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    Katie Ganshert
    A Warm Reminder Giveaway

    *WINNERS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*

    I need a happy place.

    Does anybody else need a happy place?

    I mean, I have my new cover with which I’m a wee bit obsessed. When the world looks dark and gray, this has become a sort of happy place.

    Life After

    But even that can’t shoo away all the divisiveness that seems to be lurking around every social media corner these days.

    We’re all so busy feeling offended or slighted or defensive or indignant that we’re forgetting about Romans 12:10.

    Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

    Man, what would our life, our churches, our world look like if we could tattoo that verse on our hearts?

    It’s a hard one to live, though, right? (Please tell me I’m not alone.)

    There’s this song I love by Hillsong United. It’s called From the Inside Out. In fact, this is the song that inspired the title of my novel, The Art of Losing Yourself.
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    Your will above all else
    My purpose remains
    The art of losing myself in bringing you praise
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    Here’s what I’ve experienced:
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    True joy, true peace, true contentment and courage comes when we lose ourselves in Him.
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    That’s my ultimate happy place.
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    And when I do that–when I lose myself in Him–I’m no longer so darned concerned about my rights or my opinions or my feelings or my fears. It’s about Him and His Kingdom, which is made up of real-life hurting people living real-life complex stories. And when He and His Kingdom become our heart’s cry, Romans 12:10 becomes as natural as breathing.

    So in that vein, I’m giving away some gifts.

    I hope that for anybody reading, and especially for the five people who win, this will be a warm reminder that our happy place is never more than a prayer away. I hope it will be a warm reminder that we will never regret kindness or grace, and sometimes, the very best way to honor anyone is by listening. While I probably shouldn’t attempt to tattoo anything on anybody’s heart, I can give you something that will allow you to wear it close by.

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    To enter to win this necklace and an autographed copy of The Art of Losing Yourself, fill out the form below. I will use random.org to select five winners!
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    Please note, you do not have to subscribe to my email list to enter. It is, however, the best way to stay up to date on my latest book news, such as new releases, bargains, giveaways, etc. I detest spam, so you never have to worry about that with me!

    Much love, reader friends!

    Katie
    Comment Link 8 Comments

    Lean Close and Listen: A Mashup

    I’m disturbed. To my very core.

    I’m disturbed by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I’m disturbed by the deaths of five police officers in Dallas. And now, more death in Baton Rouge.

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    Life is life. Valuable. No matter what.

    Death is death. Tragic. No matter what.

    And I’m disturbed.

    I’m also afraid.

    But not in the way you might think.

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    Right now, it is unclear what motivated the shooter in Baton Rouge to open fire on police officers. But as soon as news broke, the narrative was set in motion. Social media became abuzz with assumption: the shooter associated himself with Black Lives Matter.

    Maybe.

    Maybe not.

    Right now, that’s unclear.

    And I’m afraid.

    I’m afraid my white friends, whether they admit it or not, see things like the Dallas shooting (and potentially, Baton Rouge) as justification to dismiss the outcry from the black community.

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    I’m afraid my white friends will see the anger and sometimes, the violence and aggression displayed by protestors, and thus, discredit the entire reason the #blacklivesmatter movement exists.

    I’m afraid my white friends won’t ask WHY.

    Why is there a movement? Why are people so angry? What is going on?

    I’m afraid of a particular line of thinking that goes something like this:

    If #blacklivesmatter weren’t a thing, then police officers wouldn’t be getting shot.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 5.11.42 PM

    Or, not quite as overt, but just as pernicious, I’m afraid that my white, Christ-professing friends won’t want to hear it anymore. I’m afraid they’ll see the hashtag and roll their eyes.

    I’m afraid they will refuse to listen to the black community, which is overwhelmingly saying, “There is a problem here!”

    Yesterday, my son said, “Mom, I wish you wouldn’t keep telling me to clean my room.”

    To which I said, “Guess what, buddy? If you don’t want me to keep telling you to clean your room, then CLEAN YOUR ROOM.”

    I’m pretty sure the same principle applies here.

