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

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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

9/5/17 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

6/2/15 Short Morning Musing: Taking the Time to See

I received a card yesterday from my friend’s aunt who lives in Tennessee. She painted the art work, wrote out scriptures, and wrote the most encouraging of notes inside by simply letting me know that she was thinking about me. She couldn’t have known, when she mailed the card, that I would be spending my day in pain. She couldn’t have known how frustrated and down I would be at the moment that I hobbled out to the mailbox. She couldn’t have known that I would be spending yesterday morning laying on the floor and crying as I tried to move my neck the tiniest bit and fussing at God for allowing me to live with chronic pain. But that was my reality when the card came to my hands yesterday and that one gesture, from someone several states away, brought joy to my miserable day…and reminded me that it is still such a blessing to have a miserable day. (The alternative certainly isn’t as appealing.) She had no idea how much that would bless me but God did…and when he put it on her heart to spend that time and energy on the card, she obeyed him. I’m sure she had a list of things to do…had life’s demands staring her in the face…had her own life to lead…but she put those things to the side when she felt God ask her to share beauty and truth with someone.

So how are you doing with this? Is there someone in your life that God wants you to love on? What way has God equipped you to love that person well? Have you been holding back for fear that it might be seen as silly? What are your talents and gifts and passions? How can you use those creatively to let others feel “seen?” Friends, I don’t think that loving gestures are ever wasted.
My prayer today is that we would quiet the noise of our lives enough to be able to hear God…that we would see people as a higher priority than tasks on our lists. I am praying that we would think outside of ourselves and consider others today…that we would take the time to love well and by doing so, breathe peace into people’s lives. Much love friends,
Beks

4/29/15 Morning Musing:  Mommy Needs a Time Out So I Will Be In The Pantry…With Some Chocolate…and A Mommy Juice Box!

I wasn’t close enough to hear any part of the struggle but I was seeing it.  She was trying to get her son to go into the school and he was flailing and crying and wiggling.  Her hands were already full of items that she needed for her workday inside the school building.  She just…needed…to…get…inside.  And right as she was about to reach her goal, he struggled free and ran off to the grass and wailed.  A crying child…what breaks your heart more than a crying child?  For me, it’s the mom.  I hurt for her as my oblivious kids ran right past her and her son in their zeal to get inside the school building.  I watched her body slump as the air rushed out of her lungs and she fought to hold her own tears back.  She was fighting hard to keep it together…to maintain her dignity while her son fought against her.  As a mom, I know that having a child means spending the rest of your life with your heart walking around on the outside of your body…your heart is no longer something that can be protected by walls you’ve built up around it…you can no longer count on your defenses or protective thinking to keep your heart safe…you become vulnerable to so much more.  So, when your own heart rebels against you and screams at you, it is hard to know what to do.  As I watched her shoulders slump down and her head look to heaven for an answer, I started planning to park and run to help her in my normal scary-school-drop-off-state:  wet hair, no makeup, slippers, jacket = bra…that alone should make her feel better about herself, right?  And right as I made the decision, I saw one of her co-workers, another mama who has already experienced this stage before her, calmly walk over to the wailing son and then…he magically stopped crying and ran inside ahead of the two women.  And I felt it…I felt her mixed emotions of relief that this moment of hell was over and also disbelief that he could turn it off like that…that her own heart would put her through that for what appeared to be nothing…that feels a bit like betrayal.
As I drove home, I kept replaying that scene in my head.  I have been there.  Oh!  How I have been there!  Caleb, my even-tempered sweet little bear cub used to test me this way too.  I remember having to abandon  grocery carts full of groceries on many occasions in hopes that we wouldn’t starve before we were able to have a successful shopping trip.  I remember the looks of scorn and even mean or thoughtless comments from strangers that had me feeling twisted up in knots and completely inadequate.  I remember the physical and emotional pain that I would experience as I would use my body on top of his to hold him down in his room while he thrashed through another tantrum…I would hold this position above him…being careful not to squish him…while he would scream and writhe until he would, at long last, go limp and hoarse (but too exhausted to harm himself)…and he would eventually sleep heavily and I would go in the next room and sob alone.  I remember thinking that I had unknowingly traded my independence, privacy, goals, dreams, paycheck, and brain for this little bugger who was treating me like the enemy.  To make matters worse, when he would fall asleep and look like an angel, instead of having some blissful rest myself, I would berate myself for my thoughts during his hellish wakeful hours.  Hormones!  That has to be it.  That is the only explanation for why I prayed for this…blessing?  Confession time:  I literally kept a gym membership for a couple of years just to have a place to drop my two littles off for a couple of hours a day and take a shower alone!  (Well, as alone as you can get showering in the same room with 10 other women…but none of them would stick their head in my shower stall and plead for “Mommy hoed due!” so I counted it as a win.)  No lie, when I had pneumonia, I went to the gym Every.  Single.  Day.  It took less energy than dealing with the tantrums!  (Stop judging me…you just wish you’d thought of it first!)

