2/26/15 Morning Musing:  Close Only Counts With Hand Grenades…Missing the Mark, Whether by an Inch or a Mile, is Still Missing the Mark

The other morning, I was having a discussion with someone about the damage that I believe churches have caused for a lot of people over the years in the area of sex.  The person I was having the conversation with is a wise man with a strong theological background which is why I was surprised to hear him say, “Well, Don’t you think *insert my church’s name* is ahead of the other area churches where this topic is concerned?”  This statement is not overtly bad or sinful…it just stuck with me and itched…and continued to irritate me all morning.  I kept letting go of the conversation but it continued to show up in my thoughts so I decided this morning to give the Spirit room to work out whatever it is that he wants me to glean from this…so here goes…

First, I think the statement bothered me because it feels like putting a nice pretty bow on an issue that has been damaging people for decades (especially women.)  I am not saying that the church is wrong or that the Bible is wrong about pre-marital sex…God designed sex to exist within a marriage covenant so the obvious temptation is to have sex before we are married and to not have sex after we are married…but I think the church has put a lot of emphasis on a topic that is also was historically unwilling to discuss.  For example, in high school, it seemed like every church was getting kids to sign contracts and wear rings about how “true love waits.”  The whole message was “don’t have sex.  Sex is bad.  Don’t spoil your future and that of your future mate.”  I get it.  I do.  But there needs to be more discussion around the topic.  How do we handle the physiological urges that exist?  What if you have already “spoiled” yourself?  (Talk about putting a kid in a hopeless situation.)  Also, this led to a lot of teens wanting to “draw the line” of exactly how  far they could go and it be ok…it became legalistic.  I think that a legalistic approach always causes separation…distance…between us and our God.  He doesn’t want mindless rule-following; he wants to be welcomed into our heart space.  The hard lines that were drawn and the lack of discussion led me (and other gals like me) to believe that pre-marital sex was the ultimate of all sins that would ruin us forever.  By this way of thinking, the day before I got married, I’d be better off killing a nun than having sex with the man I was marrying the next day.  

Then there are the social ramifications…I vividly remember being on a date with a guy while I was at A&M and him discovering that I was a virgin and had no intention of having sex with him.  His response…are you ready for this?…”Virgin?  But you’re not ugly…”  Ummm…gee thanks Romeo!  You better watch all that sweet talk or I just might swoon.  *rolls eyes.*  The problem here (beyond the obvious stupidity of that particular choice of date) was that I also didn’t know why this was my stance other than that it was forbidden.  It is really hard to stick to your guns on something when you aren’t sure why you have chosen this particular stance.  This happened repeatedly in my dating life and produced another issue:  I became the conquest…I quit being a person and was simply a challenge to some or “marriage material” to others who were “having their needs taken care of by non-marriage material in the mean time.”  How degrading for everyone involved!  Message received loud and clear:  A woman’s value is directly proportional to the condition of her hymen.  Gotcha.

And don’t even get me started on the how you are supposed to switch from the undefiled virgin bride to freaky sex-kitten wife by the time you finish saying “I do.”  How is that for unrealistic?   I can tell you this, three years after we got married, I took a test and discovered that I was pregnant.  You know what the first words out of my mouth were to Stan after saying “Ummm…We’re pregnant!” It was “Oh my gosh!  We can’t tell my dad!”  Stan laughed until he realized I was serious.  “You’re dad married us…I am pretty sure he assumed that we would have sex.”  But I couldn’t shake that old high school training that basically told me that “bad girls get knocked up.”  

So back to the statement at the top that started this whole rant:  “Well, Don’t you think *insert my church’s name* is ahead of the other area churches where this topic is concerned?”  Well, yes, I suppose I do…but that doesn’t erase the damage that people have endured…women who feel that they have wasted much of their married lives because they felt they weren’t supposed to do certain things with their husbands (legalism again)…women who think that they don’t deserve God’s best for them because they were “spoiled”  This is why I didn’t want to tie a pretty little bow on it…this is a process and there is still damage and wounds to be carefully handled.  Also, I don’t think we are called by God to compare our church to other churches any more than we are called to compare ourselves to other Christians…we are called to be obedient to God.  Comparing ourselves to other churches only keeps us from realizing that, although we are heading in the right direction and learning from mistakes, we are still missing the mark…it allows us to rest where we are instead of pressing further to make sure that we are fully obedient…fully loving…fully forgiving…fully healing.

