Portland Tragedy Reminds Us: Who is Our Neighbor?

Over the weekend, 3 men were stabbed in Portland while stepping in to protect two teenage girls. Sadly, two of the men died and one is in critical condition but expected to recover. One of the girls was wearing a hijab. This all happened during a commute on a Portland light rail train.  The story is described in more detail here.

Love Your Neighbor

Who is our neighbor?

The Portland event hits close to home for me and my boys. The girls targeted are my middle son’s age. A very large percentage of students at my son’s school wear a hijab. In fact, one of the reasons we chose the school that he attends is so that he is immersed in culture. We want him to get to know people. We believe that it is important to meet people, hear their stories, try to understand hearts.

We believe that we are family.

We believe that every person is a child of God. We believe that humanity – all of humanity –  is created by God. Therefore, we are ALL brothers and sisters, regardless of the labels placed upon us by others or ourselves. My son’s school includes all religions and cultures. Not only do we embrace this, but we absolutely LOVE the diversity.

  What happened in Portland can just as easily happen in my hometown: San Diego. It can happen at my son’s school. It can happen in the surrounding areas.  It can happen with my son and his friends.  And I’m left wondering, would San Diegans step in as these men did?

Would someone step in for my son and his friends if this were to happen to them?

Would I step in, as these men did for someone in need of help? Would I step in, for anyone, for that matter- or simply do the easy thing and ignore? Pretend that I don’t see it and that if it’s not happening to me, it’s none of my business.

The Portland event reminds me of an ancient story I grew up reading,  a parable I was taught over and over again – In the story, many people passed by a dieing man of a different religion/culture, only one was willing to step in and show love.

The stories many of us grew up reading seem like a no brainer, until they come to life.

Would we pass “the others” by or will we stop seeing “others” and start seeing brothers. Sisters.

We are all more alike than we are different.

We are all created by the same God. We are all loved by the Father. And in this incredibly sad and unfortunate event, love wins. Love always wins. In death, love stands out the most. There is no us and them. There is only we. Love. Family.

Our very existence is to love. To be love. To show love.

Who is my neighbor?

And last, dare I ask:

Who will love the ones who hate? How do we do this, while keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe?

*It’s important to remember, this was not just an event, a circumstance, something that happened somewhere else. This entire tragedy is about lives. People’s lives, families, hearts have been deeply effected. Many are hurting and I don’t take that lightly. This is about them, us, all of us. We are family.

Going on a Treasure Hunt

Today, I had the amazing opportunity to write about a subject that is very close to my heart. I titled it: Going on a Treasure Hunt, 5 Truths I Learned about God in Parenting my Boys.

Please visit Sacred Stories, to read my story and let me know if you can relate. Thank you, Courtney for allowing me to guest post on your beautiful blog. Truly an honor and privilege to be part of a project that inspires grace, love, joy, and hope. All words that make my heart leap with glee!

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.(1)
 

Politics Schmolitics: Where’s the Love?

Are we so intent on being right, that we are willing to hurt the hearts of others?

I don’t want to be right if being right takes the place of showing love, forgiveness, grace.

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Are we so determined to win at all costs, that we are willing to destroy our own peace of mind?

At what point to we put down the dagger and determine to win with love?

True Love.

The truth is: love wins.

Love always wins.

But I think that too often, we forget what love is.

Love is gentle, kind, keeps no records of wrong.

Love is not jealous or boastful.

Love seeks to honor everybody.

Love is not easily angered.

Love perseveres, gently.

I am still learning this love thing. It’s a process. But I’ll choose love over and over and over again. And I do believe our souls recognize beautiful love. Authentic love. True love. We see it, feel it, hear it, seek it.

What is love to you? Are you actively pursuing it? Are you allowing love to pursue you?

Look up. Look around you. Look at the child beside you. The butterflies that fly by you. The birds that sing to you and the ocean that roars to a harmonious beat. Do you feels love’s embrace? Smile with me, love’s got you.

Love wins. Love always wins.

9/11 Taught us to Love

Mommy: Why are those people jumping from the building?

Those words stand out to me more than any others from that day. My 3 year old seeing horrors, affliction, suffering, sadness. All caused from hate.

