8/17/18 Morning Musing – Working Through the Wounds

I remember feeling like I had been slapped across the face when she cut me off in front of a group of people and sternly said “Be quiet! Quit stirring up trouble. It doesn’t help them to see Jesus!” Whoa…wait a minute…I was actually offering insight and a solution that would be easy for everyone, not stirring up trouble at all. And then I felt it…unseen…unknown…such a familiar feeling for me…it forms a pit in my stomach and I start to feel nauseous…and it always hits me out of left field. This is the area where I struggle the most in life…it’s probably why I learned early to clown around and be funny…because people are attracted to feeling good and happy…and I performed in order to attract the people so I could feel known. This is where my soul struggles and feels attacked.

With my close friends, I’ve always asked that they just give me the benefit of the doubt. Know me and my character well enough to stop and think about things if something that I said seems off or offensive…and then…ask me about it. I know! Shocking idea isn’t it? It really surprises me how many people are willing to throw a relationship away by simply taking something out of context and contorting it until it resembles an offense. Are they looking to be offended? If so, what a miserable way to live. It must drive people away in droves. Picking something apart until it no longer resembles the intended message is not a virtue…and it hurts most coming from a close friend because it leaves me questioning if they ever even really knew me.

Why am I writing about this? Glad you asked! I’ve been thinking for a few years now that God has a funny way of using our weaknesses to speak to people. It’s in the struggles and wounds where a story happens. (If everything is just dandy all the time, there’s no story!) And interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that my wounds and weaknesses are what draw me to certain characteristics or names of God. My favorite name of God is “God who sees me.” (El Roi) Is it coincidental that feeling unseen or unknown is my biggest pitfall? Probably not. I think it just reinforces the verse about his strength being made perfect in weakness. But the thing about that is that I have to be willing to see myself clearly and identify where I am weak. I don’t know about you…but for me…I don’t enjoy dwelling on that. (“Hmmmm…let me count all the ways that I suck!” does not sound like a fun party game.) I much prefer the happy feel-good stuff, or even numbness, over mulling over the hurts and finding the root issue…and today’s way of living certainly is busy enough to keep me numb for a long time if I am not careful.

The thing is though, seeing people is my one of my biggest strengths. I mean really seeing them…seeing into them. Seeing their value, their fears, their insecurities, ways that they feel loved…and frequently I am able to speak truth into some of what they are telling themselves. But seriously, why is that the thing I’m good at? After all, I frequently feel unseen…unknown. My thinking is that our wounds leave scars which catch our eyes a lot and so it is front of mind. It’s tender and easily triggered to hurt. We don’t want others to feel what we have felt before and we don’t want to keep re-living it so we begin to minister to others in this area…we are drawn to it.

So, how are you doing with this? Is there an area where you feel particularly weak? Do you struggle with one type of hurt over others? Does it seem repetitive and exhausting? Or are you even able to slow down enough to think about this? What is it about God that you love the most? What name of God speaks to you above others? Are the two things connected in some way? What type of ministry are you drawn to? Is it connected to your strengths or weaknesses? Are you showing others your strength or are you showing them God’s strength?

My prayer today is that we would slow down and ask God about our wounds. I’m praying that we would be still long enough to really hear him speak about those wounds and that we would look for his characteristics that are counter to whatever has harmed us. I’m praying that we would find ways to minister through our hurts so that others can be spared and so that we can heal…so that we can worship our God more fully…so that we don’t waste the pain.

Much love friends,

Beks

Advertisements

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

10/23/17 Morning Musing: Mouths and Heart-Spaces

When I think back over the last 40 years…and think about the times when I hurt others, either intentionally or unintentionally, I can see how my mouth seemed to play the biggest role. Either I said something insensitive and hurt someone with carelessness…or I said something hurtful intentionally to get some emotional space in an argument…or I didn’t say something comforting and loving when I should have…or I felt awkward and did my nervous babbling thing and it prolonged something that I should have let die down. I can remember specific instances of hearing unjust statements made and not speaking against them…or nervously laughing…or…I’m ashamed to admit…contributing.  

I can also remember being cut very deeply by words…and being a people-pleaser for most of my life, the person didn’t have to be in my inner circle to hurt me. I can remember spinning on the words afterward for hours or even days or weeks…not being able to let it go…continuing to re-live the conversation and what was said over and over again…going into “analysis paralysis” where I excavated every possible corner of my heart to see if there was truth to what the person had accused me of (even if they didn’t realize that they had.)
Words matter…and we can’t get them back. Written or spoken. Intentional or not. Once they are sent out, we don’t get a do-over…and we have revealed who we are. 

