Browsing Category: Faith

Living in a World at War

All of yesterday my mind was raging, wondering what my response should be regarding the new deaths of two black men. Am I even allowed to have a response? Last night I lay in bed, my mind definitely not shutting off. How could it? The news had just flashed across my feed telling me of the deaths of even more people. Senseless deaths, because honestly, is death ever senseful?

I’m white. My husband is white. My children are white. Hell, our last name is White. We are as white as wonderbread. We don’t have colored friends. I never have. I live in rural New England: There are no blacks here. I’ve mourned that for all of my aware life. So no. I don’t understand all of the subtle cultural nuances and difficulties. I want to.

Someone tells me I’m not allowed to have an opinion because I’m white. Someone else tells me I don’t get it because I’m white. Someone else tells me that if I don’t speak up then I am part of the problem.  Someone else tells me I don’t have the right to speak up. Someone else says that I can’t mourn the murders of two black men and police officers. I don’t know the right things to say, I don’t know the right words to use.

The only thing I do know is that ALL LIVES MATTER (I know there are those who HATE that statement). I don’t say that as an excuse or a platitude, I’m not trying to justify the lives lost on any side.  I say that because it is the Gospel truth. Jesus does not care about the color of one’s skin: People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

I know that police can step out of line and be bought and racist. I know police can step in the line of fire to protect those they have sworn to serve, without questioning the “worthiness” of that person’s skin color. I know people do things out of character when they are scared. I know that things can be set in motion that no one intended to have happen. I know people will kill others without a thought. I don’t know the numbers and statistics of deaths and murders, the ratios of blacks to whites. What I don’t know is a lot more than what I do. But I am trying.

I don’t know the fear of a mother with a dark skinned son, or a wife with a husband in blue. I do know the fear of a wife and mother though. I know the fear that someone may take the life of one of my children or my husband. I’m sure someone will say that I have no real idea of that fear because I sit in my white privilege castle, and maybe that’s true.IMG_1551

I also don’t know where mine or my children’s lives will be called to go. I don’t know if one of my children will swear to serve and protect, or serve as a missionary. I don’t know if a son or daughter in law of mine will be black. I don’t know if there is a precious little one somewhere with dark skin that Jesus is calling me to love and mother. But I do know that I want to be able to hold my head up and tell them they are loved, that their life is valued, that I didn’t just sit at war in myself about what to do, doing and saying nothing.

We are a society that does not value the inconvenient inconsequential life, the life that makes us uncomfortable. We place value only on what is valuable directly to us; on that, all sides are guilty. Life doesn’t matter in this world.

The lives of others don’t ever matter nearly as much as our own. No other cause holds more importance than our own. We champion our cause as the only important one, the only one that matters. That if we don’t address THIS cause first none of the others will matter.

Black lives matter. Unborn lives matter. White lives matter.
All lives matter
.

This truth of equal value doesn’t lessen the value of it’s parts. A truth can’t ever lessen the truth of other truths, it can only bring about the commonality in all of them. LIFE MATTERS! I do know that every single life matters. I do know that until we are ALL willing to hold ALL life sacred it will keep on happening. Until we are willing to step outside of a culture bathed in blood, stand firm and say NO MORE,  we will continue to drown in it.

 

*Disclaimer: I will not entertain any derisive comments. I am not perfect, I’m sure I have said or viewed things wrongly. I only know that my heart is breaking, I am sick to my stomach at the amount of bloodshed that has occurred this week alone, and I have no answers or solutions.

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET!

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

It’s official: Summer is here!

School finished last week, swim lessons are soon, and the temperatures are rising: There are just some things that just ooze summer. Particularly when it comes to magazine articles and ads all toting the same message: “MAKE THIS THE BEST SUMMER YET!” That somehow by using this product or buying that gadget, our burning desire to experience the ABSOLUTE BEST SUMMER YET will be fulfilled.

Here are some easy tips, that I’ve tried, that certainly help me to enjoy the best Summer has to offer:

How to have the Best Summer Yet
{in 3 easy steps}

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

Stop

Stop racing around, feeling like there are a thousand things to accomplish, because summer is only so long. If you’re racing all over the place, you’re not enjoying what you’re actually doing. Look at the schedule, make some changes. Maybe it means not having the kids in so many activities, canceling a few engagements, or reprioritizing what’s on the agenda.

Drop

Once in a while drop what you’re doing and take 10 seconds, 10 SECONDS; close your eyes, breath and feel what’s around you, really taste that berry, or relive a favorite memory. Don’t even think about telling me you don’t have 10 spare seconds in your day, because ain’t nobody that busy. Those 10 seconds will give you enough time to process what your thinking about, and give you a momentary respite from the chaos.

