Gorilla Parenting… (and our obsession with social media debates)

Last week, like so many others, I learned from social media most people are parenting experts… gorilla experts… or experts at parenting gorillas.

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My 6th grader learned about Harambe and the 3 year old boy who fell into his enclosure, during one of her classes. Her brilliant teacher used the situation as a teaching moment, to set off discussion and debate. They watched a video, dialogued and shared opinions, and analyzed different angles of the situation, as all thoughtful 6th graders do.

That afternoon, she came home and we began to discuss. I had also watched a brief video of Harambe with the toddler. Our discussion continued and I reminded my kids… one version, one person, one angle never tells the whole story. Her main question was the thoughtful and reasonable question many have had – could Harambe have been tranquilized instead of killed? Was there a better way the situation could have been handled?

So. I gave my kids a few thoughtful ideas. A few of my briefly-perfect-parent / turned briefly-gorilla-expert opinions…

As a genuine disclaimer, I haven’t spent any time with gorillas at zoos, or in the wild recently… I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I do imagine, as many believe – gorillas display behavior, much like humans… we can not be sure what they will do when they are agitated or people are yelling around them? OR if they are shot by a tranquilizer… there is no guarantee they might not react uncontrollably and possibly freak out!?

The tranquilizer could have agitated Harambe – and when I am agitated I usually lose my mind. I don’t have a lot of patience when people are yelling around me, and I don’t think I’d handle stress any better if I had a been shot with a tranquilizer.

I have parented 3 monkeys for 12 years… When my kids are fighting they can lose their ability to act rationally within seconds. One minute they’ll be playing as best friends and the next minute, they lose their minds and start hitting one other.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since the death of Harambe and in my mind, one question is still ringing — Why did this story cause such national outrage and reaction? As with many questions, there are deeper questions to be answered…

Does your Cincinnati Zoo membership still have value …?  

And then there are the “What if?” questions… these cause the cycle of debate to go around and around…

What if… The parents were hoping their kid fell into the gorilla enclosure for attention. That’s sick, but okay. The parents need to talk to Jesus about that and find attention in healthier ways…

What if… The boy died or been seriously injured at the hands of Harambe? The zoo likely would have put Harambe to sleep.

What if… The zoo shot Harambe out to simply avoid being sued by the little boys parents?

What if… The zoo has had it out for Harambe and they were just waiting for their opportunity to take him out. Yep. That’s probably it.

What if… The zoo WANTED to kill one of their animals, which attracts VISITORS to their ZOO in order to see and make MONEY. Yes. This makes sense to me.

What if… Many are upset because they loathe zoos to begin with? They are not my favoirite spot to drag my kids to either, but my kids love animals. So as a loving parent, I buy the obligatory-yearly zoo membership.

Or. What if… the outcome would have been a Daniel in the Lions den turned ‘Toddler in the Gorilla enclosure’ miracle. That would have been amazing!

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But these “What Ifs” don’t change anything. They keep us in the cycle of social media debate – myself included!

While it is a wonderful and marvelous world where we can share opinions and feelings on everything from gorillas, to parenting, to boycotting zoos and boycotting parents… accidents happen everyday. Decisions we make everyday as perfect parents and perfect gorilla experts affect those around us. We have to live with these decisions.

The ideal outcome would have been all lives saved. This goes back to the VALUE of LIFE ~ Human vs Animal life… The debate is now which LIFE has more value? #silverbacklivesmatter #toddlerlivesmatter…  the debate is now over these two and which life matters more. All life is valuable. Although it is sad Harambe was killed in this situation, a national debate was not needed. There are many other lives needing our protection and our attention, and many other unjust situations occurring right now across our nation, we could be spending time fighting for.

So while some are crying “Justice for Harambe!” or “Justice for better parenting!”, we are distracted by the debate. Let me know when your child falls into a gorilla pit because you weren’t watching or they were being curious. Let me know how that goes while you “wait and see” what might happen. Hopefully ALL lives are spared. Until then – peace out. Let’s let Jack Hannah -and the other zoo experts can handle the “little kids falling into Gorilla enclosure situations”.

Yes. RIP Harambe. Also. RIP our opinions… our inability to control… RIP our social media cycles of debate and distraction. There is a real world in need of our undivided attention. 

 

 

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Worship and Worry ~ A Tale of Two Sisters

Worship and Worry ~ A Tale of Two Sisters. Luke chapter 10:38-42  ~ The tale of Mary and Martha. One sister, Martha invited Jesus to her house. Yet, she is worried, distracted by many things.  Frustrated she has no help getting the meal ready, angry her sister Mary is doing ‘nothing’… Yet she is doing something… she is doing the one thing that matters. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teaching.

If I could walk in the sandals of these two women, I can see myself in both of them. I am not easily caught up in housework and fuss. I can easily let go of the daily tasks, to-do-lists and leave the house-mess. But. I am still easily caught up in the net of worry. I am distracted by many things. I might not be actively avoiding tasks for the sake of time with Jesus, but I am actively accomplishing much worry.

