What I Will Tell My White Sons

Garretts Easter 2017.3I was thinking today about my two sons.  They are 2 and 3 1/2 years old; they are also white.  I was thinking about how being white makes other’s perceptions of you different than if you are some other color.  I was thinking about some of the recent police shootings, and about the longstanding, systemic discrimination towards people who don’t look like my sons.  And I was thinking about what it is I want to teach them about their black friends.

I’m sure the (at least) two things I want to teach them aren’t perfect and certainly aren’t comprehensive.  I simply cannot relate to what it’s like to be black in today’s society (or any other society, for that matter).  In fact, I ran this post by several people of color to get their insights and perspectives in an attempt to make sure that I won’t be teaching my sons harmful things, or forgetting to teach them critical things.  The fact of the matter is that I won’t have to communicate certain things to my sons that every African-American that I know has been taught by their parents and has or will teach to their children.  Now, those who are white can doubt that such a talk is necessary in today’s society.  But of course we don’t actually know; we are, from our ivory tower, simply decreeing that our brothers and sisters in Christ are either liars or are fantastically fearful.  Either way, we are making judgments about things that we simply know very little about.

That being said and those bridges being built, I offer this post in an attempt to help us think through how to, in at least one way, teach our children to be empathetic as they attempt to be wise as serpants and innocent as doves.

First, I want to teach them that there really is no such thing as being “color blind.” It doesn’t exist in our society. Any risky behavior, goofing off, being loud and obnoxious, will be seen differently depending on who is present; therefore, inevitably, it will be seen differently if a black friend is with them.  In our society, unfortunately, that means it is more likely that the police will be called sooner.  Growing up, my brothers sometimes played with toy guns; unlike Tamir Rice, however, the police were never called on them.  So they need to stand up for their friend, as well as be aware that injustice should be met with truth and patience. If they witness racism, don’t be silent.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If they see or hear prejudice, a well-spoken word will go much further than anger, or especially apathy. Shrugging it off as just “being how it is” doesn’t serve anyone, especially those who aren’t colorblind.

Second, I want to teach them that black lives matter. And by saying that black lives matter, this doesn’t mean we are denying that all lives matter, because of course they do. They need to know about white privilege. They need to know that inherently, life will likely just be easier for them, not because it’s their fault, but because we live in a fallen world full of people who have fears, and prejudices, and racism in their hearts without even knowing it. They themselves probably do, too. The only way to combat this is to fundamentally acknowledge it’s there, and deal with it. And fight it. And talk about it. And write about it. And confess it. And actively work to destroy it.

The fact is, every single one of us, male or female, black or white, have prejudices in our hearts. My sons do too. The answer is always going to be turning to Christ, getting our gaze off of ourselves and onto Him.  The answer will always be to turn to the One who made every race beautiful, to show us the inherent worth of every single life, born or unborn, male or female, black or white. Jesus showed no partiality in who He loved. In fact, he demonstrated His impartiality by dying for the sins of the world, of offering forgiveness to anyone who asks.

I want my sons to start there…at the gospel. THAT is what should inform them about how to treat others, and how to lay down their lives for their friends. THAT is what they should shout from the rooftops to anyone who will hear. Jesus saves. Jesus loves. Jesus will come back again, and he won’t look like them. He’s a dark skinned man, and it’s He and He alone who will make everything right again.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Originally posted here

Short Story Tuesday: The Happiest Place on Earth

The challenge: Write a short story every Tuesday in 500 words or less.  Post on your blog, share on twitter with the #shortstorytuesday hashtag.  Tag two friends to do the same.

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The whispering wind flicked her hair from her eyes.  Looking up, she watched as a flag blew merrily in the breeze. The distinct shape of Mickey Mouse flapped on the yellow canvas backdrop.  The happiest place on earth, they say.  The place were tears aren’t allowed, where children can be children.

What makes it different for me? She wondered.  Am I just that separate from other children?  Deep thoughts for an eight-year-old, she knew.  But she wasn’t like other children.  Not in the usual kind of way.  Other children laughed and screamed and ran amuck while their haggard parents tried to keep up.  She watched as even now, a small boy attached to a backpack with a leash pulled against his restraints, reaching grimy hands for Donald Duck.  The mascot waved at him, bending down to hand him a signed picture.  The little boy squealed with delight.

disney castle

I like to watch, she thought.  I like to observe what families do.  How they act.  What makes them…well, a family.

“Jade!” The voice snapped her back to reality.  Above her head, the flag snapped against the pole.  She hurried under it towards the other children dressed in bright yellow.  Some smiled, some stared in wonder around them, but mainly, none knew what to do.  Shuffling feet, shifting eyes, they huddled like puppies afraid to make a wrong move.

