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To My Future Son: With Thoughts of Ferguson

You have yet to be born
You have yet to be conceived
But I see you in my dreams
And I dream of the man you will be
And I pray that God would help me to prepare you for this world
Even though I sometimes worry this world is not prepared for you

You are the seed of your mommy and daddy’s hopes and dreams
Irish, African, Scottish, Southern, American
You will be the best remix we will ever help to create
I want you to know your roots
That you come from hardworking people
That you are a descendant of slave and free
I want to play for you the songs of your people
Made on porches and hills
In villages and in cities
In the songs of the free
And the blues of the oppressed
I want you to always find yourself

Your skin
Will be a mix of daddy’s freckles
A tinge of red hair
The rich hue of soil
Sweetened by sun
My son
You will be a symphony of skin tones
A roux of all the generational colors and shades that helped create you

Your hair will curl at the slightest humidity or rain
Will bend and twirl
Constantly searching for beats for minute and electric frequency
Your wide shoulders and chest
Will carry the load God gives you to bear
While helping you to surrender that load to the One who has already carried it all

Your hands are meant for pianos, for saxophones
For carpentry, for artistry
For sketching the architecture and design that comes to your mind
For handling scalpel and needle to fix heart and brain
For lifting praise, for counting the days
For drawing the line
For knowing when to stand up and fight

When it’s time
I want to prepare you
For walking out of our door
Into a world that may see your brown skin and fear it
Misunderstand it
Demand it be subdued

I want you to walk tall, with your shoulders back as your grandma taught me to
But because I love you
I will tell you sad truths
Everyone will not love your brown skin as much as you do
There have been many men and women before you
Who lost their lives for having the same brown skin you do

My son
I will not teach you to walk in fear
To judge anyone by their color of skin or the money they make
Only by their character and the respect they choose to give or take
I will pray for you every night
And think of the mothers of Oscar, Sean, Amadou, Trayvon, Emmett, Michael
And so many more
Who’s hope for what would have been their son’s future now lies in you

And I will hug you
And kiss you
Even if it embarrasses you
For all the mama’s kisses missed
For all the things these sons didn’t live to experience

My son, every life matters
Their lives mattered
Your life matters too
I love you,
Your future mommy



Adventures in Staying

A month ago my husband and I sat next to each other at a lawyer’s office to face a mountain of paperwork. We were buying our first home and felt like two kids wearing our parents’ clothes, fishing our hands out of sleeves that seemed too long to sign our lives away for the next thirty years.

This is the closest we have come to saying vows and making promises since our wedding day. Visions of the future danced behind our eyes. Would our future children know this house? Would their little feet lightly patter its floors? We imagined family gatherings, Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays, house parties. What would our family table be like?

My husband and I both changed addresses many times as kids. I grew up a military kid of divorced parents and he grew up a pastor’s son. The calling to serve sent our parents packing and unpacking several times in our childhood. I cried over friendships lost, over school years that must be interrupted to face a new city.

I attended eight different schools between kindergarten and senior year of high school. I spent most years dividing my time between summers with my dad, stepmother, sister and two brothers in one state, and the school year with my mom and sister in another. I’ve lived at seventeen different addresses in my life. I’m prepared to pack luggage for any length of trip. I have mastered the art of travel size.

I learned how to make friends anywhere and how to find something in common with almost anyone I meet. I lived on the west coast, in the south, the Midwest and Texas. I took my first flight at 4 years old and I’m so comfortable flying that my white noise of choice mimics the sound of an airplane cabin.

I’ve never fantasized about living in Brazil. I never dreamed of Paris, London, Milan, Cairo, or Johannesburg. I fantasized about home. I always had a twinge of jealousy for my friends whose parents lived in the same house all the years they grew up, whose parents still have the same phone number, same candy dishes full of peppermints, same old wallpaper and family photos.

Which is why the idea of having a permanent address with our names on the title and deed is cause for pause and reflection. As my husband and I have unpacked our life and left the boxes on the curb for the weekly trash run, as we’ve learned how to newly navigate a city we have both called home for years from our new address, and stare at blank walls and rooms that are now canvas to us, I know a new calling.

