Easter Week for stoics (Why I love Jesus but I’m kind of meh about Easter)

I have a confession to make about Easter . . .

Each year, it brings up some uncomfortable feelings for me. You see, on the personality scale between pragmatic and emotional, I’m way over on the boring end of the bell curve. I tend to be a very logical, calculated person. I don’t like schmaltzy love songs or romantic movies or grand gestures. I make decisions with my head and not my heart. I would prefer a committed and steady relationship to an impassionate love affair. I like the practical. I like lists. I like analyzing and understanding. And while I’m not a completely emotionless person, I don’t like anything that makes me feel like I’m supposed to feel something. My radar for emotional manipulation has a baseline of cynicism. You are not the boss of my relationship, Valentine’s Day. Maybe I am swelled with romantic feelings on October 11th and not on the day the calendar has chosen for me! My emotions will not be dictated by the calendar!! (Seriously. I think these thoughts.)

I’ve always been this way with my faith as well, in part because I was raised in a protestant denomination that espoused the values of spontaneity in worship. We didn’t follow a liturgical calendar, because that was too hemmed-in and not allowing for God to modify things along the way. We were discouraged from saying rote prayers because God wanted to hear our real, made-up words from our heart. We didn’t give things up for Lent because our devotion is not about the calendar, but should be a year-round practice. Of course, I now recognize that there was some inherent legalism in this system as well . . . but some of those values are still engrained.

Enter Easter, and the lead-up to it that starts with Lent. It seems like everywhere I look, faithful Christian friends (protestant and Catholic alike) are talking about what they are giving up for Lent in an effort to prepare their hearts for Easter. I’ve seen people declining invitations or reducing their schedules so that they can try to be more present with God as the prepare for Easter. I watch it with ambivalence, because while this is clearly something that resonates with them, the idea of forcing myself to enter into a certain mindset because of the date on the calendar just doesn’t jive with my personality.

Then there are the Easter services at church. And here’s the part where I’m going to sound really sacrilegious but you know what? I’m going there, because maybe I’m not alone and maybe some of us can create some kind of Easter support group for stoics. Because I’m always a little cringey about Easter services.

First there is the Good Friday service, where inevitably at my church there is a very somber and artistic and emotional service about the depravity of man and the death of Christ. And look . . . don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the sacrifice of the cross. I’m in. I get it. But I don’t like feeling like on this particular day of the year I need to FEEL IT DOWN TO MY BONES. Can’t I just carry a quiet gratitude in my heart all year? At Good Friday service I feel like I’m supposed to being reminded anew and experience the grief all over again, but I just struggle to put myself in that place. I usually sit in service feeling like, “Wow. I guess I’m supposed to cry right now? But I already know this story and that it has a happy ending. So why should I be maudlin right now and wait until Sunday morning to celebrate? Why do I need to Feel All Of The Feels right now?” Good Friday usually leaves me feeling a mix of shame about my lack of emotional response and a feeling of rebellion that the church calendar is requiring that NOW is the moment that I sit with the death and resurrection of Christ, when truthfully? I’d rather just quietly sit with that knowledge every day in a more subtle and less dramatic way.

And then we’ve got Sunday morning, which is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, which again, I BELIEVE IN AND AM GRATEFUL FOR, but these services are still confounding to me. I’m so cool with celebrating Jesus every Sunday. And every day for that matter. But Easter just feels like I’ve got to act like this is all new information.

HE IS ALIVE!

Yeah, and he was alive yesterday. And last Easter when we had a very similar service and message.

HE IS RISEN!

I know. That happened a long time ago. We all already know this, right? Except for the newbies who probably think we are insane for shouting this at each other.

You guys . . . I know. I’m terrible. I’m just sharing what goes through my head. I cannot seem to put myself into the headspace that other people are finding for Easter. I’m not built that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for an end to Easter celebrations. I know they are really meaningful to a lot of people. I get that catering to stoics wouldn’t make for a great service. “Jesus died and rose again . . . yada yada yada . . . feel how you want to feel today and try to make logical decisions based on this knowledge as you interact with the world every day of the year.”  That’s not going to be very inspiring to most folks. And in the midst of it, there are moments were I really DO feel a swell of emotion. Our church does baptisms on Easter and those actually do make me well up, legitimately. Sometimes I get caught up in the celebration and the music. But other times, if I’m totally honest, I feel like I’m being pressured to feel and respond in a way that doesn’t come naturally for me.

I can't muster up more energy around my faith because it is a certain time of year. I know this about myself. I just don't operate that way. I am learning to let it go and to be okay with who I am and the slow and steady (and stoic) pace of my spiritual walk.

Any other stoics out there? Can I get an “amen”?  (But only quietly and if you feel truly moved to say it, of course.)


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What I want you to know about having a famous televangelist as a grandfather

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 Angie Schuller Wyatt.


My grandfather is Dr. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral. He's sort of a big deal. For three decades he was the most widely watched televangelist on the planet. He created televangelism in the 70s when people only had three television stations to choose from - which roughly means that any American over 45 knows who he is.