Miss Kathy grabbed her shoulder.  “Pay attention, Jade.  Don’t dawdle.  Sometimes I wonder what goes on in that head of yours.”

Nothing that would interest you.  She dare not say it out loud.

“Leave her be, Kathy,” Miss Margie said gently.  She was Jade’s favorite.  Always sticking up for her, trying desperately to find her a family to call her own.  Organizing things like Disney trips for the kids.  But really, it almost made the pain worse.  So many happy families.  So many children with Moms and Dads.  College in their futures, a bed of their own, more belongings than could fit in a backpack.  Parents who weren’t in jail, or dead.

Or Moms who can get out of bed every day without chasing another fix.  Who don’t give up their kids because she would rather get high instead.  Jade knew she shouldn’t think that way.  But she preferred to live in reality.  Maybe she was too young, or too vulnerable, or whatever adults always said when she dared speak her thoughts out loud.

Really, what did it matter?  Jade found herself looking back at the waving flag as the children followed behind each other, marching to the orders of Miss Kathy. She shouted them like a drill instructor.  Jade filtered out the noises around her and focused on the Mouse.  The happies place on earth.  Maybe, just maybe, if she was good enough, quiet enough, obedient enough…someone would want her.  They would see her here, and instead of seeing an orphan, they would see a daughter.

She turned her face from the flag.   

 

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Today, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care. More than 100,000 of those are awaiting adoption.  In reality, that isn’t a large number compared to the amount of families who have the means to take in these children. If one family, from every three churches in the United States adopted a child in foster care, it would eliminate the adoption need completely.  Check out your States requirements.  There should be no such thing as an unwanted child.

Pillar By the Night

Frozen is this heart of stone, plastered to the sphere

Where is my solitude?  Where is my fear?

Fortune’s telling seems afar, nigh for truth and light

Contraband to silence, taken in the night

Chains that bind by depth and blood, fixed to ships at sea

Floating in the ceaseless pain, soul’s first noiseless plea

Fortress floats towards land’s swift shore, buttressed in the flight

Cloud by the light of day, pillar by the night

Glinting eyes of silent shouts demand my acquiescence

What is the safest way to claim my soft defiance?

You don’t hold my freedom song, wrought in tears and toil

Standard flies in rippling wind, planted in the soil

Cast aside your ardent lies, they have no hold on me

Burn your demanding subterfuge and persistent trickery

Fling my prose into the wind, leap for battles won

Shadows lay to wasteland’s floor, step into the sun

fire by nightExodus 13:21, “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.”

Freebie Fridays

One marketing strategy for indie authors is to offer free books or novellas.  I like to take advantage of this, not only to find new authors to enjoy, but to help boost their sales and participate in their success.

Here are some various freebies you might want to check out in the indie author world.

Revelation by J.E. Purrazzi.  This happens to be my critique partners debut novella, and I can’t have enough good things to say about it.  If you like dystopian science fiction, with both an adult and a YA feel, this on is for you.

The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson is free for kindle unlimited subscribers.  This fantasy tale was everything I love about the genre (and I’m super picky when it comes to fantasy!)  Great plot, engaging characters, a well built world…looking forward to the rest of the series.

Darkness Reigns by Jill Williamson.  I’ve mentioned before that I am in the middle of the this series.  Her marketing strategy is excellent, for one thing.  Structured like a mini-series, the first book is free, and the next five are only a little over $3.  They are short, so you don’t feel like you get totally lost in the world.  But they are long enough that you don’t feel like you are being cheated.  Her strongest point, I think, is her incredibly endearing and interesting characters.

Enchantress by James Maxwell is free for kindle unlimited subscribers.  This was another good fantasy read.  The characters were pretty well-rounded, with maybe a little too much cliche for me, but that’s a minor complaint.  The world was unique, and the magic original.  I’m getting ready to read book two in the series.

The Traveler’s Gate Trilogy by Will Wight is free for kindle unlimited subscribers.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a series this unique.  The magic system is complicated and unusual, something I’ve never read, which is high praise in the fantasy world.  His characters are entertaining and compelling.  This was my introduction to the indie fantasy world, and he set the bar high.

Worlds Yet Explored

I’m pretty much losing my mind.  Maybe you feel the same…between my day job (haha! Day job!  As if being a stay at home mom stops when 6pm hits!  I’m cracking myself up…), between sickness, cooking, cleaning, running my kids around to appointments, trying to find time for my husband…sometimes I wonder if I really am cut out for this whole “writing” thing.

