Human Connection

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal ready to embark on an adventure to Peru – a journey I had waited to take my entire life – and I was so excited.

What would I see? Would it be as great as I’d built it up to be? Where. . . wait . . . where were the TVs on this plane?! [Insert Face Screaming emoji]. Was this the Stone Age? What did they expect me to do for eight hours? I’m a Millennial after all – I need to be entertained!

An overhead announcement informed me to download the airline’s app to access the inflight entertainment system.

I fumbled through my over-packed carry-on at lighting speed, grabbed my dying phone and plugged it into the seat-charger. I looked at my phone eager for the charging symbol to appear – nothing. I plugged and unplugged it an embarrassing amount of times trying to remedy the problem before slumping back into my seat in defeat.

“Please turn all personal electronic devices to airplane mode,” instructed the overhead voice. What was I supposed to do now? Talk to the woman beside me in my broken Spanish? No thanks. I gazed out the window and with a deep sigh accepted my fate.

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From the Archives: The Danger of “Other”

Almost two years ago now, Kara Cheng wrote a timely blog post that captured the heart of JustUs, and the heart of God, when it comes to how we react to the events that take place in this world, and how we feel about the people we share it with.  Unfortunately, her sentiments are just as relevant today as they were then.  While the tragedies that plague our world have changed slightly in those two years, the fear in our hearts and our reactions caused by it have not, so we’re pulling this one from the archives to remind us of God’s heart for every single person on this planet, and how we, as His followers, should love them.  

Every morning when I wake up the first thing I do is check my phone. Nearly every morning my screen is flooded with BBC News alerts informing me of two things 1) an act of terror that has occurred and 2) Donald Trump. What a way to wake up…

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Dear world-changers, it’s okay to take a break.

Hey all of you go-getters, world-changers, social activists, and Kingdom-bringers, you’re all awesome! But do you know what? It’s okay to take a break!

Since it’s the start of the long weekend, here are some important words from Kaitlin Curtice to take to heart about rest in the journey towards justice.

My Grandma Downing used to make homemade biscuits for breakfast when we stayed with her in the hot summers. Every morning I’d wake up to the same smell of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, and those buttery biscuits. My grandma, a widow for many years, lived and thrived on her southern Oklahoma farm. She was a beautiful, independent woman. But what I didn’t understand, maybe what she wasn’t aware of either, is that she was a woman of resistance.

We are members of the Potawatomi Citizen Band, a small tribe out of Oklahoma. My grandma’s siblings lived in Shawnee, where the tribal headquarters are located, and whether they were actively participating in local native practices or not, they were part of a legacy.

My grandma’s hard work to care for her family, to tend to her land, to keep her home safe and good was an act of resistance, a proclamation that she would live a humble life on her own terms, with her own family, despite the violations brought against the people and other native tribes who came before her.

In my own way, I do the same today. I care for my home, I write, I lead worship, and I teach my two children what it means to be a citizen of this nation, to be a Christ-follower in this world.

And I continue the legacy my grandma left. I don’t make biscuits often, but I pick sugar snap peas from the garden. I live into her legacy because I live into my own native identity as an American citizen, as a Christian, as a mother, wife and writer.

But these times of resistance are also heavy, and in the daily work that tethers us to the people who came before, we also have to stop, rest, and remember things like Sabbath, so that we don’t grow too weary.

And I am weary.

So when the weekend comes, our family carves out extra time to stop and breathe, because it is necessary for the hard work of beginning again in the next week. I lead worship on Sundays, so that is technically my work day in the midst of the Sabbath weekend. I lead worship in a church that has a very diverse congregation, many of whom have opposing political views.

Still, we gather. We worship, we rest, we revive ourselves, and we begin again.

What I know is that these things go together — we remember the ones who came before us — our ancestors, both in family line and in our faith, the people who prepared the way.

Then, we rest in that knowledge, we prepare our own journeys for the hard work ahead, the work of making the church a better and truer image of Jesus in this world. We know that resistance takes energy and patience, and that it often requires a lot of pain. So we balance all of that energy with the practice of rest, and we carve it out as a priority.

And then, we resist. We do the hard work, the daily work, the strenuous work that we are called to. I write weekly letters to Trump. I engage the church in becoming a safe place for people of color to find themselves welcomed and able to share without fear. I learn what it looks like to be a Native American Christian in today’s America, and I teach the people around me to become aware of truths they may not have known before in regards to indigenous peoples, their history, and the treatment they received from missionaries and numerous government decisions.

My tribe, the Potawatomi tribe, call ourselves the “people of the fire,” not only because we would tend to a fire in the hearth of our homes, but because we had, within ourselves, a fire that could not be put out.

