“…can go with a stream…”

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.                 Martin Luther King.

This is just such an ugly day in America. There have been so many ugly days. And it seems to be escalating. It makes my heart just sick.

Our family has had an interesting history in America. My parents immigrated here in the 1950s. They were met with extreme prejudice by shopkeepers and others they had to interact with. They put their money in Bank of America because they thought that was the bank for all Americans. They tried to buy their goods at local shops. They collected “Green Stamps” and joined local civic organizations, trying to assimilate. They even attended American churches, so they could learn how “they did it.” My mom watched soap operas, trying to learn American culture. They were repeatedly turned away from retail establishments like the butcher shop, because they could not be understood. My mom was told to come back when she could speak “English.”  The funny part? My parents are from New Zealand.

My in-laws are from Russia. They are called “Germans from Russia” because they are Germans who were brought to Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great, who was German, and wanted to bring Russia into the more modern age. She brought skilled workers to Russia, to share their expertise with her new country. My husband springs from these “Volga River Russians.” When they came to America, to escape communism, they settled in the farmlands of Kansas and Colorado. It resembled their homeland. They developed communities and built churches, but they were not allowed into the “white” areas of these towns. They could only attend schools and churches they built themselves. They were not particularly welcome. During WWII when German distrust was at its highest in the USA, our last name was definitely a hinderance to them. My father-in-law had stories of his youth that made me just shake my head. He was going through all of that in the heartland of the USA at the same time my parents were trying to assimilate on the west coast. Just a bit prior to my lifetime.

I have friends who were “Creole” and escaped the South because they were not welcome in either community – black or white. They relocated to the melting pot of Southern California, where there is pretty much representation from every country on earth. They were strong Catholics and became well-known in local Catholic circles. They brought their deep faith, nurtured in the Deep South, to Southern California. Their mom told me they escaped the South because she could not sit on the same bus or eat at the same restaurants that she could in SoCal. She said it was easier to “pass” in California, but that in the South she had a rough time of it. She said in SoCal she could just be a woman…not hyphenated by black or white. This was very much in my lifetime. *Shaking head* *Sad face*

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Fast forward 18 years ago and we adopted a child outside our race. Last night, as news of Dallas was shared around the dinner table, I laughed as my very pale grand daughter cuddled with her favorite uncle, many shades darker. I asked her if she loved her uncle and she squeezed his neck and covered him with kisses, saying over and over, “My uncle, my uncle…will you jump on the trampoline with me?” Pure bliss and love and no thought to color.

As a mixed race family, my joke has always been, “I can never have a bad hair day, because people always notice us.” And it is true. I have been hassled by both communities. But truthfully, prejudice is a learned behavior. It is introduced to children. As Webster defines it (it can be both a noun and a verb):

prej·u·dice
ˈprejədəs
noun

preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

verb

give rise to prejudice in (someone); make biased.

My parents raised me in a very mixed race area. I attended inner-city schools wherein I was in the minority. We lived through the Watts riots, up close and personal. My best friend was black and I often stayed with her family, attending Church with them where I was the sole white person for miles around. I was set upon and beat up in the 8th grade because I liked a Mexican boy (oh, the memories of Armando!!) that a black girl also liked. She set her “gang” on me when I had my legs in casts (my knees were a problem as a girl). My little 4’11” mom saw a pile of girls with chunks of hair flying and dove in, not knowing I was on the bottom! Mom to the rescue. Later, my younger brother was attacked by her younger brother. We decided to sell and move out. We relocated to a very white area, with a few Mexicans thrown in, and I was in culture shock. Seriously. I missed my multi-cultural life and my friends who were black. Several made the trek out to see me, taking busses to get there. But it was too hard to maintain a friendship being so far and having no means to get to each other.

