the danger of a single story

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

take a few minutes to watch this. it is so good.


the daily report


the above quote from einstein is a keeper.  most of the time i struggle to see painful struggles as miracles, but there is a way to see that perspective.  or least i hope there is.

this past week, several families i  know passed their interviews for citizenship.  they have studied and practiced and thought about the exam for ages. our faithful ESL teacher has gone over the senators and representatives and branches of government. we often laugh because we are not sure how many americans would pass the citizenship exam if it were required to live here, regardless of where you were born. personally, even after eight years of living in TN, i still can’t quite get the hang of which representatives are state and which are the US ones.

i am proud of these families. proud of their miracles. proud of the 10,000 miracles that led them to this moment.

this week, another family is coming in for another appointment to proof-read their citizenship application, making sure all the blocks are filled out, the i’s are dotted, and the t’s are crossed. and we’ll watch the miracles continue one more time.

tomorrow, i love ya, tomorrow, you’re only a day away

or nine minutes to be precise.

there are anywhere from 10-15 staff and refugee children who will grace my house with their presence tomorrow. luckily my colleague will supervise most of the chaos, her tolerance for it is much higher than mine.

but i’ve been thinking a lot lately about this safe space we provide for kids. the idea is that we have a cocoon of relationships and networking to help families feel stable in the midst of so many transitions and challenges.

it is in so many ways an impossible task.

how could coloring a picture with a seven year old possible help said child feel a little more peaceful about the way her family feels so lost in their own neighborhood? or is it possible that playing soccer with the world’s most rambunctious nine year old boy could help him feel like there was a safe place to work out the frustration he feels? or what about the two year old who can’t understand why his mom is sad a lot every time she skypes with grandma in some far away place or why dad seems so angry that he can’t speak the right words to the landlord?

i don’t know for sure. but i believe it does matter. and tomorrow will be one more day a safe place was made.

and the paint will wash off the floor, the towels will dry, broken things can be replaced if necessary.

but hearts that are broken need the kind of compassion and grace that only comes from time: time invested in them, time sitting on the floor reading stories, time getting messy and sweaty. time our volunteers are pouring in to their lives. tonight we coached a new round of helpers for our funday. and i am excited to see how they catch the vision for loving these precious ones.

and of course, at funday, fun will be had by all.

a quote to make it through a tuesday


exupery was a genius. obviously. his “le petit prince” will always be my favorite novel. scores of my former french students will tell you i was (and am) completely obsessed with that book.

but this quote from exupery is further proof of his ingenuity. and he’s not the first person to come up with this (see ecclesiastes, teachings of Jesus, shakespeare and scores of other people who lived without dualistic thinking).

on a good day, i can join them. i can see the world with equanimity: the ability to see situations simply as they are, without judgement.

today, we are waiting with baited breath for news about an important, program changing grant. and all morning, i can barely stand it. i have no idea when we’ll hear, but my heart can only think in terms of good or bad.

for the next few minutes, i’ll try to remember that “life may grow from it,” no matter what.

at the last minute


i am never sure when hope will show up. it is almost always late to whatever catastrophe has come. it sneaks in, subversively and then peaks its head up just when you thought it was all over.

this morning, we talked about subversive in our storytelling class. we talked about how sometimes everything looks dire, but really, under the surface, there are pieces moving and things happening. these paths to denouement are usually things we could never have dreamed or imagined.

this morning, my homeschooler french class discovered this treasure in the garden. we went out to talk about “Le Printemps” because of course Spring is springing all around.

the flowers are scattered through the garden generously in violets, reds, yellows, and splashes of white. but this tiny blue egg, well within our sight was a burst of hope in a world where sometimes everything seems grey.

You won’t believe what’s happening around here!

New products, new work, new designs, new growth!

Head over to the Intertwined facebook for more details!

And while you’re at it, check out Urban Oasis’ shiny new facebook page!


tell ’em the cutie pie sentcha!

Do some good today!

in the interest of full disclosure

too many times, we are afraid to step out because the unknown is far more risky than the places we’ve already been.  we might think we’re safer, but the truth is safety is an illusion.

i watched the half time show last night of the super bowl, and while i think Katy Perry’s songs are as catchy as the next person, i found myself a little heartbroken inside.  all i could think about was the hunger games.

the movies, the books, whatever.  if you haven’t read/seen them, you should remedy it immediately.  it may be juvenile fiction, but the lessons and metaphors are profound.

last night, katy perry dancing with golden eyeliner and sparkled shoes was not unlike katniss everdeen dressed up before the cameras.   the largest human trafficking event of the year happens in the shadows of dancing sharks and defense teams punching the opposition.  katniss everdeen eats well at the capital knowing that her family back in district 12 is starving without her to hunt for them.

but most of us gathered around the screens, puppy bowls, nachos, buffalo wings, fed and happy to be hanging out with friends at this traditional display of good ole fashioned american fun.

but what would happen if we cared more about injustice than we did about filling ourselves?  what mountains might be moved by our unwillingness to be silent on the devastating realities of our day and time?

martin luther king, jr said “a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

i feel overwhelmed by that thought sometimes.  as though i cannot imagine doing enough to make a real difference and so it would be better to do nothing.

which brings me back to the place i started:  we cannot imagine what might happen if we step out.  we must risk ourselves and our illusions of safety to do what is daring, bold, vulnerable, and probably appears foolish on one level or another.

so, what will i do today?  i started with this blog that i am often too afraid to write for fear of upsetting people.  next, i will be advocating for my refugee friends who need work and who need champions on their sides.

how about you?  what are you willing to risk today?

ps. if you’re unfamiliar with the issue of human trafficking, consider visiting to learn more and take action.

waiting and forgiveness

Advent always reminds me of forgiveness.

when i think about how this time of year, i feel like vacillating between extreme emotions (complete, total elation and despair), i wonder what it is that sends us on an emotional roller coaster through what should be a time of peace, love, and goodwill towards humanity.

i could be wrong, but i think it is about forgiveness. i think it’s because we come to this time of year afraid that all of our past failures of the year, all of our wounds, all of the places we are afraid for anyone to know about, will suddenly pop up on the hallmark channel during a Christmas movie special.

this week, while talking to the sewing artisans, again i heard them say that there is no forgiveness for terrorists. the bad was too bad to forgive.

and i understand. not completely because i’ve never been worried that my parents were going to be hit by a bomb on the way to the grocery store. but we all understand some level of grief and pain if we’re honest.

but if there’s no forgiveness for that kind of bad, there’s no forgiveness for my kind of bad. and if i believe that hating my brother is the same as murder, then i am as guilty as they are.

we approach this season of giving with a mindset that it is our job to give freely. and it is in some sense.

but what if today, we chose to give a little forgiveness. forgive ourselves for not doing, being, behaving perfectly. forgive each other for the same. and forgive the world for being the broken place that it is. and forgive ourselves because we cannot fix it completely.

in the freedom of forgiveness, we might find space to make tiny changes with great love that will, as Mother Theresa said, change the world.