Election 2016 Detox Plan


No matter where you live, you are probably completely fed up and exhausted by the U.S Election 2016. If you are a U.S. citizen, you are even more tired of it, even if you were on the winning side. So it’s time to purge and detox. Like a colon cleanse, this list is designed to rid yourself of the impurities that collected in your system. Add your own through the comments — that way we will have more ideas.

  1. Bake. Baking not only fills your home with delicious aromas, it also is a way of creating and getting your mind off that which is disturbing.
  2. Read a book about a group of people who you know nothing about. You will grow. You will learn. You will grow more empathetic.
  3. Apologize to someone who you offended during the election cycle. If you think you didn’t offend anyone, think again. If you were on social media expressing your opinion, you probably did.
  4. Hold and cuddle a baby. Babies will remind you of all that is good and holy in our world. Babies will remind you that God still wants the world to go on.
  5. Don’t post false news and information. There is a plethora of false news going around. It’s worse than it has ever been and it is hurting people. Before you post anything, please do the following:
    1. Read it – People post things without reading them all the time and then they’re upset when others call them out on something the article says. If you post it, first read it.
    2. If it’s from The Onion, The Babylon Bee, or another satirical site, remember — it isn’t real. The goal of those sites is to make us laugh at the ridiculousness of news headlines.
    3. Check the date! There are so many pictures going around from a year ago, two years ago. Check the date and the story. The story may be outrageous, but if it’s an old story, then we already had our chance to be outraged and for god’s sake, don’t make us get outraged again!
  6. Eat homemade bread with raspberry jam.
  7. Put on classical music and let it flood your soul.
  8. Make friends with someone who doesn’t look or believe like you do.
  9. Take a long walk.with a good friend and make election talk off-limits.
  10. Get involved in some sort of service project. Whether it’s feeding the homeless, volunteering at a shelter, making refugee kits or something else, I guarantee that there are organizations that need your time and skills. Winter is a time when social service agencies need all the help they can get. Check with your local homeless shelter, community health center, Salvation Army or other community based organizations.
  11. Limit your time on social media. Hide the posts of people who you feel aren’t helping. Give yourself a one day sabbath. Consider Pico Iyer’s quote “In an age of movement, nothing is more critical than stillness.” In a book called The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. Iyer writes that many people who work in Silicon Valley try hard to observe an “internet sabbath.” For 24 or 48 hours each week they go completely offline to get a sense of focus and perspective, so that when they go online again, they will have the creativity to do what they are paid to do. The irony is profound. They sit in stillness in order to create programs and platforms so that we never want to go offline. Defy the creators of social media and find time every day to be still and away from social media of all types.
  12. Invite someone for a meal or tea.
  13. Play a board game with friends. On Thursday of last week, we played Ticket to Ride India version with my daughter and her boyfriend. It was perfect timing. We didn’t once talk about the election – we just concentrated on building trains from Bombay to Calcutta. It was therapeutic and fun, just what we needed.
  14. Set boundaries for yourself. If you are going to be having Thanksgiving Dinner with people who you disagree with politically but love deeply, then decide ahead of time that you won’t go there. It’s not worth it. Relationships last – politics and elections don’t.
  15. If you are someone who prays, pray that you will be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  16. Read these books to better understand the worlds of others:
    1. Between the World and Me – Ta Nehisi Coates
    2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    3. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (I’m in the middle of this one now – hard but excellent read.)
    4. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
  17. Read the beautiful When Breath Becomes Air and thank God you are alive.
  18. Head over to this piece and think about what it is to love well. What does it mean specifically for you?
  19. Watch The Crown on Netflix. It is an excellent series that follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Watching another country’s system of government that includes a monarchy is a breath of fresh air. The resounding cry of “God save the Queen” and “Bring back the monarchy!” are on my lips after every episode.
  20. Lastly, you will never regret being kind. A couple of months ago I was in a hard spot. I felt hurt and sad about something that had happened. As I was thinking about it, I realized this: I would rather be sad and hurt then bitter and angry any day. Sad and hurt can heal, bitter and angry tends to fester into a wound that needs surgery. So I’ll continue to choose kind.

