Sunday, October 26, 2014

Survive


Over the past few weeks I've been doing a lot of surviving.   You know that moment when you know God is getting ready to propel you into something you were created for that's bigger than you could have ever imagined? The attack that comes with that is almost unbelievable. That's how I know God is at work.

The movie reel of every mistake I've ever made has been playing over and over. Of course I surrender it immediately, but gosh that glimpse can be hard to cope with. I'm so imperfect, y'all. I've made a lot of mistakes. A lot. I've lived imperfectly. It ain't always been pretty.

Last night in an argument, my ex-husband reminded me that during the height of our marriage falling apart I threatened to kill myself.  I have searched every inch of my memory to remember that and I can't recall it. I can't remember every saying that or in what moment I would say that but that's how dark it was.  Even though I can't remember it I don't dispute it. People don't realize how much despair one walks through when they are desperate.  I feel a need to share this in this moment because I honestly don't remember those words ever being spoken from my lips or those thoughts forming in my head, but I don't want to be that good Christian who is never honest about some of my darkest moments.  Who doesn't openly share the valleys I've been through and who sits on the mountain top looking down at those in the valley as if I've never been there.

I've been there ya'll.  

That's what this walk is about, isn't it?  To live through our valley moments so that when we do get to the mountain top we can use our testimony from the valley to encourage and inspire those living their own valley moments to just keep walking...keep living.  I remember when the Psalmist wrote "Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me." Psalm 66:16.  There is full life ahead that is so grand you won't even remember just how much despair you really were in.  The dark comes to show us just how glorious the light is.

I loved the recent commentary that accompanied that scripture recently:

There is power in our stories. The account of a changed life can give a weary heart hope. You may think that you don’t know the Bible well enough, but we overcome the enemy by the blood of Jesus who forgives our sins, the power of our story and not shrinking back from telling that story. Being a witness is not being an expert; it is telling others what you have seen, felt and heard. We can all do that.
I wholeheartedly believe this. Even though I was reminded of these dark days in an attempt to hurt me, I'm grateful for the reminder.  I'm grateful to know that I have walked over glass and through fire but still smiled. We're all surviving something. 

I want to thank you for surviving.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Balloon Fiesta

Every October magic happens in Albuquerque.  It's called the International Balloon Fiesta and it brings travelers from all over the world to witness a sky full of hot air balloons. We are so fortunate to have this in our backyard and for us locals, the smell of gas lighting the balloons, the crispness of air, breakfast burritos, and hot chocolate signals that Fall is here.




During the first weekend of the fiesta this year, I volunteered with my church to spread the word about Spoken For NM. High tourist times in New Mexico bring much excitement and attention but also expose some of the darkest elements of our society. Spoken For NM exists to bring attention to human trafficking in our state and to raise awareness of these activities, which often increase during high tourist seasons. 


The second week I went all for fun with my little one. It was raining so admission was free and parking was free (a nice surprise). 



Even with the rain there was still plenty for us to see, do, and enjoy!



I love the Fiesta. For those from New Mexico, what's your favorite part? For those out of state, would you ever consider coming to NM for the balloon fiesta?





Friday, October 3, 2014

Domestic Violence Awareness Month


October is domestic violence awareness month. There are so many important issues to raise awareness about but this issue is one I am devoted to making sure does not slip into the shadows.

Here is my latest op-ed piece published in the Valencia County New Bulletin.

Until the violence stops...


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Breathe


Good morning!  Today is the day for us to begin our new study together and to take some time to Breathe.  I first have to pause and say thank you.  Thank you for responding when I call (or post) saying I'm starting a new Bible study and asking if you would like to join me.  I don't take sharing this space with you lightly.

Now, I strongly feel the need to give a disclaimer.  You all are mighty women leading your amazing lives.  I don't proclaim to be a Bible expert or to have it all together.  In fact, I am sitting here at 11pm the night before the study begins writing this post to you in my bed with a pile of clothes waiting to be folded at the foot of it.  I get it. Life is full and in our going sometimes we need to be reminded to Breathe.

Breathe.

I am just crazy in love with Jesus and chasing after Him on a daily basis.  Sometimes the busyness of life tries to make me lose sight of who I am chasing after, but at the end of the day He is always there.  That's why I want to share this space with you.  So we can chase after Him together and learn to create the space for Him in our lives.