I've discovered that a lot of people think this makes my life easier. My famous family was also a male-dominated one. And so, as a woman with big dreams, there wasn't a place for me. What I want you to know ... is that having a famous televangelist for a grandfather doesn't cushion my life.

People think that I grew up wealthy, and my education was paid for. They assume that I got ministry jobs through family connections. And now that I have my first book out, they think it was probably published by some hot-shot publishing company. Nope. None of the above are accurate assumptions.

I worked my way through college, and still have an ongoing relationship with Sallie Mae. I didn't want to build my career with nepotism (okay, it's also true that there was no way I was going to compete with my own family members for any sort of ministry position at the Crystal Cathedral, so I didn't try.). Instead, I moved out of state, didn't tell people about my family, and found employment the old fashion way - hard work. And my book title [God and Boobs] basically wiped out the hotshot-publisher fantasy.

Like a lot of women, I have big dreams. I want to be a writer for the rest of my life, as in the kind where I'm popular (hate that word, but its true) enough that I don't have to get a different job. I want to use my writing as a platform to help women break free of religious constrains, embrace their truest identity, and fulfill their greatest potential.

What I want you to know is that growing up in a famous family doesn't make me different from other women. I'm not on a pedestal, unable to relate. Instead, I like to say it this way: "If I can stand at the heart of religion and still feel isolated, how must women feel who stand at the outskirts of faith." 


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Wednesday's Child: Wesley

Every Wednesday I share about 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. Wesley is 15 years old and having a family is his greatest desire. "I've been in foster care since I can remember . . . I want a family that is nice. I would do stuff for them when they are old."

Perhaps Wesley's story 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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State rep Alvin Holmes points out racism in Alabama, adoptive parents freak out

Several of my readers have asked me to weigh in on a controversy going down in Alabama. The backstory: African American state representative Alvin Holmes, who is a democrat, was embroiled in a debate about abortion laws. Some republican representatives suggested that adoption could be a better way to reduce abortions, and Holmes responded that it wouldn’t solve this issue because black children are still much less likely to get adopted than white children. He also accused the pro-life representatives of hypocrisy because he believes that they would change their tune were they to discover their daughter was pregnant by a black man. He pointed out that in the year 2000, nearly 40% of white voters in the state of Alabama voted against legalizing interracial marriage. He went on to say:

"I will bring you $100,000 cash tomorrow if you show me a whole bunch of whites that adopted blacks in Alabama. I will go down there and mortgage my house and get it cash in $20 bills and bring it to you in a little briefcase."

Now, what Alvin Holmes said is problematic on so many levels. First of all, he has no idea what Republican lawmakers would do. It’s a pretty bold and personal accusation of hypocrisy and racism, and a wild speculation about his fellow politicians. Second, he doesn’t present facts about transracial adoption, and makes another inflammatory and non-specific speculation that there aren’t white people in Alabama adopting black children. I’m guessing there may be numbers to back up his assertion that there is racial bias in adoption, but he doesn’t present them and instead makes a universal prescription, ignoring that there ARE transracial families in his state. But the most glaring problem, to me, is that he is creating a false equivalency between abortion and adoption. Not all women who consider abortion would choose to place the child if they carried to term. As the Guttmacher Institute has pointed out, promoting adoption is not an effective strategy for reducing abortion rates.

I think Representative Holmes’ statements were incendiary and accusatory. I think he threw in some straw-man arguments. I think he’s guilty of hyperbole and logical fallacies, and dare I say, which I’m usually loathe to say, that the guy even played the race card as he argued his point about abortion. But where I veer from many of the offended parents on this matter? I don’t think he was being racist, nor do I think he was being insulting to adoptive families.

I think looking at context is important here. Holmes was elected to Alabama legislature in 1974, back when George Wallace was governor of the state. Remember that guy? "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" That’s from Wallace’s inauguration speech. Not one of Alabama’s finest moments. No doubt Holmes has witnessed some serious racial strife in his tenure in this state. Also, he is one of the representatives who introduced the bill to legalize interracial marriage in the state . . . hardly the actions of someone opposed to interracial families. He also watched as 40% of his state residents opposed that bill, a mere 14 years ago. Let’s let that sink in a little . . . 14 years ago, 40% of Alabama voters thought that INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE SHOULD BE AGAINST THE LAW.

So, while I don’t like his arguments as they relate to connecting adoption and abortion, I think that Holmes knows a thing or two about the blatant racism of the residents of his state. It’s not offensive that he pointed out racism or racial bias in adoption. It’s not racist to point out racism. And yet, he’s being accused of being a racist by parents who want to illustrate how many adoptive parents are really “colorblind.”