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
―  When Breath Becomes Air

That’s all I have. What can you add? 

Belva’s Blue Platter: A Story of Redemption

This summer I said to Robynn “Any time you’re ready to write more for Communicating Across Boundaries I’m ready to have you!” I meant every word of it. While I can’t make promises for Robynn, we may hear more from her this fall on CAB. For now enjoy this beautiful story of how loving care and vision restored a platter.

Belvas platter 2

Belva’s Blue Platter: A story of Redemption by Robynn

This summer when we were sorting out my mother in law’s kitchen, a blue and gold trimmed platter was pulled out of a cupboard. Who wanted this? My mother in law dismissed it with a chuckle. With mom coming to live with us I imagined I would now be the one cooking the Thanksgiving and the Christmas Turkey. Mom often had the platter carry the sacred meat to the feast. I would take the blue platter. It could continue to serve its purpose. I asked my mother in law to tell us the story of the platter. Where did it come from?  That’s when we learned of the mud-hidden, basement-buried treasure that she had found all those years ago.

Nearly twenty years have passed since my mother in law and her three sisters in law cleaned out the old farm-house where her in-laws had lived and raised their family. The women sorted and divided, they purged and pitched. It was an enormous job and emotional work. Stories were told. Memories were dusted off and placed on the table before being packed away again. Knowing the four of them, I know they cried and they laughed until they cried, while they worked.

In the basement of that tired old house, my mother in law, Belva, discovered buried under years of dirt and dust, a forgotten platter. Mysteriously it was caked in mud. She took it upstairs and washed it off. To her delight, a blue bordered, gold trimmed china platter came to life under the washing water. Assuming it was a family heirloom, she asked Lois, Coralee or Carol if they’d like to have it. They waved her off and she tucked the platter into her pile of things to bring to Kansas.

No one is quite clear on where that platter came from. Grandma Bliss evidently wasn’t too attached to it for it to end up buried in the basement. One sister-in-law, Coralee thought maybe Grandpa bought it from the Ravenna flea market. Apparently Grandma was always a little disgusted by the amount of “treasures” he’d cart home from his weekly expedition to the market. Another sister-in-law, Carol mused that perhaps it had come from a neighbouring abandoned farm, when Grandpa had purchased the entire estate. No one really knows and neither Grandpa nor Grandma are around to confirm the plate’s past.

This is the story of redemption. Lives are covered in sorrow and bitter circumstances. Pearls are hidden in salty mire and hardened exteriors. Jewels are deeply entombed in the dark earth. Love sees potential and redeems. Gently, tenderly, under the faucet of grace, love washes away the dirt and darkness and reveals glorious blues and gold trims. The platter was tossed aside until Belva picked it up. She recognized the potential, she did the work of restoring it and she welcomed it to the table.

I like this story. It means something to me these days. The platter is now displayed with joy in our dining room. The 24 carat gold reflects the sunlight streaming through the windows, patiently waiting for the holidays when it will be needed. The platter speaks to me of purpose. It whispers quietly of hope. It inspires me to hold on to the promise of redemption.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3

Take Off Your Heels and Stay Awhile!

“Mom, you have your heels off!” this from my daughter. She turned to her friend “That means my mom is really relaxed. She usually has her shoes on.”

It’s true. Practically the minute I get out of bed I put my shoes on. It’s a thing I do. I have to be ready for what comes my way, for the day.

Having my heels on says “She’s ready. She’s armed. She can do this thing called life!”

And my kids have realized this: Mom rarely takes her heels off – there’s always something to do, somewhere to be, something to think.

But right now I have my heels off. I have taken off my heavy backpack, kicked off my trusty ‘buy one get one half off’ Payless heels that take me through the streets of Boston, from home to work to church to people. I have a son and daughter-in-law visiting and time away from work. There is time to rest and read; time for long, sunset walks and sleeping in, time to reflect and pray.

A time to remember my “God-given desire for the Divine”.

Taking off our heels and staying awhile is a gift and I know that. I will cherish this and soak in the moments.

So this weekend, whereever you are – I hope you can take off your heels and stay awhile.