For many of you, this topic won’t be applicable.  I’m sorry if I wasted your time…I hope you at least got a chuckle or two out of it.  For the others…the wounded ones…God sees you and loves you and wants sex to be beautiful and fun and liberating.  How are you doing with this?  Do you carry around baggage where sex is concerned?  Does sex seem like a shameful thing to you?  Are you with-holding from your spouse?  What can you be doing to step toward a healthier place in your sex life?  What about your spouse?  Is he/she wounded?  Does he/she even know it?  How can you lovingly and gently point this one you love toward the Healer?  One thing is for certain, keeping shame and fears and sins and thoughts in the darkness only leads us further into the darkness.  

My prayer today is for the wounded ones…the ones who have been abused, misinformed, made mistakes, or who have just been fearful.  Sex was meant to be a beautiful thing and for many, it is dirty or shameful or painful.  I am praying for healing in your life and heart and marriage and sex life.  I am praying that God would speak truth into your life and heart and that it would transform you and bring you joy.  I am praying that if you need to see a professional to get help, that you would do so without feeling foolish or shameful.  Finally, I am praying for ultimate freedom in this area…that if it isn’t already, that it would become something that you absolutely delight in.  Much love friends,

Beks





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2/24/15 Morning Musing: Choosing to Champion

Before I get into this topic, I am going to admit that I have not read “50 Shades of Gray.” Before you begin to criticize me, please understand that I am not avoiding this because of being on some moral high horse. It’s not because I enjoy looking down on others for temptations that they experience. I am staying away from the book and movie simply because I know it would not be healthy for me and that I would likely end up in a full-on panic attack at the images that the book or movie would conjure for me. All of that said, if you are going to see the movie or have read the book, I AM NOT Judging you. Please understand that before reading any further. I would, however, like to offer a perspective that maybe you haven’t considered.

First of all, I am someone who has experienced abuse in my past and I will tell you right now, there is NOTHING sexy about abuse…nothing at all! Abuse indicates that at least one of the people is seen as being without value…sometimes it’s how the abuser sees the victim, sometimes how the victim sees his/her self, and sometimes it’s how the abuser sees him/her self. Either way, it is the physical manifestation of someone buying into and perpetuating a lie. (Truth: Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ NKJV))

You may ask “What is the problem with it if they are both consenting adults?” Well, honestly, I am not saying that people shouldn’t have the freedom to choose this…I think the freedom to choose is the beauty of the gospel…but I am saying that we are absolutely affected by the choices we make and there are consequences to those choices whether we want to admit it or not. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭23‬ NKJV) Just because we are able to do something doesn’t mean that we will benefit from it. It’s not illegal for me to poke out my own eye…just saying…

What if your struggle is that abuse, pornography, prostitution, books about sexual fantasy, etc turn you on? Interesting thing…we had a couple of sex therapists come speak to our marriage class this last Sunday and they made some really interesting points about this: God designed sex to exist in the confines of marriage and marriage was designed to help us better understand our God So, if we follow that line of thinking, when sex becomes a physical act that is not woven together with our emotions and spirits…when it becomes selfish or self-serving…the beauty and joy (ecstasy or high) of it becomes lost. I think that in order to (attempt to) achieve the intended high, the person involved in the impure sex act has to do more…go farther…be more dangerous…further distort the intention of sex…it’s just like any other addiction in that the high will never be as strong as it once was yet the “need” will continue to grow and consume. (There is actually a ton of scientific data to support all of this.) My point is, this should be viewed as any addiction would be viewed…the addict needs help…handling this alone is a sure-fire way to continue in the addiction.