But then the itch starts.  That “must-write-or-go-insane” feeling creeps, and then grows stronger, until the characters are shouting at me to get their story on paper.  It’s both wonderful and tiring.  Beauty with the mayhem.

Go with it, fellow writers.  Ride the storm where it takes you.  Nothing is quite as invigorating at the end of the day then knowing you got the words out.  That you have your characters their voice.  That your thoughts escaped the confines of your mind.  Who would benefit, otherwise?  Try to imagine a world without “Gone With the Wind” or “Aesop’s Fables.”  What if we didn’t have classics like “Huckleberry Finn” or “Jane Eyre”?  What if CS Lewis never dazzled our young minds with Narnia, or J.K. Rowling never gave Harry Potter his chance to fly?

Maybe your, or my, story is not the next Middle Earth or Wheel of Time.  But there are thousands of worlds still to be explored, millions of characters who wait to be given life, and you and I might be their only way of coming forth from obscurity to the written page.

So stop reading this, and get writing.

fantasy world

“Hidden Queen” Blurb

Like all indie authors, blurbs are the bane of my existence.  I have several WIP’s going, but the one closest to being ready for publishing is my women’s fiction/Christian fiction/fantasy book called “The Hidden Queen.”  The blurb is below…help a sister out and let me know what you think.

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Book one in the Rodasian Chronicles follows Gwyneth, a simple farm girl who wants nothing more than to live her life in peace. But when her country of Rodasia is threatened by the powerful Devinians to the north, her life takes an unexpected turn.  Forced to head south to the capital city of Parr, she must face bigger questions than she ever imagined.  Can she step up to the new tasks ahead?  Will her doubts keep her from accomplishing the task she has been given?

Protected by the duty-bound soldier Charles, and joined by a strange old man who forces her to confront the bigger questions of her existence, Gwen travels the road to Parr.  But in the end, who can she trust?  And can she overcome her worst adversary…herself?

Short Story Tuesday: Victory Dance

The challenge: Write a short story every Tuesday in 500 words or less.  Post on your blog, share on twitter with the #shortstorytuesday hashtag.  Tag two friends to do the same.

Victory Dance

You can see the dance in nature’s victor circle.  A stallion stamps his hoof in triumph over a rival, tossing his head and snorting his defiance.  A peacock spreads his feathers wide, dazzling the onlooker with his prowess, marching to the beat of his own drum.  I win, they say.  I triumph.  I defeat all comers, slaying their pride and elevating mine.  See my victory?  See my attainment?  See my beauty?  See my power?

stallion

I can’t say the same for my type of victory dance.  It isn’t shown in the strength of a muscled stallion or the feathered display of the eyes of the peacock.  Sometimes, a victory dance is in muted silence of suffering alone, where the dance is a ragged breath of one more day of defiance.  A chest rising and falling, pushing the limits of expectation.  A feeble hand raised, or maybe just a finger, because the exhausted limit has been reached in days of floundering pain.  Where is the solace in trivial battles won, where age and decay eventually drag you down to the depths of mortality?  Or maybe the battles aren’t trivial.  Maybe they seem so to me, in this listless existence of mine.

A light breaks the darkness, a shaft of brilliance underneath a door.  A tiny hand grabs mine.  A pink bow drapes the cheek of an angel, with brown eyes and pigtails.  Her dance is one of life, a victorious fist raised in rebellion to natural law.  Death and decay only enhance the beauty of youth, and for her, I would die a thousand times to show the world her brilliance.

“What shall we sing today, Papa?” she asks.

I cannot answer, but the beep of the ventilator sets her rhythm.  It always does.  Voice raised, fists clenched, eyes bright, my angel sings.  If Heaven could peer down to the affairs of man, surely it would look and listen for such a time as this.  Purity in word, purity in motivation, purity in heart…these mean everything to the child who sees the pallor of death up close.  They instinctively know that it wasn’t meant to be this way.  Immortality was the intention, but death sprung from the deeds of audacious independence.  One that spurned life, craved autonomy, and now leaves me a broken shell on a cold, hostile bed.

Where once my purpose was sure, now I am irresolutely clinging to a past of shredded memories.  The surety is gone, replaced with uncertain confidence, the type that says I know my life meant something…but now, was it worth the heartache and the bliss?  Was it worth the tears and the laughter?  Was it worth the turmoiled storms and the smooth waters?

The angel silences her song.

“Did you like it?” she asks.

If only I could answer.  I would say, You are my victory dance.  And take another breath, my chest rising and falling.