Together for Hope in Oklahoma: Transforming Rural Oklahoma

Jason Coker with Together for Hope visited my church NorthHaven Baptist in Norman, Oklahoma today. When my family first joined Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas in late 2017, our first family mission trip was to the Mississippi Delta in early 2018 with what was then called Delta Hands for Hope—now Together for Hope. This is where my family met both Jason and Jakob, and we became friends. Strange how quickly Together for Hope is showing up again now that we are in Oklahoma—with my friends Jakob and Jason. Y’all, there is something weird happening, and I like it.

The mission trip to the Mississippi Delta was my first experience looking at rural poverty more intimately and learning what was going on in these areas.

Before I go further, let me back up a minute.

If you have followed me for as little as five minutes, you know the election of Donald Trump was traumatizing for me. I felt betrayed. So betrayed, in addition to the soccer betrayal, we changed our lives completely around in Texas. Changed churches and schools—and I learned a lot about our racist, classist and sexist systems and decided to be a change maker in the effort to dismantle these toxic principalities. The battle is not against flesh and blood.

Rural America came up as a driving force for the election of Donald Trump—in addition to rich people who wanted their taxes cut. Cannot leave them out, because I have a lot less empathy there. But rural America, this one I did want to hear and learn from. I graduated from a rural school, so I am not completely disconnected from this sect of our population. By listening, I realized we are often not listening to people around us when they are telling us they are hurting and they are scared. We see other issues as more important. I hear that. I have experienced that feeling myself.

I heard a man in an interview on CNN say they voted for Trump because he would at least voice their pain. Experts asked him if it mattered that Trump was lying and just playing on their pain. The man said this: Just someone acknowledging what we are going through—-Highlighting we exist—that was enough for me.

Y’all, my bleeding heart could hear that. And it made me sad he voted for someone was just playing on his pain to get elected for this to get noticed.

Something Jason talked about on this trip was how NAFTA exacerbated rural poverty. This is when the jobs left, and we did nothing to prepare rural America for the losses they were about to experience. I understand there was probably no way around joining NAFTA, but what I see time and time again is we do not create something new to help people transition when their lives have to change. We think people can just move and they can do it on their own without any help. We shame people for needing help. We all need help.

This should give us a lot more empathy for those on the border. I am sure most would rather not have moved!!!

So, today, we talked about Oklahoma’s rural poverty. It is not small and it needs our attention.

Friends, are you aware that destroying public schools is going to make poverty even worse? This is my voice now.

I feel called to Oklahoma for such a time as this. This seems like the worst time to be here. Who in Oklahoma is going to hire a woman like me in ministry? And Jake going into the public schools right when Ryan Walters is elected and is already working to implement a hostile plan that no one wants and could destroy public education—and the most impoverished will be destroyed first.

As I mentioned earlier, I met Jakob Topper and Jason Coker on this trip to rural Mississippi. I was nowhere near knowing I was going to be going to seminary at that point. I was going to be able to see myself as someone who can be called, and get the credentials, to rise up to the task at hand. But it happened, and Jakob was the second person (after George) to ask me if I think I might be called. He asked me on this Mississippi trip.

So yes, I believe God is at work. I believe what I cannot see right now, and I am so glad to be here for such a time as this.

Now for 2018 memory lane.

Gen X Midlife Crisis

I’m still reading this book and feeling seen. I’m just now getting through a crisis, and I wasn’t alone. Like scripture, this book is providing comfort in community. I’m not the only one who’s experienced this crumbling.

What Gen Xers have gone through is a lot. We were supposed to have it all and do better than our parents. We were under the microscope on so many things and we overworked ourselves—at work and at home. And we’ve lived through a lot of trauma—9/11 happened right when I started work and things have never really stabilized since.

Reading this part in the book, this rings so true. This woman had gone to Target when her baby was really young after asking the doc if it was okay. The baby immediately started screaming and judgement abounded from the people in the story. As she was paying, everything fell out of her purse and she just broke down and cried at the register.