    Until things change. Until we stop ignoring and de-valuing the feelings and experiences of an entire people group, the sharing needs to continue.

    And we all need to get honest with ourselves.

    Have you felt annoyed when another #blacklivesmatter tweet pops up in your feed? Now in the same breath. Have you done any investigating as to why this is a hashtag? Or do you avoid the articles because you’re already convinced you disagree with them?

    Or what about this:

    Did you get upset over the deaths of the police officers in Dallas without first getting upset over the deaths of Alton and Philando? In your heart of hearts, the place only you and Jesus can see, do you believe one of those lives is more or less valuable than another?

    This is where it starts. A good, hard, honest look at ourselves.

    Maybe for you, annoyance isn’t a thing.

    Maybe you’re just afraid to speak out.

    Because if you speak out, you might align yourself with the wrong group. I see this from my conservative friends all. the. time.

    To which I say:

    Social injustice–any injustice–is not a political party thing. It is an Imago Dei thing. A Jesus thing. If we profess Him, then we need to care about the things He cares about. As far as I can tell, justice and mercy and human life is pretty high on His list.

    If you’re sitting there worried that standing with the black community means standing against police officers, please just stop. No matter what either/or rhetoric is making the rounds, this is and will always be a both/and issue.

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    Maybe these aren’t your fears.

    Maybe your fear stems from a lack of understanding. 

    Maybe you avoid the issue because you don’t feel qualified. You aren’t educated on such matters.

    If that’s you, I have GREAT news!

    You can get educated.

    Might we begin here?

    Follow these people

    I’ve asked it before and I will ask it again. Who are you listening to? Who are you letting be the authority on topics of race and racial injustice? Other white people?

    If so, might I call attention to the inherent problem this poses? Would you go to a conference on parenting if the keynote speaker wasn’t a parent?

    We have to start listening well to voices in the black community.

    For me, I look to Christian voices in the black community, because at the end of the day, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The people I list below love Jesus and they are part of the black community. Follow them and see what they have to say.

    Kirk Franklin 
    Latasha Morrison
    Trip Lee
    John Onwuchekwa
    Bryan Loritts 
    Jemar Tisby
    Tyler Burns

    Of course, this is just the tippity-top of the iceberg. There are so many others. Find them. Listen. Hear what they are saying. Not the media. Not politicians. Not your grandmother. Them.

    Stop saying All Lives Matter

    It sounds good, but it’s counterproductive.

    Confused?

    Read this:

    The Next Time Someone Says All Lives Matter, Show Them These Five Paragraphs

    Watch this quick, informative video

    Have you, perhaps, used one of these arguments in the face of #blacklivesmatter? This video is yours.

    4 Responses You’ll Probably Hear When Talking About Black Lives Matter

    Read these four articles

    They are utterly eye-opening and I hope everybody who is reading this blog will click and read them in their entirety. I’ve included the link, followed by a couple snippets taken directly from the articles.

    I’m a Black Ex-Cop and This is the Real Truth About Race and Policing

    “On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.

    That’s a theory from my friend K.L. Williams, who has trained thousands of officers around the country in use of force. Based on what I experienced as a black man serving in the St. Louis Police Department for five years, I agree with him. I worked with men and women who became cops for all the right reasons — they really wanted to help make their communities better. And I worked with people like the president of my police academy class, who sent out an email after President Obama won the 2008 election that included the statement, “I can’t believe I live in a country full of ni**er lovers!!!!!!!!” He patrolled the streets in St. Louis in a number of black communities with the authority to act under the color of law.”

    And this …

    “The reality of police abuse is not limited to a number of ‘very small incidents’ that have impacted black people nationwide, but generations of experienced and witnessed abuse.”

    I Won’t Keep Your Secrets Anymore

    “Why can’t people admit that their experience is not the only one? We all walk very different paths across this earth. When black people speak of the experiences they’ve had, why can’t white people just acknowledge? Why do so many feel compelled to argue and bristle and fight back?”