“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” ‭Matthew‬ ‭15:18‬ ‭NIV‬

Over the last year or so, I have been broken by the hateful things I’ve seen posted on social media by people that I wouldn’t consider hateful. And there were times that I spoke up against the unjust words in a gentle way in order to not escalate the hurt. And other times, I kept quiet because it wasn’t my turn to speak. Some times I saw others speak up in ways that brought people’s hackles down. And other times I saw others speak up in ways that just threw a hand grenade into an already tense situation. And it occurs to me that what we are putting out there is what is in our heart-space…it is the mark that we are leaving on the world…and it matters. Now, some will say that is why they don’t post or comment…and to them, I say…have a voice of truth…don’t be silenced. Others will say that they encounter so much friction because they are standing up for something…and to them, I say…stand up for someone instead of something.  

I think our mouths were meant to communicate what is in our hearts…and hearts were meant to love people. So how are you doing with this? What comes out of your mouth? Is it loving? Is it truthful? Does it build people up? Does it encourage others to do what is right? Do your words accept responsibility for what you’ve done wrong or do you make excuses? Do your words encourage the hearts of the discouraged? Do your words gently speak truth into broken spaces? Do your words stand against injustice? Do your words represent truth about the one who is The Word?
 
My prayer today is that we would ask for wisdom and wait to receive it. I am praying that we would speak when we are meant to and that we would shut up when we should. I am praying that we would learn to be gentle with our words and that our words would be guided by a heart-space that is taught kindness from God. I am praying that our words would be a tool for healing instead of breaking…that we would build things instead of breaking them…and that we would, once again, love well. Finally, I am praying that we would honor God with what comes from our mouths…because then, we would also be honoring him with what comes from our hearts.

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

9/3/15 Morning Musing: What You Contribute (Or Don’t) Matters.

For the last two months, I’ve been regularly going to cryotherapy and have been super-pleased with the results. True to form, I have continued to research and learn more about the process and (surprise surprise) it has me thinking in analogies again. Why am I bringing up cryotherapy in a musing where I usually speak about more spiritual matters? Well, as an admitted science-nerd, I can acknowledge that I LOVE learning new things and totally geek-out when I am able to begin making connections that I was not making previously. So, imagine the incredible amplification of my geek-dom when I began connecting concepts of thermal energy in science with spiritual heart-space!  

So, here goes: I have had some interactions with a few individuals lately where I have left the interaction feeling…off…like something was not right but there wasn’t any huge statement or action that I could point to and say “It was that.” It was bizarre because after each of these interactions, the only word that really came to mind when I was thinking of the off-ness, was “Cold.” (Science geek-out warning!) If you think way, way back to middle schools science classes, you may remember a little bit about energy…but specifically thermal energy…things like cold not being a real thing…it’s really just the absence of heat. Or how energy is not created or destroyed (much like matter) but can change forms (First Law of Thermodynamics.) Or how heat energy always travels from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration (Second Law of Thermodynamics) which ultimately results in an evening-out of heat energy between the two or more objects unless they are separated. (Think about leaving a mug of hot coffee on the kitchen counter and forgetting about it. When you return in a couple of hours, the coffee, the mug, the countertop, and the air in the room are all the same temperature…which just aggravates you more because now you are caffeine-deprived and the coffee is cold!)
With that information in mind, now think about the interactions that I have had where I could only describe the other person’s contribution as “cold.” I now know why it bothered me and felt off! During the conversations, I was excited and animated and…invested. I was passionate about the topic…so much so that I was willing to personally sacrifice energy and finances and time. In each instance, the other person *should* have been similarly jazzed but just wasn’t. I didn’t see any investment from them, didn’t perceive any passion in them, and in each instance, I definitely did not see them sacrificing any time, thought, finances, etc to the situation. Now, like I said before, there was no statement or action that was antagonistic…but I now get why it bothered me: My excitement and investment was high and theirs was low to non-existent…so in the course of the interaction, some of my heat, for lack of a better analogy, was leached out of me and that is why I was vexed.
Why the heck am I talking about thermodynamics and cold conversations? Well, I guess it’s because it was spiritual in nature. The topic being discussed in each instance was seemingly a topic that both participants should have been invested in because both have been called to a place of service or ministry. But in each instance, there was a lack of desire to put out any energy or effort for others…which, if I’m not mistaken, is the antithesis of service or ministry because it creates a posture of only receiving (keep think heat analogy.)  
So, here are my conclusions about personal interactions using thermodynamics as an analogy:

We are all capable of leaching someone else’s energy, passion, and excitement and we should be careful about doing that indiscriminately because I think that makes us responsible for diminishing those resources.

