Weep with Me

3 years ago, I wrote about this song by Rend Collective.

3 Years ago……

My Dad was still alive.

I could honestly say, “I feel good.”

I had never experienced the concern that comes when your kids go “driving while black.”

A multitude of black and brown families have an empty seat at their table due to police brutality.

A multitude of black and brown families have a seat at their table that is empty longer than it should be and it’s only because of skin color.  If their family member had been white, he would have done his time and gone home. 

Over 2 million people in the United States have been infected with the corona virus and over 116,000 have died so far.

Weep with me.  God does.

Listen to God talking through them and take comfort in knowing that God is weeping with us in these struggling times.

TV

Weep with Me – by Rend Collective

Again, Lord?

How long?

How long must your people suffer at the hands of your people?

It doesn’t make sense.

How could it make sense?

Who can explain Minneapolis in any other way than pure evil?

God?

Help those of us who are white to stand up and say…..

This is not right.

This is not right and we will join our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and neighbors and the guy on the other side of the counter at the gas station and the bank teller and …… and …… of color and stand for change.

Help us, because we are obviously failing miserably.

Help us to realize that Colin was right.

And

we

were

wrong.

Don’t just read this and move on.

Don’t just shake your head and wonder what this world is coming to.

Don’t just say, “Oh, there is so much death and suffering right now….”

That’s no longer good enough.

We must

ask questions. Ask hard questions.

We must

look inward – even if we dont want to look at what we know is there.

We must

have higher standards. .
,,.,

Especially for those in positions of authority.

Governmental authority – good call by the Mayor of Minneapolis for the firing of the 4 policemen.

But not just higher standards for sound bites.

Higher standards for real.

Higher standards for our families.

Higher standards that value all of us.

I’ve lost friendships over the “Black Lives Matter” compared to “All Lives Matter” school of thought.

Let me ask you a question…..

Do you think George Floyd matters as much as he would if he weren’t a person of color?

That’s the problem with the “All Lives Matter” statement.

What’s the problem?

The problem is that currently on a consistent and frequent basis, we are seeing reminders that black lives don’t matter as much as white lives do.

And its not just a problem in big cities.

We see it. We just need to open our eyes and look. Look where we hold people dear and look where it hurts.

To quote the Christian musician group, “Mikes Chair.”
⁃ then I shook my fist at heaven and said, “God why don’t you do something?
⁃ “I did, I created you.”

He created you and me and him and her and the people next door, all of us to make this world a better place.

But we need to acknowledge that this starts closer to home than most people are willing to admit. I live in a “bedroom community” about 15 miles from downtown Grand Rapids. You wouldn’t think you’d see it there. I have twice in the last two months, both very harmful to kids.

One last thing. I’m wrote most of this Tuesday night and the local news comes on – I had the NBC station on. They led their broadcast with the story of the tragic murder of George Flynn.

The first things that they said beyond one intro sentence were up on the screen in big letters:
⁃ He looked like……
⁃ He had previously…….
⁃ He………..

There were four things that the news reported about the victim. There was not one thing said about the police officers who murdered him. Nothing about their training or the number of years they have been on the police force or anything.

Is it merely a coincidence? Or did the people who originally wrote the news report either purposely or without realizing that they were attempting to make the police look better and the victim look worse, did they write it that way?

Lord, be with George’s family. They mourn without reason.

Help us to work towards this never happening again…..

Tom

Seeing God in the Cafeteria

(Note, this actually happened on May 30 – it’s just taken me a few days to get it to the point of feeling it is ready to share). A few weeks ago, I wrote about a concert that the Potter’s House Gospel Choir gave. It gave me hope. You can read that here.

This morning, I saw something else.

I saw promise.

I saw promises made and promises that came true.

Come with me.

It’s about 7:10 and the principal and a few other staff are putting the finishing touch on lining up chairs in the cafeteria. There’s a great big circle of chairs.