    And also …

    I can’t be the only white person who’s been privy to this kind of closet, subversive racism. I know there are a lot of white people standing up and speaking out and supporting the black community in saying, “This isn’t right. There needs to be change. We still have work to do.”

    But not enough of them.

    I’m telling you, as a member of the white community, not enough of you are speaking up. Not enough of you are being truthful about the racism you grew up with. The racism your friends spew. I hear it. I’ve been to your parties and your barbecues.

    I know you hear it, too.

    I won’t stand by and keep your secrets any longer.”

    Dear White Christian Woman

    “I know it’s my privilege to serve a savior that is near to the broken hearted. But I want to walk alongside a community of believers that are near to me as well.  Sadly…that’s just not the case. For every #AltonSterling and #TamirRice, I notice an overwhelming silence from my white Christian sisters. It’s deafening. I support every missional cause that my white Christian sisters push on social media for every impoverished country. But where is my community of believers when injustice is happening right in our own backyard? Is it less of a cause because there are no artisanal crafts to sell in honor of the slain? 

    I’m hurting here. Really hurting. Like the kind of hurt that leaves you with no eloquent words…just sobbing. This. Should. Not. Happen. Whether you believe the victims are criminals or not, they deserve to make it to the police station, just like the police officer deserves to make it home.”

    If You Don’t See the Tragedy in Black Neighborhoods, You’re Not Looking

    “I do not think white Americans are guilty, as more militant people believe, of wanting black people dead or repressed. I also believe the answer lies in conservative principles and rule of law as opposed to socialism. But I do think white Americans are guilty of willful blindness, of thinking a problem has been solved when it hasn’t, of living in a bubble and not seeing the struggle of their fellow Americans.”

    Read this book

    Time for another honesty moment.

    Have you ever thought something like, “Slavery ended forever ago. The Civil Rights Movement happened already. Jim Crow is a thing of the past. Can’t we all just move on?”

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    How can something as devastatingly horrendous (and also, disturbingly deliberate and pre-meditated) as black slavery and Jim Crow not have long-lasting and far-reaching impact?

    What book addresses this, you ask?

    The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

    Alexander lays it out. The full scope of American history (the rise and fall of slavery, the rise and fall of Jim Crow, and the after effects) as it pertains to black oppression. And that’s just in chapter one. I’m only on p. 48 and I’m already wrecked. I’m only on page 48 and I already know I can’t stay quiet or sit on the sidelines anymore.

    ——–

    I hope you start this journey with me.

    I hope you read the articles and follow the people on Twitter and watch the video. If you’re feeling ambitious, I hope you order the book and give it a read.

    I hope you don’t shoo this post away in annoyance, or scratch your head in confusion, and move on.

    I also hope you don’t read this, feel a moment of understanding and passion and conviction, and move on.

    You could if you wanted. Doing so is your privilege as a white person.

    For our black brothers and sisters, though? It’s not a privilege they have. These aren’t issues they can turn off because they’re sick of the drama. This is what’s happening to their sons and their fathers and their cousins and their neighbors.

    For the sake of justice and freedom and healing, this privilege needs to be set down. We need to roll up our sleeves, lean in, and start listening.

    Who’s ready to take this journey with me?

    Please feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments below. You by no means have to agree with me. I encourage dialogue, so long as it is kind and respectful!

    *****

    I’m adding some stuff, because I’m at this beginning of this journey and my knowledge is so incomplete. Here are some more recent resources that are really helping me to understand this from a more complete, Christ-centered point of view:

    Blog Series: FAQ about Racial Reconciliation from Trillia Newbell (there are two blog posts as of right now, with at least one more to come)

    Podcast: Real Hurt, Real Hope: Racial Tension and Perseverance (if you have time to listen to ANYTHING, please let it be this)

    Blog Post: It’s Not Either Or by Courtney Miller

    Katie
    Comment Link 16 Comments

    Nobody’s Calling You a Racist (and 5 Action Points)

    Black Lives Matter.

    It’s a movement that started a couple years ago. People have all kinds of opinions and reactions to it, especially in light of recent events.

