A Book, a Confession, & a Plea


4-3-2018

This post has three introductions. The first and second follow this one, just to confuse you. I started this post last week and did not get back to it as soon as I hoped. I am also still trying to sort out my thoughts and felt an apology introduction was needed. Writing helps me put into words what I am thinking and feeling. Usually when I start typing it is as if a floodgate has opened and words pour forth. This time was different. The thoughts and feelings are so new, deep, and complex is became more of an archeological dig. Therefore, I do not think it as well written as I would like. But it is more real. Read with this in mind.

3-27-2018

It has been a while. I am ashamed, but also, life happens. While I cannot claim that the reason for the delay was the heavy pondering of this post, I have been deeply contemplating this topic for quite some time. I just failed to realize it was a post until today.

Recently I have been confronted with the fact that I often judge things with very limited knowledge and experience, all while fully believing I am informed and aware enough to fairly make that judgment. In other words, I am ignorant and oblivious while believing myself to be educated and mindful. A truly dangerous state of mind, this revelation is both painful and enlightening. This is especially true when it come to racial issues. I find myself sorely lacking. What follows is both a confession and a plea.

A book was recommended to me. Thankfully it came in audiobook form (these days I start reading traditional books with good intentions but rarely finish them…) and was available through the library, or this post would have never existed. The book was called “Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race” by Debbie Irving. Honestly, I had never heard of it and would not have sought out a book on the topic of race without the recommendation. I am so grateful for the ways God orchestrates seemingly insignificant details in my life.

At the heart of the book is this, white people are clueless and oblivious to the continuing racism around them, the white privilege that smooths their way daily, and the heritage of white privilege that has given them an unnoticed unappreciated advantage. Skeptical? I was too. But you cannot argue with facts. What happened in one’s grandparents time and to them has undeniably influenced where they are today. What happens today is indeed rooted in deep seated, difficult to see, racism that I, as a white person, have been utterly blind to. No matter how you feel about this, how informed you think you are, or how skeptical and annoyed you are by people playing the “race card,” I urge you to just read the book. I was shocked.

The book started it all. You know how when you learn a new word or discover a new author you start seeing the word or name everywhere? You wonder if it is just coincidence or if you were just blind to it before? That’s how it was. Everywhere I looked I saw articles on race, heard people make flippant remarks about race, noticed my own biases pop up uninvited when in certain situations. On my favorite TV show “Timeless” one of the main characters, an African American named Rufus makes the remark that, at least this time being followed around a store suspiciously was deserved because the group was indeed shoplifting. At a women’s conference I heard a testimony by a woman saying she was nearly pushed to leave her beloved church because she was hurt by her white friend’s oblivion to racial issues. My own blindness to my white privilege became glaringly apparent. Do you usually have to pull out your ID to make a credit card purchase? Me either. Do you know that most of your minority friends shopping for the same items at the same stores are required to show ID? That is white privilege. Do you realize how regularly non-white people talk about racism in their homes, simply because there is no way not to? Not having to talk/think about race is white privilege!

I am guilty of ignorance and oblivion. Sadly, oblivion is not a personal issue. There are victims. I am at the beginning stages of becoming aware. It seems the best place to start is with an apology. To all my friends and family of color: I am sorry. I have been clueless, foolish, and blind. I am trying to learn and change. I also offer a plea. Talk to me. Help me. I want to understand. I want to change. I want to learn. But I hardly know where to start. So do not shy away from certain topics around me, tell me about them. While I cannot promise it will not get a little awkward, I can promise I would rather hear and learn than continue in ignorance. I now know just enough to realize there is a problem, a diagnosis. Now I need to start finding the cure.

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A Link? Yes, a Link. 


It is a bit odd to share a link for an article on a personal blog. But I’m going to. This is my explanation/apology for not writing in a while and not really knowing when I will next… An article articulating exactly how the last few weeks have felt. 

https://www.mother.ly/life/dear-mama-youre-not-doing-it-wrong-its-just-that-hard#close

Jimmy Fallon, You Missed Out


You may have heard, Jimmy Fallon was in town over the weekend. (I actually made it to the live Tonight Show Sunday night by the skin of my teeth, but that is another story.)He announced last week on his show that he would visit a Minneapolis family for dinner instead of heading out to a restaurant. You just had to email him what you would cook and why he should come. So I wrote. I mean, why not?! While he chose a lovely family from Champlin instead, I thought you may enjoy reading my letter. And, of course, I personally think he missed out.

