Thursday, September 29, 2016

breaking the code of white silence & 5 baby steps to begin

a few years ago,
i broke my code of silence.

it started with a facebook post.
you can view the article here

to begin, my code of silence was established before i was old enough to know it...
from history books to casual conversations.
for the most of my life, i was ignorant to the fact i even held this code of silence.
i was stirred as a child learning about the civil rights movement, but quietly understood history had already done its part. enough said.

slowly and, i believe, deliberately a spiritual film was peeled from my eyes.
my vision changed.
then, something grew inside of me.

and i knew.
the silence must be broken.

what happened next wasn't my voice.
what happened next was fear.

i thought i was afraid of my words, building inside me.

later realizing, i was afraid of the people who would hear these words.
i was afraid the people, my family and friends, couldn't handle my words.
i was afraid my words would be altered or used against me.
i was afraid people would think i was less "christian" and covering for "thugs."

i was afraid people would think this was all about my crusade fixated around my black daughter...
i was afraid people would think she was my cause.
i was afraid my words would be dismissed, thought of as "white guilt," or be interpreted as my own "savior" mentality.
and i was terrified my daughter would have to pay my consequences.

i was afraid my cry for injustice would be translated into my own white pride.
and the things white people hate more than black pride...
is white pride for black pride.
and black people don't want a white-momma-of-a-black-child pride, either.

that is how twisted the code became.
and that is where the code holds its power.
to break my silence would seem prideful and would utimately be painful.

wikipedia says,

code of silence is a condition in effect when a person opts to withhold what is believed to be vital or important information voluntarily or involuntarily.

when, at first,  i kept my code of silence out of ignorance; then, i held to it dearly out of fear.

as to the conditions and effects in this country...
they are numerous and overwhelming.

why are whites silent?
why are the police silent?
why can't we give validity to the fact that while all lives matter,
black lives need to matter more right now.

we need voices to break the silence.
silence is not an option.

we must stand up for injustice.
the days of unwillful ignorance are gone.
the film has lifted.

like never before, we see in live streaming time.
we aren't completely able to decipher it all with our linear timelines,
 but our responses are beyond real time live...
they are eternal.

willfully remaining silent in the face of racism is being an accomplice.
the code of silence is as harmful to justice as a white hooded horseback rider.

white friends and family...
white police officers everywhere...
white leaders, politicians, and law makers...

break your code of silence with truth.
replace fear with love.
allow your peace to beckon out as a light into the worthy anger of night.

there will be a price to breaking the code,
believe me. believe them.
but every life is worthy of that price.

change happens on a personal level.
the code of silence must be broken on a national, state, and local level.

it will start with me...
and you.

if, like me, you have decided your realm of influence must be reached...
you are ready to break the code of silence.

five simple things you can do to speak up:

1. stop talking.
listen. read. research. pray. learn.
your voice will depend upon these things, not merely your opinions.

2. talk to your children about race issues and current events.
leave out all your opinions to start.
explain both sides from each perspective.
let your child talk.
remember to base your conversation in love, truth, and justice.
kids need to trust that love wins.
show them when it doesn't.
they need to understand our Creator's intentions towards the sanctity of life.
explain to them how things can be better if things were done differently.

3. my next move...wear clothing that says what you believe.

we've heard the saying...
put your money where your mouth is.
since, for the most part, this is an awkward topic to approach...just go ahead and say it up front.
wearing a black lives matter shirt is a peaceful way of saying...
 black lives aren't mattering like they should.
although a one-sided conversation, you could be surprised as to where your garb might lead you.

4. start small.
challenge an idea. challenge a picture. challenge your friend. challenge your family.
be polite and kind.
but speak the truth.
keep it simple.
be wise.
thank the person for the dialogue.
don't apologize for what you believe.
learning from experience,..
perhaps your public challenge could be done privately?
don't bash...raise a question.
or simply say, "i can't agree." or "that really saddens me."
your small initiative will lead to bigger.