If we are jazzed about something and have a “calling” concerning it, we are capable of sharing some of that energy and excitement with others.

If we find ourselves to be passion-vampires, it might be time to consider a change because it is no longer service or ministry if we are the constant takers. Revelation 3 says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” **Note: the water described here had many health benefits when hot (because hot water has more energy and can consequently hold more minerals in it.) If the water was cold, it was at least refreshing, even if it wasn’t medically beneficial. Luke-warm water had neither quality.**

Matthew‬ ‭7:6 says “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” So, I think it is important, as mission-sharers, to pay attention to where we donate our “heat.” If the other person never gets warmer…then we may need to move elsewhere for a time so as to not become drained of warmth and thus rendered ineffective.

It is important to remember who our heat-source is. John 15 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Ok, if you have made it this far, I’m truly impressed…you are patient and able to follow the ramblings of an enthusiastic nerd. Here is the time where I flip the tables on you: How are you doing with this? What are you passionate about? What are you doing to pursue that passion? How are you connecting to others and ultimately serving them through your passion? If you aren’t, what changes could you make in that area? If this is foreign to you, what types of things in life sound fun and energizing to you? How can you regularly incorporate that into your life? Do you have passion vampires in your life? How could you draw some healthy boundaries where they are concerned? Finally, are you connected with your heat-source? If you aren’t, losing all of your own heat is inevitable, exhausting, and frustrating…so in what ways is God calling you to connect with him?
My prayer today is that we would be attentive and encouraging to others as they pursue God and that we would learn to better appreciate and support passions and skills that might be different from our own so as to not dampen the efforts of people who are on mission with us. Also, I am praying that we would be discerning of when and how to use our gifts and passions in our pursuit of serving the Lord. Much love friends.
Beks

3/25/15 Morning Musing:  Super-Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes.

I was blown away!  This man was making such a generous gesture…I know it wasn’t purely selfless…but it certainly was generous and the reason it spoke so clearly to me…it was to benefit my kids.  (If you ever want to love a mother well…just be kind to her children.)

I had this under control.  My friend’s car battery was dead in the Kroger parking lot and I have a “dummy-proof” jumper cable kit.  (It labels exactly how to jump a car with pictures and everything so that you don’t do something stupid and electrocute yourself…perfect for a distractible gal like me!)  But before I got the first clamp on the dead battery, a man that I didn’t know walked up and began to help.  And then another man walked up and began to help.  And then another!  In under a minute, my friend’s mini-van was up and running and then all of the men just sort of disappeared…not in a mystical way…but they quietly left as suddenly as they had come to help.

“No, no.  That is a mistake.  I didn’t pay you that $800 yet.”  What?!  I sat there staring at him.  He is a man who struggles quite a bit financially (is currently working several jobs to support his family) yet, when I made an $800 error in his favor on a transaction, he very quickly pointed out the error and made sure that I didn’t give him credit for paying more than he had.

These three events all happened Monday afternoon.  Some of these people I know and some were strangers.  Except for one, I don’t really know much (if anything) about how they view God.  Yet, all three events were ways that God breathed life and love into me:  

– Finances…there aren’t many topics that people find more personal than finances.  How much money we have (or don’t have) affects almost every aspect of our lives and allows (or limits) the choices we get to make.  Finances impact us strongly because we are confronted with them several time per day.  There really isn’t much in our lives that isn’t touched by our current financial situation. 

– Kindness…I honestly had the battery-jumping under control.  I’ve done this before and, those of you who know me, know that I really pride myself on being an independent and strong woman who loves an opportunity to shock people by defying expected gender roles.  (For example, just this week, I worked on projects that required all of these tools:  a crochet hook, a power saw, 3-foot long bolt cutters, an impact drill, yarn, a sewing machine, multiple drill bits including several spade bits, and countless other things.)  All that to say, I get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to do things myself (kind of like a toddler.)  But when these men appeared out of nowhere to help jump my friend’s car, all I could think about was how kind they were to help…not because I needed the help…but because they were willing to offer it so readily.  (Think about it…there is no way they were all hanging out in the Kroger parking lot with nothing to do.  They were certainly all moving about through their busy day when they saw us and offered help.)  These men allowed themselves to put their days on hold just to offer kindness to a stranger.  