Dear Mr. Fallon,

I really like your show. But enough with the sucking up. I hear you want to have dinner at someone’s house here in Minnesota. Well you would sure be welcome at ours. We have two kids, Lewis who is three, and Wallace who is six months. Please set your standards accordingly.

I’m sure lots of folks are trying to lure you in with fancy sounding food or exciting entertainment. But I’m honest. I would love to cook something sophisticated for you but I’m usually just relieved I actually get meals put together and on the table. Just to keep your expectations in perspective I would make Skillet Chili-Mac. It isn’t technically a hotdish as you don’t cook it in the oven, but it’s the same idea. It’s my go to meal, I always keep the ingredients on hand and can throw it together pretty quickly. But it is from a cookbook that is called, “More Cooking in Minnesota,” so it’s authentic. It is yummy and easy, because I have two kids and one is three.

I will have a salad for a side including a can of mandarin oranges, the only fruit we can count on up here. Bars for dessert, a midwestern staple.Think cookies in a pan, like brownies but not necessarily chocolate and with endless possibilities. Bringing someone a pan of bars is a Minnesotan’s ultimate statement of caring and shows their willingness to help out in any way. (All without having to say a word). These I will make from scratch, Lord willing. I have two kids and one is three.

I will be a good hostess and clean my house for you, but I have a three year old. This is similar to having a human “undo” button after every task. The problem is you don’t want all those things undone. So I will clean the house the day you come but I will not vouch for its condition when you arrive. Naptime only lasts so long and I have two kids and one is three.

For your dining entertainment I have been preparing something for just over three years. Lewis, my son. He is curious, brilliant, and three. His ideas are almost a big as his vocabulary. I can guarantee you material for at least three shows during dinner. He is unpredictable in the best of ways. He may tell you all our family secrets, he may tell an elaborate story that sounds crazy and when questioned loudly announce, “I’m [pre]tendin’!” He may just ask you 17,000 questions, a series of five questions each asked 3,400 times. You just never know! But you are also never bored. Wallace will likely join in as well. He laughs at his brother all the time. You know there is nothing better than baby laughter. After all, I have two kids and one is three.

So, Mr. Fallon, we would be honored to host you at our normal house for a normal family dinner. Nothing will be out of the ordinary. But you would never forget it. Ya sure you bet’cha!

 

Sincerely,

Jeanie Ruter

 

P.S. A few Lewis quotes:

 

Uncle trying to get Lewis to take a bite of food: How about now?

Lewis: How about NO!

 

Lewis: I’m [pre]tendin’ you are driving super fast! A policeman is pulling you over! He is making you pay money so he can go fix the law you broke!

A Golden Globe Gown and Worship


The Golden Globes are old news. Anyone still talking about them must be way behind the times. Yup, that’s me! I didn’t even watch them. I just went online the day after to look at the best and worst dressed. It’s the seamstress/wanna-be-fashion-designer in me. I was surprised to see so many black dresses until I discovered this was a sign of support for the #MeToo movement and statement against the Weinstein scandal. Who knew dresses could be a cause for so much study and rumination in my mind.

Aside from being black, most of the dresses also seemed to be more conservative than usual. This seemed appropriate for the statement they claimed to be making. There was one actress I noticed that made a different  choice of attire. Although I know a reputable designer created the gown, it appeared to be straight from Victoria’s Secret. Mostly sheer, leaving very little to the imagination, it seemed to belong in the bedroom rather than the red carpet. But it was black. Showing support for sexual assault victims. Am I the only one that finds this ironic?

Before I elaborate, let me make one thing very clear. No woman is responsible in any way when she is sexual harrassed. Those choosing to exploit, abuse, and take advantage hold the entire weight of blame and are the only party at fault. With this understanding, let me try to express my frustrated eye roll at the “support” shown by this particular actress.

