Meeting the Deplorable

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“My insurance is gonna run out soon. Truman promised to take care of us.”

When you’re immersed in Appalachia, this statement translates quite easily: I used to work in the mines.

But the coal industry that sustained life in West Virginia – and, if we’re honest, the rest of America – is now idle. Caught in the political crosshairs, tens of thousands of men and women are now without work.

The local pastor with whom our mission team recently served was quick to redirect our sympathy: “I can’t even go through a metal detector – I got metal in my knees and hip!”

It was a light moment before the grim reality of the region intensified: There is no money.

Continue reading “Meeting the Deplorable”

Mountains Beyond Mountains

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I don’t believe loving someone is ever easy, especially when it’s a stranger.

Yesterday, I shared a piece I wrote the day after Election 2016. Emotions were high, much of our nation was baffled, and experience reminded me that loving people is complicated.

But, just three days later, the hand I was dealt was angry, white, and male.

And for the very first time, I absorbed hatred in the presence of my children.

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Love: Where Fries Overcome Fear

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When life hands you a free milkshake, you say “yes”. But, the truth is, the last thing I wanted was more food.

For several moments, a scene had been eating away at my thoughts. A homeless man – not more than 30 years of age – waited on a curb of desperation outside of our local Walmart as we drove past. To help or not to help? The restless toddlers in the backseat only encouraged the excuses my mind so effortlessly generated.

No. Not tonight.

So we stayed the course to Chick-fil-A. The kids would share a “happy” meal, I would enjoy a leafy green salad, and the sunset would end a perfect evening.

Only I ordered fries I couldn’t eat. Then my son’s order was wrong, which resulted in four free chicken nuggets. And, perhaps most surreal of all, a cashier placed a free milkshake in my hand: “We forgot the whipped cream and cherry. Here!”

As my son’s ice cream cascaded down my wrist, I pondered the sticky dilemma. Light was fading, and so too was an opportunity.

Continue reading “Love: Where Fries Overcome Fear”

Morning Cup of Job

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My struggles weren’t too different from Job’s, but my questions were not existential. I simply wanted to know the secret to feeling good. Lately, the kids had been driving me into the ground.

While Job may have reached out to questionable friends, my choice – like every toxic relationship – was one I swore I would avoid forever.

And so began my caffeinated month of craziness.

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Mother, with Child

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“Whatever you do, don’t drop it!”

Such was my silent prayer two weeks ago when my husband and I braved a new world: keeping our son with us during an entire worship service. With the flip of a toddler wrist, a Walmart gift card – the only “toy” I could locate in my purse – held the potential to fly over the balcony and inspire a heart attack in an elderly member below. Would Jesus forgive us?

The fact is, we didn’t plan ahead. On Sundays, our goal is quite simple: make it to church with two children clothed and fed (Mom and Dad being such is a bonus!). For a few months, our son had joined us for 30 melodic minutes of praise before the inevitable wiggles ensued. But, as his behavior improved each week, we gained confidence and perhaps grew overly ambitious.

How difficult could it be to keep a toddler occupied AND quiet for just a little longer?

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Oh, the Decisions You’ll Make!

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Decisions can be suffocating – much like graduation robes. In May 2006, I pondered this exact thought as I walked across a very long stage. College was over, and finally my life would fall into place.

I would attend graduate school and pursue a career in education. I would marry a good Christian man who was well on his way to becoming a doctor. We would have two children, and I would perfectly balance motherhood and my career.

Little did I know that in a few short years, I would lose it all – the teaching career, the doctor, and the guarantee of motherhood. Continue reading “Oh, the Decisions You’ll Make!”

A Body, Divided

 

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The first time I met a transgender person, I wanted to take her home. I wanted to teach her how to walk in high-heeled boots, and I wanted to tell her that young women do not wear tank tops in Virginia winter.

I don’t remember this classmate’s name, but I do recall how others looked at her. I can only imagine how often she wished she were invisible. And yet, she persisted – with her hormone drugs, with her disheveled attempt at feminine beauty, and with her confidence.

In many ways, I envied the guts it took to live her life. But I always wondered, where was her safe place?

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The Two-Career Conundrum

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In Matthew Chapter 6*, Jesus discusses a person’s inability to serve two masters, but I would have to respectfully disagree – that is, if we are to consider the two-career conundrum that mothers who wish to work outside of the home face. Mothers, of course, seek or return to an external occupation for various reasons, but the emotional, psychological, and, often, physical ties to their children never diminish. If a woman is to contribute to the world vocationally, she must bear the weight of an additional career and somehow find a balance between the two.

For myself, this looks an awful lot like a hangover. Continue reading “The Two-Career Conundrum”