This is not just happening in parenting. This public falling apart bc the pressure of everything is too much, and everyone just watching—or turning away bc it’s too much. No one told us what to do or this could happen, and we are crumbling under the pressure with little communal support.

But a few people show up like the person did for the author in this example. May the ones who do see and respond be the cornerstone of our new order I believe we are building.

Gen X is a generation ready to lead. We know we aren’t going to have it all. We know the grind is killing us. Now let’s sit down and brainstorm better ideas.

Intersectionality with Jacinda Ardern

Listening to Pantsuit Politics talk about the surprising resignation of Jacinda Ardern. It was an interesting comparison they made with Nancy Pelosi’s retirement and the possibility of Joe Biden running again—people of advanced age who have gone on longer than they should in public office.

But I want to take this back to my post earlier this week about the New midlife crisis that’s hitting Gen X women. We are burned out. Out of gas. We hit the limit of our humanity and are walking way.

I have not had the opportunity to serve publicly, but I’ve been serving my whole life. In ways my resume will never show, and it’s what would make me a trustworthy leader. Not perfect, but you wouldn’t need to question my intention. I’m also burned out. Without the crisis that hit my family at the end of my seminary career, I was already begging for rest. I did not want to create a resume, apply for awards, or prove myself to anyone else again. I had hit my limit.

In seminary I faced the following: my spiritual trauma—I read scripture I never wanted to read again and now I can preach healing; I got a therapist and worked on my personal healing; Covid hit just as I was hitting my stride, and like so many others, I came down with what I now know is chronic loneliness; I preached in front of professors in Perkins chapel (I never thought I would preach and that was a BIG deal); I helped create the Baptist House of Studies; I worked another job; I was a parent; etc.

I was done. And a crisis came. It was so unfair.

I think it’s worth noting this intersectionality. Women in their early 40s are calling it in.

Yes, we need therapists and behavior specialists. You know what else we need? A more just society.

This burnout is not a personal one. It’s societal. We need people on the front end preventing the need for so many therapists. They can’t meet this demand. We need work that creates the secure attachments and trust—not just responses to all the breaking of attachments and trust.

Facebook Series on Love, Friendship, Being Seen, and Seeking Understanding: Part 2 of Post 3

Post #3–Part 2

How These Truths I Am Sharing Can Also Be Used by the Opponent To Prop Up Anti-Life Agenda

Okay, finally to the post I have been trying to get to for days but more background info kept popping up that felt more important to share first. Yesterday’s post was raw and hard. It was also carefully thought through and edited many times. I am sure you can find lots of grammar errors and edits that might still be needed, but these posts are coming from my heart. I am editing the emotions, because in the past I overshared. I do not regret it, though. We have been a nation/state/city/faith organization/institution that has held way too much back to uphold the status quo. Don’t rock anyone’s boat. Finding the right amount to share that is good for me spiritually but also still challenging the status quo is really hard. Overcorrection comes first. I have worked hard to get to this point where I have a little more wisdom and critical thinking in place before sharing. I want you to know these posts are carefully put together. I am not just throwing around my opinions and reactions with no regard to how you or I might feel afterwards. I want these posts to be healing, not destructive. To promote restoration and reparation, not further division.

I shared yesterday’s post to amplify how invisible I have felt for years. And now I know I am not alone. For the longest time I thought it was honorable. I was taught it was honorable in church. Women do things for others and do not need any credit. But apparently men do, and there is no problem with that. OY! Most women, girls, men, and boys are taught this. The gender spectrum is completely erased because power does not want something to exist that is not binary. It thrives off either/or. But I say this: We are SAVED by it!

This is a life or death situation, and it needs to be taken more seriously. I want to be known and heard. Women are finding a lot more information about our healthcare (like menopause) that probably was known long, long ago but that knowledge was lost because—-Patriachy. Patriarchy is the deadliest principality worldwide, and most churches, even progressive ones, still abide by its rules. It is the air we breathe.

