Friday Finds


1. nuLOOM Handmade Eco Natural Fiber Chunky Loop Jute Rug (7'6 x 9'6) | Overstock
2. Mod Botanical Throw Pillow (Aqua) | Land of Nod 
3. Nomadic State Of Mind Slide | Urban Outfitters  
4.Last Straw Basket | Dot & Bo 
5. Longstrand Woven Throw White - Nate Berkus ™ | Target 
6. Woven Wall Hanging Handmade Tapestry by TheRiverHaze | Etsy 
7. Black/natural Hat in Braided Paper Straw Pattern & Pompom Band | H&M  
8. Braided Hemp Pouf | CB2
9. Gilchrist Hand-Woven Natural Area Rug | Wayfair




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#TBT: Righting the religious right

On Thursdays, I post from the vault. This is from August 2009

There's something in the air right now . . .

Something familiar. A growing sense of frenzy that was kicked up around election time, and seems to have re-emerged with the conversation surrounding health care reform. People are panicking. They aren't just disagreeing, or questioning the administration, or sharing opinions. People are yelling and screaming, threatening and freaking, and believing and perpetuating some seriously creative stories about the government’s desire to kill disabled children and leave our elderly "out to pasture".

I wish I could just sit and watch this unfold as a detached observer. People are drawn to drama - this is a universal truth. It would be easier for me to laugh it off and shake my head at the antics of some imaginative figureheads who enjoy cattle-prodding the masses into mass hysteria. The trouble for me, though, as a Christian, is that as I watch this unfold, I am unsettled with the fact that most of this is coming from other people who share my faith. The conservative right and "Christiandom" have been inexplicably linked in our nation - so much so that I think many people have difficulty differentiating between the two. What’s worse, the conservative right are being represented in the media by people whose communication tactics are manipulative at best.

It is baffling to me to watch people who invoke the name of “Christ” so loudly, to be so deceitful in recruiting for their political causes. It is also confusing for me that so many Christians are not outraged at this behavior. When a previous candidate for the religious right suggests that retarded children will sit in front of death panels who will decide their fate, it’s time to question their integrity as a leader. When a popular conservative mouthpiece starts showing posters of Nazi's preparing to execute a person with cerebral palsy in a conversation about national healthcare, it's time to seriously consider if this person has a grasp on reality and should be informing anyone on anything. When that same person jokes about poisoning the speaker of the house, accuses the president of loathing white people, and acts complicit when a caller suggests that Obama is the antichrist, then it's a bit confusing to learn that this man still has a huge audience amongst Christians. And when a subsidiary of a big Christian university puts out a "factsheet" on the healthcare bill that is widely circulated amongst Christians and yet refuted by most fact-checking websites, then one has to wonder when honesty became an optional virtue for the religious right.

There is nothing Christian about stoking fears, scaring the less-educated, freaking out the elderly, and then winking and shrugging when a mob mentality starts sweeping the nation. Will this still be funny when someone resorts to violence, because they are believing the political swill? Because in case you haven't noticed, there are some seriously crazy people out there who are just waiting for a good fight.


Yes, our nation is grappling with healthcare. Boiled down, some of us think our employer should keep paying, while some of us would prefer the government to foot the bill. As Christians, we are free to respectfully disagree with the government on this issue. But please hear me - my concern is not about that. I believe there are many Christians who are able to agree to disagree on this issue and have intelligent debate about it. My concern is with the hysteria I'm seeing sweep the nation. While passions are high on this issue, I think most of the brouhaha has been guided (or misguided) by some savvy members of the conservative media who are now watching with glee as their Republican public is fueled by fear. If their fantastical predictions do come true, and a death panel is instituted, or the elderly are left for dead, or our country is dismantled, I hope we all have enough faith in our country and fellow citizens to believe that ALL OF US will be fighting back. But for now, it seems like fear is a powerful recruiting tool that some are using at the expense of integrity or truth. As Brian McClaren recently said,

"But we Christians, it seems to me, have a high calling – to be radically committed to integrity and civility, even (especially) with those with whom we disagree. God, after all, is merciful, generous, and kind to “the just and the unjust”: How can we not have that same obligation regarding those with whom we disagree? Even if others resort to dirty political tricks and distortion of the truth through exaggeration and fear-mongering, we simply cannot. At the very least, we should be seekers of truth, seekers of wisdom, not consumers (or purveyors) of propaganda – even if it comes from members of our own political party and people who quote a lot of Bible verses (often out of context). We have a higher calling. "

People love the thrill of a fight, and bonding over a common enemy gives people a sense of purpose. But inciting riots over imaginary scenarios is a dangerous game. Our job as Christians is to keep doing God's work - to be His hands and feet - until He returns. Our job is to seek justice, to do mercy, to walk humbly . . . Perhaps it is time for all of us to seek these qualities in the people who will represent us. At best, it's time to turn down the voices that don't, and to be accountable for the information we give and receive so that our words and thoughts are based in the truth. (i.e., checking the truth of incendiary emails we receive before sending them on).

Recently, Keith Olbermann made a plea for the religious right to act with more integrity. Let pause for a moment on that sentence: Keith Olbermann made a plea for the religious right to act with more integrity. He's not my favorite person, and I often think he is prone to emotionality as well, but this time I think he's got it right.

We don't all have to agree with the same political ideology. But making things up about the people we don't like? Even my four-year-old knows better than that.



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Why #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter are different conversations

In the past month, there has been a lot of press about the risk that black men face at the hands of police. 