Imagine a celebrity appearing at a dinner congratulating those who completed all the steps of alcoholics anonymous. A champion of the cause, a big name, claiming to care deeply about all participants. At the close of the meeting, they give out the awards to each, along with a complimentary sample size bottle of vodka. What is wrong with them?! Are they idiots, or intentionally sabotaging the very cause they claim to advocate?

Shockingly inappropriate, this is how I view this particular Golden Globes gown. While purporting to stand up for of victims of sexual violence, she chose to wear a tantalizing, sensual gown, revealing as much of her body as possible. Yes, men are responsible for what they do and think. But women, come on! Are we going to be the ones professing to support AA while handing out free booze? Are we going to go to Weight Watchers and give out free bites of indulgent cheesecake? This is what we do when we stand strong for victims of sexual assault while showing off our bodies in inappropriate ways.

But how? What is the right list to follow? Where is the “What to Wear” list in the Bible? How about the “What not to Wear” list? They don’t exist. Why? It is, as everything, an issue of the heart. Human made lists cause legalism or rebellion. They have to change with every trend. Back to the original question. How? Here is my rule of thumb.

1 Timothy 2:8 -10 – “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness- with good works.”

Is this a list against braiding hair and wearing fancy things? No. It shows us what dressing modestly is: an act of worship. Paul begins by explaining how men should worship. Then he uses the word “likewise,” which Webster defines as “in like manner.” Dressing modestly is one way we, as women, worship. Wow. So instead of a list, remember this: how you choose to look outwardly is an act of worship. It reveals what you worship. My hope and desire as I choose my wardrobe each and everyday is that I will reflect the God I worship “with what is proper for women who profess godliness.”

Let’s not dangle the bait and then condemn the fish for biting. Let’s use our fashion choices to reveal instead our worship of our Lord and King and our love and concern for our fellow women. And men.

Coming Soon…


Have you noticed I haven’t been on here lately? I mean my last post is… embarrassingly old. I have some good reasons for that and some bad.

I am now the mother of two boys. One just turned three and NEVER STOPS MOVING. He explores, talks constantly, and is in general a busy fellow. The other will be 6 months old tomorrow. He is just learning to sit up, decided he will no longer sleep through a ruckus, and insists on a feeding every three hours. This four hour schedule Mom would prefer is for losers. So, though “all I do” is stay home with them keeping them alive and stopping them from accidentally killing themselves (not the same thing by far), I am quite busy.

However, in my downtime I have the human, lazy tendency to crash on the couch and turn on Netflix. While I do need this mindless rest time at times, I also do it far too often. And remarkably, I feel less tired when I accomplish more.

Writing our Christmas letter for the Great Christmas Card Endeavour of 2017 reminded me of how much I love writing. Finding the perfect words to express myself is very rewarding and even helps me understand my own thoughts better.

The purpose of this “Coming Soon” post is merely this. If I publicly declare I am going to write more, I will be forced to follow through or face public shame. I am not yet willing to commit to a certain number of post in a certain amount of time. Heck, I am not even willing to commit to a specific topic! I will likely just write about whatever is on my mind at the moment. This should intrigue and possibly frighten you. It is not a “Mom blog” though I am sure my boys will make it into my posts here and there. I try not to talk as much about how to raise them as much as how they are teaching, challenging and growing me.

So there you have it. First real post “Coming Soon…..”

 

A Barnacle of a Conscience: “Go Set a Watchman,” Josh Duggar, Tullian Tchividjian, and Crashing Pedestals


*Warning: Plot spoilers to “Go Set a Watchman” are contained in this post.

When I heard the earth shattering literary news that Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was publishing a second book, I was ecstatic. (If you haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird go read it RIGHT NOW.) One of my favorite books, a timeless classic, has a sequel after fifty five years. Then came the disclaimers. Atticus Finch’s reputation tarnished? Was it really Harper Lee’s second book? Or her first book, once rejected, gaining new life not to mention generating a new fortune? Despite the controversy, or perhaps spurred on because of it, I had to read it. I finished it last week and have been contemplating this post since then. For me, the timing of this book was quite coincidental. And poignant.