Finally, I understand that the main character’s (Grey’s) background is riddled with abuse and mistreatment and that he becomes the one with power and he mis-uses it as well. Let me be clear that this situation is not romantic…do not turn this into a story that it is not…this is the very definition of transgenerational trauma: a person is deeply traumatized and over time, it changes that person’s brain chemistry in such a way that their reality is not the same as everyone else’s reality…this is a self-protection feature of the brain that prevents the person from going fully insane…the brain is trying to make sense of what the person has endured. With this new altered view of reality, the person perpetuates the violence on others. (For example, in Indonesia, war-time prisoners were severely and repeatedly abused for long periods of time in sickeningly horrific ways. After the war ended, many of those survivors went on to create brothels where women and children have been trafficked and…are you ready for this? The abuse distinctly mimics the abuse that the war survivors endured. In fact, the rooms tend to be the exact same dimensions as the cells that the prisoners were in.) Because the brain has adapted to make the initial victim ok with what has happened to them, they go on to also believe it is ok to perpetuate the violence on others because it has become normalized to them. That is not a pattern of love…it is a pattern of violence. It is not romantic…it is abusive. I’m not saying the the abuser is evil, but what they are doing and what has been done to them is evil. God created all life and holds it as sacred and good…humans especially received special care by our God because we are his creation that is made in the image of God. So, please do not romanticize a pattern of violence that assaults those that God sees as sacred.

I know this musing was heavy. I apologize for that. But I have been trying to process these thoughts for two weeks now and finally got them all together. I really feel like we are facing a decision to either champion those who are voiceless or continue to numb ourselves and society against the very real pain and abuse that we are confronted with.

My prayer today is that our hearts would be softened to the victims of any type of abuse. That we would strive to make the world safer instead of numbing ourselves to the existing violence. I am praying for any of you who have found yourself victimized at any point in your life. I am praying that God would redeem the pain in you and make you strong enough to begin to break these patterns…that you would become a champion for others and help them see truth. Much love friends,

Beks

2/20/15 Morning Musing: Ummm…Stress Doesn’t Really Go With this Outfit…

During the aftermath of the poisoning, I was seeing an environmental specialist (a doctor who was helping me to determine what damage I encountered from the poisoning and how I could change my environment while detoxing to get better.) I found myself so completely over-whelmed during that time that it was adding to my problems until he broke it down into an analogy. (In case you haven’t noticed, I think almost completely in terms of analogies.) He told me to imagine that my body was a big barrel (Of course, my immediate reaction was “Hey…let’s go with a slightly smaller than average barrel alright doc?!”) In this barrel, I place all the things that weigh on my body: chemical exposure like pesticides, chemicals in food, pollution, and the chemicals from the poisoning…stressors like the financial strain of paying out of pocket for this treatment, the unknown of whether or not I would be able to get back to a place in my health that I could be satisfied with, the worry about the impact of my illness on my small children and on my marriage, and the lawsuit that we were in the middle of over this entire debacle…allergies and other physical contributors like my reduced immune function and the fact that I was suddenly allergic to most of my diet (which meant that every time I ate something, I was weakening my body.)

Continuing with the barrel analogy, my doctor told me that my body is resilient. I take on a lot of these stressors every day in stride…they are no big deal…my barrel can hold them…until my barrel gets full. Once the barrel is full, it over-flows and that is when symptoms begin to get noticed. So part of the treatment for me was to identify my barrel-fillers and try to eliminate as many of them as possible so that my barrel can be at a healthy amount of fullness and I could reduce some of my symptoms.

Ok. That is when I finally was tracking with him and was eager to get to work with identifying my stressors…until I actually had to endure it. Many expensive medical tests and hours upon hours of painful allergy testing (not like you normally see at an allergist…this was getting a small injection of a item and seeing how bad the reaction is and continuing to lower the amount of the item until we could encounter the dosage that did not result in an allergic reaction.) I literally spent 10 hour days throughout that summer getting injections every 10 minutes for the entire 10 hours! Then, I would go home and rid my house of every food item that contained these allergic-reaction-causing foods and I would avoid them for two years or more depending on the severity of the item. Fun, no?

