A BOOK REVIEW of Under Our Skin (by Benjamin Watson

Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race- And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us is a fantastic book for anyone hoping to understand a clearer p41Y7mrZ25cL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgicture of the ongoing race issues in America.

I read Benjamin Watson’s Facebook post following the Ferguson trial results in 2014 and was impressed with his sincere, compassionate, intelligent, faith-inspired response. I try to be someone who ponders the different perspetives involved in an issue rather than reacting emotionally out of my own experience. I was not looking for an extreme perspective (black or white) on the current race issue- our media takes care of covering those “sides” all too well. I consider myself to (hopefully) be pretty open-minded and somewhat in “the middle” on issues such as race, so I wanted to read a level-headed, considerate perspective from someone whose experience was different than my own. Benjamin Watson did not disappoint. This is a thoughtful, enlightening, and challenging portrayal of what it’s like to grow up as a black man in America. I was surprised by some of his experiences and found some of my own pre-conceived ideas to be false. I appreciated his willingness to look at different angles to these complex situations and to readily admit how his own life experiences had led to bias and prejudice, even when he didn’t want them to. Those confessions resonated with me as my own viewpoints were brought under scrutiny.

The only thing missing, in my opinion, was a broadening of a police officer’s perspective in Chapter 5. Particularly after explaining how the majority of the black community is raised with a great fear of the police, it would have been so beneficial for those readers to understand what “a day in the life of a typical police officer” is like. After reading this book, I have a much greater understanding of why a young, black man’s first instinct is to run when he encounters an officer, and I think it might help the black community to understand why a police officer’s first instinct is to react (or perhaps in some minds to overreact) a certain way in certain situations. That outlook seemed to be notably missing in a book that otherwise did a great job of being open-minded and showing multiple sides of the current issues.

Under Our Skin was insightful, challenging, and thoughtful. It is not politically correct, nor is it (in my opinion) politically motivated. Watson gets to the heart of this and so many other issues that plague Americans when he names it for what it is: sin. He does not throw out easy answers or artificial solutions, but points us to the higher perspective of our mutual Creator as the starting place for healing and reconciliation. By all accounts, he seems to be a man who walks what he talks, thus earning the right to speak boldly on this subject. I see things differently after reading this book, and highly recommend it to everyone.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26167262-under-our-skin

 

Real Life Interrupted

*Note: This was written 2 years ago during the last week of school

This was not exactly how I had planned for the last week of school to go. The kids had already completed several subjects, so their lesson plans were much lighter than usual. Noah had lots of fun activities planned for his last week of preschool, leading up to his graduation on Friday. My goal was to finish our school work, and then use our extra time to organize our work from the year, pack away our books, and clean up our schooling areas. With any luck, I’d get caught up on laundry and start packing for the beach as well!

Instead, as I was in the middle of securing Abby’s bun for her dance pictures, Noah came running in complaining of a tummy ache. Fortunately, the trash can was near by and little man made it just in time. Needless to say, Abby didn’t make it to her pictures. After a turn on the potty and with his tummy still hurting, little Noah climbed into bed, where he slept through dinner and didn’t wake up until 6:45 the next morning.

The next few days left little time for any of the things I had planned.

The laundry piled up. And up. And up.

Lesson plans were half-heartedly completed.

The year’s school work lay scattered in piles around the house.

The books remained unorganized and desks remained cluttered.

Packing? Yeah, right.

All my efforts were focused on trying to get Noah well enough to participate in his graduation ceremony. After all, he’s our baby! I couldn’t let this milestone pass us by. By Friday morning he was up and running around again (Thank You, Jesus!). So, with the house a disaster and my to-do list a mile long, we loaded the whole family in the car and watched tearfully as our little man closed the door on the Preschool chapter of10464015_10206909151271494_3834277550112502004_n our lives and stepped confidently (and a bit comically) into the world of School-Age children. Wasn’t he just born yesterday? How did we get here??

I decided to take Friday afternoon off. After all, I was emotionally drained from watching my baby grow up before my eyes that morning! Yes, the house looked like a tornado had torn through it and the there was much that needed to be done before we could leave for the beach, but this momma needed a break. So I ran some errands, snuck in a quick dinner date with my hubby (a huge advantage of having a Pre-teen daughter!), and went to bed with prayer for good sleep and a list in my head of all that needed to be accomplished the next day…This morning, however, I was awakened by Eli complaining of a tummy ache, and well… Round 2 has begun. Will it ever stop? Will life ever go as planned? Being a mom has got to be the most unpredictable, interruption-filled job there is!

