Everyone is Hurting

I know most people feel like they limped into 2017. Some bruised. Some wounded. Some angry. Some grieving. Some questioning. Some filled with joy. I feel like some people are trying to sort through the heightened emotions of 2016 the way we sort through our dirty laundry. Which clothes do I wash first?

I know most people feel like they limped into 2017. Some bruised. Some wounded. Some angry. Some grieving. Some questioning. Some filled with joy.  I feel like some people are trying to sort through the heightened emotions of 2016 the way we sort through our dirty laundry. Which clothes do I wash first? The colored clothes or the white clothes? Which issue will I address first? The personal issue in my family? The fact that the evangelical church is splintered and very torn- and I have real questions about my spiritual upbringing? Or the fact that our nation is very divided and 2016 felt like we were at war, especially if you are on Facebook. Thank God for Christmas and people having babies, everyone has put their political posts to rest (for now…). We all needed a break from debating with or reading the debates online. Its exhausting. At some point we have to get offline to being sorting through our laundry and cleaning our clothes.

Last year, I felt overwhelmed by the pain and hurt everyone was experiencing. As a black woman I mourned for the many injustices that occurred. As a black Christian woman I felt torn by “the churches” political stance and complete divide…it almost felt as if you had to choose a side and there was no leaning into the discomfort of disagreement. As if all Christians had to display uniformity…and if you didn’t- either way your faith was called into question, no matter what “side” you landed on. I know I landed in the camp of outsiders, feeling spiritually homeless. And now that Trump will be president in less than two weeks, I am nervously holding my breath for what will happen next. How our country will change and how I must choose to advocate going forward? Can Trump voters and non-trump voters peacefully co-exist? I know we can. Year after year, people co-exist peacefully despite political differences. Why does it seem so hard to do now? If your friendship with someone is contingent on their political affiliation you weren’t friends anyways. We can respectfully disagree without being aggressive or on the defense ready to be offended. 

In spite of all this stuff, I landed on a few truths for myself that have been life changing.

  1. I have complete hope in Jesus. My trust is not in a church or evangelicalism. My hope is not in tradition or a list of rules. My hope is in Jesus. There are mysteries I do not understand in the Bible. I am okay with the unknown. I do not have to have an answer for everything, nor do I need one. People will fail me. My trust is not in church “leaders”. I know many people lost their faith in the church and I’ll be honest, I almost did too. Church sometimes feels more like a cooperation but really, regular people make the church what it is today. Not a building, pastoral staff, ministry, or event. The church is you and me. I am friends with many beautiful souls and collectively we are the church. My relationships with them give me hope for us as people trying our best to live this one life we have for Jesus and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. We won’t get it all right but if we can commit to love we are on the right track.
  2.  I need to limit my time online. Just CLOSE Facebook and walk away.
  3. My physical, emotional, and mental health is important to me. I will take care of myself and not put my health on the back burner.
  4. I have spent more time with friends and mentors who are smarter than me. I can waste my time scrolling through my feed online or I can surround myself with people who will help propel me into my future. This was an easy decision for me.

So while we are all sorting through what we want to keep and throw out in 2017, lets remember that people came into 2017 with some real hurt. We can extend grace and compassion to one another, even when we do not agree. And even if it seems hard, find something nice to say instead of being an emotional terrorist behind the keyboard, causing havoc online. We can assume the best about one another. This year we need less judging and more loving. Maybe we can all try to heal together in 2017.

Deeply Hopeful-

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My Social Work Life: It’s Not About You

There is so much going on in the world right now. Facebook exploding with news articles, opinions, and a whole lot of fear.

Lately, I have been feeling a little bitter sweet about being a social worker. It’s a hard job. Trying to encourage your foster parents to hang in there when a kid is driving them crazy, is tough. Lacking the right words to console them and ensure them, that they are not crazy for adopting. Truthfully, oftentimes I am at a loss for words. I feel a little helpless after I have given every educated answer I can think of. Oftentimes, my foster parents are thinking of giving up, but I wonder if they think about how we as case managers feel the same way? Some days I DO want to give up. Some days I want to lock myself in my room and turn off my phone.

Many of my closest friends are in the social work field. We are passionate, compassionate, and love working with people. Can I tell you, working with people is not easy. Being in a helping profession, where you are overworked and underpaid is not a glamorous life. In spite of that, I am convinced there is something that keeps social workers going; I think its the fact that we believe in serving the marginalized. We believe in finding forever homes for hurting and broken children. We do our best to offer consistency to a child and we do our best to support our foster parents. We are not expecting absolutely anything in return for this. It’s our job. Its what we are passionate about.