We are here for no other reason than that.  To chase Him and fellowship together.  I believe in having fun in the Word....and I hope you will share that with me.  This study only works unless you create the space to make time for it.  To check in with us. To share what God is planting on your heart. To pray with each other.  Please commit to that with me.

Our Facebook group is the hub of all of our discussion.  You can check it on your time but you have to make room in your day to commit to checking in.  All of us in the group are each other's accountability partners.   Each week we will do the reading, watch the video lesson on our own, and come back and discuss.  I am currently reserving Monday evenings at 7pm MST, 9pm EST for our check-in call (tentatively). We will finalize this detail once we get an idea of each other's time.

Most importantly. I am praying for you and have been praying for you all month.  This is our space and our time together. I cherish it and I am expecting God to do what you need Him to do in Your life during this season.

The Study:

Breathe by Priscilla Shirer  - available here.  Weekly video downloads available for purchase here.

FAQs: 

Do I need to be experienced in bible study to join this group? 
Absolutely not! We are all coming to this with different levels of Bible knowledge which makes our group so unique.  You'll be blessed by being a part of the group. 
Is there any cost to join? 
There is no cost to join except the cost of your member book and video downloads.  However, if purchasing the book or the downloads is a burden on you financially, please let me know.
What if I can't join every week? 
Totally fine! Join when you can, and we'll miss you when you can't! Just be sure to make some time to connect with us in our Facebook group.
How will we meet? 
We will meet daily in our Facebook group.  A Monday night weekly call is tentatively scheduled.
What if my kids are around when we meet on the phone? 
Join the club. Mine will be too.
Do I need to do anything before the 1st meeing? 
All you need to do is order your member book and join our facebook group. 
Anything else I need to know?
This study is for you.  Commit to it. Create margin for it.  Interact with us.  Be blessed.

Here we go!



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chicken Cheesesteaks


Going to school near Philly left me with one love if nothing else - a good cheesesteak.

The other night I was craving that cheesy, savory goodness, so Munchkin and I headed to the store and came home to cook together on the Raclette.


The real reason why I love this thing so much is that we get to sit around the kitchen island and chat while we cook dinner. No me in the kitchen him in the living room waiting for me to finish. We get the table talk started while we're cooking.


And OMG! Cheese!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why I don't look away


I'm sure many of my new "friends" on the internet social space may be surprised at how strongly I have expressed my feelings over the past few months - first regarding the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case and most recently regarding the murder of an unarmed teenager, Mike Brown, by a police officer in Ferguson, MO.

For those new to my space and my life, let me catch you up by giving you a really quick overview of the last 13 years of my life that have shaped my very strong beliefs. My senior year of high school I vehemently debated the repeal of the death penalty in my senior seminar against classmates who brought their Bibles to class and waived them at me while arguing "an eye for an eye."  Even then, my 17 year old self knew that as long as that eye was often dependent on the color of that person's skin, I would never accept that argument.

My senior year of college I began working at a domestic violence and rape crisis center in Elkton, MD where I got my first dose of reality that people are not safe in their own homes and some are fighting for their lives. I started to understand what it was like for people to turn to a system to protect them and their children only to discover that system is corrupted by their abuser's relatives and friends in positions of power. They were crying out for help. Looking to be seen and heard. Yet they go unheard.

When I graduated from the University of Delaware, I packed up my cute apartment and moved to Baltimore. A country girl from New Mexico living and working in the inner city. My parents must have been terrified. I started working at a public advocacy organization where I began fighting for issues such as tenant's rights, poor people's access to Medicaid, foster youth, homeless kid's education rights, and prisoner's rights. I started advocating for those whose voice went unheard.




When I was 22 years old I began doing prisoner's rights advocacy work. I would march my cute little high heels into the Baltimore City Detention Center, one of the worst jails in the country, and advocate for individual clients to receive adequate health care while detained. I provided individual, immediate advocacy while the attorneys I worked with used that work to fight for systemic reform through class action lawsuits and public policy.  These were individuals who were being detained pre-trial (innocent until proven guilty, right?), many who were in jail for drug-related, substance abuse charges related to an addiction. Many had serious illnesss such as diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS. Illnesses that a missed dose of medicine could mean a life sentence of death. (Sure some wanted to feed their addiction on OxyContin but can you  blame them when our system treats addiction by locking you up in overcrowded inner city jails with overflowing toilets?). I watched an elderly woman go into a diabetic seizure during one of our appointments right before my eyes because she hadn't received medication in 3 weeks. When she came out of her coma she thanked me because she knew if I had not been there demanding the guards call the doctor and ambulance she would have laid there in her own bodily fluids for God knows how long.