Roll

Roll with it. If you have a crazy whim to forego dinner and get the kids an ice cream…it’s seriously not going to kill anyone, but I can guarantee you the kids will remember that ONE TIME {or more} that mom let them have ice cream for dinner. If someone calls you about a spontaneous get together, do it {even if it means going to the grocery store and bringing a deli salad}. Or invite them over. Don’t think about what your house looks like, think about spending time with your family, a friend, a neighbor.

If you can do those 3 three things, I can pretty much guarantee that your summer is going to be the best yet, because you actually took the time to remember it, to experience it to the fullest.

Those advertising people are sneaky. Somehow they convince us that we need their things in order to be happy; to have a Summer that is actually worth bragging-rights come the Fall. Psst….we don’t. All we need to have the best of any thing, any experience, is to actively pursue God’s desires for us in this life, which is to enjoy the world He has created for us and the people he has blessed us with.

“But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

Now, this doesn’t mean since we were kind enough to include God in the things that we think are the “best” for us, that it will be given to us. We must pursue what God deems best, what He would have us find fulfillment in, which is Him; activities and things which will draw us closer to Him. That is always what is Best.

As long as we are seeking our own enjoyment, we will be left disappointed. Having missed out on what truly is the best of anything. As long as our heart is motivated for ourselves, not God, we won’t find fulfillment in what the world deems the best-ever-of-all-time anything.

Summer is here, a time of year we all rejoice in. Seek not the best of the world, but the best of God in the world. The beauty He has created for us to enjoy, drawing our hearts and minds to Him, and all the best He’s created just for us.

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; the sky proclaims the work of His hands.”
Psalm 19:1

Every summer already is the “Best summer yet”, because every day is new, every day is a fresh start, a new day for us to seek God and His will for our lives, to go deeper in His word and draw closer to Him. Why settle for less, when God will ALWAYS give you the best?

How do you plan on truly enjoying your Summer?

 

This post originally appeared on my other blog, on 6.30.14.

Have a Little Compassion

There’s a new member of our family that I am so excited to introduce to you: Dorothy! No, you didn’t miss anything. In November, as part of Avelyn’s turning 6 she chose a little girl in Africa to sponsor through Compassion International. I often think that most people have heard of Compassion until I start talking about it and they look at me like I have 6 heads.

sponsor-a-child

I’ve been familiar with Compassion for the past 5 or so years, and have really wanted to sponsor a child, but it just wasn’t feasible. We had wanted to do it at a point when our children can be involved in correspondence and can understand what it is and why we do it. This year Matthew decided it was the year. I can’t tell you how much my heart soared when he said those words!

Compassion Child

Dorothy’s birthday is in the middle of February, and as I was talking to Avie about drawing a picture that we could send to her, she had mentioned something about dresses. I said that more than likely Dorothy only had 1 maybe 2 dresses to wear. Avelyn got a devastated look in her eyes and I asked what was wrong, “Mommy, could I send her some of my dresses?” I explained that we can’t mail her things like a dress, but we can pray and ask that God would provide for her through our sponsorship. {I love Avelyn’s heart for others!}

So what IS Compassion International?

The Everett Swanson Evangelistic Association was founded in 1952 by The Reverend Everett Swanson to help children orphaned by war in South Korea. He traveled there to preach the gospel to the troops of the army but during his visit he saw children orphaned by the war. In 1953, he began to raise funds and the next year he developed sponsorship programs to help support orphans for a few dollars a month.[4] The name of the association changed to Compassion in 1963, inspired by Jesus‘ words “I have compassion on the multitude. I will not send them away hungry” (Matthew 15.32).
-from Wikipedia

The whole premise of Compassion is to not just provide for the physical needs of a child, but also their spiritual needs. While they are given the opportunity to attend school, the blessing of safety and being provided for, they are also learning the most important truth…Jesus. They are being cared for not just temporally but eternally.

The thing I love about Compassion, besides all the wonderful things they do, is that this isn’t just about having your credit card auto-charged every month and forgetting about it, forgetting about a child. The wonderful thing is how Compassion encourages their sponsors to write to their child, to visit them {if possible}, to actually build a RELATIONSHIP with them. We try and email at least 2 letters a month to Dorothy. It’s so easy: They have a form you can fill out on the website and upload pictures to you and away it goes!  That’s it!

At different conferences and events over the years I’ve had several opportunities to talk to the people manning the Compassion tables and they are always such a joy to spend time with. Just recently I was speaking to a grandmother who sponsored a child for each of her grandchildren, then takes the time with each of them to write their sponsored child. Her goal is to take each of her grandchildren to meet the child they sponsor. She’s already been to the jungles of South America with two of her grandchildren.img029

April 24th is Compassion Sunday, but you can sponsor a child any day, anywhere in the world through Compassion’s website at Compassion.com. They give you wonderful search options of countries, age, gender, and most importantly for children who have been waiting the longest {as Dorothy was}.