It is time to take how deadly patriarchy is to all of us more seriously.

I was asking a leader from my former church here in Norman about how the church is doing now. When I ask this question, I actually care. When I hear struggles, I am saddened. I have fond memories of this church, despite bad theology, because I was deeply connected to the people. They saved our lives through so many trials by staying by our side. As you can see, I am still connected to them. And it has been years since we last talked, but it felt like yesterday.

Here is what I learned, and if I was someone who was taken seriously by the church, I would offer my expertise. I have studied what he shared as the problem.

The church, like so many others, is struggling after Covid shutdown. This person believes the shutdown is causing the problem with people not returning, because the churches that did not shut down are fairing better.

I have a response to this, and it is a response with research behind it. This response was not available to me in the moment because he was not asking me for it, but I am going to share it here. This is how my previous posts can be weaponized for anti-life agenda.

But first let me say this and ask for your help in uplifting the churches that did the right thing and shut down to save lives:

I want to give a shout out to every church I have attended as a member (well, I am not sure about Jenks—maybe not that one—correct me if it did) who shut down for an extended period of time during Covid. I am so proud of you. I hope my readers will send a message of encouragement to you too. It was not easy and it was costly, but it was the right thing to do. The fallout, ex. mental health problems, was going to happen anyway because death was happening by staying open! And our most vulnerable members needed our friendship in this matter—ableism was being exposed by our responses too. We are a nation that has not taken public health seriously—there will be another pandemic, friends. I am a leader who can face reality and trust God AND the people who are working in their fields faithfully to keep us as safe as they possibly can. I also have no problem with the information changing as they learn more. We are all doing the best we can in the moment with the information that we have in the moment. We are supposed to change when we know more!

Because we have not taken public health seriously—we were warned about a vaccine needed long before Covid got here—the shutdown was the only option we had to save the most lives. I understand the disconnection this caused for people, especially in nursing homes, and it was tragic. But the thing is, nursing homes was also one of the places where death was ravaging during Covid. It was an impossible situation, and something we need to keep reflecting on because we WILL face another pandemic. I do not say this to cause fear, but to ground us to be more reasonable next time. To trust people who are doing the best they can and are trained in a field that you are not. There is plenty of disagreement in the science community; let them work it out with their peer-reviewed research. And let them change as the data reveals new things.

I do that with my theology all the time! It is not a lack of faith; it is abundant faith to change. There is NO certainty in any field. My job is to help people embrace that reality. I like what Pappy, Father Joe Ted Miller, says: God is the something more we keep seeking and finding. We will never know everything, but when we know more, there will be more to discover after that. Embrace it. Life is a journey. We have to face hard things about life too.

Okay to my response now. Here is what I would say:

Your numbers declining is not Covid. Covid may have been the catalyst for the decline, but it is not the cause. The churches that did not shutdown understand that; that is why they did not shut down. They know they rely on the system of oppression for connection as Kate Johnson talks about in her book “Radical Friendship.” They did not want their people at home rethinking life and discovering some things are not right—“Rest is Resistance” by Tricia Hersey has a word here. You are blessed because you did the right thing and are discovering changes need to be made to become a better friend to your members and to the community. Winning in the faith world is different than how the world defines it.

Maybe losing is winning. I have been saying that for a while.

Facebook Series on Love, Friendship, Being Seen, and Seeking Understanding: Part 1 of Post 3

Post #3 — How these truths I am sharing can be used by the opponent/s to support things that are anti-life. I am going to go after mega and conservative churches. I hope you will listen, because this is not hate. I am saying we can do better, and it is time for us to lay down our defenses and seek understanding and compassion.

This post is coming in two parts. I think these posts are easier to read in smaller chunks, even though they are still long. What I am doing cannot be condensed at this point. It needs the long form for the journey. This is a marathon to gain clarity and deeper understanding—and, hopefully, continued curiosity throughout life so we can continue to grow and heal.

