Stand Up, Fight Back

It’s 2017. Let’s be real, this has already been a busy year for the nation. As Hank Green tweeted out last week: Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 6.12.38 PM.png

I’ve attended a couple of those marches since the beginning of the year. I have to admit that these were the first marches and protests that I’ve attended. Even though I grew up in an interracial family, injustice was never something I was really exposed to. Shoot, race wasn’t something that I really thought about until those who I called friends started making comments about the color of my skin. It wasn’t until college that the fight for justice for all of God’s people really became real to me. It was sitting at Urbana 15 listening to Michelle Higgins say, “Justice means the burden is lifted because God is pleased with you so you can be pleased with the people He made.”

Justice and this knowledge that this work is at the center of God’s being was new to me. It is fascinating to me to see how far I have come in the last few years. I think back to who I was when I started college and then just wonder at where I am in life now. I never would have imagined that I would do the things that I have done in this life, and that is what makes God so fantastic. I would never have made it to where I am without Him.

But these marches. They are important. I don’t want to take that away from people. They are a great way to see that we are not alone in doing justice work. But I also want to challenge us. At the Women’s March in St. Louis, one of the speakers called us out. She brought up the fact that there were a lot of people on the streets for the march (final estimates were over 11k people), but there weren’t a lot of people showing up to help those who were struggling in the fight daily. Yes, marches are exciting. But I fear that they are becoming the new trend. It’s easy to get on the streets once a week and march along chanting to stand up and fight back against injustice, it’s hard to do the behind the scenes work that actually makes change happen.

I follow Brittany Packnett on Twitter. She wrote this thread that’s going to be important as we go about the next few years. She talks about this idea that a lot of what is happening is meant to distract and divide us, but she writes, “They want to confuse us. They want us to fight each other. They want us competing for scraps. They want us to tire out. Let’s be disciplined.” Discipline means that we will work, not just march, to counteract the Trump administration. It means that we don’t get distracted by the ridiculous, that we focus on the actual works of his administration. I would recommend reading the thread that she wrote, she explains things very thoroughly, click the screenshot below to check it out.

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Yes, it is important to march. It is important to stand in solidarity with those who are being oppressed. The God I follow mandates that I stand for the least of these so I will continue to join in the work that will help His people find their true place in His world.

Writing

A few months ago, I posted about how stories and writing are very important parts of my existence. Well, I wrote more in the month of November than I have since I graduated college. I’ve also been trying to read more and have been way too into Agents of Shield in the last couple months.

But, back to the original point, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this past November for the second time. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month, in the shape of creating some kind of novel. This year, I was constantly surprised as the story that I thought I was in control of wrote itself. For those of you who aren’t writers, that may not make sense. But sometimes, when you are are writing, the characters take over and kind of make you write what they want. I had planned on fleshing out some backstory before I got started on the story I was planning on writing this year, that turned out to not be the case. As I continued to write about these characters, I realized that there was a lot more to them than I had initially thought. The backstory that I only planned to spend around 10-15k words on turned into this monster. I’m still not finished with it. I made it to the 50k, but the story isn’t finished telling itself. That’s the most exciting part about writing for me, I get to help create these worlds that no one else really knows about and I still get to be surprised by them.

Now, for those of you who will ask to read this story, it’s nowhere near where it needs to be to be seen by other people. It’s like 90% dialog with minimal description because I know what the characters look like and didn’t need to describe them to myself. I’m excited to be diving back into creativity. I forgot how important it was for me to not just take in other people’s words, but to put down my own as well.

Earlier that November, I remembered that I also had library books that I needed to read and return, so I started reading some of those as well. I’m not a person who typically stays up late, but books top the list of why I sometimes don’t get the amount of sleep I need. Short story, I stayed up until 4 am reading Tamora Pierce’s Will of the Empress. I loved the two series leading up to it and I was excited to see what would happen to the characters I had grown up with. I finished the book and couldn’t seem to fall asleep right away. So, naturally, I picked up my journal and pen and started writing at 4 am on November 12th:

I’ve thought for a while that God gives each of us a life-blood that makes us come alive like nothing else does. It’s the thing inside us that keeps us awake, that makes us feel as if we can sense the world moving around us and we need only pursue that thing to understand ourselves. It’s the things that keep us up until 4 am without a care as to how we will feel the next day.

