#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches and How will the white church respond?

I got on Twitter to vague tweet some weird sore spots from an old wound (I know, super mature) when I heard the news that another black church is burning. Is nothing sacred?

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

I thought I knew about the importance of the Black church to the community, and then I moved into a black neighborhood. There are two that I walk by if I take the dog on the long loop around the golf course. These buildings anchor my neighborhood. They have since my neighborhood existed. Both head pastors live within walking distance to their church. Both have fish fries and revivals, trick-or-treating and first watch night services on New Year’s Eve. I know that the health of my neighborhood is dependent on these two pillars, and I know what a horrendous thing it would be to have one burned down.

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

Have you heard? How is this not making front page news? Why did I have to hear about it first on Twitter? Surely the Christian Communities I run in care! These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. These are buildings where people worship our God! Surely it matter to us. Still, almost nothing on Facebook, my blog roll, instagram.

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

I can’t help but remember the way white Christians managed to organize to support their favorite chicken resturaunt in the name of Jesus. I am remembering the way this was organized in the name of defying persecution. There are houses of worship being set on fire where is the outrage? The organizing? The call that this WILL NOT STAND!

#WhoisBurningBlackChurches

I go to Twitter to nurse old wounds and find another bleeding gash across the Body of Christ. Someone is buring the homes of my brothers and sisters. Someone is destroying pillars of communities. Probably more than just one someone. The church that is burning as I write this, was burned down once before. In 1995. Racist terrorist acts against black people is not the ancient history we pretend it is. 20 years and 10 days ago this church was burned, and it is burning again.

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

Will this be mentioned in the white churches I have attended? Will there be a call to action, to solidarity, to prayer? Or do those things just happen when it is Tim Tebow, or the Duck Dynasty men being “denied” opportunities to speak and pray. Do you have to be white to get a peace offering passed around in your name? Will we only help black people who we can exoticize based on their location?

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

These are our neighbors. Their churches have been burned. I know that historically we have segregated our worship, but do we not care about our brothers and sisters being terrorized, likely in the name of a false and racist God? Can we not see our responsibility to do what we can for the churches being burned? Do we not mourn with those who mourn? Weep with those who weep?

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

I have seen so much division in the church, so many unkind words and walls built over complicated disagreements about the Word and how to read it. Can we at least agree to hold hands over this? Can we all agree to gnash our teeth and tear our garments over these churches that have been burned? Can the church at least get it together enough to put down the rocks we have been chucking at each other and build together a hedge of protection for our Brothers and Sisters?

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

Practical Steps

0. Pray. Pray without ceasing. Fast and pray. Pray the hours. Pray.

1. Give a damn. If you are still reading you care. Congratulations! You have a heart.

2. Donate. Right Here.

3. Call your nearest Historically Black Church and ask them how you can help. White people do not just go walking in there. Our pressence may cause undue anxiety and fear. Call first.

4. Use your words. News outlets pay attention to what is trending on Facebook and Twitter. The more we demand an answer to that question in the hashtag the more people the FBI will put on answering it. The 24 hour news cycle needs to get on this.

5. Bug your pastor. I have a deep respect for pastors, so I don’t think I have ever asked anyone to do this before. This is a clear opportunity for a love offering. There should be a plate passed around in every church in America to help our Brothers and Sisters rebuild. Tell your pastor you want one. Then have everyone in your mom’s group/Bible Study/Choir do the same.

Being Seen: An abundance of space at the table.

When you spent a week with more than one person who has made a decision to live in intentional community, you come home and realize you don’t know as many of your neighbors as you thought you did. At least, that is what happened to me.

I was walking around the pond in our neighborhood when the man who sits on the corner spoke to me, “cute pup you got there.” I can’t resist a compliment to our dog Lucky; she is pretty cute. For the first time ever I stopped to talk to him.

Mr. Knight has been sitting on that corner for longer than I owned my house. He told me about when the pond went in and how he likes it where it Is quiet. He told me about his wife since passed, and his children. He told me about the old dog he has at home.

Mr. Knight asked me where I usually walk and when I described my normal routes he nodded his head in approval. He has our neighborhood completely mapped out in his head and seems to him I walk a mile on what I call the short walk, three on the longer one. He didn’t need Google maps to tell him that.

“You must be in pretty good shape being able to walk all that way.”

That one comment was all it took to see my body with a gentler lens. My stomach may not look the way I want it to in a swimsuit, but I can walk forever. My body is a gift.