O Lord Jesus Christ, open Thou the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Thy word and understand and do Thy Will, for I am but a sojourner upon the earth- St John Chrysostom



How a Stranger Got me to Re-Post Paper Sam & the Power of Words

The start to my Wednesday has not been ideal. I left an unfinished cup of coffee (a delicious cup, mind you) on my counter, I rushed to the bus, my son wasn’t feeling well…but those are minor. When I got to the subway I walked toward the end of the platform, the perfect place for me to hop off and head straight for the exit at the Park Street stop. The platform wasn’t crowded and at this point most who were idly standing by were men.

And then out of nowhere came words directed solely at me. loud and surly: “Skank” “Bitch”. My eyes followed the sound of the words and a man, scruffy and unshaved, looked directly at me, his lips curling in complete hate. He repeated the words as I walked quickly away, heart pounding.

The train could not come fast enough. He was a stranger yet these vitriolic words flew out of his mouth directed at me. 

But here’s what’s startling – while I knew the minute I heard the words that he was seriously mentally ill, that while the words were directed at me, they weren’t about me – those words stayed with me. They sank in and I wanted to cry. I know that I’m neither of those words. They don’t apply to me, or any other woman – but they still worked their way into my tired heart. And so I decided to re-post a piece I did a year ago called “Paper Sam and the Power of Words”. 


The trainer pulled out a plain white piece of paper. On the paper was a simple drawing of a face: two dot eyes and a single line upturned to symbolize a smile.

Paper Sam Before Insults

“This is Sam” he said. The activity was simple. Beginning at the front of the room each person was to go back in time to the days of playgrounds and small friends. We would pass around the picture of “Paper Sam” and say something that was said to us in childhood that hurt. Before passing on the innocent piece of paper that had become Sam we were to crumple it up.

So the words and the subsequent crumpling began:

“You’re weak!” Crumple.

You’re ugly!” Crumple

“You’re so fat!” Crumple

“You have no dad!” Crumple

“You stutter!” Crumple

After 20 insults, Paper Sam was a crumpled mess. And then the activity was reversed. Paper Sam was sent around the room again, only this time we were to take Sam and repeat words that someone had said to us in our adult life that demonstrated they believed in us. After delivering those words we were to take crumpled, almost destroyed Paper Sam and smooth him out, try to remove some of the impact and take away those wrinkles.

The contrast couldn’t have been more profound:

“You can do this!”

“You are incredibly capable!”

“You are a role model for others”

“You are a real leader.”

“I encourage you to go back to school – you are so smart.”

“You are gifted with people.”

“Your family must be so proud.”

20 phrases later Paper Sam was smoother but still bore some residual scars. There was no way that all that crumpling could be undone, it was too much and too prolonged

We all know the power of words, but sometimes we are given a new way of looking at that power. Watching Paper Sam crumpled time upon time as memories of words came flooding out was poignant and powerful. We had personalized Sam – he was us and each time he took a beating we took a beating. Equally powerful were the attempts to smooth the crinkles and restore Paper Sam to his former self through words of affirmation and acts of restoration. That too was us.

Paper Sam – Restored with scars

While words of insult tear down, words of affirmation restore. While some hands crumple and crush, others gently smooth. While sin tears down, grace and redemption restore.

Where have you seen the power of words in your life for good or for ill? Tell your story in the comment section. 

Downtown Crossing Dirty

No matter how much the Downtown Crossing T station in Boston is cleaned, it’s always dirty. A dirty bandaid that fell from a wound; a cigarette butt still sending up smoke, evidence of being recently tossed on the ground to avoid the penalty of breaking the strictly enforced ban on smoking; a banana peel, missed by the cleaning crew – no matter how much bleach, time and energy is used, there is always residual dirt. It never looks clean.

Today as I walked up the stairs to Washington Street this reality hit me. There will never be enough soap, bleach or paint to get this station clean. There are too many crowds, too much traffic, too much raw humanity.

Yet despite this, cleaning crews in the morning and evening continue to work their mops and buckets down stairs and on platforms. Thankless jobs in a thankless station that can never be clean.

And that is how I sometimes feel. I feel Downtown Crossing dirty. I feel the weight of my sin and brokenness. I feel the power of defeat and doubt. Like dirty bandaids and old garbage these things clog my soul, waiting for a clean-up crew to come and try to make it clean.