The thing is…it worked. Once I started eating primarily organic foods, eliminating as many allergens as possible, and following his instructions to begin the process of detoxifying my body (by the way, I can not recommend dry heat sauna enough!) I started to feel better. I started getting my quality of life back (even though I chaffed against all of the restrictions, I was beginning to feel human again.) On occasion, I would get lax with the restrictions and it would appear through symptoms…anything from irritability and a return to my anger to pneumonia to more pronounced symptoms of my brain damage (primarily forgetfulness and clumsiness.)

So, you’re probably wondering why Bekah is talking about barrels and sauna and chemicals? Well, despite seeing myself as an 8-foot-tall-bullet-proof-ninja, I was really a stressed out, broken and sick mother of two little ones who was battling depression and bitterness and anger. As long as my barrel was over-flowing, I really was not much good to anyone: I resented my children for needing me, I had emotionally abandoned my husband because I wanted to be numb (the pain seemed like too much to carry) and I was really angry with God…so that left me alone with just me and my stupid over-flowing barrel. But I healed…it was slow and it took years to occur but it happened. I NEVER want to go through it again, but now that I’m on the other side of it, I wouldn’t necessarily un-do it because I learned some things that I simply would not have had access to otherwise: I learned that God can handle whatever I dish out…it doesn’t overwhelm him. I learned that my Stanton Billy is a giant among men…really, this man continues to show me that he is made of some of God’s finest stuff! I learned that children are resilient and while those early years are very formative, they don’t always remember all of it…they don’t seem to remember Mommy wanting to be away from them, being irritable, and being so exhausted that I would lay down on the floor while they were playing and just fall asleep. Finally, I learned that we are humans and until we see heaven, we are stuck existing in the barrel that we have so we should really watch how full we allow those barrels to get. Trust me, you can’t be yourself when you are over-flowing.

So how are you doing with this? How full is your barrel? What could you be doing to reduce your barrel’s contents? Are you the person that you want to be? If your answer is no, is it followed by an explanation of not enough time or energy or resources or too many demands? If so, I think your barrel is too full.

Friends, my prayer today is that we would all come to grips with the fact that we are humans…and with that comes frailty, brokenness, and limitations. When we don’t accept that fact, we over-fill our barrels…and we are replacing God with our own abilities. My prayer today is that we will put God in the position that he deserves in our lives and that we would take care of ourselves so that we can bring him praise and have the margin to love others well. Much love friends,

Beks

2/17/15 Morning Musing: The Lure, Limitations, and Lies Offered By Your Comfort

Over the last few weeks, I have witnessed a lot of movement by the Holy Spirit. I know…it sounds a little weird…hell, it sounds a lot weird…even to me. But the thing is, I asked him to use me. I asked him to be present and real in my life and to use my life to tell a story for him. And he has! In tangible, mind-blowing, breath-holding, sanity-questioning, comfort-leaving ways! So this got me thinking
about how quickly God responded to my request to be useful to him…how many people suddenly came to mind that needed encouragement…how many damaged relationships started mending…how many new opportunities began to reveal themselves…and it occurred to me that while God doesn’t NEED me, he sure wants me along for the ride with him…he wants my company and my heart…and…me! That thought was really flattering and made me feel loved until the next thought invaded: “Wait a minute…I’ve never known the Holy Spirit to do a lot of moving just for the cardiovascular benefits that he might get from it…Crap! He isn’t moving because he wants me to be comfortable. Dang it! I have a feeling that he is going to ask me to get uncomfortable.” I am ashamed to admit that I briefly thought, “No, no…maybe he needs to use someone else…”

The truth is, being comfortable has never positively impacted the world. It’s never opened the eyes and hearts of people and reached their souls. When I think of the great ones…the ones who changed hearts and minds…the ones who loved deeply and selflessly…the ones whose names we all will remember because, even though we never met them in person, they have inspired and encouraged and sacrificed to leave a legacy of love…well, in those people…I don’t see a pattern of seeking their own comfort. Mother Teresa probably wasn’t very comfortable in that first year of her missionary quest when she found herself destitute and begging. Martin Luther King Jr was probably a “tad” uncomfortable as he consoled his child while pulling a charred cross from the ground in his front yard. Rosa Parks may have been sitting on that bus but I doubt she could be described as comfortable as she was being arrested. These people changed the world in their discomfort.

