10/18/16 Morning Musing: Knowing What To Own

**I started writing this morning thinking that I was writing about a completely different topic but this was where God took it so I hope somebody finds it helpful.**

What. The. Hell?!?! Are you serious right now? This was the questioning in my head as my friend relayed the scathing conversation that took place about me behind my back between some “friends” a few years back. My skin flushed and prickled as I clawed at the neckline of my sweater, scratching my red, itchy skin as I did so. “Why is the heat turned up so high in here? I’m sweating!” was all I could say in response to this heart-breaking news. I felt betrayed and I was angry…and my response to anger is usually tears and I didn’t want that so I was going to distract myself in any way that I could for the time being. I would unpack this and deal with it later. For now, pizza…lots of pizza…and chocolate…because I could always count on eating my emotion…my delicious emotions.

I did work through it all later. God and I did some difficult work together on this one and came to a conclusion that I really didn’t like: While I am responsible for how I make people feel, I am not responsible to own their opinions and feelings…even their opinions or feelings toward me. Ugh! The people-pleaser side of me really, REALLY did not like that. I recall talking with God and trying to negotiate with him: “Now, come on…if the opinion is about me, I should have some say in it shouldn’t I? I mean, when people have me pegged completely wrong, there’s got to be a smooth, non-messy kind of way to make them see that I really mean well but that I am just a bumbler who screws up a lot…right?” The answer I got from God was “How often do I force the truth of who I am on those I love?” *Unhh!* (In case you don’t know that sound, it’s what it sounds like when air leaves your mouth really fast because you got hit in the gut unexpectedly.) 

So, despite my desire to “fix” things (and maybe also the desire to call people out on their shi-…uh…on being intentionally unkind to me) and after talking it through with some friends, I decided to release it. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt me and it doesn’t mean that it didn’t matter, but it does mean that I was willing to let God be in control of it…and by doing that, my anger and resentment over it didn’t control me anymore. **Post note: one of the two ladies involved in the conversation very humbly approached me on her own a couple of years later and cleared things up (at least her side of things) and we have become quite good friends now…she has actually become a consistent source of Godly counsel, wisdom, and encouragement…I’m pretty glad I didn’t just go in guns blazing like I felt justified in doing.**

What is my point? Glad you asked! I guess there are several: First, I think that how we make people feel matters (I know, I’ve said that before…I’m a broken record here…I can’t tell you a single thing I learned in middle school but I can tell you in excruciating detail how I felt…feelings last…how we make people feel does matter.) Also, while how we make them feel is important, we can not own their opinions and feelings for them…even if the opinions are about us. Finally, I would say that if the weight of all of this gets too heavy for you like it does for me at times, just remember that all God is asking you to do right now is to be obedient right now. He’s not asking you to change the whole world and everything in it at this moment. What does obedience look like right now? For me, sometimes it means speaking up…sometimes it means holding my tongue.

So how are you doing with this? Do you think at all about how your words or actions affect other people? If you do think about this, are you able to keep it in balance or do you take it to far and try to own their feelings and opinions? How can you create healthy boundaries for yourself so that you are invested in those you love but not so deeply invested that you find yourself wresting ownership away from them. Finally, what does obedience look like for you right here right now? Not your five year plan…not your huge long-term ministry goals…today! What would obedience to God look like for you today?

My prayer today is that we would be so consumed with serving God and serving others that our reputations would take care of themselves. I’m praying that we invest deeply and love well. Much love friends,

Beks

10/11/16 Morning Musing: More Than This

My husband played baseball his whole life. He went to college on a baseball scholarship. Over the years, I have asked him a few times about locker-room talk…it was nothing like what I heard come out of a presidential candidate’s filthy mouth this weekend.  

Caleb and I had a talk about that recording this weekend…he’s 9 years old…he doesn’t understand those words that were used…he shouldn’t have to…but he knew that me hearing it…well, it injured me. He saw me shaking and saw the tears in my eyes. I talked to him about how damaging it is to someone to be objectified but also about how damaging it is to someone’s soul when they do the objectifying…how they become a little less human…a little less flesh and bone…and become a little more stone. I told him that the reason we objectify people is the simple fact that we are made in God’s image…if we can reduce people to objects, we don’t feel as directly confronted by the affront we are committing to God…we feel less guilty about it because we no longer see them as people…we no longer see God looking back at us as we damage them…we just see the objects we have turned them into. 

