Sunday, March 25, 2012

{archives} One: Twenty-seven

Author's note: This post was originally written on October 12, 2008. 

Does scripture ever come alive for you? Have you ever experienced something tangibly that is written in God's Word? I hope many of you have tasted the sweetness of salvation, but in our lives with Jesus, sometimes God's word is so clearly reflected on this Earth that it's hard to deny who He is and how powerful His Word is. I put James 1:27 to memory some months ago. "Pure and faultless religion is this: to care for widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." So often times us 'progressive' Christians balk at the word 'Religion', but we are part of a 'religion'. And our actions reflect our faith, and our religion. Faith is just a much more 'happy' word in our culture. But regardless, this verse has recently rang true and unmistakably tangible for me.

I have experienced the truth in this verse on several occasions, my first time being at the age of 15. But I wasn't really aware of James 1:27 at the time. My recent trip to Africa was my first time at an orphanage since memorizing James 1:27. The verse began coursing through my head the moment a little girl put her hand in mind. Almost immediately after getting out of our truck, we had numerous hands competing for our attention. For the duration of my first visit to the St. Bartholemew's Orphanage, I had four little girls holding my hands at one time. Two would share each hand. The verse kept running through my mind, on a continuous cycle.

The second evening at the orphanage, I picked up Celina. Celina had malaria, and was a sick and sad little girl. Her stomach was bloated, and she never smiled. She was content just to be held. At one point, her soggy diaper finally gave into its weight, and I found my shirt and skirt moistened by it. I didn't mind, I just wanted to hold her some more.

One day I spent an entire afternoon holding little babies. I picked up little Nancy after her nap. She clung to my shirt, putting her head on my chest. She held on for the entire afternoon. When I tried to put her down, she cried. My heart broke for Nancy, so rarely held, so desperate for physical touch and affection. I think I left a small piece of my heart in her hands when I left the orphanage that day.

I felt the purity of caring for orphans on those days. It was an intense experience, both spiritually and emotionally. I can't quite express how my heart felt during my time at the orphanage, and I can't express how the memories make me feel now. But I do know that the beauty of caring for orphans is indeed pure religion. God's word was alive, and I could see it as I sat on the floor with four children in my lap. I felt it just like I felt Nancy's hands clutching my shirt. I heard it though the laughter of children as we played with them. I smelled it as we fed babies formula, and even as we changed diapers. I tasted it though the hospitality as we were fed an amazing meal from the already tired and overworked staff. It is the living word of God being worked out and revealed to His undeserving child- me. But I'm thankful for the experience, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to know and understand what caring for those precious children is- TRUE religion.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do colors matter?

Yesterday was Down Syndrome Awareness Day. I have a couple of friends who have sweet babies born with a 47th chromosome, and many more friends who have loved ones with Down’s Syndrome. I saw on facebook that you could wear yellow and blue to show your support and raise awareness for March 21st. So I woke up yesterday morning and rummaged around my closet for a good yellow/blue outfit combination.

As I was rummaging I started to wonder what the point was in wearing blue and yellow. What would I, one person, accomplish by simply wearing two colors? To be transparent, I almost gave up on searching for my outfit. But then I realized that I didn’t need to be asking ‘why?’ I really needed to be asking ‘why not?’

We live in a jaded, cynical world. It seems that many people are content in their complacency and it causes them discomfort when they see others stepping out of their bubble, out of their comfort zone. So they criticize, point fingers, and always have a reason why you SHOULDN’T do something, because ‘How can one person make a difference?’ It’s always ‘why?’ instead of ‘why not?’

So yesterday, I grabbed my blue and yellow sundress and put on my yellow necklace. Why? Because I know sweet children with Down Syndrome, and they are amazing, beautiful, perfect children of God. Because when three or four people at work told me that they ‘liked my yellow’ I was able to tell them why I was wearing yellow and blue. And I hope that I was able to encourage my friends who have children with Downs. I know that these families experience discrimination, stereotypes, and even judgement from people who are ignorant and vicious. I imagine that it could be a lonely road. I wanted to stand with them, I wanted to show my support.  So, if the only result of me wearing yellow and blue was to encourage, I’ll take it. But who knows, it could impact people in ways I will never know.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how small the deed, we will never know how God can use it. From pennies to millions, from wearing colors to signing petitions, every little attempt at advocacy and activism matters. I hope I never become so jaded that I don’t do the little things.
So do colors matter? I think they do. Every little thing you can do to encourage, support, or raise awareness matters. I pray I never forget that, and I pray that for you too.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Beginning.

The first blog post always seems to be the hardest post to write. For me, a quintessential, ‘perfect’ post is needed to officially start this new endeavor. So, after a couple months of contemplation and procrastination, here is my first post. Perfect? Probably not. But you have to start somewhere, right?

I suppose this is my personal blog. It is not connected to any of my professional positions whatsoever. The opinions expressed will be my own. I’m sure that my experiences, passions, and professional background will play a major role, as they are huge pieces to who I am becoming.

So why ‘The Everyday Activist’?  you may ask. Well, the title originates from a conversation I had over a year ago with a colleague and friend. I attended a book discussion about modern day slavery at my university. The participants engaged in a lively discussion about the book ‘A Crime So Monstrous’ (E Benjamin Skinner, 2008) and the implications of modern day slavery in our world. I am incredibly passionate about this subject, so I was certainly an active participant.

At the end of our discussion my friend turned to me and said“Does Brent (my future husband at the time) know that he’s marrying an activist?” My friend meant it as a compliment and I took it as such. My entire adult life has been dedicated to advocacy, activism and service. Do I mess up frequently? Yes. Do I have the wrong motives sometimes? Absolutely.  Could I work harder, try more, and dedicate more of my time to the causes and issues I’m passionate about? Definitely. I can be extremely selfish with my time and with my motives.

A lot has happened in the past year. I got married, was in more weddings than I can count, graduated with my master of Social Work, moved twice, adopted a dog, got my first ‘real’ job, and passed my social work licensure test. My husband and I have experienced amazing travel and tremendous financial difficulties. We have spent our first year of marriage getting used to each other and figuring out this whole ‘wedded bliss’ thing. But through all of the newness, beauty and chaos of this past year, the ‘activist’ comment stuck with me. So, when I finally decided to bite the bullet and write down my thoughts, ‘Everyday activist’ seemed appropriate.

So there you have it. First blog post. I hope I manage to write a few more, and I hope I don’t completely bore you. But even if I do, that’s okay. This blog post isn’t about me, or you. It’s about Jesus, and the people He called me to serve. Injustice runs rampant in our world, I feel like God put me on this earth to fight it, and this blog will be one of many ways I fulfill this calling.