Atticus Finch is my favorite literary character of all time, brilliantly crafted by Harper Lee, and forever synonymous with Gregory Peck in my mind. (Atticus looks like Gregory Peck. Period. Watch the old movie. Peck personifies Atticus to perfection.) In “Go Set a Watchman,” the new book, Jean Louise, his daughter, discovers he is a segregationist and is utterly crushed.

At some point in our lives, we all have encountered a person that enabled us to grow far beyond our own capabilities. A parent, a speaker, a celebrity, someone that inspired us and pushed us past our shortcomings. One of mine was Tullian Tchividjian. A pastor and speaker, I heard him give a message entitled, “Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything.” That message was incredible. I feel that it accelerated my spiritual growth in many ways. I recently heard the news that Tchividjian admitted to an extramarital affair and resigned. I was utterly crushed.

For some, Josh Duggar was that person. Seeming to have so many things right, the family appeared to all have it together, be brilliant witnesses for Christianity, and an example to imitate. When the allegations of infidelity and the seeking out of impurity arose, many hoped it would be denied and proved wrong. The admittance caused many to be utterly crushed.

What do these stories have in common? A hero toppling from a pedestal. Why does it destroy us so deeply? “Go Set a Watchman” helped me understand myself in a way I had not yet realized. Coincidental timing. Or some would say Providential.

First, I empathized completely with Jean Louise’s attack on her father. An excerpt:  “I believed in you. I looked up to you, Atticus, like I never looked up to anybody else in my life and never will again. If you had only given me some hint, if you had only broken your word with me a couple of times, if you had been bad-tempered or impatient with me – if you had been a lesser man, maybe I could have taken what I saw you doing. If once or twice you’d let me catch you doing something vile, then I would have understood yesterday. Then I’d have said that’s just His Way, that’s My Old Man, because I’d have been prepared along the line – “ (Pg 249-250)

Why is it that heroes have to be so darn heroic before we see them crash? Why can’t we see a chink in their armor before the whole kit and caboodle comes crashing down, because as it turns out the inside was completely rotted away? We have all felt Jean Louise’s pronouncement, “You’ve cheated me in a way that’s inexpressible, but don’t let it worry you, because the joke is entirely on me. You’re the only person I think I’ve ever fully trusted and now I’m done for.” (pg 252)

Striking a chord, however, was Jean Louise’s uncle’s words to her when she returned home determined to leave and never come back. Here is where I saw myself, the weaknesses of the human race, and why scandal scares us more than anything else. “…now you, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father’s. As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings – I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ‘em like all of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming your answers would always be his answers… When you happened along and saw him doing something that seemed to you to be the very antithesis of his conscience – your conscience – you literally could not stand it. It made you physically ill. Life became hell on earth for you.” (pg. 265)

Is it not true? We want to believe our heroes are faultless. We want those that helped us grow and pushed us beyond our own selfishness and weakness, to be perfect. We hate to see them fail. It leaves us terrified, wondering if our own foundation might have cracks where we thought it sturdiest. It creates the feeling that the rug has be pulled out from under our feet. Can we recover?

Yes. You see, the fault is ours. We long to attach our conscience to another like a barnacle. So we do. We want to believe people will never let us down. But they do. Foolishly, instead of realizing what we are doing, we instead pick up our barnacle of a conscience and attach it to the next hero we run into. And so the process repeats over and over again. This is human nature. But it is human nature because our consciences are created to be attached as a barnacle, just not to a fellow, earth dwelling human. It is meant to be attached to Jesus Christ, Who “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He will never fail you. It might hurt a little as your other heroes return to humanity, as Jean Louise “…welcomed him [Atticus] silently to the human race, the stab of discovery made her tremble a little.” (pg 278) But with Jesus Christ, we can rest assured the pedestal will not crash, the reputation will not be tarnished, this Hero will never falter. Attach your barnacle of a conscience to Him. And be at peace.

A Test


A while ago, as in year or two, I forgot to renew my domain name. It expired and I was going to be charges a ridiculous amount for a late fee. So I decided to go back to the .wordpress.com instead. But then it seemed I was locked out of my blog permanently! So this is a test to see if I can post again. Because I want to. And should.