5. remain confident and assured.
you will speak simply and quietly. sometimes boldly and unwarranted.
and then you'll feel afraid.
you might not get the response you were hoping for.
i recently told my kids,
"i wish doing the right thing always felt good."
when you give voice to truth...
ugliness will rise up.
it will try to intimidate you, throw you on the ground, and make you afraid.
it will try to silence you again.
this is what your black equals have been experiencing for centuries here.
you can do it, too.
this is not new and it is certainly normal.
stand up and stand strong.

with quiet conviction we stand.
and with bold assurance we must speak.
your words are important,
they are vital.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

teaching them "NO"

recently, i've been reading a book with my kids.

one of the chapters is on teaching your child the art of saying, "no, thank you."
to be polite.
to show kindness to the giver.
and to be appreciative even if you don't want to accept the token.

the chapter also addresses times when a strong, "NO," is in order.

while i want my kids to be polite, kind, thoughtful, and sincere most of the time,
i also must teach them to be strong in their "NO's" when the proper time arises.

like, obviously, stranger danger.
or people you know who tell you to do something that is wrong or makes you feel uncomfortable.

are we comfortable with saying NO, too?

besides with my kids,
"no" is not a comfortable word for me.

fast forward to grown up.
fast forward to current events.
racial tensions.
america 2016.
fast forward past all our parental rhetoric and best intentions.

is it ethically acceptable for people to yell, "NO, NO, WE WON'T GO!"

it depends, right?
if it is stranger danger.
if those someones are making you feel ugly and uncomfortable.
if those people are out to harm you rather than do you good.

 a woman is walking on a trail and gets grabbed and pulled behind a bush.
her rights and body are being violated.
she yells, "NO."
she struggles.
she fights.
her NO is aggressive.

and for good reason, and we like that.

a black man is sitting in his car and is instantly surrounded by cops and guns and threats...
in a state that is historically substantiated on racism.
his rights and body are being violated.
he yells, "NO"
he struggles.
he fights.
his NO is aggressive.

but we don't like it.

when is non-compliance okay and when is it not?

if the man's non-compliance isn't acceptable simply because his "NO" is directed at a peace officer,
then we have a statute of limitations to our no's.

i get it.
it 's my thing to abide by an ethical and moral code of conduct.
i get the role of law enforcement.

when we find someone, anyone, including a police officer...
asking us to do something we know is for our harm and not good.

it is a misconception that police officers are above the law or are the law.

there are so many correctable problems in our country right now.
they are correctable with...

the best possible solution would be for people over the perpetrator to tell them NO.
to protect the victim.
but what if everyone is afraid to say NO?
only one person is left to yell NO...
and usually it is too late.

i know i'm simplifying all of this.
but isn't it meant to be simple?

kindness, truth, justice, and love.
and NO when it isn't those things.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

moving on.

time is marching on.
and we can't help but step in pace.

it has been some time since my last post...
excluding the one i published two months ago and quickly took down.
the post was personal, maybe too personal.
and maybe i'll post it again soon.

i'm personal.

i'm not much in this world.
there isn't much to my name and i don't have a long list of accomplishments.
pretty much the only thing i have...
is personal.

how does a little, personal shelly...
make great, big, and bold accomplishments.

by being personal.

i want to touch the world.
i want to be with people.
to help, to hold, to laugh, to cry.
to listen.

and it all happens by being personal.
 my personal mission.

one of my personal expressions is writing.
and i've decided to pick it back up.

so maybe the blog will change a bit...
from all the things i am doing,
to all the things i want to be.

each of us has a voice.
and when we all speak at the same time...
it's noisy and confusing.

the written word waits.
it is patient.
it is carefully spoken.
and begs to be heard...
in time.

ribbon in the sky is what i have to live and to leave.

it is my voice. my love. my legacy.
and sweetly, our first dance song.

be your voice. let your words be your legacy.
and may they be the creed you live by.