I never once asked our clients what they were in jail for. Looking back on it, I'm pretty sure I demanded to be locked in the cell with some alleged murderers for the sake of attorney/client privilege. I didn't care and it didn't matter. I saw our clients as humans. Someone's mom, son, daughter, brother, friend that deserved to receive proper health care while they waited to stand trial.  I can recall several occasions where clients would come down and give a sigh of relief that it was me and not their public defender. Can you imagine being so desperate for your medication that you'd rather see a young 20-something advocate who really didn't know anything than the attorney who may get you out of jail?  All they knew is that I would fight like hell for them to get their medication. 

So I'd walk into BCDC three to four times a week and give voice to those no one cared to hear from. That's what I do. 

So when things happen in our world that I don't agree with, I need my new friends to understand that it's not my nature, nor has it ever been, to remain silent for your comfort. I've seen more things in the first decade of my career that I believe no human should ever have to endure, whose stories would completely break your heart, that being quiet about things that matter is not an option for me. Many will disagree with me. I see you roll your eyes and call me a liberal. That's ok. It won't change my love for you. Just don't expect me to be quiet.

So when I first saw the report of Mike Brown's death one Saturday night early this month, my heart broke. I said a prayer. There were no details of the case released yet but I did know that a mother's son laid dead on the scorching hot pavement for four hours. I knew that another black male had died at the hand of a police officer.

Over the next week I watched as a city erupted. I watched a town that was angry, hurt, and tired pour out on the streets demanding answers. I watched as those "in charge" did everything but provide answers. I watched and I couldn't stop.



For those who think Ferguson is an isolated incident...I feel sorry for your naivety. For those who think the militarized actions we all watched on the news were a justifiable response to those looting in the city...I feel sorry for your naivety. I feel sorry because you have missed how deep this runs for black and brown people in our country. You have missed the significance of the historical trauma a people of color have endured and must continue to live through. 

You've missed what is an undeniable existence of your neighbors.



Last week I took my son to the doctor for his annual well-child visit and expressed some concern to his pediatrician over his increased food and water consumption and frequent urination. (For a family with a history of diabetes these are huge warning signs). After getting great results from the glucose screen, our pediatrician assured me the only thing I need to be concerned about is my food budget because in his words "he's just going to be a big guy". (My son is in the 98th percentile for height and 95th for weight at 6 years old).  I let out a "praise God" shout that my son is a healthy kid but this report also puts a huge responsibility on me.

I have to spend my precious boy's childhood protecting his innocence and allowing his amazingly bright light to shine the way he's been gifted by God to do so. I also have to prepare for the day when I have to make him aware that as a black boy he may be pre-judged by some just for being. How do you do that without changing someone's God-gifted spirit? I know that my son is being raised "right", will be well-educated, live in a "good" neighborhood, and all those things that we have told ourselves are the indicators of preventing these tragedies from happening. Those are my controllables. I also can't promise that my son will never sag his pants, talk in slang, or hang out in the wrong place. (I sure lay hands on him every night praying he doesn't.) I also know that at some point he may be thought to be something else than the amazing spirit he is just because he is. Uncontrollable. 

I was raised by an educated and successful black man who comes from a good family. He has experienced racism just being. I have dated educated black men and been married to an educated and successful black man who come from good families. They are conscious of how they come across in the board room and on the street because their being may be perceived as a threat. I have cousins, a brother in law, and friends who are amazing black men who have experienced racism just for being. I know because I've asked them.  

So when another black man is murdered I'm not ok with it. I won't be quiet about it because it chills my bones and boils my blood. It is not ok. I want answers. Mike Brown's parents deserve answers as to why they had to bury their baby. Our community deserves answers.  Still. 

We cannot look away from Ferguson. 



A friend wrote a deeply moving song that speaks to the heart of where we still are in America. We must fight and speak up for freedom for all. We cannot get comfortable with white freedom or class freedom or any freedom unless it's freedom for all.


Now you know why I don't, and I won't, look away.


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