Defining Quality

One of the things that intrigued me about Ruby’s revelation was that, as far as I had noticed, none of the boys in Ruby’s class had brown skin.

So I asked her if she would point Jason out to me the next day at pick-up.

At 2:30, I stood in the hallway and watched 24 kids file out of Ruby’s classroom…the only brown skin belonged to a little girl with long black braids.

“Ruby, is Jason in your class?”

“Yes, Mom! He’s right there!” she answered through clenched teeth.

She was pointing straight to a boy with jet black hair and skin that could barely be classified as beige.

I smiled down at my blushing baby and said, “Oh, sweetie. He’s really cute!”

“Moooooooooooom. Let’s go!”

She grabbed my hand, and we quickly (and discreetly) made our exit.

As soon as we were across the street, Ruby opened up a little bit.

“I do think he’s cute, Mom. But that’s not even why I like him. He’s so kind. Anytime anyone needs help in our classroom, Jason is always willing to help. He’s been really nice to me ever since I came here, and he makes people feel comfortable. He’s really smart, and he almost always finishes his work at the same time as me. And when he talks, he uses a soft voice and gives everyone a turn to share.”

Clearly, my daughter had fallen for the seven-year-old version of her father.

The shock of the day before was quelled by the fact that my kiddo really could see beyond color and into the things that matter. I was encouraged by the fact that her heart had naturally fallen for someone who possessed admirable qualities, even though his skin didn’t match hers. But these facts made it harder for me to understand how she could think it was wrong to like Jason and, even worse, be afraid to tell me about it.

Even though Ruby could recognize and acknowledge Jason’s valuable and admirable qualities, his race had become his most defining quality. She didn’t trust the adults in her world to consider anything other than the color of his skin.

defining quality

Over the next couple of weeks, I began to pay attention to Ruby’s world from a different viewpoint. I researched and read articles related to the things we were experiencing. I talked with friends and acquaintances who are better equipped to address these issues. And I prayed.

children

Someone once told me that children are excellent observers and terrible interpreters. Society is sending messages to my daughter non-stop, and she’s astute enough to pick up on the vast majority of them. It is my job to help her evaluate these messages and interpret their meaning in her life.

For seven years, I assumed that providing an open, inclusive atmosphere in our home would be enough to instill an open, inclusive worldview in my daughter’s heart.

Now, I know that’s not enough. 

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This post is the second in a new series titled “But I’m Not Racist!” You can read the first here. Please join me as I carefully tread this sacred ground.

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The Night Racism Came to Dinner

“So, Roo, tell me about Jason,” I said with a teasing grin.

The look on her face showed shock, then outrage.

“Nonna!!!” she growled.

“It wasn’t Nonna!” I assured her. (Poppa had actually been the one to spill the beans during a recent family trip. Apparently, a new young man had put a twinkle in my seven-year-old daughter’s eye.)

“Who was it?!” she insisted.

“Look! I’m not giving up my sources,” I answered. “But, seriously, tell me more about Jason. I didn’t know you had started to like a boy at your new school.”

“Well, he’s really nice, and I think he’s kinda cute.”

The slightest shade of pink crept up her neck and spread across her cheeks.

“Why didn’t you tell us about him? Were you afraid I’d tease you?” I giggled nervously.

My mom guilt was kickin’ in hard. This was the first time she’d ever intentionally hidden information like this from me. Surely I had done something wrong to make her think she couldn’t trust me with this information.

“No. I just…

I thought you and dad would be mad.”

Mike laughed. I laughed.

“Mad?” Mike questioned.

“What? Is he a trouble-maker?” I interrogated.

“No! He’s really nice!” she exclaimed. “It’s just…he’s got brown skin.”

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My heart stopped beating…right before it dropped into the soles of my shoes.

“What?!” I exclaimed.

“Ruby!” Mike assured her, “We would never be upset about that!”

I was seriously struggling to understand how she could have possibly come to her conclusion. African art is the focal point on our mantle. We’ve got a world map hanging on our wall with as many hearts etched into Africa as there are etched into the United States. We listen to rap, and she’s trying to teach herself hiphop dance with the help of YouTube videos!

“What makes you think that would bother us, Roo?”

She simply shrugged her shoulders and gave me a look that said, “Well, what did you expect me to think?”

That’s when I realized that something had gone terribly wrong. And it was definitely time to start speaking up.

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This post is the first in a new series titled “But I’m Not Racist!” Please join me as I carefully tread this sacred ground.

Rhinestone Jesus Giveaway Winners

Winner, winner! No chicken dinners around here today, but I will be sending you a copy of Rhinestone Jesus, as soon as you send me your address!

Random.org helped me select our winners, and they are:

#13 – Amy F.     and     #11 Andee

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Congratulations, ladies!! Send me your address, and I’ll get your book out to you! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Everyone else, I wish I could send each and every one of you a copy! However, you can purchase your own copy beginning today! If you hate waiting (like me), Rhinestone Jesus is available for instant reading on Kindle and Nook.