Stevie Wonder
Oh so long for this night I prayed
That a star would guide you my way
To share with me this special day
Where a ribbon's in the sky for our love
If allowed may I touch your hand
And if pleased may I once again
So that you too will understand
There's a ribbon in the sky for our love
Do Do Do Do Do...
This is not a coincidence
And far more than a lucky chance
But what is that was always meant
Is our ribbon in the sky for our love, love
We can't lose with God on our side
We'll find strength in each tear we cry
From now on it will be you and I
And our ribbon in the sky
Ribbon in the sky
A ribbon in the sky for our love

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

life is a chalkboard.

we began homeschool 2015-16 this past week.
it was nothing short of extraordinary, long, tiring, hard, refreshing, and productive.
let's just say after the first day...
my only comment was,
"169 more days to go!"
by friday, we were running more smoothly, and less tired.
gives us a week or two...
and we'll be in our game!

this little cutie is also a rascal.
she loves attention,
and dislikes it diverted.
she grabs people's pencils and pokes them.
she rips up math worksheets.
she paints her fingers instead of the paper.
and she has a telegraphic memory.
it really is astonishing.
she's too smart.
nia is full on preschool!

this one is my sleeper-in.
she warms up slowly.
and that's pretty much how she does her arithmetic.
did i mention she's an excellent reader.
 she's amazing.
she is more thoughtful than most girls i know.
which can lend to more drama than most girls i know.
 plus, she could run this home if i couldn't.
my a super second grader!

and just like that...
this guy is a fifth grader.
he's kind. he works super hard. he gets the job done.
he's chill.
and basically i have him working ahead with selah.
basically, i'm excited about josh!
he also likes to tell really long narratives of specific accounts.
just the cliff notes, buddy!

and her!
a full-on middle schooler.
i'm so thankful i still see her smiling!
i see other middle schoolers coming home,
and they are not smiling.
partly her resilient attitude, partly naivety (she refuses to play into girl drama),
and partly because...she just smiles...big.
and i'm so glad she hasn't lost that.
i want to see selah shoot for the stars...
cause she's got it!


life is our chalkboard.
and so it has been for a little-long time.
we began this homeschooling journey seven years ago, which seems like a super long time, but has passed all too quickly.
when we started i was afraid.
afraid i would mess up my kids.
but as each year turns to the next, i am increasingly thankful and ever less frightened for our alternative schooling approach.
although a lot of our work is mundane just like the rest, our growth shows in each individual and our family as a unit.

homeschooling is not easy. and certainly not glamorous.
and when mommas tell me,
"i could never do that."
i think,
"yeah, me neither."

i work against stereotypes.
and culture.
i work against my own fears and the fears others put on us.

i work...
with my kids.
i work against attitudes,
and i work with attitudes.
but i work with my kids,
mostly because,

 i believe in them.

more than money.
or a job.
and certainly,
not because i believe in myself.

and it is work.
hard work.

education is important.
for school this week we are watching the documetary,
on the way to school.
(find it on netflix.)
i want my kids to understand their education is important.
incredibly important.
i want them to be thankful how easily their education comes.

even more,
i want them to have an understanding that this is their world.
they didn't create it...
but they can help make it.
and shape it.
they have a role to play.


life is our chalkboard.
we scribble.
we erase.
we err.
we create.
we learn.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

The Latest and Greatest.

i'm not doing so well on this blogging thing this past year.
often, i miss and miss out on documenting our latest and greatest.
my regrets are simple...
mostly because i know the days are slipping by,
and i want it all recorded...
with a narrative.

 when i feel the memory,
i also will have the written words.
the written word remains...
longer than the moment,
and even longer than the memory.
our simple stories.

it's so hard to give your all each day...
and then have the energy to give voice to those little moments that would otherwise remain silent.
even now,
my baby girl has suddenly come down with a cough in her sleep.
mostly i want to shut this down and go watch or read something.
lay in bed to facebook and everybody else's lives.
because that would just be easier.