What’s my point? Well, I guess it’s that I am embarrassed by Trump’s behavior. I am embarrassed that out of the billions of people available, this is what we have to offer the oval office. I’m heart-broken that a possible leader of our country might teach my son and yours “to move on a woman like a bitch” or to “grab a woman by the pussy.” I’m terrified that my daughter could one day soon be the woman that he was talking about. I’m angry! I’m straight up pissed off on behalf of the woman he objectified in that recording, on behalf of myself for having been objectified in the past, and on behalf of the millions of women and girls who don’t even know their worth because they are around this kind of thinking.  

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this online and I want to make one point very clear: This has nothing to do with what anyone else has done. I’ve heard people…Christians…say “It’s terrible but…”. No but. Don’t try to justify this for him. This is not “locker room” talk. This is dehumanizing talk that shows exactly what is in that man’s heart. (“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart. Those are the things that make you ‘unclean.’” Matthew‬ ‭15:18‬ ‭NIRV‬‬.) Please, please be more loyal to your God than to your political party. I don’t care which party that is or who you vote for…just know that your vote is your voice affirming the beliefs and actions of these people.  

Today, my prayer is that we would use our voices to speak truth. I’m praying that we would spend time with God so that we would know truth and that we would refuse to perpetuate lies that destroy souls. I’m praying that we would be a voice for the voiceless and that we would refuse to be quieted. I’m praying for work to be done in our heart spaces.

Much love friends, 
Beks

Image taken from: https://womenwithworth.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/you-are-more/

10/4/16 Morning Musing: I Didn’t Break

This massive dude was barreling toward me. The ball was thrown. He was between me and the ball. I couldn’t move if I had any chance of getting him out…because if the ball missed him, I would have to catch it and tag him without any hesitation. I wasn’t blocking the base…but I had my foot on the bag and was standing inside the diamond…ready. It was going to be close…too close…so close that I think I might have bitten his pecs when he plowed through me and knocked me flat on my back. That’s embarrassing…I hope my panties aren’t showing. Ugh! I opened my eyes to see him and the ump standing over me looking concerned. “Are you ok?” “I’m so sorry! Are you ok?” They each said. I looked at him and said “You’re out.” Then looked at the ump and said “The ball tagged his back before he touched the bag…he’s out.” The ump said “Yes, he’s out…but are you ok.” I had to think about it…”Yeah, I think I’m ok…I’m fine.”

This happened last night at kickball. I’m really sore today…I guess I should expect that…I’m almost 40 with a lot of health issues and I got plowed by a huge dude who probably weighed 2.5 times as much as I do. But here’s the thing that has me almost invigorated this morning: I didn’t break. I hurt. I fell…really hard as it turns out. But I didn’t break. I got back up, dusted as much of the dirt off as I could, fought for my team’s point, tried to piece my pride back together, and got back to work.

Why am I telling you this story? I think that having a mission can change your life…whether it’s your life’s mission or a team’s mission for the night. When you’re focused on your mission, any pain that you are enduring doesn’t seem to hurt as much. For some reason, having a mission in view also seems to give a reason for the pain which somehow makes it more palatable. Also, not related to the story (but totally related to mission) knowing your mission intimately allows you to know quickly…almost like a reflex…the things that are not in alignment with the mission…the things that you can say no to. (That is for those of us who have trouble saying “no” to things and get overwhelmed.)

So how are you doing with this? Has anything knocked you down recently? Were you able to get back up? Were you able to keep your eye on your mission? Does your pain control you or does it fuel you? If it controls you, where is your focus? Do you find yourself staring at the pain or at the mission? 

My prayer today is that we will turn our hurts into praise. I’m praying that when we get knocked down, that we would get back up stronger and more fierce than we were before…not hardened…but fierce and strong and focused on our mission. Lord, I ask that you would help us to help each other keep our faces pointed toward you. Amen.