So, how are you doing with this? Are you comfortable? Are you in pain? Whatever you are feeling right now, does it line up with your mission in life? (Do you even have a mission in life?) Is your mission self-focused or others-focused? What comforts might God be asking you to release in order to make a difference in someone’s life? What is holding you back? I can help but picture, at the end of my life, having to look at God and explain that the reason I didn’t help others was because I valued my own comfort so highly…or because Grey’s Anatomy was on…or because I was happy to accept his grace but didn’t value it enough to share it with others.

My prayer today is that we would value others so much that they can’t help but see that we love them. That we would take inventory of our time, money, and resources and identify where we need to make changes so that we can be on mission…mission to love others well and love things and status and comfort less. Much love friends,

Beks

2/12/15 Morning Musing: Yikes! Do You Kiss Your Mama With That Mouth?

I remember having a couple of sisters who were renting a house from us a few years back…in fact, it was the house that we are living in right now. One of the sisters was…I’ll just say she was on the aggressive side. We were having a misunderstanding and I was trying to walk her through it logically: In the living room, there are two different light switch plates that can turn on the lights and fan but when one of those is turned off, the other one won’t be able to turn the lights on. Also, in the master bathroom, the electrical outlets are all connected to a GFI to protect people from accidentally electrocuting themselves. That particular circuit was connected to an outlet in the garage on the other side of the wall where they put a giant commercial-type freezer that was inappropriate for the circuit. Needless to say, the freezer kept over-loading the circuit and triggering the GFI which would turn off the aggressive woman’s curling iron in the bathroom. So, she was demanding that I rewire the entire house and remove the GFI from the bathroom circuit. I was explaining that I would not be rewiring the house as I didn’t even desire to change things because they were that way by design (and thought to myself: if you can’t figure out the light switches in the living room, I am certainly not trusting you with electricity and water in the bathroom! Good grief!) That was when the woman cussed me like I’ve never been cussed before. I think she may have even invented obscenities to throw at me. It was such a thorough cussing that I had to force myself to not actually imagine some of her word pictures for fear of being scarred.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that it is a rare thing for me to back down from a confrontation. (I don’t want to worry about having it later so I am someone who will just say, “Alright, let’s throw down right now and get it over with.” That way, it doesn’t have to take up valuable real estate in my head during the time leading up to a scheduled confrontation.) Anyway, it was weird but I calmly told her “When you are able to pull yourself together and have a conversation with me like a civilized adult, we can talk. Until then, I suggest that you refrain from speaking to me unless it is in writing.” I said good-bye and hung up. A few days later, I was in the yard with Michaela and hugely pregnant with Caleb when the two sisters drove up to our house to drop off rent because they were too late to mail it. They had not seen me in person for a while and were not aware that I was pregnant, but for some reason, me being pregnant brought more shame to the woman who had cussed me out. She was mortified. They were also asking to have their soon-to-be-expired-lease extended. I wasn’t ugly to them but I was not up for more nastiness either so I politely told them thank you for the rent but that we would be declining their request to extend the lease because we can tolerate a lot of things, but an attack on me was not one of them. After that, we didn’t have any more trouble from them. In fact, they were very humble in their approach to us from then on and they wanted to get their security deposit back so they left the house in excellent condition for our next tenant, a lovely woman who was newly-widowed.

Why in the world am I telling you this story? Well, I think that sometimes when we interact with people, we don’t consider their circumstances. There is not always a visible sign (like an enormous pregnant belly) to indicate some huge things going on in someone’s life. We don’t always see what is going on in someone’s mind, heart, or body that is bringing them grief, stress, or pain. We don’t know what battles they are currently engaged in or what burdens they are currently carrying for themselves or others. I know that I have been guilty of this so many times and it has never turned out well…and I certainly haven’t shown Jesus to others when I was popping off and only considering myself…so…maybe, just maybe…the goal should be to be kinder than necessary so that we can not add to their burdens. I would much prefer to be foolish for giving someone the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t (maybe a bit naive?) than to be foolish and hateful when someone’s load is already more than they can bear up under. Either way, we risk foolishness but I would rather choose foolishly kind than foolishly hateful if that makes sense. One of those reflects my beliefs better than the other. One of those reflects my heart better than the other. And one of those reflects the state of grace that I live in and benefit from more than the other (along with the God that extends that grace to me.)