For me that has always been books and stories. I marvel at the people who say that no book has ever changed their life except for the Bible. I admit, the Bible has had the biggest impact on my life, but it is far from the only book that has impacted me. From books like Fangirl that showed me that the transition to college was hard on most people. To all of Tamora Pierce’s books that remind me that women are capable of anything. But it’s even books about real life, the stories of people and places that I’ll never get to meet or see that remind me that I’m not alone in the world and that there’s always something to marvel at.

I am so thankful for the courage of every person who puts pen to paper and has the courage to share the story that lives in them, without their bravery, I wouldn’t be me.

I wrote this blog post shortly after writing that bit in my journal. I was hoping to have it published in December or January, but that didn’t happen. I fall in and out of writing. It’s not something that I do consistently anymore because this wonderful thing called life keeps happening. I’m doing stuff now that I would never have dreamed of doing when I was growing up, and I couldn’t be more thankful to God for guiding me along this path.

January 24.

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This will always be a hard day for so many people. It will be a day to remember and to love and to mourn and to celebrate a life that was lived and ended far too soon. It will be a day where the world lost one who brought so much goodness to it.

Payton, it’s been a year since you passed. I’ll never forget where I was when I heard. I’ll never forget how when I was told, it felt like time stopped. I remember thinking of your family, of those you had left behind, and I mourned for them as I mourned for you. I cannot imagine the hurt that you were experiencing. I cannot picture the pain that you were in, and I am so sorry that you felt you had to go through that alone.

It’s been a year of seeing how truly loved you were, Payton. The way that you are remembered is a testament to the kind of person you were. You made rooms better just by being in them. You cared for people and always went the extra mile to support them when they needed you. You became the good you wanted to see in the world.

You are so incredibly missed, Payton, my brother. My prayers go to your family and to all those you mourn you. I’ll always love ya and will always miss and remember you.

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For those who are still hurting, please call someone. You have no idea about the pain you will leave in your wake. You are loved and important, don’t believe the lies that you aren’t.

#SaveACA

I don’t know if many of you saw this, but last night the Senate took the first step to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While most people know the Affordable Care Act solely as Obamacare, it has allowed 20 million people to receive healthcare. In the event that it is repealed, and currently there is no plan in place to replace the ACA, that is 20 million people who will not have access to healthcare.

Honestly, this isn’t a political issue. I am a Christian and I believe that it is our duty to take seriously Christ’s words that we care for our neighbor as we care for ourselves. I’m currently privileged to be on my parent’s healthcare because my current job doesn’t provide it, but the repeal that they are suggesting would take away the ability for people like me to be on our parent’s healthcare plan until we are 26. But the ACA also helps people pay for medicine and treatments that they would not otherwise be able to get. I believe that we have to do what we can to help people have access to the healthcare system. No, the ACA wasn’t perfect, but we cannot just get rid of it without having something else in place.

Please, do something about this. All it takes is a quick call to your Representative. I called and it took me less than five minutes, so take a break from Facebook and Twitter and go call. Go to this link to find who your representative is: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

If you want to read more about the good impact that the ACA has had, click here. People are sharing their stories about the ACA and I think it will help put it in perspective to read the good it has done for people all across the country.

Here is a script on what to say if you are willing to call.

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Overcome

Read this post knowing that we are all children of God. Read this post remembering that a real human being wrote this. If you know me, read this remembering that I am the one who wrote this.

“Black Lives Matter.”

    I nod along. See, we’ve all heard the phrase, probably in different contexts, but we at least know what it is. People block the streets of St. Louis and they preach the words, “Black Lives Matter” in unity. People on the sidewalks stop and take pictures of the protesters, not realizing they’re witnessing history. A physical callback to the Civil Rights Movement, our generation’s activists seeing that nothing will change until they take to the streets like those who came before us. Then:

    “All Lives Matter.”