Much love friends,
Beks

9/23/16 Feelings

Emotional chameleon that I am, I am feeling so many things: My boy was elected to student council so I’m thrilled (and honestly, impressed…he is so much braver than I am!) Meanwhile, my friend’s daughter did not get elected and my heart broke as I drove her home while she cried. My husband is sick and feeling like crap and there is nothing I can do for him but make him comfortable (so I have a yummy, hearty chicken soup goin’.) I’ve been watching Michaela handle the transition to middle school with the absolute grace and poise of a child who feels utterly secure in who she is. I have gotten great news health-wise about a loved one and I am feeling thankful and relief and just so joyful. I have been dealing with daily migraines for a year now and have felt the emotional blows (once again) that accompany the physical blows of chronic pain…but I’ve been healed of greater things than this in the past and feel really hopeful each day that I wake up that this may be the day that God chooses to end the headaches or, if not, another day to learn something from the pain. On top of that, I feel like I have finally found my people…the crazy ones that are cut from the same cloth as me despite being completely different from me…and that leaves me feeling full. So many feels…glad I got the chance to feel them all.

9/8/16 Morning Musing: “And Playing the Role of Jesus…You!”

During my life, I have had many difficult interactions with people who resolutely identify with the hero in nearly all interactions. As an example, the person might be trying to convey something to me using Biblical examples and in the example, they are Jesus and I am the sinner…be it the Pharisees, Judas, or Peter during one of his overly-enthusiastic rants (that last one might have some credibility to it .😉) And while I think it is great to use analogies and stories (and especially scripture) to get a point across (that is part of why I write musings!) I think we should be careful about the perspective…the role we assume that we play in these interactions. Now, I get that the majority of people identify with or see some deep value in the hero/heroine…if they didn’t, the villain would naturally become the hero/heroine to that person…but I think we should use caution when we assume that we are the hero in the majority of our interactions…especially to the other person. My reasoning for this is that when we pick a hero to identify with (and especially when the person is Jesus who is sinless) we frequently can lose our humility…and shut down any further communication. For example, if in your mind, you play the role of Jesus, then you obviously have no sin to own in the interaction…everything you did is good and justified…and to disagree with you is to disagree with God and all things that are good. It leaves the other person no room to disagree or question without becoming the designated villain…and that trap makes interactions with you unsafe for the other person…which can cause that person to shut down a bit because, regardless of what they say, the assumption is that they have already been designated as the villain.  

So, how are you doing with this? Do you regularly identify with the hero character in the film (starring you, of course) that plays in your mind? What room, if any, do you leave the other person to disagree with you? How often do you enter into these interactions looking to own some portion of the fault? How often do you attempt to find value in the other person’s perspective?  

My prayer today is that we would all understand that there is so much to be learned from others. I’m praying that we would make efforts in our relationships to understand and learn from other people’s viewpoints. (After all, if I know what I know and also learn what you know, I have doubled what I can know…there is value in that!) Finally, I am praying that we would own our own parts…the things that break down communication…so that we might grow to love each other better.

Much love friends,
Beks  

9/1/16 Morning Musing: Choosing to Enter In

I could feel the heat spreading to my face and neck as perspiration began to prick at my skin. I exhaled slowly and shakily through my mouth…I hadn’t even realized that I was holding my breath until now…it’s funny how I catch myself holding my breath as a way to brace against possible impact…possible pain. And, as I felt the wet sting in my eyes, I waited…I waited to see what they were going to do with what I had just shared with them. See, as I am prone to do, I was questioning something that had been accepted as a truth…a rule…and I had unwittingly invited them into the uncomfortable wrestling with God that I do regularly. I was showing, through my own experience, that while we love to see things as black or white…there are gray tones that we have to deal with…there are shades that are neither black nor white…shades that exist and challenge the tidy equations that we try apply to life. And to my great relief, most of them entered into the wrestling match with me. Once invited, they chose to step away from the comfortable conclusions…outside of the neatly-drawn lines…and into a place where things are a bit messy…and require more work…more effort to understand. They willingly stepped out into an uncomfortable and unknown place with me…and while they can not see from my perspective…they wanted to understand…and that meant EVERYTHING…meant the whole world to me.