God gave me this opportunity, I believe, so that I do not see color. When I look at my youngest son, I just see my son. When we were in the adoption process, the social worker asked us if we were prepared to raise a good black man. My husband’s response was, “No; I am prepared to raise a good man.” We have never differentiated between our children. And my son never realized he was different until a kid in 4th grade said to him, “Dude, your dad is white. I saw your mom. Dude, you are adopted.” My son’s response, “What’s adopted mean?” He had no idea he was different. He always said he was chocolate and we are peach. He said that when he gets a cut, he has skin like me…peach. And when I get a cut, I get scabs that are brown like him. He also commented that our feet and hands match. He’s hanging out right now with his best friend, who is strawberry blonde, blue-eyed, and freckled. They don’t see color first, either.

love your enemies

The only way we are going to free our country from becoming something none of us recognize, is to love everyone. And trust me, I know it is hard. I find it difficult to love everyone. I have practiced selective elimination of people from my life who are toxic. I get that not everyone can be tolerated. And I don’t espouse blind love, either. We need to keep our eyes open, yes. But we also need to not judge people, prejudicially. How can you hate someone who is different, just because they are different?

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”…Genesis 1:27

God created every creature that roams the earth. Everything. Everyone. No, I do not agree with some creeds and beliefs. I do not. But I believe that God will reach each person in the best way they can be reached. I do not believe that because they have not been “saved” nor ever heard the “Word of God,” that they will be eternally damned. That’s the anthropologist in me! But it is also the Mercy of God. I cannot be friends with everyone. Some people just rub me wrong. And I am sure I rub others the wrong way, too. God did not intend for this world to be perfect; that is for the perfection of Heaven, in an eternity of Grace with God. But on this world and in this life, we are called to love others, even those who persecute us. We are called to allow others to make their choices in how they believe, where they live, how they act, what they eat, what they wear, who they marry, what career they choose, etc. Which is pretty much what freedom is all about and why so many come here. So many come here to have a better life, or to escape persecution. Some were brought here, generations upon generations ago, against their will and have lived here for 100s of years, assimilating as best they can, into our American melting pot.

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The only way we can affect true change in America is to change ourselves. We cannot expect our government to change for us. We cannot expect our neighbor to change for us. The change has to start in my heart and my soul, in my relationship to God and those around me. It would create a ripple, reaching all the corners of our world. We cannot always go out and fix the world at large, when our backyard is a mess. I really hate it when people criticize how people keep their house, when they are secret hoarders or something. My opinion is that we have to stop criticizing our neighbor and get out a mirror and affect change in ourselves. I am a poor sinner. A poor sinner. And I fall to my knees every, single, day! The choice I make is to seek my Maker, and get back up again. Each and every Christian needs to examine themselves and then reach out, refreshed in the Spirit of God, to their neighbor, one heart at a time. And we have to stop being dead in the political world, the marketplace, the schools, the neighborhoods. Enough is enough.

logjams

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” – G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, 1925

“..it will not return to me empty…”

social-media.3.

I have been meaning to get to my blog much sooner than I have. And today, well today was one of those tech-filled days where I completely stressed out. Ugh. I was finally connected to someone on “Live Chat” who was close in age to me and was able to walk me through the process of detecting and eliminating malware on my new Macbook. So, what is malware? It is much different than a virus or spam. It basically is insidious programming hidden within something you download, upload, click on, share…on and on it goes. And when someone else clicks on it, they get it on their computer. Without you even knowing you have it. The good news? I have NO malware. The bad news? Facebook locked me out and accused me of having malware. I learned so much about Social Media today, that I did not want to know. Sometimes, being fat, dumb, and happy is the way to go. Know what I mean? Maybe we all need to rethink the idea of unplugging daily! I think it is ridiculous to assume we have privacy in any form these days. Even my parents, who are almost in their 90s and do not go on any sort of social media (well, my dad does email) are a presence online. Why? Because they were mentioned by someone; their names came up in some sort of online program (like, what is your mother’s maiden name, for security questions), or they were part of some sort of searching by someone, somewhere, at some time or other. Everyone is on someone’s data base and for a price, they share that information. To assume you can be anonymous is sort of being naive. Unless you have no social security number, no bank account, no recordable income, and live totally “off the grid,” you are on a data base. And today, I realized how very little privacy we truly have anymore. And I am bummed. I have a major headache. Ha-Ha. Me and technology – “not good bedfellows” – as they say!