    I can’t help it, I at first nod along with that too. It’s true. Every person on this earth matters, but that phrase is so out of context here. See, if everyone actually believed that all lives mattered, would we be in this situation? Would we have to watch as our neighbors are tear gassed, shot at with rubber bullets, beaten by clubs? But even past the protesters, what about all the other lives that “matter?” The refugees, fleeing their war-infected countries, mothers with nowhere to turn except the abortion clinic, illegal children immigrants running from sex trafficking into our ready holding cells, do they matter as well?

    “All Lives Matter.”

    I admit, our Lord would agree. He wouldn’t have said that every nation and people would come to praise Him if He didn’t believe that every single bearer of the imago dei mattered. But You’ve gotta realize that He also wanted those people saved, not scorned. Jesus came to help the oppressed, and those are the very people that you are trying to shut down, to ignore. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in “A Knock at Midnight,” “Millions of Africans knocking on the door of the Christian church where they seek the bread of social justice, have either been altogether ignored or told to wait until later, which almost always means never.” You say, “All Lives Matter,” but you really mean, don’t speak about your life over mine, wait for your time to come into power in the world. It may come one day, but you’ll have to wait your turn.

    “Black Lives Matter.”

    Waiting isn’t an option. Later never comes. So the signs are drawn, the snacks and bandanas are packed away in bags, and the streets fill up with the nations who march against this oppression. The protesters yell out, “Black Lives Matter.” But they aren’t saying that only those lives do, it’s more of a way of saying their lives matter too. They come to the church, where they expect us to embrace them, to help wash the tear gas from their eyes. Instead, we slam the doors shut as soon as we hear their verbal earthquake. We think that we can’t get involved in that mess, we’ll lose members. We’ll lose credibility with those who are in power. As if we didn’t serve the ALL POWERFUL GOD, the One who defeated death. The Christ who was put to death because of the political statements He made with His life. The protestors’ knocks ring throughout the sanctuary, but the congregants are deaf to the sound, their ears are plugged with fear’s whispers. Too scared of going against the status quo, they let the protesters deal with the harsh retaliation of those who enforce the ways of the world. Not wanting to hear the cries of those outside the doors, they turn up the praise music that declares how good the Lord is. But they don’t realize that the Lord is outside. He’s standing with the oppressed. He’s marching along, singing with them, “I’m gonna stay on the battlefield.”

    “All Lives Matter.”

    Most pastors will tell you that diversity is important to them. That they want to be a part of the beautiful mosaic that our Lord created when he split apart the tribes at the Tower of Babel. But when you look at any church, it shows how little words mean. An average church is painted all the same color. There’s always one or two families that break up the monotony of a single color. But other than that the voices that lift praise to the Lord sound the same. They’ve been through the same troubles, same trials, and paint the same mask when they come to church. Instead of being a place where every Christian can come to praise and fill the air with a thousand different voices, divisions are drawn and each ethnicity has their own place of worship. Again, Martin Luther King Jr. writes in “A Knock at Midnight,” “ideally there can be no Negro or white church.”

    “Black Lives Matter.”

    It resounds in me. I am, after all, a biracial beauty. I’m in a position where I must speak to both sides of the argument. I can say “All Lives Matter,” but if I want people to be aware of the troubles of others, I am bound to say “Black Lives Matter.” I must embrace the courage of my inner Esther and speak up from my privilege. Uniquely bound to two races, I must speak up and write to those on either side of this battle for equality. Why is it that people cannot understand that just because someone else embraces their opportunity to do the work the Lord designed them for, it doesn’t mean that you mean less? When we buy into the thought that there’s not enough in the world for everyone to take their place in the light of the Son, we buy into a world that isn’t God’s kingdom. We’ve decided to believe in the myth of scarcity that the world uses to make sure that people can’t rise to their potential.

    “All Lives Matter.”