Thanks to everyone for participating! And congrats again to Amy and Andee! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did! Have a great May Day, everyone!

No.

The last thing the world needs is another blog. I get that.

But this blog is less about changing the world and more about changing me.

You see, I’ve got words. And I’ve got passion. And I used to think that meant I had something to say.

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Sharing all my words ended up hurting me and, worse, hurting others. So I closed up shop and basically stopped writing for a couple of years.

Now, I’m learning that the answer lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

I’m learning that the words that deserve to be shared are the ones that keep bringing themselves back into my mind for days…or weeks…or months…until they’re planted in my heart. These are the words that deserve air time. Words that will build up broken spirits, pry open closed hearts, and infuse love into hopeless situations are words that have earned their right to be shared.

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I’m scared to death that I’ll get it wrong. Scared to death that I haven’t actually learned anything and that this space will turn into something almost but not quite what it was meant to be.

Those are the thoughts that have kept me quiet for the past year, long after my heart had regained its desire to share. Now, it’s time for me to silence those fears.

So today, I’m saying No.

No, I will not be frightened of failure.

No, I will not be discouraged by my inadequacies.

No, I will not remain silent.

I’m saying No, so that I can say Yes.

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Yes, I will try again.

Yes, I will trust God to guide me.

Yes, I will speak life.

What’s your Yes? Is there something you’re avoiding because you’re scared, intimidated, or nervous? I believe you’re capable of more than you think, and I’d love to encourage you to believe that, as well.

(P.S. Wondering what finally convinced me to say Yes? It was reading Rhinestone Jesus, the new book by Kristen Welch. I’m currently hosting a giveaway where you could win a copy for yourself. Head on over and leave a comment to be entered in the contest. Good luck!)

Yes.

When I was a little girl, I would hear the amazing stories of God’s power from the Bible, and I was always left with this simple thought:

Why doesn’t He do that anymore? Is He asleep?

I never doubted God’s existence, but I sure did wonder what He was up to most of the time.

When I first began to learn about the abject poverty that exists in our world, I was left with similar thoughts:

Where are you, God? How is this happening on your watch??

It wasn’t long before God started to answer my questions.

Kristen Welch, author of the We are THAT Family blog and Rhinestone Jesus, describes it like this:

“I began to cry and couldn’t stop. I wanted to shut it all out. I was angry with God. Where are you? How can you allow so much suffering?

Then I stopped and closed my eyes. I saw God’s finger pointed at me as He asked my spirit the same question. Kristen, how can you allow this?”

Over the past four years, I have had the extreme pleasure of walking alongside Kristen as she has struggled with that question. And when God asked her and her family if they’d be willing to do something about the needs they saw, no matter the cost, they simply answered, “Yes.”

What has come out of that obedience is miraculous.

Kristen, her husband, Terrell, and their close friend Maureen founded a maternity home to rescue pregnant girls from the worst slum in Kenya. They named it The Mercy House.

The Mercy House is a miracle. The fact that it even exists is amazing, but the work that is being performed in the hearts and minds of the girls who have found solace within its walls is incredible beyond description. Everytime I read a new sponsor update or see a new video posted on the Facebook page, I am amazed.

I no longer question God’s whereabouts or wonder if he’s sleeping.

I have been an eye-witness to a miracle, and I will never be the same.

It’s easy to look at something as big and miraculous as The Mercy House and think, “I could never do that.” But in Rhinestone Jesus, Kristen reminds us that nobody can and everybody does.

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Miracles are made in the midst of the messes: Broken promises. Troubled relationships. Hopeless situations.

And they almost always begin with Yes.

Sometimes the yes is easy: “Can you donate $3 a month to save young women and unborn children in the slums of Kenya?”

Sometimes the yes is so hard it steals your breath and stills your heart: “Can you forgive me for the way I betrayed you?”

No problem is too big. No yes is too small.

Behind the scenes of every miracle, you’ll find a person who was willing to say Yes right in the middle of their mess.

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I was thrilled when my copy of Rhinestone Jesus arrived on my doorstep. I was encouraged by the very real story of Kristen’s journey. I was amused by some of our similarities and challenged by some of her questions.

Today, I’m equally thrilled to be offering you a chance to find Rhinestone Jesus on your doorstep! I’m excited for you to be encouraged, amused, and challenged by Kristen’s story.

I believe that you’ll find your own yes right in the middle of Kristen’s, and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Today, I’m giving away two copies of Rhinestone Jesus. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment to let me know you’d like to be a part of the contest. The giveaway will close at midnight on Wednesday, April 30th, and the winners will be announced on Thursday, May 1st. Thanks for stopping by!

(And thanks to Tyndale Momentum for providing the books!)