– Character and Honesty…I had made a large ($800) mistake in this man’s favor. (While this could be grouped with the first occurrence (finances), what touched me the most, was how this man’s character was unwavering.  That $800 would have meant a lot more to him that it did to me and he still went out of his way to correct my mistake.  (I’ve seen people sell their character cheaply…compromise their values for tiny monetary gain…it seems such a waste to me.)  “Your character will always go ahead of you and speak words – good or bad, words will be spoken.”  – Gladys Lawson

The point?  Well, first, as I have said many times:  What you do and think matters.  How you treat people matters.  AND when you have opportunities to invest in someone else, I think God multiplies your efforts.  None of these people were personally costed anything huge.  The first and last didn’t take money AWAY from anyone…it just didn’t GIVE them any additional money.  The second scenario only cost those men about 60 seconds…but the impact on me was huge because I was so touched that they were willing to stop their day…they SAW us and responded to a perceived need.  

All of this just gave me some hope about the state of people’s hearts.  In a world full of people who are always “looking out for number one,” it is nice to see kindness…and I would go so far as to say an abundance of kindness.  I think we can all contribute to this mission.  (Although Christians…please hear this…this is what it looks like to live out the gospel…it’s not just an event…the gospel is meant to be lived and shared through agape (selfless) love.)  You don’t have to change all the things you are doing, you just have to change your mindset while you are doing the things you do.  Look for opportunities to serve…to bless…to love well.

So, how are you doing with this?  Do you often get chances to bless others but find that you aren’t able to?  Is your schedule so packed tight that even if you were given a perfect opportunity to minister to someone, you wouldn’t be able seize that opportunity?  Are your finances so lacking in margin that you couldn’t minister to someone or…even worse…might be tempted to violate your conscience in order to make some gains?  How can you create more space in your time and finances in order to have those resources available for these spontaneous opportunities to love others well?  These things can be spontaneous or planned…or even both.  How are you loving others well in your life?

My prayer today is that we would seize opportunities to love well…that we would live outside of our own circumstances enough to see the circumstances of others…that in doing so, we would show Jesus to the world.  Much love friends,

Beks

4/12/14 Morning Musing: The Double X Cage Match

I took Michaela to her soccer practice this morning and enjoyed getting to watch her play. During the 4th quarter, it was Michaela’s turn to sit out and she sat in my lap in my chair while we watched her team finish out the game. Sitting near me was a mom who was overwhelmed and frustrated with one of her daughters. Granted, I haven’t spent every waking moment with her daughter (about 12-14 years old?) but she really didn’t seem to be doing anything wrong. I definitely got the impression that the mom was mostly concerned with not being disrespected by the daughter in front of others…and while I don’t think the daughter was disrespecting the mom…the mom was definitely loudly and publicly disrespecting the daughter for, what felt like, an eternity. I could feel Michaela trembling in my lap and it wasn’t cold outside. I wrapped my arms around Michaela and told her “I’m really glad that we don’t talk to each other that way. I love you very much and think you are one of my favorite people in the whole world.” She turned and buried her face in my chest and said, “I’m so glad we don’t do that too. It scares me.”

So, my first instinct was to think “How can you expect someone to show respect when you don’t model it yourself? You have taken her voice from her and publicly humiliated her.” Then, thank goodness, my second instinct kicked in before I opened my big, stupid mouth. It is easy to judge this mom while not knowing what she is going through, not knowing her relationship with her daughter, and not knowing what kind of support she gets in child-rearing. It is easy for me to point my finger and say “that is wrong.” But doing that will not help this mom or her daughter. My experience has been that people who behave disrespectfully, have experienced it and had it modeled for them. What this woman needs is not judgement and subsequent disrespect from me…she needs help…practical help…and understanding from another mom who has been frustrated and absurd at times too. (My mother-in-law rightfully laughed out loud at me when I angrily yelled a stubborn 3-year-old-Michaela that we were “about to throw down.” Yep…that really happened.)

