As a mother, I cannot imagine the pain that Christina-Taylor Green’s family is going through due to the loss of their daughter and sister. And my heart grieves for the people that are victims of the tragedy in Tucson on January 8th. Christina-Taylor was described as being an aspiring politician and was recently elected into student government in her 3rd grade class. It isn’t hard to believe that Christina-Taylor had most likely hoped that one day her leadership could contribute to making improvements to the world she was currently living in. In many ways just the fact that this 9 year-old girl wanted to attend a meeting run by a congresswoman at a grocery store on a Saturday when her schoolmates were probably waking up from sleepovers or attending their sports events makes her even more extraordinary. The very fact that she sacrificed her free time to learn about politics and connect with a woman like Congressman Giffords really makes it clear that Christina-Taylor was heroic. Her attendance in my opinion illustrated an ‘innocent heroism’ that could potentially go un-noticed. For a child to wake up on a Saturday and be excited about learning more about leadership in an effort to ‘lead’ with excellence is remarkable.
I am the mother of 6 amazing children. I have witnessed ‘innocent heroism’ a few times in my own children, because as children orphaned to AIDS they have had to hold onto future hope as well. I find their resilience and optimism in the face of tragedy heroic. “Innocent heroism” is subtle. It is the type of heroism that can maintain its composure and determination and belief in the light when all around it seems dark. If I try to look at the world through the eyes of my children both born in America and adopted, I really think it must be next to impossible to remain hopeful. My children watched as their mother died in front of them and then had to endure being left at an orphanage and wait, clothed only with dignity and poise with the hope that someone would come to save them. They did this with the same kind of wide-eyed hope and innocence that Christina-Taylor brought with her to the Safeway on January 8th. There are no rewards given to children who sacrifice their time in hopes of witnessing transformation in their lives and in the world. Christina’s desire to grasp knowledge that may shift the future of her own life and others through her potential service, is a quality that should be bottled and injected into so many of us. The poise that so many children carry with them everyday in spite of the surrounding violence, mayhem and death is remarkable.
My Ethiopian daughter Grace told me she waited with hope everyday for someone to come and change her world in offering her a new life. Her Ugandan friends Agnes and Ruth have been taught how to bury dead bodies. Grace’s friend Selah bravely speaks of her HIV status (at the age of 13) to groups of people in a belief that the world may change if she carries her courage to the podium with her while leaving shame behind. There are children in Haiti who are still standing and believing that someone will have the common sense to lift them out of their orphan status and carry them to a place called home with a warm bed and clean water off of the streets of Port-Au-Prince. Children with no shoes will walk barefoot for hours carrying a bowl and tablet to attend school under a tree in places like Tanzania. Children hide in buildings at night away from their villages in Uganda trying to escape the threat of being violently drafted as a child soldier forced to kill and rape family and friends. All of these children carry the same ‘innocent heroism’ that Christina-Taylor brought with her to the Safeway. Christina carried her ‘hope’ on her sleeve, and this is the same for many of the 150 million orphans in the world. These ‘innocent heroes’ believe and hope that their future will be in good hands. They work hard because somehow they know those ‘good hands’ one day will be their own. Some will be called (if they survive), to lead, to move, to transform and heal the world. I know it may seem odd comparing Christina-Taylor’s presence at a community meeting in Tucson with those of orphans in places like Uganda and Tanzania who grasp onto a little bit of hope, but they have one thing in common; the future. I pray we can remember Christina-Taylor and the other children whose ‘good hands’ unfortunately were prevented from fulfilling their potential. Their ‘innocent heroism’ will not be forgotten and I pray that the children who do make it out of the mayhem of this world never forget how much we need them to shape and sculpt the future for the better. May we never forget children like Christina-Taylor Green who died while holding onto hope.
Deanna Jones is the author of TO BE A MOTHER and Mommy Blogger of http://www.mothertheworld.org . She is the mother of 6 children (2 by birth, 3 AIDS orphans adopted from Ethiopia, one adopted daughter from Guatemala). Deanna juggles her family and such campaigns as Mother HIV Plus, Mothers Against Trafficking and her NYC Orchestra. She is a prominent bandleader in NYC for such weddings as the wedding of Michael Douglas/Catherine Zeta Jones, Geraldo Rivera and parties for Jimmy Buffett, Stuart Weitzman, Donald Trump. She lives with her husband Mark as a relocated yankee in Cary, NC. Ódjoprods, inc.