But stopping in the tunnel of Downtown Crossing I hear this amazing melody of grace. It’s an old hymn that is often heard amidst expensively coiffed and well-dressed people so I shake my head to try to take in the incongruity of this hymn with my surroundings. Am I imagining this?

But it’s unmistakable!

Here in the midst of Downtown Crossing dirty is the melody to “How Great Thou Art”. The sounds resonate in this echo chamber, beautifully played on a violin by a man whose clothes won’t make it to the well-dressed category. The words flow through my mind as the music swells, unwilling to be drowned out by the noise of an incoming train.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee – How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art. 

Suddenly none of the dirt matters. All that matters is this sound, this reminder of a God who is as present in the diversity and dirt of humanity in Downtown Crossing as he is among the beautiful and clean. A God who restores and makes all things new.

My soul is lost in this melody of grace, a melody of grace made for places and moments like these. A melody made for Downtown Crossing dirty.

18th Century Gates & Candlesticks: Restoring the Broken in Lebanon

A beautiful candlestick, salvaged and reborn from an 18th century gate

I have on my table a beautifully crafted candlestick made from an 18th century gate found in Lebanon. This candlestick is unique – there is none like it in the world. Far more beautiful than the candlestick, however, is the story behind the candlestick.

Disabled and marginalized people; 18th century beauty in the form of old gates, windows,wrought iron banisters; and the vision of a French designer are the ingredients of a Lebanese based company called [beyt] by 2b design. We had the privilege of meeting the creators of this design company on Sunday night over dinner at our home.

The idea is brilliant. Lebanon is full of the leftover beauty of what were once stunning homes. Years of conflict have left many destroyed, others were deserted and sit empty and neglected. The beauty left is in the form of old windows, balustrades, tiles, and gates, now discarded and left as scrap metal to be sold and used elsewhere. The French Designer, Benedicte de Blavous Mubarak, fell in love with these objects and went country-wide seeking out this beauty. As she thought about restoring the beauty of these objects, she was reminded of the need to restore the beauty of people, especially people who are considered unlovely by society and swept to the side, left without purpose, much less any concept of worth or beauty. Those people who are disabled and marginalized with limited job skills.  What if you could marry the two?  What if you could bring back beauty and purpose to people by creating a company that hires them to skillfully restore these pieces to beauty? A company that pays a livable wage and treats all employees with respect and dignity. The marriage began and one phrase describes the mission:

Restore the Unseen Beauty of the Broken

This company is remarkable. It’s vision is continuing to grow through the wisdom of both the designer and her husband, Raja, who helps with the business side of the company. Along with developing a workforce that includes those who are at the fringes of society, they look to hire a diverse staff that traditionally have been in conflict. In doing so they bring about a different type of restoration, that of reconciling people to each other and to peace. They are looking at expanding to the United States, keeping the same ethos and integrity for both people and designs.

[beyt] by 2b design’s work is not going unnoticed. In August of this year at a design fair in New York City the company received several awards. One was a “Best of the Best” award for social responsibility and ecological sensitivity from the American Society of Interior Designers New York chapter.

I love this inventive way of restoring the beauty and dignity of people while salvaging old objects and making them new. The candlesticks, lamps, pillow covers and more are pictures of God’s redemptive process and restoration of beauty. Even more so are the stories of people working in the company, salvaged and restored to dignity. In Him, author of all beauty,  there is worth.

Our guests gave us the candlestick as a hostess gift. I am in awe of their generosity, but even more so, I am grateful that I have this daily reminder of redemption and people who live out God’s vision for restoring our world.

[beyt] by 2b design will soon be selling through abc carpet & home. If you are, or know, an interior designer, let them know about this wonderful company and the unique vision communicated through their products. Also, be sure to check out their Facebook page by clicking here. You may not be able to buy one of their products but clicking the “like” button and posting their page on your wall is an easy way to bring awareness to this company and spread their vision. They can’t do it without others coming alongside them.

Bloggers Note: Raja and Benedicte are now partnering with Habitat for Humanity to restore the homes of those who work for the company. One more step of restoration.

Another view of the candlestick