Sleep Baby Sleep

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

I haven’t slept in over a year. Some days I am tempted to tape my eyelids open. It’s my son Justice. He’s just not a sleeper. If you’re a mom you know just how many sleep “experts” there are out there and varying opinions of how to help your baby sleep through the live long night. Have you read author Ava Neyer’s take on sleep training? It’s hilarious because it’s true – no matter what the so-called experts say, some babies just don’t sleep. End of story.

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How to Protest in a Violent World

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Occupy movements, protests in the Middle East, and the ongoing fight to steward our environment, advocate for the poor, and stand against systemic human abuse all have made up some part of the global news cycle in recent months. The world seems to be both unsettling at times, but particularly unsettled in its own collective disposition in the 21st century. Unsettlement breeds all sorts of temperamental flare-ups and while it’s good and proper to protest against injustice or advocate for those whose voice is muffled, many of the current protests lack something.

When a person protests Wall Street greed by throwing a brick through a store window, no one really hears anything but the glass being shattered. When a Christian says something hateful about a Muslim, something is lost. When one political party demonizes another, both parties suffer.

Martin Luther King Jr., in his book Why We Can’t Wait outlines some rules for the demonstrators in the civil rights movement. They are summarized as follows:[1]

“Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.

Remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory.

Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.

Pray daily to be used by God in order that all might be free.

Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all might be free.

Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.

Seek to perform regular service for others and the world.

Refrain from violence of fist, tongue, or heart.

Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

Follow the directions of the movement and captains of a demonstration.” 

I am not sure I understand how to defend war from an individual perspective, it’s easier to discuss in political and statist terms. And I am not sure what protests will work and what movements will truly push us to a deeper level of human dignity, I think hindsight is helpful in this regard. I do believe, though, that the ‘how’ is important and that if injustice and the oppression of human beings is going to cease around the world, then demonstrators will have to choose their weapons with great wisdom and insight. The weapons of war are certainly different than the weapons of peace.

Our Reaction When Life Changes Tracks

Last week was our kids’ Spring Break so, Mark and I took the week off and we all headed to Disneyland. Now to some this may sound more like torture than a vacation – especially when you consider that we drove there from Boise, ID (Yep…15 hours in the car each way!) But it was a great time.

I love Disney – it is the land of adventure but it’s also the land of meltdowns for both parent and child. Thousands of people corralled through a handful of entry points who then walk miles, only to wait in line for hours (in all kinds of weather), for a 30 second ride.

Expectations are high. Kids are over excited. All it takes is one little kink for one’s patience to implode and we’re over reacting and saying things we don’t really mean.

Talk about highs and lows of emotions.

13 Yr. Old Prince has a Dream for Congo

Have you ever thought about what you might say if you drafted your own version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s, I Have a Dream speech? What dreams do you have? What hopes do you have for yourself and for your community?


Prince lives in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Four years ago, Prince, who is one of many street kids born in a war zone and living on the streets, asked my friend Esther if she could help him go to school. Now 13 years old, Prince and his classmates recently studied the life of Martin Luther King Jr. This past November, Prince stood in front of his class and recited MLKJ’s I Have a Dream speech. As he finished, his classmates applauded and Esther told him he did a great job and that he could take a seat again.


Prince stood there in front of the class. He hesitated for only a moment and then said, “But that was MLKJ’s dream for America. I have a dream for Congo.”

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The Practice of Being Comfortable in Being Uncomfortable

A new yoga studio recently opened near our home. I was excited when a friend informed me about it. Over this past Labor Day weekend, we traveled to visit Mark’s brother and his family. While there, my sister-in-law invited me to attend her Gentle Yoga class. It was wonderful. We stretched, breathed and relaxed for an hour. After the class, she and I walked to the coffee house next door and sat in the sun, sipped our drinks and chatted away. I still feel peaceful when I think of that morning.

Naturally I was thrilled when I heard about the studio. Was it possible that I’d be able to experience this peaceful yoga on a weekly basis? My blood pressure was lowering at the thought of it.