but, then...
i would have NOT downloaded these pics sitting on my camera.
and i would NOT have found nia's first selfie.

and so now i know why my lens is blurry in all the other pics!

life is constantly changing.
we are wrapping up summer and starting our 2015-16 school year.
our lives have changed.
we have had a lot of experiences this last year that have dictated our growth.
for the record, i typically like to dictate my own growth.
but, that just isn't how it works.

and our latest and greatest is just today.
in all the glory of growth.
the heartache.
the pain.
the joys.
the laughter and tears.
but mostly in the embrace of these lives that i love with all my heart.
as my children grow, as our love grows, as my marriage grows, as i grow...
i worry less and less about the glory 
and more about the growth.
so our latest and greatest is here...
each and everyday.
documented or not.

and as long as we are growing...
i call that glorious.
but all the more growth.
all the more glory.

we had a wonderful summer of sweet, old-fashioned, boring, long-hot-summer days.
and we needed just that.
i feel a foot taller.
and thirty pounds heavier.
but seriously,
why i gotta grow like that, too!???

sip your summer-ade.
and say adieu to all those good intentions.
 and shout out...
 to all those true-to-life moments. 

put a post-it on our soul.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

summer sesh

and just like that,
it's been a month between posts.

we're just having too much fun around here.
i'm just trying to keep up with all these little (and pre-teen!) people
i have absolutely zero energy to actually talk about it.

we just let it happen.
i do miss my late night, headphones to ears, blogging seshes.

re-entry is a little overwhelming.
until you just do it.
i know, right!?
that's pretty much pretty much all we have to do...
it can be a little overwhelming.

just do it.
make it happen.

 and, one thing at a time.
make productive days, and enjoy the unproductive ones.

so here's to five things we've been doing this summer.
so far.
there's still a whole lot of summer left.

1. sleeping in.
that's right.  we're all about slow mornings around here.
it is amazing.
snoozing until 7:30. uh, sure.
and what's really amazing...
i don't feel any guilt about it.
sure, i'm a little worried about the habit we're forming.
i know every good thing comes to an end.
so why not enjoy it while you've got it!?

2. neighborhood shenanigans.
if you asked me a year ago about living in a neighborhood with kids,
i would have never guessed...
 walkie-talkie 8am morning calls.
the fun begins shortly after.
and sometimes doesn't end until the sun goes down.
sure, it can be a little much.
there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
we now also have mandated quiet times...
otherwise our house is...
 the summer party pad.
ping pong matches all day.
dance parties.
you name it.

my kids summer highlight.
they love their vacation bible school.
games, crafts, skits, friends, and some bible.
oh, and snacks.
they definitely like the snacks.
nia didn't attend, 
but she did act like it and she did allow me to take this picture.
and yes, shortly after this picture was taken she ripped the tail off the giraffe.
ain't no thing...

4. whip this place into shape.
during the school year, our house finds many catch-all spaces.
i consider homeschooling a full-time job during the school year.
as a working mom,
summer becomes a time for me to catch up in all those catch all places.
and organizing for the new school year.
i'm still organizing from a move 8 months ago when we just put stuff somewhere "for now."
well, now is here.
just do the next thing.
my favorite project so far this summer...
chalkboarding my fridge and dishwasher.
yep, so we can doodle to our hearts' content.
its coming together.
thank you very much, summer.