This is actually short form when you consider I probably should be writing a research paper on this. I might just do that one day. Anyone want to pay me to do that?

Part 1 of Post #3:

I am reading “Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis”—Yes, another book. I want to know what is going on with me. Why do I feel the way I feel and why am I doing all this damn work unpaid. It is dedicated to middle-aged women of America. We are not imagining it, and it is not just us.

I come from Generation X. A generation lost between Boomers and Millenials—our parents and the kids we babysat. The reason we are called Gen X is because no one knew quite what to do with us. We were deemed unknowable. (SEE, THIS IS NOT IN MY HEAD) We are America’s neglected middle child. We have been hit hard financially, have tons of debt, and are squeezed between aging parents and kids. Here is the thing that really resonated with me: Gen X WOMEN were an experiment in crafting higher-achieving, more fulfilled, more well-rounded version of the American woman. In our midlife, we are finding this experiment is mostly a failure. Yes, women from the Boomer generation blazed the trail for women’s achievement, but for Gen X it became the expectation. We were supposed to have it all. We were infected with a virulent strain of this “having it all” virus.

Meanwhile, no norms were changed in what was expected of us in the home either. We are tired!

It is funny because you can look at me and say I come from the privileged end of this, and in some ways yes. But we used our privilege to our detriment. The career I was in was killing me and I would have never seen my kids had I stayed in the oil and gas industry. Jake is a school teacher and teachers are paid low by design. It is a feminized profession that was supposed to be supplemental income to higher-paying husbands. So when I decided to get out of a decent-paying profession that would have probably laid me off anyway because jobs were being sent elsewhere, I felt like a failure. I was not the woman who would have it all. And people will question my decision here. But I wanted to live.

I had no idea this feeling had been culturally encoded in me.

Jake and I have worked so many jobs and struggled to get by, and I have felt like what I do does not mean much because it is valued so little by society. Jake has never made me feel this way—it is culture. Jake tells me all the time he could not do what he does without me. In regard to my family, I am so grateful. I went through a storm to know what to look for in a partner and I am so glad I found Jake. Societally, I have felt like this, though: I am a helper who is behind the scenes who does not really belong. I feel like I disappoint people more than I please because I think people see my possible potential, but it does not look like what is expected. So what I do now is NOT the gift.

Does that make sense? I am saying this with deep compassion. This is culturally indoctrinated in us all.

When I say we used our privilege to our detriment, I mean detriment. Even though Jake was the official person in place as an employee with a soccer club, we both invested heavily and it cost us a lot of time and it was not great pay. But we loved it. If we could have done it for free, we would have. We had to have something to supplement education pay and my bookkeeping pay (That is another post). We even took on 3 extra soccer teams for free when a travesty happened. We should have said no, but no one knew what to do in a moment like that. We were all traumatized and lost. I do not blame any of us for that. We thought of others first, because that is what culture had taught us was honorable—and we believed it to be right at the time. But we were shaken and extremely sad.

Here is what we learned when we put others first when we should have taken our own breath:

Jake was cruelly attacked by a parent. They sent a letter to everyone on the team and the soccer board after a game because we, the club, did not have it immediately figured out what we were going to do post this terrible ordeal. They never asked how we were feeling—we were literally dying inside. And all they were really pissed about was Jake playing the kids equal time—at 8 years old. It cost us a very important futsal game.

The silence from everybody after that letter was sent was probably the most traumatizing thing of all. But I get it, no one knows what to do when things get uncomfortable and it feels like it is all falling apart.

May I suggest this: Please do not be silent. Do not let your friends suffer. Bullies only bully when you let them.

That was the first struggle where Jake was attacked and the system wanted silence. Guess who broke the silence?


