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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love friends,

Beks

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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

8/12/16 Morning Musing: An Open Letter to My Daughter as she Begins Middle School

A few weeks ago, we threw a dinner for Michaela as a celebration about entering into a new life stage (starting middle school.) We invited women who are invested in her (family members, teachers, Sunday school teachers, family friends) so that we could come together as a group of women who have gone before her and who really know her and affirm characteristics that we see in her as well as tell her some of the “When I was a teen/middle schooler, I wish I had known…” stories. It was a very special evening and this is my letter to Michaela:

Dear Michaela, 

I may not remember much (or any) of what I was taught back then…but I remember every detail of how I felt. I remember feeling uncomfortable in my own skin…like I always needed to be “on”…performing…portraying who I was supposed to be…although I didn’t actually know who that character was. I remember learning that disagreements meant big nasty fights…and that anything you’ve ever done could be called into question during a fight. I remember being afraid that I would be late to class or get lost and then get yelled at in front of everyone. I remember really wanting to “fit in” but never feeling like I got there. I remember all the other girls getting boobs and periods and me feeling virtually un-female. I remember a letter home to my parents from a teacher who recognized the work I was putting in that he wanted to recognize. I remember lots and lots of anxiety…before tests…before interactions…before going to school…before going home. I remember trying to impress people with how grown up I was by cussing and trying to make every conversation point back to sex somehow…even though I didn’t really know what that was. I remember deeply hurting someone without meaning to and realizing that injuring someone through neglect still hurts just as much as hurting someone through intent. I remember my first real compliment from another girl…not because she wanted something in return…but because she saw something in me that was special and different. I remember that terrible super-short haircut and the humiliation when a boy in the hallway asked me if I was a boy or a girl. I remember having a bit more freedom and a bit more responsibility and desperately wanting to do things right. I remember tight-rolling my jeans and wearing multiple pairs of slouchy socks…and shoulder pads…Lord, why the shoulder pads??? I remember putting on makeup and big earrings at the bus stop because my dad didn’t allow me to wear that stuff…instead of complying, I snuck it…and it made me feel grown up and independent…but looking back, it looked really horrible. I remember riding the bus home, and doing my homework with Bandit in my lap…man, I loved that dog!

I’m bringing up all these memories because, on top of increased work load and amidst lots of changes, there were so many new and strange feelings for me in middle school. You too are going to go through a ton of new feelings…some like mine and some completely different…and whatever you are feeling, it’s ok to feel it. There are going to be times when all the feelings are like a big storm that just hits you suddenly and soaks you to the bone and there are going to be times when the sun is out and everything seems fine and normal. It takes a lot of energy to feel all the feels so you’re probably going to get grumpy and snarky at times and I guarantee there will be times that you think your mama is so out of touch that I couldn’t possibly remember what it is like to be a teenager (since I was a teenager back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.) But I get it. And I am on your side…always…no matter what. There is nothing that you can do that will make me stop loving you…nothing that will pit me against you…you are my heart, outside of my chest, walking around in the world…and I could never be against my own heart.  
You’re going to interact with other kids…and sometimes it will be pleasant and fun and light…and other times it will be like absolute torture. People are going to say really mean things…hurtful words and ideas that are shocking to you…and people are going to do really bad stuff…stuff you can’t even imagine right now…and at some point, you are going to be one of those people. Apologize sincerely and make a course correction so as to not repeat the same mistake again. Understand, that just as you don’t want to be defined by your darkest moment, nobody else wants that either…so show grace…forgive…release it. (Carrying around a bunch of drama and hurt and anger is exhausting and it’s exhausting to be around…it hard to be a good friend when your hands are full of anger and resentment…and most people want to be friends with people who are easy to be friends with.) Be kind to everyone…not because of their behavior…not because they are kind to you…but because God made them just like he made you and he deeply loves them. (This is my biggest regret from middle school through grad school…I wish I had shown more kindness to people…don’t wait until your 30s to learn this.) 

Know that the same feelings can look different in different people. For example, when someone is embarrassed, they may get quiet or they could get angry. They could laugh it off or they could cry. It is unlikely that they understand why they are responding this way…so kindness is always the answer. This holds true for kids and grown ups…so give a little grace and kindness to everyone…nobody started their day thinking “Man, I can’t wait to make this a terrible day for myself and I’m taking down everyone else with me.” In the end, we all want to feel accepted and loved and appreciated…we just all implement different techniques for getting there.

Baby girl, you are such a bright light in this world. Your sweetness and compassion are beautiful gifts from God…protect them and nurture them…most people don’t have those qualities for long…they get replaced with cynicism and self-preservation as that compassion gets taken advantage of…decide now not to let that happen…practice it every chance you get.  

You are going to be bombarded with self-doubt so I want to tell you a few things that I see in you that you should never doubt.

You are deeply loved…by us and by God. I love you so much that it aches.

You are smart. Grades don’t always reflect this because they don’t measure intelligence, they measure performance. All you can do is the best that you can do.

You are enough. You are valuable just as you are. There is nothing that needs to change and this isn’t earned. God made you precisely you. So, don’t ever allow anyone to mistreat you or make you think that you need to change to be their friend.

You are creative. Our amazing God is the Creator and you reflect him when you are creative too. Explore this life and try things. Continue to love learning, creating, exploring, and contributing!

You are beautiful! Different people think different features make someone pretty and the only consistency about that is that, over time and from person to person, what qualifies as pretty changes. But you are beautiful! (Sometimes, I sneak up to your room while you are sleeping and watch you…my breath catches in my throat because you are so stunningly beautiful.) There will be people who try to tear you down in life and the first area that they will hit you in is your appearance. Don’t listen to this…it’s the least insightful and the least invested way to insult someone. It’s lazy and malicious. People who aren’t invested in you don’t get a vote in your life and people looking to tear you down don’t get a place in your life. Don’t listen to their lies. You are beautiful.

