1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

10/4/17 Morning Musing: Become the Expert You Pretend to Be

“I think it’s all in your head. If you just quit thinking about it, you’ll realize that you are fine.” My body shook with rage as I listened to these words and felt this person slip away from my inner circle. My face was hot and my breathing got faster and I was very aware of my heart beating fast and hard…so hard that I was sure that it must be moving my shirt on my chest. The only thought I could pull together was “You are not a safe person for me anymore. You simply are not safe.” 

This interaction happened in the year following the poisoning when I was going through hell. At the time, I was trying to regain my health through very extreme measures…I was dealing with bitterness and anger toward the man who had stolen my life from me…I was mourning the loss of the life that I had before…I was spiraling in a spiritual crisis…I was facing the isolation that accompanied my decimated health because people simply didn’t know what to do with me and consequently quietly pulled away…I was feeling guilt and shame for not being able to contribute to the family in any way…and I was already battling thoughts of suicide. And then I had this person tell me that all of my health issues were make-believe. What he really wanted was for me to get over it so that he didn’t have to feel any awkwardness. But if I could have just made it disappear with positive thoughts, don’t you think I would have? If I could have taken any shortcut out of this…anything that would make it end…I absolutely, without a doubt would have taken it…but there was no shortcut…there was only through.

Why am I writing about this? Good question. I think that we have an epidemic today. I think that we are so busy being busy that we don’t take care with our words…we are careless and we injure people. I think that we are so stuck looking at things from only our own point of view (and surrounding ourselves only with people who will validate our own point of view) that we think we are qualified to pass judgement on things that we honestly don’t know anything about. I know that my story is extreme…I haven’t ever come across anyone else who has experienced it…but I’m using my story to make the point…nobody could even get a glimpse of what I was experiencing unless they took the time to hear me…and in my brokenness, I found that people didn’t want to hear me…what they wanted was for my experience to be simple and neat and tied with a bow so that they could consume the cliff notes version, file it under some already existing category in their minds, and move on. And I frustrated people because their pre-made categories didn’t work with my story.  

The thing is, I don’t think my experience is unique (the poisoning…yes, that is unique…but being helpless to have people understand before passing judgement…well, I think that happens to people every single day.) I think that this happens when a new mother is dealing with depression and people tell her that she has no reason to be blue. I think this happens when someone makes a political statement and we dismiss them as a crazy/stupid/illogical/heartless person from across the political aisle from us. I think this happens when a person of color simply makes a truthful statement that black lives matter and people scream back that all lives matter. I think this happens when a person struggles with mental illness and people ignore it because they look ok on the outside.
I guess the point that I am trying to make is this: In a courtroom, not just anybody can be brought in to speak about certain matters…people who are qualified to speak on a subject…experts…are brought in (and their credentials are heavily scrutinized)…so why do we think we are qualified to pass judgement about things that we don’t know about? Why do we try to negate the experiences of others when learning from people that are different from us can only broaden our knowledge and deepen our compassion?

This one was hard for me to write. Not only did I struggle with reliving that memory and the feelings that go along with it…but I also struggled with facing my own guilt in this area. How about you? How are you doing with this? Do you spend time with people who are different from you? When you hear a perspective that is different than yours, do you take it in and crunch on it a while or do you begin to mentally rip apart their experience so that you can negate it? What do you have knee-jerk reactions about? Do you actively seek out people who stand counter to you on those subjects so that you can have a deeper understanding or do you surround yourself with people who will agree with your current stance (making it unnecessary to allow your self to become uncomfortable and brave enough to lean in to the discomfort?) Are you still learning something new every day or have you embraced becoming stagnant?
My prayer today is that we would be authentic people who are confident enough to allow others to be authentic also…that we would love people enough to listen and really hear them…that we would step away from our battle stances and step closer to someone who is different from us. Friends, I am praying that we would each draw closer to God and allow him to move us closer to each other. I am praying once again that we would love well.

Much love friends,

Beks

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23

9/7/17 Morning Musing: How I Practically Found My True Identity

Since my last musing, I have had people reach out to me and ask some questions. The most common one was: “Ok, I get that I need to find out who I am…learn about my individual identity…but what does that actually look like practically? It’s easy to do it in theory…but how does one go about actually discovering their God-given identity?” So, I’m no expert (when has that ever stopped me from talking?) but I will happily share how this process went for me so maybe it will be easier for you.