So, how are you doing with this? Is there someone in your life who could use a break? Someone who could benefit from your kindness instead of harshness? Could your “wisdom” in the form of a tongue-lashing be more harmful than helpful? Sometimes, gentleness, or just a refusal to engage in the fight, can speak so much more directly to their heart and conscience than the loudest and most self-righteous of lectures. How could you communicate with more gentleness and possibly fewer words? And the big question, the person that you have the most tension with…do they see Jesus through you?

My prayer today is that we would be able to receive grace and give grace in a way the glorifies the author of grace. I’m praying that we would help others shoulder their burdens instead of adding weight to them. And I’m praying that we would love…love deeply…in a way that allows us to put away our pride so that we are able to see the circumstances that others are in. Much love friends,

Beks

2/11/15 Morning Musing: Encouragement!

This morning I felt like the topic God was giving me was about the value in encouragement. I have experienced encouragement in some of the most beautiful and unexpected ways in recent days and weeks. But instead of musing about it today, I feel that I need to just do it so I am spending my musing time this morning reaching out to a few people I love and letting them know what I see through them. I may muse on this topic later…but for now, I am just going to go do it. Who could really use your encouragement today? In what ways could you be the loving voice of God speaking truth into someone’s life? There is no other investment in life with returns as great as taking a few seconds to express kindness and love to others. Have a great day! Much love!
Beks

2/6/15 Morning Musing: I Choose Laughter

This morning, I pulled up next to the curb in our “swagger wagon” and opened the sliding door while holding back the puppies from escaping and my two mini-Masseys jumped out with their backpacks on and took off running full speed for the front door of the school. Caleb, true to form, was looking around to see if he had any friends around that he should greet (Possibly why he was apparently elected Mayor of his classroom this week?) Michaela, also true to form, was just yelling the entire way to the door while running: “Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!” My immediate thought was “Oh your poor teachers…I hope they aren’t seeing this…it may intimidate them about the day that lays ahead of them. At least it is Friday and they will get a break after today.”

A few minutes later, when I got home, I received a funny text from a girlfriend that had a link to a video with Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell. I watched it and a huge giggle escaped me. Then it occurred to me, why am I trying to suppress that giggle and I sat down and had a laugh. You know the kind I mean…the really deep kind that gives you a stitch in your side and makes your eyes water up. When it started to go away, it bubbled back up again and…yep…here it comes…*snort.* Then more laughter…and eventually, it dies down and you feel like you just had a good cardio work out and the only thing you can do is exhale and go “whew!” That is one of my absolute favorite things in the world! Seriously, very few things feel better than a deep, uncontrolled belly-laugh.

And, of course, that got me thinking…why don’t we laugh more? It’s very therapeutic. I feel tension leave my body and my blood pressure drop after a good laugh…why don’t I do that more? And I could come up with a hundred little reasons as to why that is: too busy, don’t prioritize it, too tense, not thinking about it, etc…but I think that that all goes under one simple category: We simply take things way too seriously…we take ourselves way too seriously.

My little girl was running into the school screaming and having a great time this morning and I was worrying when I should have been chuckling. She is releasing that stress BEFORE walking into her classroom and she is comfortable enough with herself to just let it all hang out. I was witnessing “Michaela” the uncensored version. And it was perfectly okay! She is a 9-year-old running into her school excited about the day that is before her and I am the uptight 37-year-old cringing and trying to disappear because I am a bit embarrassed that my little girl may make things difficult at times to keep things under control in the classroom. Why? Why was I robbing myself of the opportunity to smile and chuckle and enjoy what I was seeing? Why did this display of fun make me tense instead of making an uncontrolled giggle bubble up inside me? Because I take life (and myself) way too seriously.