A week ago I entered the studio for my first class. The staff informed me of an introductory offer of “20 days for 20 dollars.

Why Christians shouldn’t burn the Quran or the NIV Bible

News is rippling around the Internet regarding the Quran burning plans of Rev. Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. Reverend Jones (who will henceforth be referred to as TCMUO for The Completely Messed Up One) has announced that they plan to symbolically burn the Quran on September 11, in order to demonstrate their displeasure with our accommodating foreign policies and to confirm their conviction that Islam is of the Devil. The plan has generated such a response that their church website has crashed. Unfortunately, it appears that their plans have not.

Now burning books out of protest is nothing new. In fact, the Nazis did it regularly during the Gestapo. So for anyone interested in burning books, the Nazis can serve as a good role model for you.

In fact, Christians have typically burned more of their own books than those of other religions. Check out this one church, aptly named Amazing Grace! They burn the NIV and other “satanic” versions of the Bible.

Ninety-nine percent of Christians with a heart beat and a half functioning mind know that this is completely ridiculous stuff. (Although, I must admit I am attracted to the idea of using the KJV version more often as I’ve really been looking for a new way to say ass more often in church.) Nevertheless, the impact of a few, including TCMUO, can have an enormous effect on others.

Here are just a few reasons why Christians should do everything they can to encourage, TCMUO and his wacko amigos to stop. And if they don’t stop, we need to use all means necessary to let everyone know that we are completely opposed to this stuff.

1)  Loving God and loving our neighbor sums up the commandments.

Because of these words, Christians are called to a higher standard than anyone else. Loving our neighbor means many things, but most poignantly it means we don’t trash his/her religious faith and burn his/her holy books. That’s sort of love your neighbor 101. But I kinda think TCMUO missed that class. (oops was that not loving?)

2)  Christ said to love our enemies.

Muslims are not our enemies. In fact, I think they are our neighbors. According to Jesus there really are no “enemies.” However, he invokes that terminology (Mt 5:44) because he knows there are some people who cannot eradicate it from their vocabulary. For those people I include this point. The end result is the same: Love is our calling which means (note the repetition) we should not seek to offend by burning holy books.

3)  The Golden Rule

The golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a practical way of articulating what it means to love others. So, if we don’t want anyone burning our holy books then maybe (just maybe) we shouldn’t do it to them.

Those are my top three reasons which are more theologically based reasons. Here are three more “practical” reasons why.

1)  It deepens the "us" versus "them" divide.

After 9-11 I remember a TV shot of some Muslims in Palestine dancing that the thousands of Americans had died. I remember it because our TV networks showed it over and over and over again. They did this, of course, because viewership (and advertizing rates) skyrocket around such controversial themes. However, at the end of the day, it was really just a few folks (side note: as a traveler to over 70 countries I have become completely convinced that idiocy is everywhere!).

At the time, I had many friends and colleagues living and working in predominantly Muslim countries. Ironically, every single one of them told me that their Muslim friends expressed sorrow and pain for them. I even talked to some tourists in Pakistan who said everywhere they went, people came up to them saying how sorry they were.

But it only takes a few of “them” to act like fools and for “us” to be fooled by our own media. The same thing is happening and will continue to happen in the other direction. Right now, Muslim Imams and others are justifying anger and hatred toward Americans and Christians because of TCMUO. That’s downright painful.

When you read Jesus he played to the “us” versus “them” scenario a lot. However, he always made “us” the bad guys and “them” the good guys. It was a powerful rhetorical tool that eventually got him killed. After all if he had talked about how bad the Romans were (like everyone wanted him to) then he probably would have achieved the “king” status others were expecting.

Interestingly, the parable of the Good Samaritan which symbolizes what it means to love one’s neighbor plays extensively on the “us” “them” categorization tendencies that we still have today.

2)  It confuses nationality and religious boundaries.