I am sitting at the feet of Jesus, yet immersed in worry while I’m there. I am actively sitting at His feet, but worry is looming while my soul is longing to be engaged. I am distracted by the many things I am not accomplishing while I am longing to hear the heartbeat of Jesus. This is not where Jesus wants me to be.

“It’s impossible to worship and to worry at the same time.”

I sang this phrase in worship over our church a while ago. This Truth saturated the room thru a lyric He stirred in my heart. I can not be fully in the presence of God, in worship, and worry at the same time. I must choose. 

I know the truth of both Mary and Martha. I have experienced both. I have been overcome by His presence, fully engaged in worship while doing the dishes and cleaning toilets. And I been embraced by His arms, settled in His love, simply Being with Him and doing nothing else. 

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Today I was given a gift of opportunity. I went running. walking. strutting… whatever you want to call it… huffing and puffing… I slow down. I see. She’s standing there. Beside her car, cigarette in one hand. Leaning back against the passenger door. I hear three words: Abused, hungry, rejected. “Hi” I greet her. She responds with a “hello” as well. This was a moment. God was opening a door to show His love to her. But I walk on…  I’m in a hurry. I am distracted by many things. I need to finish my run, walk, putter… I only have a set amount of time before I must be home. Before I need to pick up the kids from school. Pay the bills. Finish the chores… my mind is spinning.

I keep walking, 1 minute passes, maybe even less. Damn you, Time! And the lie I believe there is a lack of it. I turn around. Screw time restraints. Forget the rest of my putter… I stop. I turn back. I missed it! She’s gone. She’s driving away.

I won’t miss this gift again. I long to be in a routine of worship. I wrongly believed I was. It changed oh so subtly. I have been in a routine of worry. In worry I miss worship. In worry I miss Jesus. In worry I miss the gift to show His love. In worry I miss His presence. In one minute I missed her. 

God still loves me. This is not a beat myself over the head, I suck at following Jesus moment to bemoan and drive me into despair. This is a moment to listen. To learn. To sit at the feet of Jesus. In worship there is never a lack of time. In His presence, He fuels all that we need. In distraction and worry, everything can be stolen. This is a moment of repentance, humility and growth. I am learning ~ I never want to miss the One Thing again.

This is a moment to share. If this encourages you, pass it on! I am thankful for your reading.

In Him, Leslie

I’m no longer a slave to fear… I am a child of God

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Worship broke out in an incredible way on Sunday… Spontaneous songs from the hearts of our people rose up to heaven and touched God’s ears. A month ago, I sang over our church a phrase the Lord spoke to my spirit… “This is the day, You have marked us with a new sound”. Sounds have been stirring, waiting for their time of release. Sunday was that day… and this is my feeble attempt to share the beauty of what we experienced.

We sang “King of My Heart“, “Where I Belong“, and “Great are You Lord” …”It’s Your breath in our lungs as we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise…” Our praise was literally POURED OUT in a tangible way! Voices filled up the room. We waited in a space of silence. To some it possibly felt like an eternity. Honestly, it can hardly be explained… yet the words sprang forth… spontaneous worship from myself and co-worship leader and the congregation… God began to stir up phrases in our hearts and minds…

<<<SPACE>>>

We settled into space. We settled into a time where the music volume was minor and the presence of God enveloped our space… we waited… I sang “I won’t let the rocks cry out in my place. I will worship… if God is giving you a song, sing it out.” we waited… Sounds of humming and soft singing swept across the room…

We tasted the goodness of God {Psalm 34:8}

When I’m leading worship, at times I look out in the audience and ‘check’ how people are responding. Are they connected? Or… My eyes are closed. Tight… this can’t be right. Am I connected? I have to see… Is anyone freaking out about the space? the spontaneous? the physical expression of worship happening across the room? …I sneak a peek. I squeeze one eye open 😉 not really. I open my eyes for a moment. Only to shut them again. Eyes open or closed, I am connected. To My Father.

Then we sang “No Longer Slaves” “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a CHILD OF GOD”. Whoa. I shouted. I danced. I proclaimed this TRUTH over myself and over our church! I am a child of God. We are children of God! I was worshipping with everything in me. I can only imagine what it looked like for David in 2 Samuel 6:14, but I can picture myself in his good company, as he danced before the Lord with all his might.

He’s inviting you to dance… May we pursue the presence of living God as we worship, and may we be willing to fall into His loving arms and dance with Him. You are a child of God. He loves you.

In Him, Leslie

*Thoughts, comments, prayer requests? I would love to hear from you! And feel free to share our stories at halfwrittenrecords.com

The Ghost of Christmas Past

It happened. AGAIN. The Ghost of Christmas Past came back to haunt me. AGAIN. Stress… turned into Sickness… turned into Frustration… turned into Anger… turned into Despair. They were all present, wrapped up in the middle of my living room on Christmas day… Uninvited, by the way. But they were settled in my heart, locked in to my thoughts and exposed in my actions. Sure. I told myself — (hashtag) ###ChooseJOY. Yea, right. It doesn’t work like that. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and #Joy was nowhere to be found… or chosen. I was so pissed. Another holiday ruined. The Ghost of Christmas past haunting me again. I could not #wish for my holidays to be merry and bright, more than I could hope for santas’ fat ass to come down our chimney. I try and ###ChooseJOY every year. And every year seems like something f*cks it all up. Sorry. Not sorry. These were my real. raw. transparent. truthful feelings. #Exposed.

