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3 Parenting Hacks for Summer Vacation

Summertime is here. That means many things to many people, but to those of us with young kids it means they are home all day everyday. But that is no reason to fret. We get these three months to really connect with our kids and invest in their souls.

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Spiritual PTSD

I love God’s church. I love His people joined together in song, service, and truth. I am giving my life to serve her. But I know she is not without faults. In my 20 years of serving the local church, I have seen some very sad things. Straight up bad things. Of the bad things I have witnessed, the ugliest has been the local pastor as king.

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Mic Drop

I have dropped a mic before.  I am talking extended arm, sideways grip, wait a full beat, drop the mic and walk off the stage.  It is an incredible feeling, to say the exact right thing at the exact right time to yield maximum impact.  It can leave an opponent completely speechless, or bring a crowd to their feet in raucous applause.  

Sadly, most mic drops happen at the expense of a foe.  The most applauded and dreamed of mic drops are the ones crushing someone else.  This is literally the only reason I am still on Twitter.  I laugh every time someone turns a phrase to cripple their opponent.  The speed, the cleverness, the precision... these things fascinate a wordsmith like myself.  

Though I watch the firefight, I rarely jump in.  Even when off the internets, I tend not to jump into controversial conversations.  Sometimes, on the way home from such an encounter, I’ll replay the conversation and let loose all the words I held back just twenty minutes earlier.   

Now, this is only partly cowardice on my part.  There is something else staying my hand.  There is a reason I don’t share every opinion I got.  Actually... there are 7 billion reasons.

My goal in life is not to beat people.  Rather, it is to win people.   

“We fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

It would be easier to fight some idealogical enemy.  To make a democrat or republican the bastion of all evil would be a much easier war.  Honestly, it would be an easier sell.  I could make my tribe afraid of another one and in doing so elevate myself on the back of that conflict.   That would be way more profitable than trying to love the person who believes something completely different than I do.  They may even hate the one in whose name I come.  But I want them to know the love that is changing the world.

So I try to stop this wicked tongue.  I try to remember that many of my most passionate opinions are not a hill worth dying on.  If I went around dying on the hill of the moment, I wouldn’t have any blood left for the actual battle. 

I guess what I am saying is.... stop being so mean to people.  Stop taking stupid stands.  And the stands you do take, take them with loving conviction and a modicum of kindness.  There is enough venom spewing all around us.  Let us not adopt the language of the moment.  It’s easier to be more clever than true.  It’s more applauded to be mean rather than kind.  And it’s more satisfying to win as opposed to having a conversation.  But that is not the way of Jesus.  

His way is still the best way. 

Speaking Spanish

I don’t speak Spanish. 

I am a Mexican.  Mexi-CAN.  I love to dance to Tejano music.  When Angie first came to my home to meet the family, she asked why everyone was yelling.  I looked over at her and just said.  “This is just how we talk.”  I have inherited our people’s high value of family.  I love my family, and cheer on each success like it is my own.  

Still, I don’t speak Spanish.   

This most Mexican of things is absent from my life.  And it is when I leave the cold plains of Michigan do I remember what this means.  Last week I headed to the Dominican Republic.  I was leading a team from Flint City Church.  We were supposed to go to Haiti, but due to civil unrest got rerouted to the other side of the island.   

Now, if we had gone to Haiti, my lack of Spanish would not have been discovered.  For the people in Haiti speak Creole or French.  I could communicate poorly there and nobody would be disappointed in me.  But the Dominican is a different story.  Spanish is spoken in the DR.   

It started happening while I was waiting for our plane to depart.  Dominicans struggling with English would look in the crowd for a certain kind of person.  They were looking for someone young and brown.  Someone who knew Spanish but could navigate the ways of this American airport.  They would come over to me and begin asking questions.  Older women would take my wrist and beseech me for help.  And I would smile a helpless smile and speak.  As soon as they heard my voice and its lack of accent they knew I was no help. They would walk away confused and still lost. 

What was I to do?  I could hide.  I could try to stand at the back of the crowd, or maybe stand close to the translators so when someone came they were always there to save me.  I could always look down and never make eye contact, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of the language I cannot speak.  I could live in fear.  That was an option.

But there is another way.  I could try.  I could butcher the language and laugh at my own inability and walk clumsily in conversation with all that I met.  I could help the old lady in the airport and escort her to the right place.  I could embrace what I was and wasn’t and begin to flex this muscle that was so weak.

Fear or faith.  Hiding or foolishly trying.  Shame or a shrug.  Hoping the ball never gets hit to me, or learning how to catch that ball.

So I spoke.  Badly and incorrectly.  Butchering sentences and confusing native born speakers.  But through the trying came friendships.  And a fear that has held me since boyhood began to fade.  

At the end of all things, I think reaching across the chasm of language, of personal history, of culture... I think it is worth the cost.   

Safety Patrol

In school I was an outsider.  And I was looking for somewhere to belong.  I made some colossal first week mistakes that would haunt me my entire career, so I was looking for some way to get past all that.  That’s when the call went out for safety patrol.

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