When you work in a profession that constantly reminds you to lay down your life to serve someone else, it’s hard to imagine turning your back on people in need. I have seen more people talk about the Veterans and the homelessness crisis this week than I have all year.

Not many people pay attention to the social services field…..but since we have your attention because of the refugee crisis, maybe you should check out your local DFPS location and do something generous for the CPS workers on the front lines trying to save kids from abuse, neglect, and homelessness. Maybe you should find your local foster and adoption agency and ask how you can support a foster family, trying to make a difference in a child’s life. Maybe your church small group can babysit some foster kids during a foster parent training. Did you know foster parents have to get 30 training hours per year? That is on top of all the other appointments, family visits, and court hearings a child(ren) in their home have.

If you want to support the refugee crisis, join legacy collective: http://legacycollective.org/blog/

If you want to help DFPS, here is a list of their locations: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/contact_us/map.asp 

IF you want to help some agency social workers, here is a great place to start: http://www.arrow.org/

It’s time to put your passionate heart to use, look around and start helping.

xoxo

Faitth B

Reach Across the Aisle

I love to write. 

I’ve been avoiding it for quite some time. I feel like everyone is writing and stating their opinions about one thing or the other. Why do I even want to throw my words out there in the sea of other words?

BUT I can’t shake it.

There is something powerful about words. How they change and transform hearts or in some cases, tear them apart.

I am more aware of my words now as an adult. Right now, we are facing great turmoil in our country. And once again people around the world are uniting in solidarity with different countries who have experienced horrific acts of terror. We can use Facebook to state our opinions and get in debates about how things could have been prevented. We can debate about which tragedy was overlooked and not covered by the media. We could debate about IT ALL. But I am wondering what use is it to talk about what COULD happen or SHOULD of happened or what DIDN’T happen?

Right now, people are traumatized, grieving, and fearing for their lives. They are experiencing deep pain. Tragedy is tragedy. Its awful. To see innocent people dead because of an act of hatred is heartbreaking. Let me tell you, there is more hope and power in our unity than us being divided. We are more powerful together than we are a apart. If we can learn to stand united even when we do not agree, we will be stronger. 

Let’s choose to listen, instead of shout.

Choose compassion, over hate.

To love unconditionally.

Maybe we should reach across the “aisle” and join hands in solidarity, instead of focusing on what divides us. 

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. Martin Luther King, Jr.

xoxo

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Being Black in America: Yes, Another Blog About Race

With all the events going on in our nation, surrounding police officers and the black community, I’m even more aware of my hair and my skin color-my brown skinimage1 (4)

As a kid I was too busy trying to fit in. Trying to be white. Trying to reject my culture. I got my relaxers in hopes that my hair would move and shake like my white friends. I was called a “black white girl” and for years I was proud of that. I fit in. I was the exception to the their perception of black people. I was black but not one of “them” (the black people everyone is “scared” of). I made it a point to say that I was embarrassed when a black person was being “too loud” or “doing the most”. I wanted so desperately to be accepted that as a kid I tried to reject my culture. I was “In” and “they” (the ghetto black people) were out. Somehow, white people loved me and I celebrated that. When I got to college, I was rudely awakened to the fact that white people thought I was some anomaly. I realized, being told I was a “black white girl” was an insult. A way to say I am just good enough to fit in and be accepted by white people. I’m sure they didn’t mean it that way, or at least I hope they didn’t, but it hurt. I could count the number of black girls on our campus with my two hands. Over time we got more black girls but truth be told, I found my people in college. I realized we needed to stick together. I made white friends too but my friendship with black people became life giving. We had common ground and didn’t need to search for it. Today, I celebrate my blackness, my culture, my hair, my people.

Wether you choose to acknowledge it or not, people of color know that society believes white is better. Just look at this video. 


