then they’ll head up one weekend a month for treatments. Kyndra will need to stay home full time for four months to care for him. Estimated costs: $50,000.

You know why I’m telling you this. Alejandro needs us. He needs our prayers and our good thoughts and yes, even our money.

They are selling t-shirts for $15 and every one of those dollars goes into the fund. If you buy one, I’ll pay your shipping.

You can also visit his fund-raising page at the Children’s Organ Transplant Associatioor visit the Facebook page to offer support.

There’s no such thing as other people’s children  ~ Hillary Clinton

#teamalejandro

 

 

Lest We Ourselves Be Judged

I took the girls out to dinner a few weeks ago to our favorite taco place.  After we got our food and sat down outside, we prayed over our dinner.  As we ate, the girls noticed that bull riding was on the TV.  They had never seen it before, so we talked about why people do it (um, I had no answer), how you win, and why the bull goes buck wild.

After they finished, they asked if they could chase birds and play.  I said of course.  We were seated on the outdoor patio and I could see them in my periphery.  At the table next to us sat 3 women.  They were actually there before we were, but they were chatting, laughing, and seemed pretty jovial.  As I sat there by myself, I heard a comment that the one in the jeans and sweater made in my direction… “…get off the phone… pay attention to her kids.”

I looked up and the one in the black pants and tank top made eye contact with me, then rolled her eyes as she looked away.

I’ll tell you what.  That lady sure did catch me on my phone, but there are a few things that she didn’t know at that moment:

She didn’t know that I had sent a picture to Tory, who wasn’t going to be home before the girls went to bed, and they asked to send him a picture to say I love you.

She didn’t know that after I sent that picture, I went to the teaching job website Edjoin.org because I needed to find a full time job.

She didn’t know that I needed to find a full time job because the girls’ father was refusing to pay any of their tuition next year.  That’s over $800 a month that I will shoulder, because I believe it’s important. So I NEEDED to find a job.

She didn’t know that I only ordered one taco instead of my usual four because, well, money’s tight.

She didn’t know that for literally the last 10 days we had been doing SOMEthing… swimming at various friends’ houses, going to the beach, BBQing with my mom, visiting with friends, going on walks.

She didn’t know that Violet got up at 6am and wanted to snuggle with me, so I held her in my arms and we’ve spent every minute together since then.

She didn’t know that just an hour before dinner we all piled on the couch and watched a movie.

She didn’t know that on the way to visit my niece that morning, they wanted to listen to the “Zootopia song” literally 7 times in a row and I allowed it, partially because I do love me some Shakira, partially because it’s catchy, and partly because I tear up when she sings “I won’t give up, no I won’t give in till I reach the end, then I’ll start again,” because it has become my mantra.  I.  Won’t.  Give.  Up.

So when she said that, I could have gotten up and said something back.  I could have gone large, but then, I know I would have just looked defensive.  So I let it roll off my back. But what really bothers me about it is that this is something we as society “do” now.  We want our freedom, we don’t want anyone daring to tell us what to do, how to parent, that we can’t carry our precious guns, but we sure will troll people on the internet and judge them. We’ll find strength in numbers and bully those we just know are wrong.  We point fingers (and pitchforks) at anyone who doesn’t think the same as we do.  We sit in judgement, constantly looking over our shoulders because if we are sitting here judging, we’re probably being judged ourselves.  And we want to be the first one to strike, to build ourselves up before being torn down.

I could have said something, but instead, I just blogged about her while my children were taking a bath. #lastlaugh

Moms and phones and little kids are a hot button right now.  I wonder if I would have gotten that same comment if I had been reading a novel.  But nope, I’m just another disconnected mom who cares more about selfies and Facebook than watching every minute of my precious children’s glorious childhood.  (And side note, so what if I was spending 5 fricking minutes on Facebook while my children are fed and playing and safe?  Who.  Cares???)  I’m not asking for reassurances here that I’m a good mom and that I’m raising great kids.  What I’m asking for is that we give each other a little bit of grace in our daily lives, as we would like to be given.

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