About that time my dog came to nudge Mr. Knight’s hand and lick his water bottle. “She must be thirsty, can I give her some water?” I thought she only wanted a pat, but he insisted on trying. When my crazy dog rejected the water from my hand, she let her drink his water straight out of the mouth of the bottle, and when he turned the bottle up ways she grabbed the top by the mouth and he let her drink the whole thing.

I felt seen. I think he did too.

I think after food, water and shelter, we have a need to be seen. I think sometimes we would sacrifice the shelter part for the seen part if we were really honest with ourselves.

Here is the lie scarcity tells us about being seen: There are only so many sight lines, there are only so many opportunities and you better quick snag one of them, even if it is at the detriment of your neighbor. That isn’t the way being seen works. The more people you see the more sight lines you create. There is an abundance of spaces at this table, an infinite amount of leaves to add to the middle.

For me, scarcity tells me that being seen only counts in blog stats, or “important people” but the spirit is whispering to me that Mr. Knight may just be the most important person I know. He sees me. My kids and my husband see me. I am living in the land of abundant sight, a chance for me to drink right out of the bottle of abundance, and pull it down for more if I want.

This week’s love bomb theme is BEING SEEN.

The Short: Leave a comment here, I will email you the persons contact, say something nice.

The Long: So WHAT is a LOVE BOMB and how will I COORDINATE it? A love bomb is when we all come together to lavish a deserving someone with Tweets, Facebook likes, Blog comments, emails, and general social media shout outs. Imagine waking up to the amount of Birthday notifications only they are nice things about you for seemingly no reason. It would make you feel pretty good, huh? Yeah!

And if you want to email me people to be bombed I would love that! I have six more slots to fill.

Out of the deep

I wrote this piece a few weeks ago and it is incredibly fitting that today it was posted. Today, my baby, my BABY learned to swim well enough that she attempted to go down the waterslide at the pool. After her first ride she told me she didn’t want any help anymore and proceeded to go down the waterslide, by herself for the rest of the afternoon as I laughed, cried, and simply watched flabbergasted. This raising kids is totally delightful and not at all for the faint of heart.

This summer the most miraculous thing happened. We were at the pool, my two daughters and myself, when Juliet announced that she had to go to the bathroom.

I sighed.

“Okay!” I yelled back, “Let me get your sister.”

Going to the bathroom is a thing. A THING. You have to make the one who is crying potty to hold tight while you wade through the shallow end to find her sister. Then you have to convince that child to get out of the pool before her sister goes pee (or worse) on the cement just outside the pool. If parenting olympics ever becomes a thing, I will surely be a medal contender in the pool-potty relay race.

Just as I turned my back on Juliet to go find Priscilla, I heard Juliet yell, “WAIT! I can go by myself.”

I can go by myself.

These may be the most magical words I have ever heard

You can read the rest right here. 

Hear Me, Hear Me: Fighting Scarcity Lies

This past week has been an abundant gift from an abundant God. I am right now sitting in the cafeteria of St. John’s college in Minnesota. It is my last full day at a writing retreat that has been a gift I do not yet have the words for. An abundant gift from an abundant God, and still I can hear scarcity whispering in my ear.

I wonder sometimes about the snake and the garden, the woman and the apple. I wonder if scarcity isn’t what that snake was whispering to her. I imagine it to be. Eve, in the place of absolute of abundance, the garden of Eden, everything a person could ever want or need, there, right there all within grasp. But the serpent convinced Eve that it was not enough. That what she was gifted was not the best, and there was something else that was being denied her.

Even in the midst of this most generous gift of time and space for my words, I can hear scarcity whispering in my ear. There is a lot of time, but maybe not enough, these people do like you, but maybe not enough, there is space for your words, but is it enough? Don’t you need more? Don’t you need to try harder to get it? 

The truth is, I don’t. There is enough room and time and space and beauty. Being liked and loved is a bonus, but not the most important thing. And like and love is not a commodity that runs out. Someone else getting a whole bunch doesn’t mean I am denied even a tiny bit of my own.

I was struggling with scarcity thinking at the Target, twelve hours before getting on my plane. I quick left a voxer for Esther, (you know, the lady who started this #wholemama thing) and expressed to her all the anxiety I was having. She told me back all the truth of an abundant God and an abundant gift. Of my right to a place at the table, of the idea that just because I am there doesn’t mean I am denying anyone else any space. Later, I admitted on my Facebook page the feelings of insecurity and my friend responded, “you can’t talk about my friend like that.” 