This is going to be another one of those posts where I brag on Stan so if that bugs you…well, tough…lighten up! This past Christmas Eve, my side of the family was getting together to exchange gifts and hang out…which sounds simple enough…but we have had some palpable tension for a while so I think we all came into it a little nervous. One thing to know about my side of the family is that we are a somber and serious bunch. We do laugh at times, but it is usually only on cue…after a joke or a story that does not keep us from remaining poised and proper (originally from the Deep South y’all…manners and being “proper” are quite important to our culture…possibly the reason why I am so overtly breaking the rules of polite society on a regular basis now…it’s my form of rebellion.) So, anyway, we were all feeling our way through this family gathering…trying not to step on toes and everyone doing that “overly-polite” thing that happens when you are trying to see if you can get a relationship back on track. And then, the most awesome thing happened: my husband…my Stanton Billy…the newest member to my side of the family that wasn’t born into it, sacrificed himself for the benefit of the group. (And he has done it before…it’s one of the things that I love about him!) One of my brothers had drawn Stan’s name for buying a Christmas present and he gave Stan a legitimate present…but then gave him an additional one. Stan opened the beautifully-wrapped gift to find…a man-kini. Anyone else in the room would have laughed, held it up for everyone to see, and then put it away. But not Stan! He knew that laughter would be healing to everyone in the room and he stood up, and put it on top of his clothes and proceeded to model it for the entire group as we all burst into hysterics. And we all needed that laugh…so badly. It was such a gift!

After that, the gathering had a different feel to it. We were all more relaxed…more open to each other…more real and less “polite.” It was the best time I have had with my side of the family in years and it renewed our relationships. As a scientist, my instinct is to now research the physiology of laughter and what chemicals it causes to be released into the body…but I have decided that it would take away from the magic of laughter. So, instead, I have decided to just pursue experiencing it more and let the mystery and magic remain. I have a good friend who quoted some author about experience: if you are a scientist, you can learn the science behind a kiss…the physiology…the chemical process…the psychology…but unless you’ve been kissed, you don’t really get it…you don’t have the whole picture. So, I am going to study laughter less and do laughter more. (This could be a problem since I’m a nervous giggler…I’m so inappropriate with my giggling…I have been known to giggle at funerals and during prayers.) But I think this is a natural medicine that God has provided for us to not only help us to live longer but to also live better.

So, how are you doing with this? Do you take yourself too seriously? Do you over-analyze your conversations and interactions with others? When was the last time you laughed? When was the last time you did one of those belly-cramping-beginning-to-cry-can’t-stop-laughing laughs? What was going on when you last experienced it? How did you feel afterward? How did you feel about those around you afterward? How could you pursue it more right now?

My prayer for us all today is that we would remember to experience life…that we would remember to let our guard down and just enjoy the moment we are in…that we would worry less about what others think and just kidnap them and bring them with us into our enjoyment. I am praying that we would all find a way to giggle today and that we would thank God for that moment of happiness. Much love friends,

Beks

2/4/15 Morning Musing: Protected Wounds Can’t Heal (If you never read anything else that I write, please read this.)

You guys!!! I just…I just…I can’t even…there aren’t words!!!!! There are times that you can see God working in your life and it’s cool to see…it’s amazing to get to experience life with God in that way…but I have just experienced nothing short of a series of miracles all in quick succession and all undeniably God…and I am just sitting here crying…with joy…with praise…with this feeling of fullness…and…my soul is dancing!!!!! There are details that I can not go into because I am not the only person affected but…oh my…please know that God is good and he cares about our stuff.

There is a relationship that has been damaged in my life and has been full of pain and brokenness for…well, forever. It has been a source of chaos to my spirit, pain in my marriage, dysfunction in how I have related to people (including my kids) and has caused me, as a person, to be…just be…fractured or…splintered or…even shattered. About a year and a half ago, I gave this relationship and this person over to God…I don’t say that lightly…I do not mean that I gave up and said “Ok, God…it’s your problem now.” I had been grasping at this relationship for years and years and was trying to hold it together with my strength…I was white-knuckling it and was trying to keep it in one piece…and my soul was crying and breaking and dying. (Not as in losing my salvation…that’s not what I am saying.) But this sick and twisted relationship was poisoning how I interacted with people, how I viewed men, and how I loved my children. (Not how much I loved them…but HOW I loved them.)