I know we all remember the over emotional commercials to sponsor a child through different organizations; that for just over a $1 a day you can give a child hope, but it’s true. For $1.25 a day you can give a child hope, you can give them a future, you can give them the food and things they need now, and you can share with them the love and Salvation that only Jesus can give.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men JessicaMWhite.com

The world seems as though it’s going to hell in a hand-basket lately. A new shooting every day, race wars, and violence against women and children, all in our own backyard. People have felt the world is going to hell for hundreds of years, because it is. It has been for quite some time now {remember that incident with an apple?}

Every new day is a day closer to Jesus’ coming. The end times are near, but as Christians, as professors of our faith, we do not need to live in fear. We can stand strong, bold in the knowledge that despite the world’s chaos, our God remains forever in control. That no thing can happen without Him.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men JessicaMWhite.com

I just finished a book called Christmas Bells {by Jennifer Chiaverini}, in which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s story during the Civil War was told. While reading the poem I noticed something very different from the Christmas carol we’re all familiar with: Two stanzas in the middle {highlighted in bold} that are not in the carol.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

One-hundred-fifty-two years ago people felt just as we do now…that the world is a horrible place, that it was all coming undone. But just as Longfellow hoped to remind people, I home to remind you, because it’s still true:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

God is not dead. He’s not asleep. We live in a fallen world. A world brimming over with evil, but God is still here. He has already won. Jesus has conquered death. We, as believers in Jesus’ resurrection, do not need to cower in the darkness, afraid of what the next moment may bring for us or our loved ones.

If you happen to hear this old carol at some time in the next few weeks I hope you think of those missing stanzas and how a whole nation felt as lost and hopeless as we do now, but more importantly I hope you think on the last verse and clutch it close to your heart. Holding tight to the truths Longfellow penned so long ago: God is not dead, He will prevail…He already has.

Dear New Mom….

In nearing the end of this pregnancy and having had a friend who just had her first, I’ve been thinking a lot about how people perceive the birth of a new baby…as this end of an era that brings with it dramatic changes, all with a touch of doom and gloom. People seem to have this common perception, both from experience and impending baby-dom, that a baby means things end. That life as you knew it will cease to exist in its entirety, right down to the minutiae in life.

People who have “been there” are completely guilty of propagating this feeling of dread, telling the new parents that they better enjoy these last few weeks and days, go out to dinner, get a manicure, see a movie, all with the idea that these things will seemingly never happen again. Soon to be mamas, I am here to tell you something: This is not the case.

Yes, your world is about to be rocked, things are obviously going to change and will never be the same again, but life doesn’t end…it’s only just beginning. This new little one is the rebirth of you: You get to relive your childhood through this precious baby; you get to experience the entire world as you did before, but just can’t remember; you get to be the one to introduce this tiny being to all of the glories God has created for us.

Dear New Mom...a baby isn't the end. It's just the beginning.... @JessicaMWhite.com

Is this new experience hard? Absolutely. I’m not going to lie. You are going to be stretched and tested and exhausted and ready to give up, you may even have minutes or days or weeks when you wonder why you even thought this whole having a kid thing was a good idea. At some point you will feel like a baby IS THE END, but it will be worth it. If not for your child, then for you, because in this journey of mommy-hood you will discover just how strong you are and just how good God is.

But there is a choice that must be made. You must choose whether you embrace the new changes and all their messy beauty OR fight against it, clinging to the life that was. This isn’t an either or choice. This doesn’t mean it’s you or the baby, that only one of you can dictate what life is like. It doesn’t mean kiss YOU {and your interests} goodbye.

It’s a moment by moment choice.

Sometimes YOU will be the priority, when you feel your self starting to slip, when that 10 minutes of silence in the shower is not just about getting clean, but recouping yourself and wiping away the desperate tears, and sometimes that baby will be the priority, when they’re screaming because something is wrong, something is hurting, even if you don’t know what it is, but you know they just need you.

Then there are the bigger choices: Having a baby doesn’t mean you put You, your interests, your relationships, up on a shelf for the next 18 years. It doesn’t work that way, and it doesn’t have to be that way. God created you to be who you are, uniquely crafted with thoughts, ideas, and talents. Mommy is just another part of that. “Mommy” doesn’t mean you’re no longer allowed to exist beyond your child. That your child somehow now trumps your spouse. It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t. But it is a balance act, having to relearn who you are in this new world.

Regardless of what society expects…..you are NOT super mom. No one is, unless they have a team of helpers, and then they are still not. You are a mom, trying to find balance in the constant changes of babyhood and motherhood. Sometimes it is glorious as you ride the waves and sometimes you’re just trying to keep your head above water.

And you know what new mama…you will get to go out to eat again, get your hair and nails done, even sit for hours quietly doing nothing but what you want to do. It will happen, and when it does, you will think back longingly on the days that used to be and how that little person is not so little anymore.

* and I write this, as I sit here, totally freaked out about what a 5th child is going to mean in our life, because whether this is your first or fifth it is a life changing experience.

**Lest anyone get too excited…that picture is of Avelyn.