Oddly enough, I read a C.S. Lewis quote on Sunday night that prepared my heart for what was to come:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

C.S. Lewis, The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis

Thank You, Lord, for this crazy, messy, unpredictable, exhausting, real life.

Now, I’m off to do some laundry…

*Note: I wrote this many years ago when I first had the idea for a blog. I share it now as a glimpse into my life when I was feeling the tremendous responsibility of raising 4 little ones to somehow love the Lord, when in reality I was doing good just to find their shoes and wipe their noses…

Dear God,

Did You give me these 4 children just to leave me here, overwhelmed? I feel alone, bewildered, disorganized! I begged You for these children. I LOVE these children. And yet, I feel like I am drowning. The responsibility is so great and the stakes are so high. If I mess this up, well… I can’t mess this up, Lord. I can’t!! These are little people, who will one day be grown up people, making their way in the great big world.

Life livers. Love givers. World changers.

You have big plans for them. You are depending on them. Their character, their faith, their talents- somehow it all has to turn out just as You planned for them from the beginning. That’s a LOT of pressure for a parent!! And in the meantime, there is dinner to make, clothes to wash, laundry to fold, baths to give, school work, field trips…

The truth is, I’m dying here, Lord. Starving. Thirsty. Gasping for air. I need the plan, the curriculum, the format You want me to follow. I feel like every day I take one step forward and two steps back. I’m scared to let go, to quit pushing it all forward, to relax for a bit. Every second lost is lost forever, every opportunity missed will never be regained!

Help me, Lord!! I need you!!

What?

Manna??… What is that?

What do you mean it’s enough? It’s small and simple and short-lived.

I can only gather enough for today? Seriously?? That’s not enough! I need more! What if something happens? What if I need it and there isn’t any?

Trust you? Seriously?? But…

But…

Yes. You are trustworthy; I know this to be true. I really do want to trust You, Lord. I choose to trust You! It is refreshing to not have to be responsible for the future for a change. It’s so nice to not have to wonder each day if I will have the right answers or do everything right, but to know instead that You will provide exactly what I need- no more, no less, just enough.

Enough.. YOU are enough.

Today, I have enough.

Thank You, Lord, for this manna.

 

 

My Jar Full of Manna

My Jar full of manna.

I know, I know… it’s a pretty weird name for a blog. But here’s the story.

In Exodus 16:1-35, we read about how God provided food daily from heaven for the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after fleeing from Egypt. Bread, called manna, would just appear on the ground from out of nowhere every morning, except for on the Sabbath. The people were instructed to gather just what they needed for their family for that day; if they tried to gather extra and save it, it would be covered in maggots by the next morning. The day before the Sabbath they were instructed to collect enough for two days, and miraculously, it was preserved. The Lord was teaching them to rely on Him daily for their every need, trusting Him alone to provide. He didn’t always give them what they wanted (I mean, let’s be honest, 40 years is a LONG time… a little variety would have been nice), but He always provided what they needed. He wanted them to learn to turn to Him and trust Him to be enough when life was hard, so that even when it got a little easier, they would be in the habit of seeking Him and wouldn’t forget Him.

He also instructs them in verses 32-34 to take a jar, fill it with manna, and save it as a reminder of His faithfulness for generations to come. They did as they were commanded, and the jar full of manna was stored in the ark of the covenant alongside the tablets containing the ten commandments.

I remember reading this passage several years ago when our 4 children were much younger and life was absolutely exhausting. The concept of manna, or “daily bread,” resonated with my heart, as I was pretty much living day to day at that point. I was trusting God to be enough, because I was pouring out way more of myself than I really had to give. He was so faithful! Every day He provided new strength, new grace, new insights, new joy. But what really struck me was the verse about storing up manna in a jar as a reminder to future generations of his faithfulness. Perhaps I needed my own “future generation” before it could resonate with me, but it was as if God was whispering to me, “This is for you, my child. I want you to store up these daily blessings so you don’t forget, and so your children will know that I AM faithful!”

And the idea for this blog, JAR FULL OF MANNA, was born.

In this blog I will share my manna- all the ways God daily provides for our family. It may be a recipe, a funny story about my kids, some insight from His Word, or the random rambling of a stressed-out mama… likely, it will be all of the above. I have no idea if anyone will ever read what I write. While I hope that it may be an encouragement to others, especially other mamas collecting manna of their own, the intent of my heart is to simply keep a collection of God’s faithfulness to me so that I will remember, and my children and grandchildren will know of His goodness.

 

Welcome to my Jar full of Manna.