Almost two years ago, there occurred another rupture in this relationship. It wasn’t unlike all the other damage that had occurred…but…something in me was different and I could no longer allow it. I had been growing into a deeper understanding of God and could no longer reconcile being a child of God who Jesus died for…and the abuse and mistreatment that I was encountering in this relationship. These two things were in direct opposition and I came to a place of understanding where they just could not co-exist! As much as I loved the person that I was in the dysfunctional relationship with, I could not fix him…or us…and I could not cover the damage that was beginning to radiate outward to other people that I love. The thing was, not everyone was privy to the source of our damage so when I calmly pulled away and said “No. This isn’t healthy and I can not allow it to continue”, other relationships were affected and suffered as well. From these peoples’ perspectives, it looked as though I was pitching a fit and taking my toys and stomping my way home. I have shouldered a lot of fallout from this decision…I have endured a lot of scorn…and pressure…and even accusations…and that would normally drive me just nuts…but God gave me peace in the midst of it all…un-natural, un-explainable peace and clarity of mind that was contrary to my very nature.

And I sat in it. I sat in my discomfort. I sat in the filth of my doubts of my own motives and my constant re-evaluating of whether or not I was doing the right thing. And I continued to sit in it despite the input of others who believed I was single-handedly destroying things. I told God that I would trust him with this relationship and quit trying to fix it because God was the only one capable of doing it. See, I didn’t need an apology for all the wrongs…I needed the other person to simply acknowledge that I (and others) am a human deserving of basic respect and love…and change his behavior. (That is a big ask! That is bigger than an apology. I needed the other person to have an encounter with God that changed him from the inside.) I knew God could repair and redeem anything…but I also knew that he would not over-ride our wills…so while I knew God COULD do it…I somewhat doubted that God WOULD do it. Does that make sense?

Well, El Roi is my God and he has truly seen me during this time of “sitting in it.” And while I sat…and trusted…and doubted…and prayed…and cried…and wrestled…and grew, he was working. He was “massaging” the heart of the other person. Not forcing his way (I have a good friend, Chad who has referred to God as a gentleman who would not use force to show his love (paraphrase)) because that isn’t his nature…but massaging this heart so that it could beat for God again…softening it so that it could choose to serve God again. And while I can not share the details of how that has come about, I can tell you that it has, in fact, happened. There has been a dramatic change that can not be faked…and I am just…so full of praise to God for this!

Why am I sharing this? What does it have to do with you? Well, first of all, I need to say that there is nothing and no one that Jesus can not redeem. Seriously. Know that! Secondly, there is no pain that is meant to be wasted. Our God is not a sadist, and because he deeply loves us, he does not allow us to suffer pointlessly. Finally, there is no hurt too deep for him to touch and gently begin to heal IF we will allow him access to it. (Remember the gentleman analogy.)

So, how are you doing with this? Who is the lost cause in your life? Who have you given up hope on? (Please know that it is absolutely ok to separate yourself from people who are un-safe…it is not ok, however, to deem them as unworthy of redemption.) Where are you experiencing pain in your life and are you allowing Jesus access to that wound or are you “protecting” it while allowing it to fester. (I picture in my head an incident at the vet clinic I worked at where there was an injured dog that we wanted to help but she wouldn’t let us near her…teeth bared and hackles raised…we had to sedate her to help her because she was so busy “protecting” her injury from those of us who wanted to help her heal.) Are you allowing that pain in your life to be wasted? Are you allowing it to become your identity? Why are you with-holding it from the God who would love to heal it into the most beautiful of scars? A scar that could point others to a God who heals and restores?

My prayer today is that we would trust God with our stuff. Really trust him. I’m praying that we would love others well by prioritizing our pursuit of our savior. And I am praising God for the many miracles that have been unfolding in my life over the last few weeks! Hosanna! Much love friends,

Beks

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me…To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭61‬:‭1-4‬ NKJV)