I have been on a journey of learning who I really am for over 6 years now and I would say that the most meaningful thing I did was put aside an entire day last year for just spending time with God asking him who HE says I am instead of telling him who I say I am. No distractions. No plans. No screens. An entire day of just listening. And I’ll be honest with you…it was hard and frustrating for at least 2/3 of that day. I don’t know about you, but being completely still and quiet so that I can hear is really hard for me. I have trouble doing this for 15 minutes let alone an entire day. I had to be comfortable enough to not be distracted by my discomfort. I had to be uncomfortable enough to keep from falling asleep. There were a lot of little things I had to eliminate through the course of my day to keep distractions at bay.

I recognize myself to be both an interpersonal learner and a kinesthetic learner meaning I learn best with my hands on something or my body moving and through dialog with other people…but I was trying to have a dialog with someone who doesn’t audibly answer me back and if I’m too active, it becomes a workout as opposed to a conversation. So, what I came up with was that I would art journal with God. I didn’t know what I was creating along the way…I just knew that I would create something with him…and that my hands would be busy so that my mind could be thinking. (For those with ADD/ADHD, like myself, this is a very helpful tool that is not always true for the general population.) So, I just started gathering stuff…anything really…that I could use in the project and I started laying it out on the paper and a characteristic of mine…not necessarily my identity…but a strong characteristic none the less…began to emerge. I had managed to pull two different fabrics together that both apply to me on a daily basis: denim and lace. I love jeans! They are strong and durable and go with everything…when I want to be tough, I wear jeans. I am not a fancy gal and I don’t do formalities (it makes me feel inauthentic)…I like comfort and depth and jeans seem approachable to me. On the flip side, lace is delicate and light and gentle and beautiful…it’s not as durable as denim…it has vulnerability to it and, at times, I like that too. I loved the contrast of the two fabrics when I saw them together and it made me think of how I hate being pigeon-holed. I am a multi-faceted person and I hate being forced into a mold…and when I recognize it happening, I respond rather violently to it…I feel the need to not just break the mold but shatter it…tell me I can’t do something and I will absolutely spend every ounce of energy I have proving you wrong. (I had a male teacher tell me once that girls were not as good at math and science as boys were. When I had completed both my BS in biomedical science and MS in integrative physiology, I went back and told him how wrong he was…a full 10 years later I was still trying to ravage a mold that I didn’t want to be pressed in to!) All that to say that I had my background for my individuality…among all of my likes and dislikes, I had found a thread connecting many of them…freedom! I needed the freedom to be and do what I wanted…not what others wanted for/of me.

And that is where the progress came to a screeching halt (or so it seemed) for several hours. I slowly started arranging and attaching the fabric background to my art journal pages and talking (sometimes out loud) with God. For most of the day, I would throw out some of the characteristics that I saw in myself (fierce, independent, deep, intelligent, etc) and got angrier and angrier at him as each one would not sit quite right. “No…that isn’t your identity” I would hear in my head over and over…and it pissed me off…I even resorted to arguing with him because I was these things. “But that isn’t WHO you are” I would hear. Aaarrrgghhhh! 

By early evening, I finally heard the first word: Created. “Are you serious God? Really? Everyone is created! That freaking rock on the ground is created. That is so boring! Even cockroaches are created! Ugh! This sucks!” As I wrestled with this word, an adverb was added: purposefully. Ok, so purposefully created…what do I do with that? I started thinking about how I like to create things (I was literally doing it right then!) and realized that I was purposefully created so that I could create with a purpose. Hmmm…ok, so that’s better than the cockroach thing. That is something to ponder for a while. What else have you got for me God? Loved. Ugh again! Everyone is loved by God, aren’t they? But…I have really experienced God’s love in some of my most broken places…deep inside where I have protected my damage from others and even from myself. And then I realized, maybe for the first time, that I love my people with a huge love…it’s not like other people I know…there is definitely something distinctive about it. Ok, more to ponder. Then, came the third and final word that day: Forgiven. That one immediately put me in tears as I relived how I have injured others during my life and I grieved deeply having hurt them. I started to think of some of the injuries I had received from others as well and realized that I am a forgiver. I am forgiven and it allows me to be a forgiver.