I don’t begrudge my childhood. I am thankful for the experience of having lived in different places, sat at different tables, learned to make friends no matter what our class, culture or skin color. This seemingly vagabond life prepared me for what I’m doing today: traveling, speaking, listening, performing, meeting new people from all walks of life and beliefs.

We have walked alongside many of our friends as faith and calling has led them to cross seas, sell possessions, uproot comfortability, serve in areas that are underserved, and immerse themselves in a culture very different from their own. As we have unpacked and settled in, the house has brought us new focus. We realized we are beginning a new adventure.

God is calling us to an adventure in staying, a journey of finding and keeping home. As traveling artists, my husband and I will find ourselves in many hotel rooms, churches, venues, and tour buses, so we’ve learned to make home wherever we are. But God has also given two people who are well acquainted with boxes, moving trucks and luggage, a place to unpack, breathe, rest, get to know our neighbors, serve our city and be a part of the art, creativity and community that is being built here.

I don’t long for a far away adventure, although if one comes along I’m happy to pack a bag and embrace the journey. I’m learning there are many times in life that God will call us to leave. But there are also times God will call us to stay. The lesson isn’t just in the staying or the leaving. The lesson is in continuing to follow the God who calls, whether it means we pack what little we have in a bag for a new address, or whether it means we unpack our life, put things in their respective drawers and cabinets, and make ourselves at home.



Go Ahead and Get Happy

I am a realist, also known as a pessimist. My worst-case scenarios dress themselves as facts of reality so I listen to them. But by the grace of God, I married an optimist. I fell in love with a man who can find a sunny disposition in the most thunderstorm cloud of circumstances and this has been God’s way of building my character.

We work together, create together, walk through messes and successes together. At our lowest points, I have been fraught with worry and fear. He will join me there for a few minutes and then he will make a joke, do a dance or offer to pick up donuts.

At our highest points, I have been nitpicky about all of the details that could have gone better and will mentally move on to the next thing without taking the proper amount of time to revel in a present good moment. He will laugh, smile until his cheeks hurt, and suggest we do something to celebrate until I have no choice but to give in.

This made me wonder why I can’t just be happy sometimes. Why is my good never good enough to me? Why am I always looking for a way to raise my already unrealistic expectations for myself? What’s up with that?

Having Matt in my life is teaching me to go ahead and get happy. To remember, I’ve been tormented with love so long, experienced plenty of heartbreak. To remind myself, I’m just a human being with flaws and imperfections and that doesn’t make me unworthy of love.

I don’t know if that little girl of divorced parents needs permission to go ahead and get happy or what. I don’t know if all the years I spent trying to integrate myself into the lives of people I wanted to love me, made me feel like there was some bar just a couple of feet shy of my reach and that I would never meet up to its standard.

Experiencing hard times is the lot of every human being, but this doesn’t mean that I can’t shush my realist/pessimist brain when necessary and enjoy the good times when they come. Life will bring plenty of hurts, but I will also experience many great firsts, opportunities to laugh and smile until my cheeks hurt.

I think God wants me to go ahead and get happy. Just because I’m a full-fledged grown adult doesn’t mean I don’t need God to show me I’m okay, to be my dad, to prove to me that I don’t have to keep chasing this unrealistic bar, to show me he’s proud of me, pleased with me, to depend on him to teach me how to simply be myself and be content with that.

So before I critique myself or other people, I’m learning to take the time to be thankful, to say thank God I made it. To say thank you to this amazing Jesus I’ve given my life to. I don’t have to try so hard to be an insider. I don’t have to press my cheeks up against the window of someone else’s family, cool kids table, home.

I have home with God, in conversations with friends, in the love of family, and in my own soul. When I remember this, I feel less of a need to prove myself. I can finally stop trying to figure out what’s wrong with me and just live, love, and enjoy being loved.

My daily realist/pessimist prayer is that God would help me to lean on his grace and learn to go ahead and get happy.