Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Christian Response to Syrian Refugees

Out of respect for BJ's position as a clergyman, I rarely state political opinions of any sort. Trust me, I have opinions; I just keep them to myself. But I can't stay silent about a particular issue going on right now. I can't not respond to the rejection of Syrian refugees by states all across America, including my home state of Texas and my current state of residence, Oklahoma.

Being the spouse of a minister, I am constantly standing on the sidelines of discussions about Christianity and America. This year, that discussion has been dominated by concerns over same-sex marriage. Christians in our neck of the woods see same-sex marriage as the greatest threat to the soul of America. At the same time, Christians all over America, including many who are in positions of prominence, are calling for the rejection of non-Christian refugees. In my opinion, the latter issue is a true battle for the soul of America.

Homosexuality is mentioned six times in the Bible. In the grand scheme of the Biblical text, it is pretty insignificant. However, taking care of the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, the foreigner, taking care of these, is mentioned hundreds of times. In 2013, I read through the Bible with a reading group, and I was surprised to find that the tirades of the prophets were not admonishments of the sins I'd been raised to believe were the worst offenses (adultery, fornication, drunkenness, et cet.). But rather, God's anger voiced through the prophets was anger over their negligence of the poor and of the oppressed. In other words, if you want to make God really angry, then turn your back on the people who need your help.

And on a purely practical level, if our goal is to combat terrorism, than our greatest weapon is not a drone. Rather, it is education and the alleviation of fear and poverty. When I see the pictures of the Syrian refugees, what I see is children. Lots of children. Children as vulnerable and as moldable as Shepherd and Lydia and Violet. If we give them a safe place to grow and to be educated, then the chances of them being radicalized dramatically diminishes. When we act out of hope and love, then the terrorists lose.

To close, here are a few verses that I believe speak to this situation.

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Matthew 25:35

And let us never forget that our Savior was once a refugee: "Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.' So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 'OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.'" Matthew 2:13-15

Friday, November 13, 2015

Update: Shepherd

Here is what's up with Shepherd.

1. Shepherd's life currently revolves around school. He still loves school, and is always excited to go. Everyday when he comes home, he tells me excitedly that he earned a jewel that day for perfect behavior. I mean every day. This is, of course, great that he is doing so well, but after spending a morning at school with him a couple of weeks ago, I've come to realize that he is so focused on correct behavior that I'm not sure if he is having any fun. While the other kids were running and playing before the tardy bell, he was sitting criss-cross-applesauce on his assigned carpet square with his hands neatly folded in his lap and his lips pursed together. Much to my surprise, Shepherd appears to have a lot of me in him when it comes to school, and I think that my job as his mom might actually be to encourage him to lighten up and have some fun every once and a while.

2. Speaking of Shepherd being a lot like me when I was little, every morning Shepherd asks me if he has P.E. that day, and on the days that I answer "yes," he always responds by groaning, "I hate P.E." I was that kid. The one who dreaded P.E. all day while everyone else seemed to look forward to it. I feel your pain, Shep.

3. When we attempt to play sports at home, Shepherd's personality really shines. During a family game of basketball the other night, Shepherd hardly played and instead walked around telling us all the rules and the different ways in which we weren't following them correctly.

4. Shepherd has decided on a wife. A couple of weeks ago during Sunday lunch, Shepherd said, "I'm going to marry a girl with big red lips." BJ and I were a little shocked and laughed a bit, but we didn't think too much about it. Later that night, we told our friend, Megan, the story. She started asking questions, the conversation going something like this:

Megan: Shepherd, does this girl wear big red heels?
Shepherd: (starting to giggle lightly) Yes.
Megan: Does she have long red hair?
Shepherd: (giggling a little louder) Yes.
Megan: Is it Rhianna*.
Shepherd: (giggling uncontrollably and as red as a tomato) YES!!!

* (a very pretty 20 year old from church)

4. In fact, Shepherd has quite an eye for the ladies. After having a young, attractive substitute teacher today, Shepherd excitedly told me on the way home, "Mom, she was so pretty! She was even prettier than you!"

5. When Shepherd comes home from school, this is what he a Violet do.

6. Shepherd loves both of his sisters, although he is only willing to admit love for the younger one. Lydia is his playmate and partner in crime, but she is also the one he fights with over toys and space and tv shows and the list goes on. When he came home from school today, Lydia told him that she had missed him. I said, "Oh Shepherd, that is so nice of Lydia. Did you miss her?" He gave a firm no, and when I started to chastise him for his rudeness, he said, "Mom, I was busy missing Violet!" Oh, siblings!

7. And last but not least, here are some pictures of our guy!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Update: Lydia

Obviously, since Shepherd started school, I'm having a hard time keeping up with this blog. Between running kids around and trying to get done as much housework as possible anytime Violet naps, I never sit down at the computer. But I know that I have family who are anxious to here updates on their three favorite grandchildren/great-grandchildren/nieces/nephew, so I thought I'd carve out some time this week to focus a blogpost on each child and give an update. Here is Lydia in 8 points.

1. Lydia has enthusiastically leaped into the world of imaginary friends. Her main squeeze is Jimmy, a boy with whom she loves to dance. He also naps in Shepherd's bed during her nap time. Sometimes she'll lay her head on my shoulder and tell me to be quiet because Jimmy is singing for us. She also has a pet squirel named FiFi whose nemesis is Shepherd. We have witnessed some pretty strange sibling arguments over that one.

2. At the age of 3, Lydia is still the girly-est girl ever. It is not unusual for her to say sentences in normal conversation that have any combination of 2 or 3 of the following words: fairies, princess, pink, unicorn, baby, ponies, and pretty.

3. While Lydia continues to be girly, she also embraces some of her brother's boyish games. For example, she is sometimes a superhero named (of course) Super Lydia. Last weekend, Super Lydia saved a hoard of crying sheep from...something. I'm not sure what.

4. In a fit of jealousy over Violet having crayons named after her, Lydia has declared that pink will now be called "Lydia pink".

5. Lydia is taking dance lessons where she is sprinkled with fairy dust weekly. The "fairy dust" is some type of spray-on glitter that REFUSES to wash out of her hair, so Lydia is always sparkly.

6. We never know what Lydia is going to say next. This past Sunday, she informed both BJ and I on separate occasions that when she grows up, she is going to have bigger boobs than me. When telling me, she elaborated by saying that they would "reach for the sun." After a moment of stunned silence, all I could come up with was, "Sweetie, this conversation is getting weird."

7. At a doctor's appointment today for flu shots, Lydia asked BJ if he would pick her up so that she could see the doctor's "pretty eyes." Our pediatrician declared her his favorite patient.

8. My mom loves to laugh and say, "BJ has met his match in that little girl." She is right. Case in point: The other morning while the kids were eating cereal and BJ and I were running around the kitchen preparing our breakfasts, Shepherd and Lydia got in some ridiculous argument, the details of which weren't even worth remembering. BJ, always a charmer before coffee, finally broke down and yelled out in exasperation, "Who cares?!?!" Lydia paused from yelling at her brother, looked at BJ, and in a completely matter-of-fact tone said, "Me."

And in conclusion, here are some recent photos of BJ's match.