    That’s true and it’s why silence can’t be kept when any of my people suffer. I believe that the words of the old spiritual will come true some day, “We’ll walk hand in hand someday, Oh deep in my heart I do believe.” All lives will matter someday. But today that’s not the case and so I’ve got a lot of work to do to help usher in the day where all lives can matter. Until then, I’ll write God’s promises on every surface. He loves all lives, black, white, brown, refugee, male, female, child, aged. All lives. But for now, 

“Black Lives Matter, too.”

Stories

For those of you who may know me very well, I love writing stories. I’m usually at my happiest when I’ve got a Moleskin notebook, a couple of my favorite pens, a white board, and plenty of whiteboard markers surrounding me. I also love reading stories. I believe that it’s the only real magic that people have when they create something that teleports people to different places and different times. Though I realize this magic happens in other places besides the written word, I land in the category of writer, so that’s where I’m going to focus. But I will admit, it has been a while since I sat and wrote any kind of story that I really loved. I got a bit lost in the real world and convinced myself that no one really cared about the words that I was writing. That no one would ever see the world that I have been creating in my head since I was a little kid.

I was once asked in an interview in college when I knew that I was a writer. I honestly don’t know. I’ve been writing stories since I was able to read them. When I go home, sometimes I’ll stumble upon stories that a much younger version of me started but never finished. But, for a really long time, I’ve fought against this idea of being a writer. It didn’t matter what people would tell me about the words I’d written, the only things I’d hear were the negatives. Unfortunately, I let those negatives take over. A professor once said that we all have inner critics that we have to learn to silence. I admit, I’m terrible at that. The thing is, my inner critic doesn’t always have my voice. Sometimes, it’s other people and the things that they’ve said about my writing. I internalize those words and they stay with me until I gather the courage to try again.

My mom always talks about how I’m too hard on myself, how I need to just be more patient and that I’ll see myself more clearly one day. I don’t think that’s going to happen until I can embrace all the parts of me.

So here’s me trying to do that. I’ve started writing again.

My sister got me one of those special edition Moleskins a while ago (the Batman one, which looks freaking awesome) and I’ve started rewriting a story that’s lived in me for a very long time. I don’t know if I’ll ever show it to anyone. But I don’t think that’s always the point of writing. We all have to get past the point where we do things for other people and I have to get past that when I write, because ultimately, I’m writing this story so that it can show me something new. It’s funny, people sometimes think that authors control where stories go, but that’s often not the case. Sometimes, I’m so gripped by an idea for a story that I can’t help but write it down, even if I’m trying to go to sleep. Sometimes, the stories inside us are too strong to not be told.

These stories don’t always have to be fantasy, though those are the stories I love writing. Sometimes the stories look very much like real life. Those stories are incredibly important because they remind us that we aren’t alone in the world. I guess that’s what this blog is for.

This blog exists to tell the stories that I don’t feel ready to talk about out loud yet.

So I’m going to try to be more consistent with this blog. Many people may not read it, but I need to write the words for my own sake. Sometimes when we try to hold back parts of us, we lose who we really are. I’m trying to find myself again, and I don’t think I will until I begin to write. So here’s to writing. I hope that you’ll walk with me on this journey and I hope that you’ll be inspired to write your own stories as well.

Site Name Change

Hello all,

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, and for that I’m sorry. I got caught up with work in St. Louis. The transition has been good, and it has allowed me to think more about what I want to do with my life. That’s why the name change happened. I didn’t really feel like Fernweh really captured what I wanted to use this blog for. It’s akin to the word wanderlust, which is the want to travel and see new places. While that’s a part of my life, it’s not all of it. I originally heard the word entheos in my senior year of college. It’s the root word of enthusiasm and is usually defined as “filled with God.” That’s what I want this blog to be about. I want people to read the words and, whether or not I mention God, to know that He was a big part of inspiring the words that I write.

I hope that you’ll continue with me on this journey, I’ve got some new blog posts planned, and I’ll try to start writing more consistently come September.

Lex