My dearest and best friends are white and we have had some hard conversations about the things going on in our nation. Let me tell you, it’s not easy for me to truly share how it feels to be a black face in a white place. We adapt to white culture daily.  I cannot tell you how hurtful it is to see hateful comments about black people and how “unruly” we are. Seeing comments that justify Dajerria Becton being slammed on the ground by a cop because she “mouthed off”, yet a 21-year-old white male gets a pass and sympathy after he brutally murders 9 people. I am baffled by this.
I am convinced the only way true change will happen is when people allow the love of God to fill their hearts and minds, as well as, open dialogue and education about racial disparities. If you don’t believe in God, I still believe that everyone has a conscience and can support and advocate for humanity. Simply because it’s awful to let hate fill your heart. We can lobby for a change in legislation but that will not change the hearts of men. The hearts of men like Dylan who wanted to start a race war. Only God can change hearts. I’ve been doing a lot of self-examination because this stuff is hard to digest and process. I think if more people tried to self evaluate and open up their perspective to see where people of color are coming from, then maybe more hearts would join in unity. That may be a long shot but I am hoping it can happen.

We just want to have equal rights. Dylan gets a trial but what about Eric Garner? What about Michael Brown? John Crawford III? Ezell Ford? Dante Parker? Tanisha Anderson?Akai Gurley? Jerame Reid? Walter Scott? Freddie Gray? Their fate was decided by a police officer not a judge or jury. None of them got a chance to set foot in court. They just got killed. Dylan kills 9 people and they escort him to the car with a bullet proof vest on. If you don’t understand why black people are crying out for justice then you are choosing not to see. It’s plain and clear. America needs to change.

I will speak out and call out injustice because we aren’t yelling loud enough yet. Some people stopped using blatant racist rhetoric because it became unacceptable but the same language strategically morphed into political rhetoric. The media has made it seem like people of color are lazy and stealing all of the government assistance money and don’t work but guess what? U.S. Department of Agriculture data from 2013, which administers welfare, 40.2 percent of SNAP recipients are white, 25.7 percent are Black, 10.3 percent are Hispanic, 2.1 percent are Asian and 1.2 percent are Native American. If you don’t believe me watch this documentary by Tim Wise, it’s free, you have no excuses, watch it.

We will not be silent. #BlackLivesMatter

Thank you MLK

Thank you MLK for paving the way for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

For paving the way for me and all the other black men and women in this country.

For putting up a good fight and promoting non-violence.

For being the original leader of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, because they do matter.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.-MLK

You and many others went to jail for our people.

You and many others led the way and got beaten for our freedom.

While we have come a long way, we still have work to do.

Its in times like these that I wish you were here.

Times where the church is needing healing.

Times where Facebook can be platform for division and not much change.

Times where young unarmed black men are being shot and no one is held accountable.

Times where it would seem that the police and the black community are at war.

Times where the people of all colors are demanding justice.

Its in times like this, where I feel like the movement stopped when you died.

Our people lost hope and got discouraged.

Our people gave into mental slavery.

In some ways, it feels like we are back to the 1960’s Riots.

In spite of the statistics and facts, we are still pressing on.

Some may never truly understand what it means to us have a Black President.

Some may not understand this movement.

To the white brothers and sisters, that stood and continue to stand with us, thank you. I know that some of you did want to help MLK’s dream come true.While in someways that dream was fulfilled, in other ways his work did not get finished,there is more work to be done. Will you still stand with us?

Thanks to MLK breaking down walls, some of my best friends are white.

Color does not divide us.

I pray we as a black community can continue the work MLK was after.

I hope, we can have hard conversations without fear of what people will think about us.

I hope, we will have the boldness to stand up for our rights and use our voices, intellect, and determination to make a difference in our communities.

I know, we can build a bridge and tear down walls of deep seated racism and prejudice in this country.

That starts with you and me and the church.

To the church: As MLK said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

 May we open our hearts and minds.

Speak with love and compassion.

But may we NOT remain silent.


The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, 

begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. 

Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar,

but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater,

but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Change=Work

Have you all seen this vine(https://vine.co/v/OvV1WMBqKVj)? My future brother-in-law sent us siblings this video via text and I cried laughing. He talked about how he was nearing the finish line for finals and barley making it. As much as that video made me laugh its my reality too. I have been juggling quite a lot. I’ve been feeling like my dreams are too lofty. My goals are too high. How will I ever accomplish these things? Its that place where you want to pursue your dreams but you have hit a wall or “writers block” of sorts.