I wrote the person back and let them have it. I told them this was our precious time being given for free so we can figure things out. We have all the kids’ best interest at heart and want them ALL to learn the game and enjoy it. And to just stop with the ”I have a star” threat. We have been through that before and they are welcome to leave.

Then it happened again in a different way. Once again giving help when ASKED to someone in need. A system thought it could treat my family however it wants in an unjust moment. The system was being reactionary instead of being reflective or informed. I had to rise up, again.

It was surreal watching people’s reaction in the system seeing an unknown woman rise up and say “NO!” I am informed, and I actually pay attention. I will seek and find. I have a depth of wisdom that leads me not only to wisdom but also deep compassion. And that includes for me and my family. I will fight for us just as hard as I do anyone else.

But y’all, this is why I can’t sleep. I have been invisible and seen as some sideline helper who really does not matter. Until I have to fight and say that I do; that we do too.

I am tired.

This is background info for the next post.

Facebook Series on Love, Friendship, Being Seen, and Seeking Understanding: Post 2

This wasn’t intended to be post #2. But Spirit leads, so here we go with this one.

From Radical Friendship:

Science is now voicing how important & necessary friendship is. Loneliness has been referred to as a global health pandemic by several world governments. It decreases life expectancy even more than anxiety, depression, or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

But when friendships are weak, the cost isn’t limited to our personal health. Families, communities, and even social movements become more vulnerable to outside stressors when friendships erode. Talking to the healing and justice director at Black Lives Matter Global Network, they said this: “how we protect and care for each other along the way (to liberation), how we come through connected and stronger at the other end, are possibly the most critical and meaningful questions we face.”

Marginalized and targeted communities experience violence from external sources making friendships an especially important, potentially life-saving force of safety, comfort and care. (This is true. Everything I’m learning about friendship is coming from black women. Friendship is everything to them. It is to me too. This is why I’m seeking data on friendship).

We are lucky to be living in a time where the value of friendship is now in our awareness, but we also live in a world where “industries, institutions, and political regimes benefit when we hate ourselves and disconnect from each other.”

That last part is why I made this post second. It flows from my last post where I’m articulating the church is teaching self-hate (intentionally or not). Our culture is punishing care and rewarding disconnection.

The post I was going to write will flow naturally from this one too. I’m listening to the Spirit. These posts exhaust me. It’s spiritual and emotional labor. My spiritual advisor said this is the equivalent to what a physical workout is for my body.

Facebook Series on Love, Friendship, Being Seen, and Seeking Understanding: Post 1

Post #1

I will break this up into smaller chunks of writing the best I can. There is much to say, and it would be better as a dialogue, but I want to put this out there because I live in a red state. It is becoming hazardous to love people well in red states. Many churches need to be called to account communally for the abuse in our culture. This is not an individual heart issue; that message has caused people to learn how to hate themselves, and it is time to talk about it.

I am also writing this because I see many posts asking people to write in love. Our hostility is threatening unity. The thing is, people who are writing hateful things really believe they are writing in love.

I want to talk about self-love. This concept is getting talked about for both good and not-so-good right now.

1) There is a difference between self-love and self-absorption.
2) Churches are some of the worst places to learn self-love because they preach a dying-to-self theology that eliminates the self instead of empowering it. You can pick a few verses out and isolate them to make that argument, but not when you look at scripture as a whole. Even Paul changes his tune here. He eventually says our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities (Ephesians 6:12).

This message of “it is not about you, it is about what God wants” or telling helpers: teachers, healthcare workers, pastors, or anyone working on the frontlines of our society, to take abuse because they exist to help others, not themselves, is literally killing people. It is killing them professionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically. They become disconnected from themselves and will be ripe for an attack because they are exhausted. And society expects them not to resist abuse. Political leaders too. Why would anyone good run in an environment like this?! Abuse is not okay for anybody. No BODY can absorb abuse. That is not a demand of love or justice.