Isn’t that the truth. I knew that the words Esther was telling me were the truth because I knew they were the truth when I had said them to other people. I knew I could accept the truth for myself, even when it didn’t feel true, because it is the truth I want so desperately for the people I love the most. This is why scarcity needs to be hunted in a pack. We need to echo the truth to each other until the whispers of scarcity are drown out by the truth.

This week participate in the Love Bomb! And say the thing to someone else you most need said to yourself

This weeks love bomb theme is COMFORT

The Short: Leave a comment here, I will email you the persons contact, say something nice.

The Long: So WHAT is a LOVE BOMB and how will I COORDINATE it? A love bomb is when we all come together to lavish a deserving someone with Tweets, Facebook likes, Blog comments, emails, and general social media shout outs. Imagine waking up to the amount of Birthday notifications only they are nice things about you for seemingly no reason. It would make you feel pretty good, huh? Yeah!

Each week will have a theme. All you have to do is leave me a comment that you are in. There are an abundance of spaces. Make sure to tell me by Thursday because that is the day I will email you the person and all their social media places. Then, on FRIDAY you will go lavish love via tweets, Facebook posts and messages, and blog comments. Maybe even give them a like or a follow.

I Long to Hear a Woman Preach about being Born Again

I hope one day to hear a woman preach about John chapter 3. If you were in Sunday school the same time I was you remember the felt board regardless of denomination, the dark sky flap and maybe the moon stuck up on the board to signify the darkness Nicodemus hid under when he went to go talk to Jesus. It is then that Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again.

I would like, one day, to hear a sermon about being born again from a woman who has participated in the birthing process from the mothers end. So many women I know feel as though they were also re-born in the midst of birthing their children. Birthing is a powerful thing.

I have heard a very many amount of pastors who have preached on John chapter 3, but they always seem to gloss over how deeply uncomfortable birthing is. I don’t just mean the labor pains. All other animals are born when they are ready, when they can function well and survive okay, they still need their moms but most baby animals are more developed than a human baby. (God bless the elephant mother, they gestate for almost two years.) Human babies are born when they run out of room. There just isn’t enough room for a baby to gestate the four trimesters doctors have decided would be ideal.

The discomfort is on both ends. The last weeks of pregnancy are impossibly hard. I am learning in this life that I was born again when I accepted Jesus into my heart in the mint green room, being lead down the Roman road by the pastor’s wife, but that I am also always being born again.

Most often, it is the discomfort that finally makes me move on. When I grow out of space and simply cannot abide being stuck any longer, it is then that the forces seemingly beyond my control, move me to be born again. I am learning to embrace the discomfort, to take it for what it is, a warning that the time is coming to be born again.

And I have never heard a sermon on John 3 that speaks of the waiting. Of the way that you just have to let the first contractions come, how you need to go on about your day, take a walk, or a nap. How the contractions at the beginning don’t mean you need to do anything but notice. That you need to rest because something is going to happen and you need to be ready, but that you don’t need to rush to the hospital or tell everyone on Facebook, that it is only a time of noticing that something is beginning. Maybe.

I long to hear a sermon, about being born again, that articulates the strange and sometimes terrifying sensations that is transition. I want someone to mention the way your body finally gets used to one kind of contraction, one kind of pain, and while intense and difficult, you know how to cope and then this whole other thing is thrown your way. I want to hear the stories, from the pulpit, of the women who decide in that moment of transition that they are NOT having this baby, they would like to stand up, or sit down, or go home, or quit. How none of those things are really a choice but they all feel reasonable. I want to hear the stories of how you need to be talked down by your midwife or your husband, that this bizarre sensation is simply a marker that the next phase is on its way.

I wish that someone would mention, when speaking of being born again, about the numerous ways a baby can be born, c-section, epidural, water births, how each of these needs to be honored, all paths to spiritual re-birth are still about new life even if the circumstances aren’t ideal. I want someone to preach about how we can only really know our own stories, that traumatic births can happen in the physical and the spiritual, how the re-birth is still valuable even if it doesn’t go how you planned.

I appreciate the sermons I have heard on John 3, I just long to hear a sermon on re-birth by someone who knows what it feels like.

Church of the Car Pool

In an hour and a half I am meeting my best friend for burritos and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED. Of all the things I lost and gained from moving from school on one side of the city to the other I didn’t expect to gain one of my dearest friends. When Meredith Bazzoli approached me to write about unexpected holy places in our lives I knew immediately I wanted to write about my Toyota Corolla.