That was it that day. I spent about 15 hours and literally got 3 words from God: Created, Loved, and Forgiven. Those were not the words I had wanted…I wanted something with badass as a description…but apparently that isn’t WHO I am (It’s just what I am! Haha!!! Couldn’t resist.) I saw a pattern emerge: God gives from who he is…so who I really am will reflect him. This helped me see a couple of more words later as I reflected on my favorite name of God: El Roi (God who sees me.) I love that name because I often struggle with feeling invisible…and out of that struggle, I have come to a place where I see people…really see them where they are…and can love them and value them right there. That is where I got two more words: Known and Wanted. 

Since then, I have become more comfortable with my true identity. I have been able to see how I had previously come to different conclusions about my identity…I discovered that a lot of my characteristics were really a response to situations that I have experienced as opposed to characteristics given to me by God. (For example, I was tough because I had been injured in the past and never wanted to feel like a victim again…so I became a 2nd degree black belt. I wanted intelligent as my identity because I felt dumb for most of my life because I learn differently than is valued by our educational system. I wanted to be defined as independent because I know I can count on myself…it’s others that have let me down in the past.) I may or may not be those things…but they aren’t my identity…they aren’t WHO I am…because if they were, I would actually be defined by the hurts that caused me to respond in those ways. No, I am not defined by my damage…I am defined by the meaningful ways that God has poured into me…and that is why I am able to pour out those characteristics…and I feel whole and amazing when I get to do them.

That is how I arrived in this new place of freedom…and if you have read this far, then you not only have a lot of endurance in this long musing, but you may also want to ask yourself some questions: Do you know who God says you are? Are you able to differentiate between who he says you are and who you tell yourself you are? What might you do in order to position yourself to hear from God instead of all the noise around you? What characteristics do you have that are a response to pain in your life? Are you letting those characteristics (and pain) define you? What is the thing you give to the world and despite continuing to pour out, you end up filled up?  

My prayer today is that we would be able to still ourselves enough to hear from God. I’m praying that we would achieve our purpose in life by fully coming to terms with our true identity. I’m praying that we would become positioned so that we can continuously receive from God and consequently keep pouring out from him as well.

Much love friends,
Beks

9/5/17 Morning Musing: As Is

Last week, I went out and got a new tattoo. The artist was hesitant to ask the importance of the tattoo because it said “freedom.” He was afraid that I would answer his question with sadness and tears about a divorce or leaving an abusive relationship. During our conversation, I told him that my husband didn’t have any tattoos and that was when he felt able to ask about the one that I was getting…if it wasn’t about getting out of a sad relationship (apparently something that he hears a lot about) then what was the meaning? I tried to condense the huge meaning for me to a couple of sentences so that I wouldn’t talk the poor kid to death…because…well…me…y’all know me…there are just SO many words!!!!  

Anyway, I told him that I have spent my entire life as a people-pleaser…that I have always tried to make myself into the person that others needed or wanted…and that finally, at 40 years old, I was learning that I am enough and that there is rest in that. He nodded his head and said “I see…so you are starting to live just for yourself.” Nope…he isn’t getting it…that is ok…I can still explain it better. “Actually, I believe very strongly that I am meant to live a life full of loving others and putting them first…in serving people and doing what I can to help them also achieve freedom from whatever holds them back…basically I believe in following God…but the freedom I feel that I have finally achieved is in understanding that I don’t have to be what someone else wants me to be in order to do those things really well…I don’t have to “try” so hard…I can just be me and offer what I have and know that it is enough without striving to be something or someone better…this tattoo is important to me because it is a reminder that I already am exactly who I am supposed to be…and God loves me and can love others through me right now…as is.”  

I could tell he was thinking about what I had said as he finished up my tattoo. I wish I could tell you that I then was able to tell him all about Jesus…but in truth, time was up and it was time to pay and leave. Since then, I have run through that interaction with the artist many times in my head and I feel certain that he was struggling with his own sense of being “enough.” So, I’m wondering…how are you doing with this? Do you get to be the real you? Do you even know who that is? Do you get caught up being who you think others want you to be or striving to be or to do more? What would freedom look like for you? Does it involve shattering a mold that you feel you keep getting pressed into? Could freedom be something that you offer yourself by allowing yourself to just be? After all, we are human beings…not human doings.