Learning how to love yourself well is essential to know when you are not being loved well. It will give you the strength to stand up to the powers and principalities who want to define you as anything other than love.

Self-love is a rootedness in knowing your worth no matter what anyone else says. If you need to hear a hard truth, you will know. You will want to know because you will not feel life and will strive to get back towards growth. Once you have felt love, you will want to get back there. But when an accusation is false or just plain cruel, you will not absorb it because you know who you are. You are rooted in love, and hate has no place in you.

That is not self-absorption. That is love in its purest form. I trust a person who loves themself most of all.

Right now, too many people cannot distinguish between love and hate. Love is being taught as something selfish, and abuse is just discipline to make us better and stronger.

But it hasn’t. We are emotionally stunted and the things that make us the most human are being criminalized, and disconnection is rewarded. That is how authoritarianism thrives.

This is why I am writing about friendship. That is how we change the course we are on. This includes friendship with the earth and all creation.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said: What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic.

Self-love is power with love. It is bigger than ourselves.

Unlike trickle-down economics which does not trickle down at all, love cannot be held back. Love trickles out of a person who carries love because love cannot be possessed or contained.

Radical Friendship

During my internship at Wilshire learning about inequality in almost all our systems through various webinars and Zoom meetings, there was one common theme I picked up on in all the meetings: Loneliness.

Example—Addressing affordable housing: everyone owning single-family homes was not the vision when our country was being formed as the United States. The founders would have had no concept of that even being possible or desirable. That message was spread in the 18th-century as some kind of spiritual blessing. But we are finding out living this way is increasing our loneliness and lowering our life expectancy. Few people truly know their neighbors, or spend any time with them in a meaningful way. It is also an obstacle in creating affordable housing: “Not in my neighborhood!,” the people scream.

This is just one example of many where I found loneliness at the core of the problem. They are linking the desire for authoritarianism with loneliness too.

When life as I knew it was over the first time, it was the beginning of me seeing that people were not as real as I thought. What we call friendship was actually not based on reciprocity; instead, it was on what can you do for me. If I treat you like shit, especially when you are telling me something I do not want to hear, well, that is just how people in leadership get treated. Get thicker skin was their message back to me. This was a person I called a friend, and I was trying to help keep them and their kids safe. Also, I was not even in official leadership. I literally was there as a friend.

I was not okay with that treatment. If that is how I am going to be treated working with people when trying to help them, then count me out. But God would not leave me alone. I heard Her say to be the leader the people need, and do not take their shit either. Leadership as friendship is what I am going to learn as journey from here.

That was soccer, but it opened my eyes to church and our politics too. All of this was happening during the 2016 election, and I was seeing this was not unique to me; it was everywhere. Truly an eye-opening moment where I felt I was living in another world. The meaning of “I have no place to lay my head” never felt so clear to me.

John 15:15 became the verse that stuck out the most to me in seminary, and it came to me at the end of my seminary career. Jesus is no longer calling his disciples servants, but friends. Servant implies they do not know their Source’s business; Jesus revealed all he had heard/learned from the Source to them. This signifies deep trust to me.

I had not been satisfied with solutions we were coming up with in class to set boundaries in our future communities to keep us from liability, because in these solutions, deep beneath the surface, was mistrust. Talking with my spiritual advisor recently, she was picking up on the theme of trust in our conversation.

I am not promoting trust people no matter what. Actually, quite the opposite. I am saying we can trust our friends. But in order to do that, we need to know what a friend is. Then we can come up with boundaries that are appropriate and still promote and foster trust.

I am reading “Radical Friendship” by Kate Johnson. A book that came to me just recently. It is everything I had hoped for and more so far. She is saying our systems are designed to keep us from connection. She is advocating for bonds so strong that systems of oppression can’t break them. A friendship so powerful it gathers enough power to transform ourselves and the world. And friendship, even with ourselves, must create a safe space to fail! You keep working and trying again.