Hmmm, this doesn’t look like the prayer services that I’ve been at before.

A few of the seniors come in, a few parents do as well. No one is quite sure what to do. But the kids know and they start sitting down in the circle of chairs.

Before long all of the chairs are filled by students. Around the circle, parents and teachers are just kind of wandering, talking amongst themselves. Sharing relief that their student made it, sharing the happiness of an accomplishment, sharing stories of growth (and stories of white water rafting and baseball games at 2:00 in the morning in the Indianapolis airport).

Little by little over the next 10 to 15 minutes, people drift in. And then all of the chairs are full and the principal welcomes all of us to a time of prayer. He opens with a prayer and then says that for the next 30 minutes or so, it’s time to pray for the seniors.

And then it happened.

It started with just a few quiet prayers. And it grew.

And it grew.

Parents praying for their own kids.

Parents praying for their kids friends.

Parents praying for the kids of their friends.

Teachers praying for every student.

Teachers from the middle school came over to pray for these “their” students.

Administrators praying over every student individually.

Prayers of thanks for what God has done for them. And through them.

Prayers of support as they venture into the “unknown.”

Giving thanks and celebrating God’s promises kept.

Claiming God’s promises into the future.

And you could feel the atmosphere shift in the cafeteria. It wasn’t the lunch room at school.

It was a place of worship. And God was doing something special.

He was saying, “These are my children. I’ve got them.”

“I promise.”

Just as the parents were feeling the emotions of a milestone, whether easy or hard, God was saying, “Have hope for the future. I’ve got them.”

Just as the seniors were feeling the mixed emotions that come at a time like this, God was saying, “Have hope, my child, I’ve got you. Trust me and hold on to my promises”

I’ve seen hope and I’ve seen promise.

And I see a class of high school graduates who have both and have them for such a time as this.

God is good, all the time.

TV

The Coup – The Fear of the Unknown

(Some more of my thoughts on the night of February 29, 2004 as a Dad who had two kids in an orphanage in a country that was just had it’s government overthrown in a coup.) 

 

So, that Sunday night we went to bed.

Just like thousands of other people in West Michigan.

Except we weren’t like them.

We weren’t any better or stronger or more charitable. We were still just ordinary people.

But we had a great big old “unknown” sitting in the bottom of our stomaches.

What does this mean? Are our kids safe? (We knew they were at that moment – but what about the future?) Was this going to turn into a long civil war?

What are we going to do if the new government declares the paperwork from the old government to be worthless?

What if they close adoptions? How will we ever get our kids home?

So many unknowns.

I should have gone to bed with one big truth rather than so many unknowns. But I didn’t do that very well at that point.

So I went to bed worried.

What’s that big thing?

No matter what, MY GOD IS BIGGER.

He’s bigger than an overthrown government.

He’s bigger than potentially lost paperwork.

He’s bigger than all of that.

He’s bigger than what you’re struggling with today.

He’s bigger than what I’m struggling with today.

He’s bigger and He’s got this.

But it’s hard to step back and say, “okay, God, it’s you.”

None of us do that very well.

Not nearly enough of us do it at all.

Looking back on things from 14 years later, I can tell you a couple of things about that time:
⁃ God took a very confusing, very stressful and difficult time and did some very awesome things in that time (Read the post “Time – of Coups and Careers”)—
⁃ We’ve been blessed with some friendships that have stayed in place since those days, 14 years ago.
⁃ Through the publicity that Haitian adoptions received at that time, I know that hearts and minds were touched and opened to helping kids who need someone to stand up for them.
⁃ There were many things that happened after the earthquake in 2010 where we could look back and draw on what we learned and what we did after the coup to help us at the time of the earthquake. I’m not talking people who were on the ground in Haiti, I’m talking about people in the United States who were attempting to help or who were adoptive parents with children who were “stuck” in Haiti. But more on that later.

The long night of worry, of fear of the unknowns, came to an end. And the sun came up on Monday morning……..

TJV