Why am I telling you about this and why the heck am I being so vague about the content of this conversation? Glad you asked! This experience…these feelings…can be applied to other people and situations and I don’t want to bog you down with my specific situation and experiences. What I do want to point out is what was done well and why it matters:  

First, my friends did not know about a specific aspect of my background in this conversation…and they could not ever know about it unless I shared it with them. So, as difficult as it was to verbalize…as bumbling and lacking in eloquence as I am…as painful as it was to reveal my brokenness…in order to be the kind of friends that go deep, I had to let them in on my experience and perspective. So, speaking up (gently) when you need someone to understand you or your experience is important.

The other big thing that was done well was that my friends were willing to be inconvenienced for me. They were willing to enter into the messiness that accompanies investing in someone else. Because they care about me, they allowed themselves to trust that I wasn’t just throwing monkey wrenches into the conversation for sport…but that I needed to be understood in a way that they couldn’t access from the place where the straight, clean lines exist or where unemotional formulas can be applied. Once trusting my motives, they allowed themselves to wrestle through different aspects of the topic and they allowed themselves to feel compassion for me. What better picture of living out a life that reflects Jesus is there than that? None! They didn’t just throw out some head-knowledge and leave me to my wrestling match…they entered in with me. They didn’t just blindly approve whatever I was saying in order to avoid making waves, they entered into the mess with both their minds and their hearts.

This stuff really matters! Not just in my situation but in most (I think.) Think about the areas of life where there is the most strife…think about racial tensions…think about political tensions…think about areas where a majority are ignorant to the plight of others…all these areas are exacerbated by applying a formula and only perpetuate the ignorance and the number of injuries incurred.

So, how are you doing with this? Do you feel understood? If you don’t, are you speaking up to the people that you crave understanding from? Is there someone that you love but that you just simply don’t get? How much are you investing in, not just mentally comprehending their situation, but also empathizing and feeling compassion. Are you communicating together with love and kindness and a willingness to hear? Really hear (not letting them speak long enough to get your chance to talk.)  

My prayer today is that we would be led by truth that our heads know but also compassion that our hearts experience. I am praying that we would be drawn to those who are less like ourselves so that we may learn and increase our understanding of people instead of just understanding ideals.

Much love friends,

Beks

8/25/16 Morning Musing: Puppies, Rocks, and Smiles

This morning, my alarm went off and, after I turned it off, I said good morning to my husband and then stretched out as long as I could. While my feet moved around under the sheets and blankets, I could feel little warm puppy bodies laying near my knee and elbow and then I heard the sound of something small and hard hit the floor. I hopped up to see what had fallen and was straining to see in the dark until I found it…a rock. It made me giggle a little because it was definitely another “gift” from my two little pooches, Shiner and Bock. They are super-sweet pups…they are great companions…but they don’t do the things that other dogs do to “earn their keep.” They aren’t sporting dogs. They don’t catch any pests. They don’t fetch and they aren’t intimidating at all. What they do well is just joining in our pack…Team Massey…they follow me every where I go in the house… when I go run errands, they beg to ride in the car with me…they like to run upstairs and wake up the kiddos for school…and on occasion, they bring me a rock or an acorn as a gift.

So, why am I telling you about puppies and gift rocks? Well, I guess it’s because I think I have learned something about God through my exchange with these pooches. There is no doubt that God does things to bless me every hour of every day…and because he’s God, I don’t think he “needs” my help…but I think that he smiles when I make efforts to bless him in return…whether it is praise coming from my lips, finances intentionally dedicated to him, or kindness invested into someone he loves but who I deem unlovable. He can accomplish these things without me, no doubt…but I think the effort and motivation to love him and be more like him pleases him. It is much like the pups bringing me a rock this morning…do I need the rock? No. Can I see the motives behind the gift? Absolutely! And it will have me smiling all day long!