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Thankfully, Christmas morning was lovely. Coffee and waffles, warmth and cuddles. Although I blew my nose most of the way thru the kids opening their gifts, it was wonderful. I took a few pictures, capturing moments of #happiness. We skyped with family far away, blowing kisses at the screen and sharing digital hugs. As we cleaned up from ‘Christmas’, and the mountains of kleenex I had made, the walls began to close in again and I had a feeling the Ghost of Christmas past might make a visit. #Seriously, can I make it thru one Christmas without some kind of a meltdown?! Yet that is exactly what I needed. An honest with God, good old fashion meltdown. The Ghost of Christmas past drove me to my knees and to prayer. I was at my own end and in the most vulnerable place I could be. #blessed. That last hashtag was #sarcasm. sorry, couldn’t help myself. #Truth.

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#Seriously. Enough with the hashtags. On with the story. After dinner, I unraveled. I went into my room… and bawled like a baby. I wept thru my emotions and laid my feelings out before Him. God spoke gently to my soul. There was no guilt or shame for my ridiculous actions. No ‘I-told-you-so’, ‘get over yo-sorry-self’ or judgement of my reasons for unravelling. He is a good good Father, full of kindness, mercy and patience for His daughter.

He whispered one word. Grace. 

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In a moment with tears spilled out, with honesty of heart, with one word, He spoke Grace over me. Grace over my feelings, Grace over my thoughts, Grace over my actions. Grace over my family. Grace over our Christmas.

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The Ghost was gone because Grace took its place. Our Christmas was redeemed. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and a renewing hike the next day. We can honestly say we had a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Gifts are being enjoyed, memories are being treasured, and the kids are loving fighting over their new bean bag chairs.

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Before the brawl broke out…

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Selah enjoying popping bubbles, mostly

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thanks for reading friends 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who has been visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. So fess up and feel free to share your stories. If you need Grace, there is an overflow awaiting you… God is always giving His gifts, even after the holidays 🙂 The end, for now… I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

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O Taste and See that the Lord is good {dispelling depression during the holidays}

Those moments come… and you hope they go. You hope they flee more quickly than they settled over your head, your heart, your soul. The darkness creeps in again and you find yourself lost inside your own thoughts… and numb. When in a season, meant to be \\Full\\ of \\Thanks\\ you find yourself struggling to be Thankful… You know it is not the TRUTH. You know the TRUTH will set you FREE but the lies have a hold and the desire to BE set FREE seems too far out of reach so you turn numb.

When His whisper sweeps over you softly and says ~ Speak up. Speak out. Speak Truth. Speak MY Name. The darkness will flee. MY light will overcome it.

Freedom comes, but with a price. What were meant to be Joy-Filled Memories are overshadowed by the lies that settled in. Regret becomes your default reaction. The JOY you have is being assaulted by a familiar enemy. Feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment and sorrow swell until your Truth is distorted, and the pattern repeats.

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This sounds depressing and it is. I have been here before. Depression had come to my door, let itself in, and settled down for a visit. At my table. In my heart. More times than I would like to admit. No one wants to be depressed during the season of Thanks, but there are some who are. There are some, like me. We know Truth. We know who He is. We know what we carry, and we fight. We fight for freedom. And we win, but not without a battle. Not without a cry. Not without a cost. Not without a sacrifice.

The way I see it the lies we believe are tailored to who (we know) we are. They are fiery darts, custom made to attack our very core and distort the Truth of our identity… You’re not good enough… You’ll never have enough time… You’ll never feel healthy again… Here you go again – feeling down for no real reason… What do you have to be depressed about anyway?

I see the faces set before me, the JOY set before me. My family, my friends, my Savior. Countless reasons to GIVE THANKS, Yet for a time it will not shake. But I will not be silent. When I speak HIS name, darkness flees. Freedom Comes. Truth remains. Forgiveness settles in.

The greatest threat to depression is a VOICE. When you speak out, it is no longer hidden. The light overwhelms the darkness. Peace overwhelms my soul. Our greatest weapon (to protect our souls) is our WORSHIP.  When I worship. When I sing. Psalm 30:11-12 “…You have turned my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

Joy has come and dispelled the depression once again. I have tasted and seen the Lords goodness. I have tasted and seen His love, His freedom, His peace, His forgiveness. I am grateful I can indulge in who He is this season. His love is better than any Thanksgiving Feast. Even better than the green bean casserole and apple crisp 🙂

Have you struggled with depression? Does it seem to settle in at your table during the Holidays? You are not alone and I would love to hear from you! Please share and know YOU ARE LOVED! In Him, Leslie