There is a tendency with moms/women to judge each other (and ourselves) harshly and measure ourselves by how we compare to others. Of course, these comparisons are never apples to apples…it’s usually my best moments compared to your worst or vice versa. We make our own decisions ok (or completely horrible) by picking apart (or idealizing) the decisions of others: kids, no kids, working mom, stay-at-home mom, married, divorced, remarried, single, pop-tart mom, organic free-range mom, breast-feeding mom, formula-feeding mom, career woman, home-maker, co-sleeping mom, cry-it-out mom…if someone else’s choices are ok, then somehow my choices or circumstances are wrong or invalid. Let’s stop buying into this lie. If your favorite color is blue and mine is day-glow orange, neither of us has to be wrong…we can have different opinions and still be ok with each other and still be telling our own unique and beautiful stories.

How does choosing differently as a woman relate to this mom speaking disrespectfully to her daughter? Glad you asked…someone has to keep me on topic afterall. It was obvious to me that the mom was, for one reason or another, trying to save face in front of the other parents. She was feeling embarrassed and inadequate and was probably trying to save face in the way that was modeled to her (the same way that she was modeling to her own daughter.) Maybe if she didn’t feel that unspoken but strongly-felt competition that unfortunately is prevalent among women, she could have different experience to pull from…she could offer her daughter something different…she could have different interactions in her life to model herself after.

So, did I do the right thing and build this woman up? Nope! Just a big loser here who just hugged my own daughter and stayed quiet. I don’t process things that that fast…I needed to come home and dissect the event and evaluate it for a few hours. But guess what?! Our team has another game at 2:30 (less than an hour from now.) I’m going to have another opportunity to do this right…find some way to build up this woman and her daughter…model something different for my daughter…and end (at least for the moment) the nasty cage match that occurs every day between the members of our society with the double X chromosomes. I’m betting this happens in your life too…what could you be doing to reduce the competition, build up others, and love people well? Thoughts? I clearly suck at this and could use ideas from my friends out there.

3/27/14 Morning Musing: “Shhhh…wait for me.”

There is nothing freakier than waking up at 2:09 am to the sound of a creepy toy talking and giggling and moving around the house. Talk about an adrenaline rush. Turns out, it was our puppies playing with Michaela’s furby boom and carrying it throughout the house. Once, we discovered what it was and dealt with it, going back to sleep for Stan and I was not really an option…we were already in stealthy ninja mode…you know…where you hear every single sound, you’re fight or flight meter is set directly at fight, and you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that you could kill any intruder (or toy) with just what is sitting on top of your night stand (in my case: a cell phone, a charger, bobby pin, and hand cream.)

For those of you who know us, you know I think that Stan is damn-near perfect. But he does have a flaw: he gets grumpy if he is tired or hungry. If either, or God-forbid, both of these conditions are present…well, everything sucks and is dumb and it is likely that he will break something. This morning…conditions were perfect for grumpy Stan since he was unable to get back to sleep for over 2 hours after our Chucky-like experience. While trying to get the kids ready for school and get ourselves ready for the day, I noticed grumpy Stan emerging: lots of sighing, a little snippy when I asked him to repeat something, and I’m pretty sure he cussed out a bagel under his breath.

The thing is…I knew that this would carry with him to work and make him (and everyone around him) miserable…it’s rare that Stan isn’t in a good mood…but when he isn’t…it’s obvious. I was debating trying to talk to him and considering what I might be able to gently say to him…but for some odd reason, it made me feel anxious. So, instead, I quickly asked God to soothe him and bring him around without me exacerbating it and making him feel guilty. So, that meant waiting on God.

Luckily, this time, I didn’t have to wait long…God brought inspiration to me in the form of another science geek-out moment: Years ago, we read an article about how females need a 20-second embrace every single day. When we get a 20-second embrace, our blood pressure lowers, our anxiety reduces, and we begin to release certain euphoric hormones. So, Stan started hugging the whole family in this manner. His first mistake? Counting out loud while hugging me…but that is a whole other morning musing for another day. Anyway, what I noticed was that in his effort to provide those good effects for me, Stan was providing those good effects for himself too. So, this morning, instead of asking him to be less prickly, I simply told him that I needed a 20-second hug. It was great. I know that I certainly felt better, felt my breathing pattern change, felt my muscles relax, and I became calmer. When I let go, Stan looked at me and said “Thank you.” Nothing else had to be said…we were both different.

In my own sleep-deprived, diet dr. pepper-craving, aching, and grumpy state…I could have easily made this situation worse for everyone. But, by quickly (we’re talking 2 seconds here) asking God to take over, things turned out so much better. It meant having to give up my illusion of control and being ok with waiting on God. So, what are you needing to give to God today? Is there something or someone that you are trying to control? In what areas of your life are you hearing God say “Shhhhh…wait for me.”?