A rally was quickly organized to show Rep. Holmes that there are, in fact, white parents in Alabama who have adopted black children. And while I get the urge to show up and make him eat his words, because they were completely exaggerated, I also think it’s missing his point . . . which is that racial bias in adoption is alive and well. An organizer of the event said that it was “a great representation of parents who adopt without thought of skin color.” Eek! I hope that any parents who have adopted children of color are absolutely considering skin color. Being colorblind is not a virtue. Recognized the unique needs and racial biases that children of color will face is absolutely necessary in transracial adoption, and even more so in a state steeped in racial discord. And honestly? Being outraged that Rep. Holmes called out some of the latent racism in his state feels like misplaced outrage.

State rep Alvin Holmes points out racism in Alabama, adoptive parents freak out

Adoptive father Jeromy Owing said of his remarks:

"After we work on it and work on it to have an elected official that can come in and make those comments and tear down everything that we've worked hard for. It puts a question in their minds of 'Do I belong?' 'Where do I belong?"

I understand that sentiment and that frustration. And yet . . . Rep Holmes is not saying that kids don’t belong. He’s saying that there is a lot of racism against black people in Alabama. And I guarantee his statements won’t be the first time an adopted black child hears about racism in Alabama, not will it be the thing that causes them to question whether or not they belong. Parents should be having these talks with their children.

I feel like this whole controversy is a case of two sides not hearing each other. The angered adoptive parents aren’t hearing that Rep. Holmes is fed up with racism. And Rep. Holmes isn’t hearing that his remarks, whether or not intended to be, were dismissive of adoptive families with black children. After the rally, Holmes doubled down rather than apologizing, telling a local paper, “If anybody says Alvin Holmes is against interracial adoption, they are just as wrong as Adolf Hitler." He also told Montgomery's local radio station:

"The majority of white people in the state of Alabama are against adopting black children and the majority of white people in the state of Alabama are against their daughters having babies by black men and I stand by that comment.”

On the same radio program, adoptive parent Barbara Owings argued that the 2000 vote on interracial marriage had no relation to the issue of white families adopting black children.

I feel like on one side, you’ve got a politician who may be refusing to acknowledge that there ARE a growing number of interracial couples and families in his state, but on the other side you’ve got adoptive parents pretending that a 40% vote against interracial marriage does not have any bearing on race relations or adoption today.

I’m guessing the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I believe there are some wonderful, loving adoptive transracial families in Alabama. I believe there are many good people who live there. And I also believe that a politician who watched a bill to legalize interracial marriage only get a 60% approval vote just over a decade ago has a right to some cynicism. 

I still think he owes some adoptive families an apology for being insensitive. And I wouldn’t mind seeing him pony up that $100,000 he promised and donating it to AdoptUsKids. But I don’t think we need to assume that he’s against us or disparaging transracial families. I think he’s a man who is frustrated by the race relations in his state, and parents raising black kids in Alabama should understand that. Being angry that he pointed out some of the racist views in his state looks a little bit like denial, and that’s no good for anyone, but especially for adopted children of color.


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Spring break staycation

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.

My kids had spring break last week. We took a big trip for their winter break, which feels like it was just two weeks ago. And unfortunately, that set the kids expectations up for a big trip for spring break as well. That’s the problem with doing fun things with kids . . . everything after is just a big disappointment. Like the one Tuesday I surprised the kids and took them to Disneyland after school. Before that, Tuesdays were just Tuesdays. After that . . . every Tuesday was just a crushing disappointment of NOT BEING AT DISNEY.

We really did not have the time, energy, or budget to do a family vacation for the kids, which led to much whining and disappointment, so we tried to frame it as a “staycation.”  We would do fun things around town . . . but also, we wanted to give the kids some down-time where they just played at the house. Even thought this isn’t so exciting to them, I feel like free time at the house is when they seem the happiest. They put on costumes, they create elaborate games, they play pretend, and they bond.

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This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds and we got a shipment from them at the beginning of the week. And I say this in all honesty . . . these almonds really were the official snack of our staycation. My kids LOVE them. The girls are partial to the sweet variety – honey roasted and blueberry flavors. My boys love the bold flavors like wasabi and salt & vinegar. Here they are tearing into a package:

We planned some fun things around town. The girls and I went to see the DisneyNature Bears movie (so cute) and the boys went on a little day-trip to the desert. We went to our local science center, and we went to a play. But we also did a lot of playing around the house, in the front yard, and with the neighbors.

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We also checked out a few new local parks that we’ve never tried.

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One of the things I loved about this week was watching my kids with unstructured time. As they are getting older, they really are playing with each other more. Karis is no longer the little sister . . . she’s in the gang, and just as much a part of the play. I see each of them bending a bit to be flexible to what their siblings enjoy. It’s a lot of negotiation but it works. 

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I also loved eavesdropping on their conversations. Such fun seeing their personalities emerge and the easy rapport they have with each other. They seem eager to confide in one another and I hope that continues to the teen years.

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I love our family trips together, but there was something kind of magical about this laid-back time together.

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While it wasn’t full of adventure per se, it was full of play and imagination, and sibling bonding.

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.

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