Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Art*Music*Justice Tour

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend an event with my friend and neighbor (affectionately known as "neighbs"), Susie. We are both long-time fans of musician Sara Groves, so when we heard she was coming to town, we eagerly looked into getting tickets. Only to discover this was a large ticket of five artists, also including one of my favorite songwriters, Derek Webb.

When Susie and I arrived early to get the best possible seats for the price we paid (center seats of 4th row!), our biggest question was the order the artists would play in. However, as the show began with all artists on stage and they took turns playing one or two songs of their own at a time, we were moved from engaging with the individual artists into engaging with the Tour. We were shown videos and told stories in such a way that compelled us to engage with the cause, consider ways we can further the causes with our own action, and then consider ways we can financially help the cause. No buckets were passed, but they were readily available. The whole mood of the room shifted from beginning to end. We could sense the urgency in what they were saying without being burdened by it. They took time to pray in the middle of the show. They led the way by telling their own stories, by displaying in words and emotions on stage, by showing us - whether intentionally or not - how very much this campaign meant to them.

The Art *Music *Justice Tour is a music tour - a series of concerts -of five artists who are seeking to do something more with their stage. They are using the opportunity of these 22 shows (September 19- October 26) to raise money and awareness for worth causes: Food for the Hungry and International Justice Mission.

In a very small way, I felt a connect between Sara and this tour, and Sara and her role in the Ride:Well Tour. It reminded me of Tyler, Texas. It reminded me that even the smallest community can make unimaginable differences.

This tour is going to achieve great things and provide a great show to those present while at it. If at all possible, I highly recommend you go out for it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Action at the Eleventh Hour

Praise God!!

I spent most of today in my own world. Exhausted physically from a very busy and demanding week (already), and exhausted emotionally as I have spent much time thinking about and praying for Troy Davis and all that have had any role - on either side - of his "case" (in quotes because it isn't just another court case... it is his LIFE).

After being away from internet all day (I was at work for nearly 9 hours), I was anxious to arrive home and check the news. I do not know any details of how the march and witness went in the past 24 hours, but I understand there was a decent turn out, which makes my heart deeply glad.

After searching for more information tonight, I discovered this article. Troy has been granted a Supreme Court Reprive! This is going to be a very, very long road to go down, and prayer and support is still greatly needed. However, there is great joy and there are countless reasons to celebrate tonight: for though each step give only a little more time (in this case a week), we must take what we can get. As Rev. Sharpton said tonight, one week may not seem like a long time, but when you only had two hours to live, a week is a lifetime.

Only God could have brought this case along in such a short amount of time. Only 2 1/2 days ago I was pleaing desperately for prayer and support. I hope you will continue to join in this effort in the week to come. God is indeed hearing our prayers, friends. Let us rejoice, let us move forward and continue taking action, and in all things, let us continue to pray.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Last-Minute Plea for Help

There are few things worse than feeling helpless in situations that need - require- action.

I got a phone call tonight from a friend across the country who has been following and active with the case of a man by the name of Troy Davis, who is on death row. Back in 1991, he was convicted of murdering a police officer. After many appeals to have his case heard in a federal court, he has been denied one final time and his execution date is set for this Tuesday, September 23, 2008. That is only a few days away...

I will confess that no matter the case or the "evidence" of guilt, I do not believe the death penalty should EVER be the answer. That being said...

The facts about this case that I both heard from Karl tonight and read online (see this fact sheet for a quick timeline of the case) are so disturbing... To say the least, it seems he was convicted in such a way that would never stand in court today. No weapons, no physical evidence, etc. That, and there were 9 eyewitnesses then... and 7 of them have recanted, many of them now saying they testified because they were pressured or coerced - in some cases even paid - by police to offer the witness they did. Yet there has not been a chance for his case to even be re-heard with this new "evidence" pointing toward his innocence.

I am completely 100% against the death penalty, and in many ways it is because of cases like this one. It is such a terrible thing to hear about cases like this one, to see all that has been done before to try and change this, to try and do something to save a life, to bring justice to those to whom it is do.

I do not know what to do. I know we can pray for Troy and his family and friends. We can pray for Karl and his supporters who are actively seeking to bring attention to this case, actively seeking to save his life. We can pray for those in and working through the system that it change not only for this one case, but in the many cases that are yet to come.

It seems helpless. It seems like there are only 2 1/2 days to go until his execution so it might be too late... but the reality is, last time a date was set, it was changed within 24 hours of what could have otherwise been his final 24 hours of life. I'm clinging to hope and prayer tonight as folks continue to work for Troy in ways that will hopefully save his life, and undoubtedly change their own. I know learning of this case in the way I did tonight has already changed mine. My prayer is that a few people in the right positions of "power" will allow it to change theirs, as well. I hope you'll pray with us, and if you're in the area (Georgia), you will ACT. I'm not sure what that action needs to be... but as we pray about it, maybe we'll figure it out...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Update

I haven't updated in quite some time, so here's a quick recap of things I thought about writing about but never got to...

I had the opportunity to go to Arizona for the last week of August. I got to spend time with family I don't see often enough (even meet some I'd never met before- and meet their little boy that was born my last night there!!). I spent the weekend with some Ride:Well friends, including 4 teammates and many friends of Red Oak Fellowship Church (near Dallas, Texas). It was fantastic. We were able to hike a few miles in the canyon, got really wet in a cold, windy downpour, sat around a fire in an attempt to stay warm (and dry!), and laughed - a lot. Very refreshing, and a piece of closure I was in great need of after such an intense summer.

Classes started the day I returned, and I have been on the go ever since. They started slow, and I've since added a course and am now taking an overload. This does mean that I am now spending (nearly) all of my time reading... I guess that's what happens when good readings are actually assigned for courses. Awesome.

I also now have 2 jobs: one at school working at the front desk (being the "Face of Garrett" and answering the phones), and one at Starbucks. Believe it or not, a lot of thought went into selection of a job off campus this year, and I am more than pleased with my decision. It is a LOT to learn (not really what I expected), but I work with great staff, Starbucks treats its employees ("partners") VERY well, and it is the flexible schedule I need for my student life. Also, it is nice to have a job that doesn't add stress to my already-stressful semester: when I leave work, everything from work stays there. No baggage is a wonderful thing.

Starbucks has also had some other randomness to go with it. It turns out Evanston is full of "celebrities" - and they come into our store regularly. The first latte I ever made was on Saturday morning... for Jerry Springer. Funny stuff... and we've had other "Hollywood actors" in since then... and I've only been there a week.

Lots of crazy stuff going on at home. Everyone is okay, just crazy stuff that's been stressful. And my "sixth sense" kicked in in the midst of drama, giving me a near anxiety attack in the midst of the chaos, while I didn't know why. Long story short: I eventually made the connection and am grateful everything ended as it did.

On a lighter note: My friend Laura has the CUTEST little girl!!! I am privileged to be her first babysitter, and grateful that at 7 months old, she equally adores me, and doesn't hate that spending time with me means Mom is away. She's a bundle of joy, and always provides a welcome break from otherwise busy schedules.

Summer seems to have ended early (or at least abruptly), so I've given up on running outside, and it couldn't be better. Fortunately, a few more Garrett folks joined my gym, so though schedules have changed, etc, I have plenty of gym buddies. We've been going to classes, and while they kick my butt, I LOVE the spin classes. Good times. :)

Exciting, huh? Hopefully now that we're up-to-date and my semester is off to a busy (brutal!) start, I'll procrastinate more and keep this updated.