That day our lives changed. All of our lives changed. And we were each given the opportunity to choose whether we would cave into our fears. Or learn and grow towards love. 9/11 was scary. Incredibly scary. And THAT is exactly the point of terror. Terror is devised to terrorize others into submission. Terrorize others until they give into their fears. Freeze people into a state of nothingness. Fear wants us to remain voiceless. Fear wants us to hide and to remain invisible. Fear works to divide, destroy, and conquer.

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Love and fear cannot co-exist.

9/11 caused me to stop, reflect, and to feel (all the feels). Further, I made a vow to myself. I would NOT teach my children to fear, hate, nor stay away from those culturally, religiously, financially, nor humanly labeled different than us. And I would teach my children to make a conscious decision to get to know those our culture may have taught us to fear. We would listen to the stories of the “others”. We would seek to understand.

Most important, we would seek to grow into a mindset that does not label humanity as US vs THEM. We are good. THEY are evil. We would NOT fall into the trap of believing THAT political label is evil. OURS is the one claimed by God. God loves US more than THEM. WE are God’s children. THEY are not. We would seek to see people NOT as ‘others’, but as family.

9/11 catapulted me into a mindset in which I would raise my children to choose love.

As human beings, we have not loved perfectly. In fact, we have failed at love often. It has been in our failures that God has shown us HIS perfect love.

Do you know what happens when you get to know: THE OTHERS. THOSE PEOPLE. The ones you are told to stay away from? Do you know what happens when you listen to the stories of ‘the others’? You find out that we are all more alike than we are different. You find out that at the end of the day we all want love and we all want to love.

But of course. We are all children of God.

A God who loves perfectly. We are created in his image. The image of love. And as soon as we all begin to see US and THEM as brothers and sisters:  ALL his children, exactly the same. THEN! We will begin to be world shakers. Love warriors. Truth tellers. Believers in the good of humanity. Because inherently, humanity was created to be love personified.

WE. Are. All. God’s. Children.
Children of God.
ALL.

Terror did not win.

Terror did not win that day. Fear will not win.
God is love. God will win. and in the end,
God’s love is a win for
ALL…

WE will not forget the lives lost that day.

Nor will we forget the lives lost in the days that followed. Not American lives nor the lives of the others. ALL the others. WE will not forget. WE will learn. WE will grow.

Love. WILL. WIN.

Like Never Before

My youngest son found a tiny acorn on a recent hike. I took a picture because I love  what the acorn represents. Potential. New Life. Growth. Possibility. Greatness.

In fact, I envision a huge oak tree with glorious roots that last for generations. I see the potential for new life and huge possibilities in the little acorn.

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Are you aware of the miracle of the acorn?

The acorn falls to the ground in the autumn months and takes root during the winter. The larva within the acorn is jolted from it’s shell and begins to create roots within the soil. Few acorns grow to fruition as there are many obstacles that can cause the process to end. Animals may choose the acorn as cuisine. The acorn may become too soft or rot before it can grow. Whatever the reason, few take root. If the acorn survives and takes root, it must dig it’s way 5 feet deep into the soil! And if it survives, takes root, and grows into a mighty oak tree: generations of future trees, animals, and people will glean of it’s magnificent and full glory! 

Oh, to be like the acorn!

To grow through obstacles. To become our potential. To plant deep, yet healthy roots. To bring forth new life. To create a legacy that lasts generations.

The potential is there. For all of us. Sometimes, it simply takes an acorn to show us the way. To serve as a reminder of who we are and who’s we are. To remind us that our potential is great and that our Heavenly Father is cheering us on in every one of our endeavors.

It’s never too late to BE MORE like never before. It’s never to late to be like the acorn. To grow deep roots and create a legacy for our children and future generations. As children of God, we have been commissioned as a team. Each of us has a unique purpose and an incredible plan for our lives. And what’s absolutely amazing is that each unique purpose serves as a piece to a puzzle, creating the overall grand and complete picture of greatness.

Did you catch that?

Our unique purpose works in harmony with every other plan and purpose within the universe. We have been given a creative mind that works congruent with other creative minds.

Breath that in!

How great to know that we are never in competition with one another, but rather, created to be a team. Together, we learn. Together, we grow. Are you catching the vision? Do you see your potential?

What dreams have you placed aside for a season? Do you have a vision and a plan to pursue them? What is stopping you? 

The time is now! Let’s GO!