“You keep saying that. You keep saying that if you got this job you would get your own chapel. What do you think that is about?”

This is what my car mate said to me about a week into my ultimately unfruitful expedition into career changing. I had interviewed with a church and was waiting for the call to come in to interview in front of the committee. If I got this job I would have a whole chapel that would be mine. Apparently that mattered to me, but I didn’t notice it until she pointed it out.

It didn’t surprise me that Megan heard what I was saying before I could hear it myself. We know each other pretty well. We should, we spend more time together than we do with anyone else.

If you want to read more about how carpool is more like church than church you can read it here.

Scarcity and Love Bombs

MOM! she yelled, I have TWO THINGS TO TELL YOU! Priscilla peed AND it is NEAL’S BIRTHDAY! Both of those things were true, but the second one was for sure more important.

A friend of ours is staying with us for a few months and he had a birthday this weekend. Juliet loves a birthday, anyones birthday. She loves to sing to them and wish them a happy day. She likes that everyone has one. We once met a woman at the grocery store who responded, when Juliet told her that her birthday was May first, that is MY birthday too! Birthday twins, she is now on a hunt for them. What could be better than someone else having your BIRTHDAY?

Juliet was born with a spirit of abundance, and the world has yet to crack it with the lies of not enough. Scarcity has nothing on this child. I mean, I get a little annoyed when someone else shares my special day. It is supposed to be my day. Juliet just sees it as a reason to have a bigger party.

#monthofthebody and i am learning to lean into the rest my body is craving. @therustyartichoke

A photo posted by Abby Norman (@accidentaldevotional) on

(Juliet, just making room.)

I want to be more like this. I want to worry less about me and my celebration and spend more time being amazed at how awesome everything and everyone is.

It is pool season at the Norman house. We are currently averaging three hours a day at the pool. While I am doing a better job of accepting my body as good and healthy and wonderfully made, I am sometimes checking out other moms to see how I compare. (Just writing that makes me feel gross, so I guess I will stop.)

Juliet is schooling me in abundance at the pool. A woman approached me yesterday. “Excuse me, is that your daughter, I have to tell you what she said!” When you have been Juliet’s mother for five years you brace yourself when someone says that. Apparently my daughter had turned around in line at the pool and told the mom behind her just how beautiful she was. Later I asked Juliet about that. “I did! And she told me I was beautiful too, and she said she liked my suit, and MOM! SHE MEANT IT!”

Scarcity tells you that there are only so many beautiful women at the pool, that you better figure out how you measure up, but Juliet knows about abundance. She knows that there is no scarcity of beautiful bodies at the pool, and the more you notice, compliment, celebrate, the more beauty you find the more room there is for your own.

This is how abundance works. It makes no sense. You subtract three spaces and wind up with seven more. You give away your seat only to find a fully reclinable plush chair for you to sit in. This is the beauty of abundance. There is always room, and letting someone take your space only makes more room for you. I don’t understand it, but I know it to be true.

When I am afraid that I won’t get mine, that no one likes me, I hold my compliments tight to my chest. If there is only so much love to go around then I better keep mine for myself. But scarcity is a liar and the truth is that the only cure for that smallness I feel, the fear that I will not be loved enough, is a radical generosity.

This summer I will be the LOVE BOMB COORDINATOR for the #wholemama project Esther started. (You can read about the #wholemama summer here.) It is a place where we bring all of ourselves as mothers AND creatives. And sometimes the best self-care you can give is to make room for someone else. It gives you a reminder that there is room for you too.

So WHAT is a LOVE BOMB and how will I COORDINATE it? A love bomb is when we all come together to lavish a deserving someone with Tweets, Facebook likes, Blog comments, emails, and general social media shout outs. Imagine waking up to the amount of Birthday notifications only they are nice things about you for seemingly no reason. It would make you feel pretty good, huh? Yeah!

Each week will have a theme. All you have to do is leave me a comment that you are in. There are an abundance of spaces. Make sure to tell me by Thursday because that is the day I will email you the person and all their social media places. Then, on FRIDAY you will go lavish love via tweets, Facebook posts and messages, and blog comments. Maybe even give them a like or a follow.

Our first love Bomb is a BEAUTY BOMB and trust me when I tell you, you are going to love loving this person. Comment to come to the party, and remember don’t tell ’em. It is a SURPRISE! If you still aren’t sure how radical generosity can really alter your experience, then just give it a try. It won’t cost you that much, and I am telling you there is nothing that fights scarcity better than this.