So, how are you doing with this? Do you have gifts to offer God and others…gifts that you are holding on to because you think they are only rocks? Are other people offering you gifts? Do you recognize the gifts being offered to you or do you just see a worthless rock? What gifts do you talk yourself out of giving away? Do you think they aren’t good enough? Do you think others will find them silly? Can you be vulnerable enough to give them anyway?  

My prayer today is that we would freely offer God our gifts. I am praying that we would make the Creator of the world smile when we humbly offer him our little rocks. I am praying that we would bless other people with our gifts and use our little rocks to lift each other up and give each other something to stand on.  

Much love friends,

Beks

6/6/16 Morning Musing: Life-Breathing 

A few weeks ago, I was at a doctor’s office and found myself speechless (and anyone who knows me know that never happens! As Stan says about me: “There are just so many words!”) Let me back up a bit. I was trying out a new location for getting my testosterone pellet implant and was talking with the doctor about normal stuff when she noticed how I had noted something in my file. I had written something in a manner that indicated that I had some understanding of medicine and so she inquired about my educational background. I proceeded to tell her that I had learned what she was asking about when I had worked for a veterinarian but that I had an undergraduate degree in biomedical science and a master’s degree in integrative physiology. She asked me what I do now and I told her that I was a stay-at-home mom. It was her following question that left me momentarily speechless: “But why would you waste your education?” Do you hear it? Because to me it was loud and clear: “You aren’t enough! What you do isn’t valuable. Investment is wasted on you.” After a few seconds, I recovered and told her that I never thought that education was a waste because regardless of the field of study, learning to think is valuable. Now the truth is that I really learned to think after all of my education but I wanted her to understand that investing in people is never a waste.

As usual, this got me thinking…a lot…in fact, I haven’t been able to let it go for the last 5 weeks…and I think I have finally figured out why it has stuck with me so much. I think that, for my entire life, my biggest struggle has been in understanding and accepting my identity. Now before I lose you, hang in there with me for a minute while I explain with a few examples. When I was young, something happened to me that made me question and doubt my value as a female…as an integral part of God’s family. With the poisoning a few years ago, I came to question if I was worth the expense that I was costing my family. That also led to spiritual upheaval and doubt as to whether anything that I had spent my life believing was true. Recently, I left my job at our old church and that led to me questioning whether or not I could do ministry the way that I am designed to (I mean, if I can’t do ministry at a church, is it likely that I will be able to do it on my own outside of church?) There are tons of other examples but what I am getting at is that I have experienced attack, for the duration of my entire life, on my value as a female and as an image-bearer of God.  

So, going back to the story at my doctor’s office, that is why her seemingly innocent question did not feel so innocent to me. I don’t think that she meant to offend me at all…but I do believe that her words betrayed her thoughts…and those thoughts were clearly that I am not living up to my potential. I, however, disagree with her. See, my constant question over the last couple of years has been “What does obedience look like right now?” I’m not making a five-year plan. I’m not climbing the ladder anywhere. I’m not trying to make a pay check. What I have been doing is trying to be present and obedient to God in the now. Some days, that doesn’t look like much to most people. But some days, it looks like everything. My availability to be obedient to God now has helped a friend with an eating disorder in recent months. It has allowed me to have life-breathing conversations with women who are experiencing marital problems. It has allowed me to be present with my kids and talk with them about who they are and how they are designed. It has allowed me to grow closer with my husband during this time of questioning what God would have him do as he searches for a job. I may not have a title or job-description that impresses anyone, but I am fully present with the people in my life when they need it…and that is what obedience looks like for me right now.

So how are you doing with this? Do you know who you are? Really know? Do you know what you were designed for? If you don’t, think about the things that really get you fired up and energized. Think about what it is that you can do for hours and then look up and wonder where all that time went. What I’m getting at is this: Do you know what your calling is and are you doing it? I firmly believe that what we choose to do with our short time here is either life-breathing or life-consuming. Can you identify the things in your life that fall into each category? If you are unsure, ask yourself how you serve others…because if you are only serving yourself, it falls under the life-consuming category. You have gifts…and by definition, gifts are meant to be given away…don’t deprive the world of what you have to offer.