What is the point?  Well, several I guess.  One is something that you’ve heard a hundred times a hundred ways and that is “Girls judge each other.  Women empower each other.”  The seasoned mom that I saw help the struggling mom was doing just that.  She helped her to get her stuff together so that she could present her professional face to the world and feel like a whole, complete human.  Also, I would like to point out to the moms of littles, that I don’t experience this anymore…there is light at the end of the tunnel and they don’t stay in the tantrum stage forever…in fact, my tantrum-throwing bear cub has become one of the most even-tempered little people I know.  Finally (and this was the point for me today) I was able to use that empathy that I was feeling for this woman that I barely know, and transfer it to women that I do know but don’t care for.  You know the women I’m talking about…the ones that just grate on your nerves or whose decisions you simply can not identify with.  What if I tried to think of that woman that annoys me in that difficult life stage?  What if I thought of her as having to struggle through those difficult “Mommy times” that are not glamorous?  The tantrums, stomach bugs, sleepless nights, tension with husband, and body image issues following having a baby.  For some reason, getting a glimpse at someone’s struggle (even if I made it all up in my head) makes extending some grace a bit easier, doesn’t it? 
So, how are you doing with this?  Are you the mommy in the struggle right now?  Are you the mommy who helped her out?  Is there someone you could lend a hand to?  (It didn’t change the seasoned mommy’s day but it sure made a difference in the struggling mommy’s day.)  Be honest, is there someone you should be extending grace to?  Can you imagine that person going through the struggles of life and feel a little bit of empathy for her?  

My prayer today is that we would take a few moments to acknowledge those struggling around us and offer them a hand and some encouragement.  I am praying that we would enter in to people’s struggle with them instead of judging them, detached, from the outside.  I am praying that we would find a way to contribute, even in tiny ways, to help each other press on and that we would, through our lives (not through grand gestures), show Jesus and his grace to people in our spheres of influence.  Much love friends,

Beks

2/11/15 Morning Musing: Encouragement!

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

9/24/14 Morning Musing: My Brand of Wisdom (Part 1)

If you don’t ever contemplate the things that you have learned the hard way, you are likely to have to learn them again. Some of this is serious, some is silly, and some is just plain ridiculous…but it’s true for me. Enjoy!