My prayer today is that we would all ask God who he says we are. As our designer and creator, he knows what characteristics and purposes are in place for us. I am praying that we would stop fighting who we are and embrace it instead. I am praying that we would reach a point of freedom and rest when we stop striving and competing so much…because the real me or you is exactly the person that is needed wherever our purpose is.

Much love friends,

Beks

7/26/17 Morning Musing: Whack-A-Doodle

So, some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been writing and sharing my “Morning Musings” in quite some time…and some of you have no idea what I’m talking about…either way, I have some stuff to confess: I stopped a while back when I realized that I was getting discouraged by lack of response from people.
 
The truth is, I became unsure as to whether or not it made a difference…it was like thinking I was speaking to a room full of people and then realizing that the room was actually empty. The problem with that statement is that you all are not the audience that I was supposed to be writing for…the musings were always meant to simply be a conversation between me and God…I just happened to be having the conversations in public…which might classify me as a whack-a-doodle…I don’t know.
 
Anyway, I have felt him prodding me lately and I can think of specific instances where I waved him off and said “Why? It doesn’t matter to anyone.” And I felt God saying “But it matters to you and me…to our relationship.” So, despite my hesitation and fear, I plan to begin working on this again and making it a priority. I don’t know if it will be the same as before or not…I don’t know if any of you will read it or not…I don’t even know at what frequency it will occur…but I do know this: God wouldn’t impress on me to do it unless it mattered…and that’s enough for me. So, here we go again!

Much love,
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

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

2/23/16 Morning Musing: Beautifully Broken

I went to my art class today…a class that I will admit has given me some trouble this year…not the lessons really…more the personalities. I am an outsider…each of the women there signed up with a buddy and have their own little pockets of friends in class…so I feel that sense of not fitting in each week when I attend. The instructor is amazingly talented…but was sharing a lot of negativity on and off for the first few weeks. (Things came to a head a few weeks ago when my tendency to ask questions was turned into an assumed character flaw…I stayed after class and…well, we have an understanding now…she will not assign character traits to me based on incorrect assumptions and I will continue to ask questions because that is how I learn.) I am sure that the weird tension between the instructor and I didn’t help loosen the friendship pockets any.  

Anyway, a few weeks have passed and today, one gal who has been really closed off and tightly wound the whole semester, shared a very small tidbit of information about her son. I immediately felt compassion for the people in the situation that she described and shared with her some ways that I empathize with her situation and her son’s as well. See, I can identify with some of what the son has experienced and shared some things with her that might help her level of understanding where her child is concerned…ways that I have struggled and ways that I have failed along with the fears that accompany those failures…fears that I would be pigeon-holed or stereo-typed…fears that the way that people look at me will change…fears that relationships would be reduced to me living in a microscope to be studied…lots of fears.

And that is when it happened. The feel of the entire class changed. People started mingling more…walking around and looking at each other’s work and asking questions about how to achieve certain effects…sharing more about their real lives…encouraging each other through various struggles and sharing experiences that might help. This small group of predominantly uncomfortable strangers began to be known just a touch…let down their guard a tad…even giggle or tear up a little bit. Walls started to come down as posturing ceased and a journey toward depth began. I don’t know why I am telling you this except that it really struck me. I thrive on depth and authenticity and am really stifled (and somewhat sickened) by falseness and insincerity so this change…this new real-ness…this willingness to be a little vulnerable…well, it’s what I value most and it’s a glimpse of what I imagine Heaven will be like…what Eden was like before…

So, how are you doing in this area? Are you known? Really known? Do people have access to the person that you really are? Warts and all? What prevents you from being authentic? Do you allow others to be real? How can you encourage this more?  

My prayer today is that we would be brave. That we would allow who we really are…the actual creatures that God designed us to be…to be. That we would get comfortable being uncomfortable and just sit in it…not try to wiggle out of it…not side-step it and steer things away from our faults…because I think that our scars and broken parts might just be our most beautiful parts…because unlike the parts of us that get it all “right”…our tender bits are, after all, the parts that make us need the God that created us.