There has also been some pushback in pointing out the very real risks that police officers take every single day when they go to work. This is a risk that is not lost on me, as my sister was a police officer for many years. She had several instances where her personal safety was threatened, and it was a very stressful time for our family. 

I do want to point out a critical different, however, in saying #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter or #policelivesmatter. The former is shown to be true, in both public opinion and our judicial system. When the tragedies occurred in Dallas and Baton Rouge where shooters took the lives of police officers, the public was outraged, and the #blacklivesmatter movement was swift to condemn these murders. But what is more telling of the value of these lives is that justice was swift. The killers were not acquitted or placed on administrative leave. When a police officer is shot, we are not left to wonder if the perpetrator will be held accountable. When a police officer is shot, there is justice.

This has not been the case when black men have been shot, and there are way too many stories of black men losing their lives at the hands of people who are not charged. This is especially true when law enforcement is involved. A Wall Street Journal report in 2015 found approximately 1,200 people had been killed by police, but no officers were found guilty of murder or manslaughter. When a cop shoots a civilian in the line of duty, the odds are he won't be punished for it. (source) This creates a culture where police officers can behave without accountability, and black men are often the target.

The recent dropped charges of the officers involved in the Freddie Gray case are yet another example of the lack of justice when it comes to black lives. Freddie was arrested for allegedly having an illegal knife. He died of spinal chord injury in the black of a police van. Six Baltimore police officers were suspended with pay. Three were acquitted, three had the charges dropped. the medical examiner’s report ruled Gray's death a homicide and yet no one was charged.

Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby was very vocal that this was an injustice "No one is above the law," she said as she read out charges that ranged from second-degree murder, to manslaughter, to second-degree assault. And yet, here we are. Charges dropped. A man was alive, and is now dead. A family is grieved, and there is no justice.



I value the lives of police officers and I am grateful for the risks that they take to ensure our safety. But if their life is taken, I feel confident that justice will be served.

If a black civilian's life is taken, chances are someone might be placed on administrative leave. This is not equal justice.
The idea that the lives of black people should be honored and protected should be self-evident in this society. It should be a given. The idea that the same care and concern for the well-being of white people, or police officers, should be extended to people with brown skin should be an inherent truth. But evidence suggests otherwise. That evidence looks like a disproportionate number of black people being arrested, pulled over, searched, and even shot by people officers, without accountability.
Any reasonable person can affirm that #alllivesmatter and #policelivesmatter. It doesn’t need to be said. But unfortunately, the need to affirm that #blacklivesmatter continues to exist. And until that fact is SELF-EVIDENT and the murder of black men results in the same consequences as the murders of a police officer, it needs to be repeated. 




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Wednesday's Child: Skyler




Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday's Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.





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What I want you to know about when your child tells you their friend is transgender


What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Lisa Mullen.

It changes everything you thought you believed. This "issue" that is out there in the news, suddenly becomes part of your life and you are changed.

The other evening, Abbey and I were watching the news.

We were in Detroit and she was preparing to go to Lancaster for a week to visit family and friends. She, my brother-in-law- Blake and I, flipped through the channels after the younger kids had gone to bed. We came upon a station where they were discussing the latest news regarding the law that had been passed, days ago, in North Carolina that would require transgender people to use the public restroom that was labeled for the gender that they were born as.

I had been thinking about this since I had heard the news. Knowing that people were pained about this issue always makes me more sensitive and aware. But it didn't seem close and I didn't have a strong opinion about it. I knew of transgender people who other friends loved and cared about, but I did not know of anyone in my life.

Abbey asked about this law. "What does that mean?" she asked.

So, we talked a bit. I did my best to explain what had been put in place and she listened quietly. The subject felt a bit abstract, awkward and I wasn't sure how to explain it fully to her.

She had a simple response.

Ryan is transgender," she said.

Ryan? Like your friend Ryan? I asked. "Like the Ryan you spent the day with last week?"

She looked at me with a confused expression.

"Yes, Mommmmmmm."

She said it in her most annoyed teenage tone. Like I just didn't get it.

Ryan is transgender. My mind is racing. How did I not know this? Why hadn't she talked about it? She didn't seem afraid or nervous about it at all. I had even questioned her when she asked to go to her house- is Ryan a girl or a boy since the name was masculine. "A girl, mom."

And then quickly, it all fell together. I knew she had a friend at school who was transgender. She had mentioned it once, months ago. She has continued to branch out and meet more and more people as the year has gone on. Names are thrown out all of the time. Groups of friends get together and I usually just remember the few who she is the closest to. But Kelly's name was fresh in my memory because Abbey had just spent the day with her.

Kelly, her friend who she hangs out with, is transgender.

And just like that, everything shifts.

Blake, who was sitting with us still, asked her- "So he was born a boy but now he's a girl?"

"SHE'S a girl." Abbey said. "Kelly's a girl."

And once again I stop, reflect and am reminded- my kids are showing me the way.

And that is my story.

My daughter brought someone new into my life that she loves. This is no longer about some distant person that wants to use the bathroom and somehow it's an issue. It's about my daughter's friend who just wants to be herself. It's about my child who cares about her friend and wants her to live just as every other friend of Abbey's lives. It's about a kid finding her way. My kid finding her friends.

*Since initially writing this, Abbey and Ryan have become even closer friends. I shared how this has impacted our family with Ryan's mom and it brought us into relationship too. Ryan is a welcome friend at our house who we love to have hang out and sleep over. Ryan changed us and we love her so. Listen to your children- they are leading the way.



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