I also love how she defines allyship vs friendship. I am including a quote meme for that one because it is so profound.

We can find our people in this unjust world, friends. And it will make a difference. Hope where there was hopelessness. Love where there was hate.

radicalfriendship #friendshipistherevolution #trust #faith #seminary #boundaries #selflove #loveforothers #reciprocity #mutuality #katejohnson #transformation #growth #freedom

Oklahoma Public Education, Ryan Walters, Transformative Justice and the Holy Spirit

Circle up friends who care about education—especially in Oklahoma. I am going to integrate my current context with the social justice books I am reading and my theological education. I hope you enjoy this ride and feel inspired to join me in advocating for education reform.

Oklahoma Public Education has been in big trouble for a long time. We knew this when we moved here. We love Norman Public Schools even though, even here, education needs a lot more attention. Norman is academic-friendly thanks to a major university in town. But overall, it looks really bad for OU and OSU being in a state hell-bent on destroying public schools. Oklahoma is ranked 49th in education and 47th in spending per student.

Unfortunately, public education in Oklahoma is now challenged EVEN MORE now that Ryan Walters has been sworn in as Superintendent of Education. Walters says he is going to get Oklahoma education back on track. MAJOR RED FLAG—THAT IS AUTHORITARIAN LANGUAGE. Never trust a person who says they are going to save the day. Leaders matter, but it is all of us who make the change. Leaders inspire and do the work with the people. (They do not make an emergency trip to Cancun when a state is in crisis—Ted Cruz).

Here is what Ryan Walters says he will be prioritizing:

Walters said he intends to prioritize several areas over the course of his four years in office: “giving parents more say in where their children go to school, eliminating Critical Race Theory in classrooms, banning transgender athletes from competing in sports that do not align with their biological sex, and getting indoctrination out of classrooms.”

You know—nothing that has to do with improving education but IS harming the most marginalized among us.

He said big changes were coming and things were going to change for teachers, but he gave NO specifics. MAJOR RED FLAG. A good leader is specific. Gloria Steinem has a great quote: hate generalizes, love specifies. Keep that in mind when you listen to leaders.

Lest anyone thinks my napping isn’t dreaming about how public education could be, I will have you know that is exactly what I am focusing on. Ryan Walters will not go unchallenged.

I am reading a book called “We Will Not Cancel Us” by adrienne maree brown and she is talking about abolition. But abolition is not about absence, it is about presence. It is about building life-affirming institutions (Ruth Wilson Gilmore) We need to address harm at the root so we can grow into right relationship with each other.

People talk a lot about pastors being burned out and their great resignation, and for good reason, but we need to talk about teachers too. Underpaid, over-burdened, and the system makes teachers fall for the rot in the system. They are closest to the pain—the easiest scapegoats. Also, low spending on students and excessive punishments. She addresses that we need to start addressing our punitive justice that begins at home and in our schools: corporal punishment of kids at home and in schools, suspension, expulsion, juvenile detention, to imprisonment and execution of adults. Black and brown kids are most vulnerable here.

This is a lot to take on because we have been so punitive minded for so long. Dr. Becky at Good Inside, parenting psychologist, is fielding questions from parents who want to know how to parent without punishment but still be respected by their children. This movement to become non-punitive is happening. I want to join, and I am so glad to be in Oklahoma at this time that seems like the worst possible time!

It is no accident my church is across the street from my kid’s school. I will have my vision tangibly in sight every time I go to church.

I am also re-reading ”Dancing Dancing with the Wild Child Evangélicas and The Holy Spirit” from my Baptist Theology class. I love this chapter from their book Latina Evangélicas A Theological Survey from the Margins. I miss school, I tell you. I am still studying on my own!

These Latina authors are reminding me of how wild the Holy Spirit is. She is the one who cannot be possessed and breathes hope to those who have been treated as nobodies. She is the one who speaks tú a tú (face-to-face). She humanizes when systems deal dehumanizing policies.