The kid in the video wanted to stop. He did for a second but he kept going anyways. He did not stop! I think the same needs to ring true for our generation on many levels. We must press on towards our dreams and goals but with all this talk about equality, justice, and change, we must be ready to do the hard work. Change does not come easy. We will be uncomfortable, we will get tired, we will want to give up, but if we want to make a difference for our children, we have to suck it up and not just write about it on Facebook. We have to get to work. Getting to work looks different for each person. Maybe you need to finish college? Maybe you need to write a letter to your state representative? Maybe you need to find out who your state representative is?Maybe you join an advocacy group? Maybe you need to go to law school or become a doctor? Maybe you need to invest in your children or husband? Maybe you need to start a business/non-profit? Maybe you need to write a book? Maybe you need to get your Masters degree? I digress.

hong kong protest

The hard truth is, it takes work to see change happen. If you believe you are called to step up and be apart of bringing any type of change/influence to your home or community, it will require work and sacrifice. Bottom line. It will mean saying no to hanging out with friends, No to that vacation in the middle of finals that you haven’t studied for, No to going to the movies, just plain old NO. When you are endeavoring to do something great or out of the ordinary, you can’t let FOMO [Fear of Missing Out] get in the way of your progress. FOMO will prevent you from making progress. It will hinder you.

Doubt and fear is your enemy. They never want you to win. In fact, against them you stand no chance when you give into their lies. To “them” figuratively, you will never be great. You will never have a good job. You will never reach your financial goals. You will NEVER. You will NEVER because you aren’t good enough, brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, or capable enough. You don’t have what it takes. You have no connections. You have no money. You don’t have the tools necessary to succeed. You will FAIL and they know that will be true the minute you decide to wallow in their lies.

Doubt and Fear, how I hate you. I hate you because I give into your lies sometimes. I question my abilities and I stop working hard because you tell me I CAN’T and I WON’T and sometimes let myself slip; I start to believe you. 

To my friends writing/speaking/listening on the front lines about racial tension and trying to be apart of the solution: I applaud you, please keep fighting. To my friends starting non-profits/business/etsy shops/etc. keep going, keep designing, keep networking. To the mommies and daddies getting little sleep and making a sacrifice so this next generation can be graced with a child who has character and integrity, thank you. We are all working hard together. Now is not the time to get relaxed. Now is not the time to stop dreaming. Now is not the time to say “maybe one day”. Its time to hit the gas, not press the break.

Don’t let logic get in the way of doing something you have never done before. In the words of Nike: Just Do It.

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Grand Jury

As I watch the state our nation is in, most of the time I am moved to tears. I begin praying and feel at a loss for words. For weeks now I have been feeling the weight of this question: “what can I do?” How can I be apart of bringing change? Does my little voice really matter in these big conversations? In a sea of opinions and articles, is another voice necessary? It seems as if everyone is screaming a lot of things from several different angles. Instead of me going into who is right or wrong, I have been learning to focus in on what I CAN do. What is it that I can do in my community now to make a difference? One area I was curious to learn more about was the process by which ordinary citizens like you and me are selected to participate in the grand jury.

We have seen how grand jury’s have played a huge role in many of the recent court cases. Did you know that in Houston you can apply to be a grand juror? Each city in Texas has a similar but varied selection process. Explore the websites to learn about the process in more detail. Remember in order to participate, you must be a registered voter.

Houston: http://www.justex.net/grandjuryinfo/faq.aspx

“To be considered for the next grand jury, you must fill out the grand juror application, have it notarized, and mail it in to the Administrative Office of the District Courts, 1201 Franklin, 7th Floor, Houston, Texas 77002.  If you do not truthfully answer the questions on your application, you could be prosecuted for criminal offenses.”

Dallas: https://www.dallasda.com/division/intake-grand-jury/

Austin: http://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/Jury/Offices/austin.asp

For ATX: “Federal law requires that a grand jury be selected at random from a fair cross section of the community in the district or division in which the federal grand jury convenes. Thus, all citizens have an equal opportunity and obligation to serve. Pursuant to law, the names of prospective grand jurors are drawn at random from lists of registered voters or lists of actual voters, or other sources when necessary, under procedures designed to ensure that all groups in the community will have a fair chance to serve. Those persons whose names have been drawn and who are not exempt or excused from service are summoned to appear for duty as grand jurors. When these persons appear before the court, the presiding judge may consider any further requests to be excused. The judge will then direct the selection of 23 qualified persons to become the members of the grand jury.”

Education is so important. The more we are educated the more efficiently we can advocate for others. If we want to see change in our judicial system we need to learn more about it. All my lawyer/law student friends: tell me what you know! Your voices are so valuable right now.

May we truly live and love our PEOPLE (neighbors, teachers, friends, and strangers) and our community. What a difference walking in love makes, it changes, everything.

XoXo

Faitth B