My prayer today is that we would be life-breathing people. That we would not be content to just consume and discard things and people…but that we would invest in others. I am praying that we would start by learning more about Jesus so that we can learn more about who we are as image-bearers. I am praying that we would discard the conversations or events that we play on repeat in our minds that rob us of life and an understanding of our callings. And I am praying that we would be here now and that we would be still enough to ask God “What does obedience look like right now?”

Much love friends,
Beks

Breathing Life

5/9/16 – Morning Musing: Being Me

Last fall, I went to a conference specifically for Christian women in leadership. I was really excited to go and there was one particular session that I was looking forward to: Working With Men: Dive, Survive, or Thrive. I was familiar with the speaker for this session and knew that she was a pioneer for women where she is employed. Since I was working in a place where the overwhelming majority of leadership positions were filled by males and the majority of supportive roles were filled by females, I had found myself chaffing…struggling under the weight of this. Now don’t get me wrong…I was never looking to climb the ladder…I wasn’t even looking for a job when I got that one…I just wanted to minister to people…to help people see and embrace the truth and grace and freedom available to them…I wasn’t interested in money or position and so I was able to approach things without an agenda.  

Anyway, I went to this session with some of my work friends and the most humiliating thing happened: The speaker began to speak and I began to furiously take notes. As the session progressed, I began to feel heavier and heavier until I just sat there open-mouthed and confused. Is this really happening? Did I really just hear her say that women needed to suppress their emotions in order to work with men? And thank the men that allowed them to be a leader? What? And then it happened. I felt the first tear fall down my cheek. No!!!!! Stop! I berated myself as my vision blurred while I sat there on the second row and cried as the speaker asked this room full of women leaders to suppress what is a big part of many of us and is fully God-given. The message I received loudly and clearly was “If you want to be successful in this male-dominated field, you will need to become more masculine so that the men can feel comfortable with you.” The speaker made eye-contact with me and was visibly disturbed by the expression on my face complete with the tears, sniffing, and red blotchy skin. No poker-face here!  

My co-workers who were with me were trying to help me out but I just couldn’t seem to reign it all in. It took me a while to find words for why I was so broken by that speaker’s message but I finally did. I was grieving. This woman, whom I had looked up to was giving me the same message as the men that I had struggled with: There is a specific persona that I would have to embody if I wanted to get to really do ministry. I would have to suppress the strongest parts of myself and be inauthentic in order to get the opportunity to speak truth to people. Do you see the irony? I would have to lie about who I am to myself and others if I wanted the chance to speak truth…any truth I could ever offer anyone would have to begin with a lie. I couldn’t stomach this at all. I had come so far from the self-doubting girl who didn’t understand why God had made her “incorrectly” (a female with “male” gifts of leadership, pastoring, teaching, etc.) I had finally reached a point of understanding that I, too, was an image-bearer of the Almighty despite being female…had finally started to accept my God-given and carefully designed character and personality and this message directly attacked the freedom that had finally become available to me. I had gotten this message a lot over the years and had been able to disregard it most of the time because I figured that we all learn our lessons at different rates…just because I knew something was true didn’t mean that everyone else already knew it. What made it so very painful this time…was that this message was coming from a woman who had paved the way for me…she should have known better.  

I lost respect for one of my role-models that day because she was asking me to be inauthentic…to lie to myself and others about who I am…to hide. I have a lot of flaws…and I own them fully…but inauthenticity is not one of them. I can not and will not pretend to be less so that others can feel good about themselves.  

So, how are you doing with this? Do you know yourself? Really know yourself? Do you understand how your specific characteristics are meant to benefit the world around you? Do you sometimes doubt your gifts and design? Where do those doubts stem from? What usually spurs you to deny who you are? How can you change that way of thinking around so that you can honor not only how you were designed…but also the One who designed you?  

My prayer today is that we would be authentic people who love others, ourselves, and God well by speaking and living out truth because if what we offer isn’t truth, we are just filling the world with noise.

Much love friends,
Beks