Much love friends,
Beks

10/15/15 Morning Musing: Happiness is Enjoyed Most When Shared

A few years ago, Stan told me about getting to judge a baking contest at work. There were several interesting entries but one, in particular, stood out to him as something that I would really like. (I love shortbread, sugar cookies, and butter cookies and this particular cookie reminded him of those.) After the contest, he told the woman who baked the cookies about me and asked for the recipe. That is when the woman told him that they were not cookies, they were tea cakes and that she would never share the recipe because it was her dead grand-mother’s recipe. It was awkward and uncomfortable and I was really proud of Stan for biting his tongue because his immediate thought was to add some levity by saying “Keeping secrets is a killer.”  
I’ve thought about that story many times over the years and it still bothers me. I do not understand the idea of something being so wonderful that you withhold it from others. (Within reason of course. Clearly there are exceptions: For example, sex with your spouse is something that you with-hold from others because sharing that with others would also depreciate what is special and intimate about it.) But in this case, I keep asking myself questions from the woman’s point of view: Would sharing this recipe somehow dishonor Grandma? Would someone else enjoying these “cookies” take away from my enjoyment of them? Do I want this wonderful thing to die with me? How did I find out about this recipe if not for Grandma sharing it with me?  
I keep asking different questions and just don’t get to a satisfactory answer for any of them and I realized that my objection isn’t about the cookies at all (shocker!)…it’s about the withholding…exclusion. While this wasn’t a rejection from the “cool club,” I still see an underlying problem. Why withhold? Why would you not want someone to enjoy something? Is it possible that what you are really enjoying is the act of excluding someone?  
Why am I telling you about cookies and being left out of the group of “cool kids?” Well, as you have probably guessed, I’m really talking about sharing our experiences and emotions. I’m not suggesting that you put all your “stuff” out there like I do. (I know that most people are not wired the way that I am and, honestly, your “stuff” can be tender and require being handled gently.) But I am suggesting that you share your “stuff” with people. You have experiences and gifts that others simply do not have…but those people would benefit from hearing your story or observing you use your gifts. It seems to me that if we love people, we will share things with them. (Isn’t that what the gospel is about? Sharing the good news?) It seems to me that we have gotten to a place where we reverse a lot of things: We share our time with people every day but we withhold our stories…our essence. We share our bodies with strangers but withhold our hearts. We share our money with every conceivable company out there but withhold it from God. We share our attention with a million different people but withhold it from our children.  
How are you doing with this? Are you withholding something from someone that you should be sharing? Even if it is a burden, sharing that with someone who you love can allow intimacy to grow. What about who you are? Are you sharing who you really are with people or do you have a persona that you wear like a mask? In an attempt to appear perfect, are you losing sight of who you are? Do you even know that the person that you are (under the makeup…the appearances…the bravado) is a person worth knowing? Worth loving? Worth sharing?  
My prayer today is that we would take a good look at ourselves, begin breaking down walls that we have erected, choose to accept what we see in the mirror, and share our stories…because as image-bearers of God, we are each a reflection of a really amazing love story to the world…and it would be a shame if the story went untold. Much love friends,
Beks

9/22/15 Morning Musing: It’s Only Bravery If We are Scared

In about a month, I am giving a talk in my marriage class. It shouldn’t be a big deal…I’m outgoing and never (ever!) have trouble talking with folks (whether I know them or not and whether they know that they want to talk or not)…but having a conversation is different from holding a microphone and talking from the front of the room. I have incredible anxiety around these kinds of situations…any situation where I feel like I am having to “perform.” The subject area is right up my alley: Fun and Connectedness. (I mean, c’mon! This practically has my name written all over it.) So what’s the problem?

Well, I guess my problem is two-fold:

First, there is the performance thing. I am the girl who would vomit before tests in school…from seventh grade all the way into grad school. And even as an adult, I would get performance anxiety around testing for taekwondo. (I’m sort of ashamed (and sort of proud) to admit that I was known as the lady with the fun flask at testings and tournaments. I would arrive early and pour vanilla rum into Dr. Pepper and voila! It was a yummy Vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic…but more fun.) I mean, c’mon! I’m an adult! (at least chronologically if not otherwise.) And…I am paying a lot of money for these judges to judge me…but I was so afraid that they would also “judge” me. *shudders* As a deeply-died-in-the-wool-people-pleaser, that thought alone can make me freeze up and just shut down. (And yes, I know all of the reasons (Biblically and otherwise) why I should not care what anyone thinks of me…it’s my blood pressure, stomach, and brain that have the absolutely terrified and paralyzed disconnect.) **Warning: Digresses to a story: When I first started board breaking in taekwondo, I got all gummed up in my head at testing because I knew my board-holders (Mr. Scott Mischke and Mr. Nevels.) Nicest guys in the world…but I knew them. When mentally preparing myself for this testing, I had faceless board holders…but these guys…I knew! And I liked them! Ugh! Well, as it would go, I was all amped up and kicking it wrong for the first two tries. When I got to the last possible attempt, the thought occurred to me, “If you throw up on them, you will have to quit because it will be too embarrassing to ever return to class.” Well…that’s just great! I knew then that vomiting was eminent and I had to do the last kick (pass or fail) before the vomiting happened or I was just screwed. So, I managed to throw a terrible, ugly, embarrassingly bad side kick…and accidently broke the board…with my calf. What the-? Hold on, I used to be a science teacher…I have taught physics…that isn’t supposed to be possible! And in my confusion and disbelief, I passed my test. I stood there stunned and saw the stunned and amused faces of Scott and Kevin looking back at me as I thanked them and wandered away somewhere. (I’m still not sure what I did or where I went after that…I sure hope I wasn’t driving.) The only thing that made sense to me was that I was so pathetic that God had mercy on my and broke the board for me. Honestly, it’s the only thing that I can think of.**

The other problem for me, where this upcoming talk is concerned, has to do with my long-held belief about women being quiet in church (1 Tim 2.) And while I have this settled in my mind after extensive study (I am happy to have a conversation about this if you want,) there is still something that nags at me…some insidious voice that tells me that I am being a “bad girl” (and not in the fun way…just in the disobedient-to-God way) and that gives me heartburn. It gives me pause and it opens me up to doubt. This nagging thought is the reason that I have denied my Spiritual giftedness for so long…but I simply can’t deny it anymore: Pastor/Shepherd, Teacher, Prophecy (Counsel), and Exhortation (Encouragement)…these gifts define who God made me to be and the story that he has chosen for my life to tell. So, every time I consider doing this, I have to go through the entire exercise of re-studying in order to make sure that I am in humble obedience to God and not in some sort of rebellion. It can be exhausting.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I guess it’s for a couple of reasons: First, I’d love prayer support. Ever since making this decision, I have honestly felt attack. My time has managed to become over-loaded with stuff that I don’t like or have a passion for (soul-sucking tedious stuff like updating websites and dealing with rosters and stuff) and have been denied the deep conversations with actual people’s faces (in person) about real ideas. I have been unable to muse although it is one of the only things I want to do. So, I am asking for prayer as often as God brings it to mind to think about. (And thank you in advance.)

Another reason I’m writing about this is that I think that big things are happening in the Church (universal…not just the one I attend) where biases (gender as well as others) are concerned. As long as we are unable to put ourselves in someone else’s circumstances (gender, race, socioeconomics, orientation, up-bringing, etc.) it is crucial that we talk with people to gain their perspective. I would be willing to bet that very few male pastors in the Bible Belt have struggled against feeling like they are a willfully disobedient Christ-follower for speaking truth in church. Considering that many of us spend time with others who are like us, it stands to reason that we lack exposure to many perspectives that could allow us glimpses of God’s truth and character that we don’t currently see.

Finally, I’m writing this as an encouragement. I don’t think that there are many worthwhile things in life that don’t require some work to accomplish. For example, if public speaking were easy for me, I might be prone to thinking that I was doing it through my own strength…I might forget my need for God…and then I’d miss the entire point of why I do this.

Time to flip the tables: How are you doing with this? Is there something that you should be doing but aren’t because you “aren’t good at it?” (For me, it shows up as recurring thoughts that make me go “Where did that come from? I don’t wanna do that!”) Are you surrounding yourself in “holy huddles” and not exposing yourself to other perspectives? (We are each a PART of the body…not an entire body on our own…we are meant to be in community with people who are different from ourselves (different body parts.) Who can you ask to enter with you into a healthy exchange of ideas? How can you grow in your understanding of God and the story that he would like to use your life to tell?

My prayer today is that we would be obedient to our Lord regardless of whether or not we like what he has planned for us to do. I am praying that we would honor him with a gift-offering of being willing to lean into our discomfort instead of fleeing from it. And finally, I’m praying that we would respect him and those he loves by allowing them to share stories about their experiences with God with us.

Much love friends,

Beks