In what can only be considered unfortunate, there is a lot of confusion over who “us” and “them” really are. Us is sometimes Americans and other times Christians (side note: these are not the same things!). Them is sometimes Muslims and other times Arabs (side note: these are not the same things!).

As news of the Quran burnings spreads around the world like a wildfire (stupid pun intended), there is increased confusion over this. We, Americans, become a bunch of fundamentalist Quran burners in the minds of many. I’m not sure our non-Christian fellow citizens will like that either.

Apparently, a lot of the reason TCMUO is burning the Quran is to protest weak foreign policy (I suppose two wars totaling 16 years of combat is not enough?). That just starts the religious-political fusion and confusion.

Christians need to proclaim that we are not the same as Americans and vice versa.

3)  An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Apparently Ghandi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” I know this because I’ve read it on some bumper stickers. Regardless of whether or not he said this it is a true statement and is consistent with the teachings of Jesus to turn the other cheek.

Frankly, the cycle of violence continues and gets faster because both sides feel completely justified in their actions. Watching the Quran get burned will justify acts of violence against Christians who had nothing to do with it. The cycle continues with Quran burnings justified because some wacky Muslims killed some innocent people. Round and round we go on a not so merry go round.

Before we move on, it should be noted that there is a biblical verse that speaks positively about burning books, namely Acts 19:19:

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Sabbatical Entry 2 "Should" - a poem

Should, Must, Ought To

Words that plague my mind.

Ideas that urge me on, that work me into an anxious frenzy.

I should...

I should...

I sho, shh, sshh, ssshhh

Quiet. Be still. Rest.

There is nothing that you must



There have been times of freedom,

of peace in heart and mind.

But the peace leaks

And the "shoulds'" barge through the door

Uninvited, Unwelcomed

and yet received.

Oh to hold onto to freedom,

to know my liberation well.

Muslims are killing Christians in Nigeria. Will we respond like Christ or like humans?

Over the weekend I tweeted and updated my facebook status with the simple statement: Muslims killing Christians in Nigeria followed by a simple question: Will we respond like Christ or like humans? It’s always interesting what captures people’s imaginations and provokes response.

After a year of conversations on facebook, I was still amazed at the response the simple status update received. Feel free to check it out here:

Reflecting on responses, the following points are worth of mentioning:

1) There is no emotion like religious emotion.

Wars over the centuries have demonstrated that religions are frequently front and center in every war. Religious emotion is a product of two things as I see it. First, it is an indicator that people genuinely care. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t get so upset.

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Uyghur Peacemaker on Trial Tomorrow

Below is an excerpt from an article on regarding a man with whom I have mutual friends. He has been in prison for a year and a half, and his trial is scheduled for tomorrow. In light of the conflict in the Xinjiang region of China, things are not hopeful for Alim, apart from a mighty act of God. 

Please pray for Alim's trial tomorrow.

XINJIANG – The trial for Uyghur Christian prisoner Alimujiang Yimiti has been set for the morning of July 28. Alimujiang Yimiti has been arbitrarily detained at Kashi Municipal Detention center since January 12, 2008, charged with “revealing state secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations.” However, ChinaAid contacts say the reason for his imprisonment is his Christian faith and witness among the Uyghur people.

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Messengers of Peace

"Oh my goodnes!  I sat on your parakeet!"  I jumped up as the bird began flying around the room. 

"It's not my bird.  It's been on your back since you came in."  My neighbor said calmly as if it were perfectly normal to visit someone with a parakeet on your back.  It was my first time visiting her and when i felt the bird under me, i thought I had sat right on it.  Her son told us he saw it on my back as I approached the house.  To this day I have no idea where it came from.  As it flapped around her living room the thought went through my mind, 'She must think I'm crazy or rude or dirty.'   Instead, as the bird flew out of the apartment, she said, "It must be a sign." 

I'm not sure what she thought that bird was a sign of, but ever since that strange incident when a random parakeet rode my back into her living room, she has held me in high regard.   That bird helped me win a place in my neighbor's heart.   

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