We remembered. We rested. We resisted.

And today, indigenous peoples are still resisting.

But so are many of us, native and non-native, who believe that the church should be better than it currently is, who believe that this nation should take on a new legacy other than the legacy it established in its beginning.

So this weekend, we find balance so that we keep healthy and whole in the constant progression toward a better America that represents all the people who live here and a better faith that represents the love of God.

Calling For A #FashionRevolution

The days are getting longer, temperatures warmer, and flowers are in bloom which can only mean one thing: summer is just around the corner!

But before you rush out to the mall to buy a whole new summer wardrobe, there are a few things you should consider.

Did you know that in 2009, Americans created 26 billion pounds of apparel waste and that this number is projected to grow to 35.4 billion pounds by 2019?

Or did you know that out of that number, on average, 10.5 million tonnes is dumped directly into landfills every year? That’s approximately 30 times the weight of the Empire State Building going into landfills — and that’s just from clothing!

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JustUs For The Planet

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He breathed life into the earth and it flourished. It was pristine. It was beautiful. It was good.

Then He created humans and instructed us to rule over the earth and everything in it. And we did. And we multiplied in number.

We became innovators. And then we became exploiters of the earth.

We began polluting the water, the air, the soils. . . and our activities began to alter the earth’s atmosphere.

Then some began to realize what we were doing and decided that enough was enough. They realized that we must protect the only planet we have for future generations.

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Biblical Justice For A Broken World

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period…”

This excerpt, from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, sets the groundwork for a story that takes place before and during the French Revolution — a time rather different than our own, yet with a seemingly similar description.

Humankind is quite a remarkable species — and one of many contrasts.

We have built civilizations, found cures for diseases, explored the depths of the seas, and ventured into outer space. We have also wreaked havoc on our earth – causing issues such as climate change. We have created nuclear weapons capable of mass destruction, started wars, and have witnessed bizarre events such as the election of Donald Trump as the United States’ 45th president.

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Why JustUs Is the Must-Take Journey of the Year

I’ve had my fair share of journeys and adventures throughout my life. I have ridden a camel through the desert in the Middle East, been caught in a riptide in Australia, slept under a mango tree in Mozambique, picked coffee beans up the slopes of a volcano in Guatemala, ran down the stairs of the Eifel Tower, and taught English in Cambodia. As a matter of fact, in less than 24 hours I will be embarking on my next adventure to Rwanda and I could not be more excited! This time, however, will be different from my other journeys.


Because this time, I will be going with my eyes wide-open.

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New Year. New You?

new-year-new-youIt’s that time of year again when almost everyone has made their New Year’s resolutions. And these resolutions typically go something a little bit like this:

January 1st rolls around and you toss the junk food, bust out the bathroom scale, and take that motivational “before” picture. You go to the grocery store, fill your cart with green veggies, and with the will of a Spartan you even pass the 50% off Christmas chocolates that are screaming your name. You go to bed slightly hungry and experiencing sugar withdrawals but proud of yourself that you made it through day one of the “new you.”

You wake up the next morning. Make a kale smoothie. You hate your kale smoothie. You think to yourself, “My goodness, how many more days?”

January 3rd rolls around and you get invited to go out to dinner. You order a salad – dressing on the side of course. Your friend orders the burger and fries. And then that horrible friend offers you a fry.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

light-in-the-darknessThere has been a lot of talk going on around the United States’ new president-elect. Many were left in disbelief as they watched democracy run its course on November 8th.

While there is a large portion of the population who support Trump, there is also a great percentage of people who deeply oppose him. There is even a website called Trump in One Word where people submit one word they believe describes Trump. He has been called arrogant, dangerous, scary, racist, and many other adjectives and nouns which I have no desire to reiterate.

I would be lying if I said that Trump’s victory did not upset me, however, I soon came to realize that there is absolutely nothing I can do about. Being angry and ranting about what his presidency could mean for so many different people groups throughout America and the world, wasn’t going to change a thing.

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Rio 2016: Unlike Any Other

RioInstaWith the summer Olympics approaching quickly, energy and excitement is building!

Sports seem to have a way of bringing people together, uniting them in triumph and in defeat.

The Olympics are a major event that truly unites people, revitalizing national pride and patriotism, largely because the accomplishments of Olympic athletes are not theirs alone, but are shared by their fellow citizens. Even people who aren’t major sports fans still get a sense of satisfaction when their country’s athletes represent them well.

This year’s Olympics, however, will be different. This year, for the first time, the world’s countries will be joined by the Refugee Olympic Team, a team made up of ten refugee athletes from South Sudan, Syria, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These ten refugee athletes are to  “act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 this summer.”[1]

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