    I’ve been having my fair share of conversations. Trying to figure out how to navigate it all as a white female who has no idea what it’s like to be a black person in America. A white female who has the luxury of turning off social media and the news and thus, turning off the issue.

    The idea of racism is the central topic in these conversations and something like this is usually said:

    I just don’t come across it.

    As a white female, I don’t run up against prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone because of their race.

    But here’s the thing.

    Unless that prejudice, discrimination, antagonism is loud and visible, why would I run up against it?

    So many of us hear “racism” and we picture the curmudgeonly great uncle who uses derogatory words for certain people groups, or those white supremacists with swastikas tattooed on their arms.

    But that’s not the full scope of the word. It’s not even close.

    Racism isn’t just about name-calling or overt discrimination.

    It’s about a value system.

    And as a whole, society doesn’t place the same value on black lives as it does white ones.

    Case in point:

    The statistic that’s being thrown around like its own version of a firearm, almost always (at least that I can see) by white people taking offense to #blacklivesmatter, as if the hashtag is accusing a particular person of being racist.

    2015-11-23 11_56_07-Donald J. Trump on Twitter_ __@SeanSean252_ @WayneDupreeShow @Rockprincess818 @C

    I don’t even know if this statistic is true.

    Whether it’s true isn’t even the point.

    The point is that this statistic is used sanctimoniously, as if to say, “I rest my case.” As if this should be the big mic drop moment wherein “the other side” is silenced and discredited and made out to be wrong and foolish.

    See, this statistic says. Nobody’s racist.

    And yet, this, right here, along with the casualty with which its posted is highly problematic.

    That statistic shouldn’t make anybody feel sanctimonious.

    That statistic and the casualness with which its posted is one of the reasons why the #blacklivesmatter movement exists.

    People are posting these statistics as if those lives don’t matter.

    Can we be real for a minute?

    If a white man drove up into a predominantly white neighborhood and opened fire, it would be all over the news.

    All. Over.

    When this happens in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods, nobody says boo. It’s not newsworthy. Because, you know. “Thugs will be thugs.” (Don’t even get me started on that word … )

    With this mentality, how can we argue that black lives matter as much as white lives?

    Something is broken.

    Something is wrong.

    Something isn’t right.

    That statistic shouldn’t be used to silence the black community. That statistic should cause anybody who holds life in high regard to lock arms with the black community. It should give anybody who holds life in high regard a thirst to understand.

    What is going on? Why is this happening?

    If we truly believe that skin color is nothing more than melanin level, and we truly believe every person is intrinsically valued because of Imago Dei, then WHY doesn’t that statistic move us to action?

    Some of you might be thinking, what action? What can I possibly do as a white person who is largely unaffected by all of this? It’s a question I’m wrestling with. A question I’ve heard many of my friends wrestling with, too. Here’s where I’ve landed so far:

    • Listen and listen carefully. Not to other white people. Listen to our fellow black image bearers who understand in a way a white person never will. Check your Twitter and Facebook feeds. I highly respect Trip Lee. Follow him and see who he’s retweeting. You’ll find some really compelling, Christ-centered voices who are part of the black community.
    • Say something. Not an opinion. Lord knows we have too many of those flying around the social media sphere. Now’s not the time to add to that particular noise. Now is the time to lock arms and speak love. It can be as simple as, “I’m listening. And I’m standing with you.”
    • Speak truth. When a family member, friend, or acquaintance says something that sounds/feels wrong–when their words or attitude devalue life, any life–push back. Point it out. Respectfully and in love.
    • Pray. For healing. For justice. For restoration. For love to win.

    I think this is a good place to start.

    * Please know, I’m nervous about this post. I’m nervous about stepping into these waters, because there’s so much I don’t know and don’t understand. I feel a little bit like someone with no kids trying to talk on parenting. If you have beautiful brown skin like my daughter, please chime in. If I’ve said something that doesn’t sit right, please chime in. I want to understand better.

    Katie
    Comment Link 11 Comments

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