After dinner with 13 of my closest friends last night it dawned on me that this vulnerable economy is potentially adding stress and break-ups to many friendships. I must admit though that we are fortunate and still have excellent relationships with our friends. But the relationships are clearly ‘different’ too. We had decided to go to a restaurant last night to celebrate 3 birthdays that are coming up this week. We chose a family style Italian restaurant (not the greatest plan with a variety of bank accounts). When we all met approximately 8 years ago we all were considered to be ‘upper middle class’. Everyone was gainfully employed and our conversations were about things like how the stock market was doing, whether to buy the minivan with DVD players and GPS system and what vacations we should all take together in the summer.
Perusing the table last night I realized how different things are these days. My friend Cindy sat next to me at the restaurant and has become my ‘shopping for junk’ friend. We like to grab stuff on ‘free-cycle’ or sell our own gently used items rather than throw it in a bag for the Goodwill like we used to. Often times we sell stuff for extra cash. We are doing whatever we can to make some extra money. I am ashamed to admit this but I used to just hand my AMEX card over to the cashier with hardly knowing how much I was spending on an expensive pair of shoes. I would also easily write the 5000 check monthly to pay off my corporate card. I would throw out many bags of my hand-me-downs either in the garbage or into the charity bins down the street. Now I look at my ‘old clothes and shoes’ as potential grocery money (or dining out money). One friend sold a treadmill she found at a yard sale for her dining out money last night.
[The natural life] knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centeredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that. C. S. Lewis
God is very efficient. God is always “right on time” (although I argue sometimes He seems very late). God is also in my opinion very 'impractical and nonsensical' when gazing upon Him with eyes trained to see as the world sees. Moving forward into God’s call for your life is almost always “impractical’ and ‘nonsensical’. Uprooting your family to travel to another continent to do mission work is usually impractical. Tithing is very impractical when you have no money. Opening your home to another human being is hugely lacking common sense when it appears you don’t have enough square footage to house them or when you are facing foreclosure. Adding another mouth to feed can be considered nonsensical when you still have a credit card bill you haven’t paid or when you are ‘unemployed or underemployed.”
I will never forget one day a few years ago meeting a woman in the basketball gym where our kids were playing. I was shocked to hear that this woman with a great haircut, full mouth of veneers and a perfect French manicure told me she is moving her entire family to the Sudan and selling her house and all of the comforts of her perfect cul-de-sac home to do mission work. I had been accused in the past of being impractical when I adopted my 3 kids from Africa, but I have to admit I thought this woman was ‘crazy and impractical.’ I also thought she was amazing. But I was perplexed at how perfectly she fit in with the gym of elementary school moms. One would never guess that she was wired in a way that made her throw her common sense and practicality into the dumpster. Looking perfectly groomed this woman was about to move to a place with no running water to shower everyday, no outlet for her blow dryer and certainly not a beauty salon to place the ‘tips’ on for her French manicure.
He has right to interrupt your life. He is Lord. When you accepted Him as Lord, you gave Him, the right to help Himself to your life anytime He wants.
Sometimes I feel like an alien living on the wrong planet. Even though I can also fit into the cul-de-sac mom stereotype, these days I feel more similar to the lady dumpster diving for expired food who lives on the street. I say this because if I weigh my interests and focus these days nothing makes sense and I am leaning often into impractical territory about to topple head first into the unknown pit of items labeled ‘discarded’. Like the dumpster diving homeless woman I feel like I am about crash into a place that is messy but required because I am being pushed by an inexplicable force from a Heavenly Father who has a history of being ‘impractical’ and ‘nonsensical’. I understand that some religious people may be offended at my calling God these things….but let’s look at His track record. Jesus the Prince, Son of God, King of Kings was born in a stinky dumpsterish manger next to livestock. Later he was nailed on a tree. He was presented on a donkey in a parade. In His lifetime His first miracle was turning water into wine…I mean it would have been more appropriate if He had been born in a palace with no mortgage (no debt to pay) and had never died only to remain forever on this earth in physical form for us to gaze on daily…Certainly, His first miracle could of and should have been ‘raising the dead person from the grave,’ or ‘giving sight to the blind.’ Instead, we witnessed the first miracle as Him catering a wedding without the proper wine inventory.
Self-preservation is the first law of nature, but self-sacrifice is the highest rule of grace.