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The process required me to clean out and peruse my computer. Luckily it was fine. Then I moved on to my Facebook account. Wow. I tightened up my security and access, and then I began exploring my other settings. I did not realize how much they record for us. Every keystroke, every like or share, every post is logged. And they sell that information to advertisers. It is the sole reason Facebook and other social media outlets were invented – to sell to consumers by garnering lots of data about them and targeting ads aimed at all that data. We all participate in the ease of social media – like this one – at the peril of being sold something. We are a consumer-driven society. Many cities now produce nothing – no products whatsoever are manufactured in them. They are service-oriented. Banks of computers, tall buildings, and not one manufacturing job to be had anywhere. Nothing being made. Just data being manipulated.

milking-cows-Holsteins

For many years, we were a part of the dairying community in Chino, California. It was an idyllic time to raise kids on farms. We lived within an area designated as the “Dairy Preserve.” Our kids grew up running into the milking barns at 6:00am and helping the milkers, often ending with water fights using the many hoses they have in barns. We had an annual fair and festival and part of it was providing dairy tours. Our kids were in 4H and part of that was learning to be ambassadors for the agricultural community within Chino. This one year we assisted with the dairy tours. I was blown away to learn so many of the children on these tours, along with many of their parents, had no idea where milk or ice cream or butter came from. The kids, many of them, were scared to death of these cows. The loud sound of the milking machines, watching the cows be bathed as they entered the barns, and the clean up process after milking, watching a milk truck be filled with raw milk – these sights were completely out of context from the grocery stores and most people were blown away with the process. Watching calves be born was surreal for them. Riding on hay trailers and watching the “Hay Bucking” contests were a delight, but these people had no real connection to the dairymen or their life styles. Many saw these huge homes and barns, and assumed the dairymen were wealthy and just playing at farming. So very far from the truth of the matter. But my point in sharing all of this is that as we become more and more reliant on social media, computers, and technology, having cities where nothing is made but only data manipulated, separates us from the earth, from nature, from our humanity.

st-ambrose

It is hard to find our way sometimes. But I know learning to be silent and still, waiting on God, is much harder in the midst of all the noise created by all this technology. We were all fed lies that technology would simplify our lives and free us up for more time spent in leisure. Well, I can attest to the fact that I have found a pencil and a piece of paper are much simpler than what I had to go through today, to “detect” malware on my computer. In the olden days, I could have opened an old metal filing cabinet, looked into a folder, and discovered any bad information. It was not contained in millions of 1’s and zeroes in a myriad of formats we call “coding.” There was much “simplicity” prior to all this technology. As it happens, I prefer simple. I use my mom’s and my grandmother’s cookbooks. The recipes are simple and the food they produce is delightful. We are growing our own vegetables. Simple, sweet, easy to access. I read recently that all the photos uploaded to social media platforms in one day are more than all the photographs in history, up until that day. Every day!! Think on that a moment. When I was first using a simple computer to type, 640K was a lot of memory. Now we are surpassing terabytes as “external, extra hard drives.” Because our computer’s memory is not enough!! Gigabytes for our phones! It is crazy. In all that data being collected, and all the busy-ness technology is creating, we are losing ourselves. We are losing that simple, sweet process of daily life done close to home, or at home, and in so much quiet. There is, however, always “Good News.”

The Lord waits on us; He is always there. He alone can still a beating heart and comfort a lost soul. He alone knows our needs. He alone can assure us that we are not what others perceive us to be.

“Behold, you will call a nation you do not know and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel;  For He has glorified you.” Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55 7-13)

And even if there is nothing hidden, nothing about anyone’s life that is not known, the Lord know us better than any social media does.

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”Psalm 139:13-14

I was railing against the machine, as they say, today, But then I realized that God truly has all this. I have nothing to hide from Him, and I should have no fear of anything on social media, or other technology platforms, if I am truly His daughter. I still would love to go off-grid, but that’s for another post! Ha-Ha!

homesteading