5.  pausing, regrouping, and reflecting.
these past nine months have held a whole lot of life.
and once again,
we are transitioning.
last september my young and vibrant mom,
was diagnosed with a large, inoperable brain tumor.
she immediately went through brain biopsy, which put her into her new normal.
then, she moved in with us during our move and went through brain radiation.
and, again, her new normal.
its normal, but so different than a year ago. so different.
did i mention she and my dad were separated? 
rocky relationships were pretty much always our normal growing up.
and just recently, 
she moved from our home and back to my dad.
i'd like to say this is all good and easy and for the best.
but really,
its hard and complicated and all we can do is hope.
i've finally had some space and time to think...
and sometimes that is harder than just getting through it.
healthy requires processing.
breathing deeply.
and working on hope for the future.
i want to be healthy.
it's kinda important.

one of my summer goals was to blog a whole lot.
that hasn't happened.
neither has...
losing five pounds.
and ten pounds.

our bedroom is finally all nice and perfect and all ours!
my garage is "getting there." 
so is our homeschool stuff.
and the closets.
and this list of five things.
by the way...
 linking up to some fun gals for ol' times sake!

swimming, photography classes, baseball camps, cousins, friends, ice cream sandwiches.
our life is pretty good here in the summer!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

wrapping things up.

so here we are...
 the 2014-15 school year is a wrap.
what a year.

last summer,
i wrote my "i'm so crazy" post.
it has been fun to see this little post consistently shared from week to week around the world...
and i have to assume,
by mutually-minded, fellow crazy homeschoolers.

if only i would have known just how crazy my homeschool world would soon become.
this has been the crazy, hardest homeschool year to date.
and yet,
even on the days i questioned my sanity,
i tried not to second guess.

second guesses usually only stall growth and paralyze positivity.
corrective criticism is imperative to homeschooling...but second guessing typically does no good.

because i do know...
and i have some dang good kids...
who are learning just as much about life as academic facts.

last summer i prepped with all my best intentions,
my children's academics for the coming year.
and as most of you know,
early in the school year we fell upon a series of events that would supersede my best intentions,
and would largely shape our school year.
life skills became our curriculum.
humanities in terminal cancer and family crisis.
sociology majored as we have been loving on a toddler who has faced trauma and re-transition in yet another move in her life.
crazy just never let up this year.

sometimes when i'm working out at the gym,
charles gnarly's "crazy" will pop on.
and i smile.
because i had no idea what it would all mean when i wrote that post.
homeschool isn't just crazy.
what i'm learning is...
homeschool works while crazy happens.

learning life as it happens. in real time.

crazy happens.
and homeschool gets harder.
and loses focus.
and sometimes it makes my momma and educator's heart...worry.
sometimes i get scared.
because i'm not in control.
life is.
and how will this all affect my kids?
their education?
their success?

they are my priority.
their mind, body, spirit.
it all matters to momma.

parenting is the hardest thing i've ever had to do.
for us, homeschooling is part of our parenting journey.

and its not only crazy...
it can also be terrifying.

the honest part of homeschooling is that...

i get scared.
because everything is crazy.
i'm scared i'm in over my head.
i'm scared my kids didn't get enough academically this year.
i'm scared i've been too hard on them,
and i'm scared i have let things slip...
because i've just been trying to hang on.
i'm afraid we lost ground.
i'm afraid my oldest might misuse "their and there" 
and "your and you're" when she's casually writing notes to her friends.
i'm afraid my 4th grader has been bored academically.
i'm scared my 2nd grader isn't ready for my standards for 3rd grade.
and i'm terrified of my little toddler when she's left alone for a few minutes.
 she's capable of many great and curious things.
but then again,
 i am reminded of the greatest lesson i have been learning on this homeschooling journey.
i am learning to hold all things with an open hand.

i am learning to hold my children with an open hand.
their education, their interest, their hearts, their passions.
i am finding this is more scary than i would like it to be.
i'd rather hang on tight and never let go.
but i would only stifle them.
their minds, bodies, and spirits.

and i am finding they grow to unimaginable heights
 when i give up my control of educating.
they are smarter than i thought.
braver than i knew.
and more confident because i believe in them.

selah practicing her 6th grade graduation speech in front of her neighbor friends.

i'm so done with this last school year.
but it is one of those, we'll never forget.
the hardest are often the most valuable.

can i get an amen!?

summer 2015,
here we come! 

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