1. Start each day with chocolate. I keep it in the nightstand so that my feet don’t hit the floor before I’ve started my day off well.
2. If something will take you less than a minute to do, do it when you think of it so that it is not taking up valuable real estate in your head.
3. When you care about someone, tell them. Everyone needs to hear it and, in my experience, most people don’t truly know how you feel about them.
4. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone for the benefit of others. Life is going to make you uncomfortable anyway, you might as well make it count.
5. A bucket list should be worked on now…you are not guaranteed later.
6. (A spin off of #5) A f*%$ it list will take you your whole life…don’t dwell on the things that go on this list…they will simply rob you of your joy.
7. Everyone with a heart should love dogs. I have known many dogs that are better people than a lot of people.
8. When painting rooms in your house, choose colors that are pre-configured by the manufacturer…you’re never going to get a precise match again if you color-match.
9. I can’t remember much of what I have read over the years but a smell can take me back to a memory in a flash (with all of the feelings that go along with it.) Pick your personal fragrance carefully.
10. Sleep naked. Life is too short for your jammies to get all twisted up in the sheets.
11. When you sleep naked, keep a robe handy so that when someone inevitably rings the door bell the second you lay down, you are not caught off guard.
12. Laugh! At everything and everyone…especially yourself. It makes you feel better and also prolongs life!
13. If you can’t remember, go ahead and put on the deodorant again…trust me…
14. Say “no” on purpose. Saying yes to one thing isn’t just a yes…it’s a no to something else. Know which is which.
15. Live on mission. If you are fulfilling the mission that you have set before you, it’s a lot harder to feel the weight of peer-pressure or poor self-esteem.
16. Appreciate the people who speak truth to you (even if it is unflattering.) They are the ones that actually give a crap.
17. Approach the challenges in life. The sidelines is no place to play a game.
18. Find a creative outlet. Our God is a creator…it’s hard not to see him when our creativity and passion intersect.
19. Dance. It’s where your body and soul intersect.
20. Pray. We are here for a reason and there is only One who knows what that reason is.

6/10/14 Morning Musing: YouTwitFace

From the moment I woke up yesterday, I felt rushed and out of sorts. I ran up to CVS and bought Epsom salts and a bunch of tubes of Vagisil for the kids’ chigger bites before I woke them up. (Looking back on it, the manager that checked me out probably thought I had some sort of raging STD…that’s just great…) Kids were itchy and unhappy to each be starting their day off with a bath and I felt like a failure as a parent because I couldn’t get any relief for them…and I guess it was shining through on Facebook…I’m not surprised…I’m rather transparent that way. (If you ever want to make a quick buck, play cards with this girl…I have no poker-face at all!) So, anyway, starting the day off rushed and anxious colored my entire day.

The thing is, people came through for me…some of the most unexpected people. Throughout the day yesterday, I received FB messages, texts, and phone calls offering help, dinner, distractions, ideas, prayer, sympathy, essential oils, medicines, and just checking in on me and the mini-Masseys. It was incredible and it changed how I was feeling even though it didn’t change our circumstances. I can not express how grateful I am for this and just want to shout to all of you that it matters! It matters to me and it matters to others and you changed the course of our day yesterday! Thank you so much!!!!

Say what you will about social media, I am deeply grateful for it. I’m not deluding myself into thinking that it is a substitute for authentic community…not at all…and, well…have you met me? I can not go a day without people present with me! (I could see myself having to be institutionalized for that!) But it can be utilized for good. Yesterday, I was encouraged in beautiful ways, I was prayed for, I began new friendships, and was able to keep in contact with people who are so far away from me that I would probably miss out on relationship with them completely were it not for Facebook.

So, the point? Glad you asked. I’m not trying to sell any of you on social media…although, if you are reading this, you are on it now…just sayin’. I am trying to express that we have a lot of things in our lives that can be used for good or for harm and it is up to us to monitor how we are using them. If you have negative people on FB bringing you down, hide them from your news feed (I’ve done this with a lot of people who post things that are overly-aggressive or rude.) Gravitate to the people who are speaking truth into your life because truth is life-giving and rejuvenating and we can only pour out what we are taking in…so if you are taking in lies, hate, and garbage…well…you get the idea.

So how are you doing with this? Are you letting people speak truth into your life? Are you speaking truth into the lives of others? I only started musing a few months ago and have gotten a tremendous amount of feedback from it (which has really helped when I needed it. It is hard for me to come up with encouraging musings when I am not being encouraged myself.) How can you begin to encourage others through truth (not empty platitudes or pretending life is better than it is…after all, I get the most feedback from people on my musings where I admit that I am flawed, human, and quirky.

My prayer for you all today is that you will be able to encourage someone by speaking truth to them because it matters. Much love friends!

Beks