I’m excited for you as you begin this next chapter. I love you sweet Michaela and I want you to remember that I always have your back! Now, get out there and grab life by the tail because it’s yours for the taking!

Mama

7/8/16 Morning Musing: Judging a Book By it’s Cover

In the last hour, I learned of the shootings that happened back home in Dallas last night (on top of recent ones in Orlando, Baton Rouge, and Falcoln Heights.) I’m heart-broken for the victims and their families. I’m heart-broken over the violence. But most of all, I am heart-broken over the very large number of people who are embracing hatred as an ideal. Racism (any bigotry really) is hatred wrapped up in laziness…it is judging someone by one characteristic that can be observed hastily and from a distance (lazy!) There is no investment in this type of judgement…no conversation is had…no learning about the other person…no identifying what you might have in common…no understanding that, at our core, we all need and crave the same things.   

What repulses me the most about this is that so many of the people on either side of this conflict claim to be Christians. Let’s be clear, racism (bigotry) is in direct conflict with the gospel:

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ‭Colossians‬ ‭3:8-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So, instead of choosing sides…instead of assuming character traits based on someone’s appearance or activities…instead of deciding which side different people are on…instead of fueling the inferno that leads to pain, death, and hell…let’s choose to love…let’s choose to put in effort…let’s choose to move toward those who are different from ourselves (and maybe, just maybe learn something other than our own limited perspective)…let’s choose to serve others…let’s choose to seek to understand…let’s choose peace…let’s choose grace…let’s choose forgiveness…let’s choose life…let’s choose to deny ourselves an easy, lazy, hateful, and evil way out…let’s choose to all be on the same side. And let that side be one where we are all humans…unique, gifted, valued, and loved deeply by God.  

I don’t think that God does things by mistake. So, isn’t it interesting that Jesus came as a member of one of the smaller and most-hated people groups in the world’s history? Isn’t it interesting that nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus came for all people except __________? Isn’t it interesting that God made such a diverse humanity to live here together? Imagine what we could do…what amazing things we could accomplish…what a different future we could create…if we would quit having temper tantrums about people being created differently from ourselves.  

My prayer today is that we would take a minute with the people we interact with…that we would make fewer assumptions about them, and instead, actually learn about them. I am praying that we would be people who invest in others, search for value in individuals, and that we would love…love when we are uncomfortable…love when we feel unheard or misunderstood…love when justice has been defied…love when we are hurting…love when everyone around us is choosing hate. Lord, let us be one people who reflect you through love.

Much love friends,

Bekah

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

5/2/16 Morning Musing: Owning Your Own Stuff

They were sitting in our dining room yelling at each other across the table while Stan and I watched them…studied them to get a feel for how they handled disagreements. My conclusion was that they battled against each other instead of with each other. When we got everyone settled down again, they each continued to get riled over the most trivial things until there was another explosion of venom from each of them. “Alright, this isn’t productive. Let’s take a step back for a minute.” But they kept yelling and trying to get the last word in. “You may be alright with disrespecting each other but I won’t have you disrespect me so each of you needs to back down now.” That got their attention. They sulked for a bit. We talked through a plan with them and they were thankful and shocked when we said that we would be willing to meet with them again. But the real test came when they went back home and didn’t have any referees present to call out the penalties…when they had to choose between saving their marriage or saving face. They chose to save face.

This was hard for me…I had to let them choose…even if their choice was wrong…even if their choice was going to harm them…even if their choice would have lasting repercussions for their kids. I have been through this with people before and while I can do my best to advise them and love them well, I can’t want their health more than they do. I can’t own it for them. (I’ve tried that before and absolutely failed…failed the person I was trying to help and completely depleted myself as well.) Their success or failure would be completely their own…although I suspect they would each find someone to blame.

So, how are you doing with this? Is there someone in your life that is struggling with something? Can you help them without taking ownership of their problems? It’s a hard line to walk…caring deeply and loving well without protecting the other person from the hurts that could lead to learning and change. Are you personally struggling with something right now? Is it possible that you are trying to hand ownership off to someone else? A potential scape goat to blame if things don’t work out the way that you want? Are you looking for someone else to be more invested in your recovery than you are? How can you find that elusive place of seeking out help and resources but still maintaining ownership of your situation?  

My prayer today is that we would love deeply while seeking wisdom. That we would remain clear about our own limitations (physical or psychological) and that we would learn to honor those limitations. We can’t be all things to all people…we weren’t designed to be…and if we were, it would only diminish others…so it wouldn’t be very loving. I’m praying that we would also have clarity about our own stuff…that we would fully invest in these lives that we live and not squander the blessings by believing that they are obstacles.  

Much love friends,

Beks

1/25/16 Morning Musing: Scandalized

This morning, I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm went off so I decided to throw on some clothes and go for a good walk before waking up the kiddos. When I left the house, it was still very dark outside…which made it an excellent time to get lost in my thoughts. I was walking through an area that was thick with trees, thinking about what self-defense strategies to employ if someone were to jump out from this direction or how to watch their shadows if they tried to come up from behind me all stealthy-like (and yes…I’m sure that gives some sort of psychological insight into my personal damage…but I digress…) when I saw some headlights shining through the trees. I kept walking along my path (still looking around everywhere so as to not be like a spot-lighted deer) when I saw the headlights were unmoving and at a park. As I got a little closer, I saw someone sitting in a minivan with the engine running…and then I smelled it…a lit cigar. That, of course, made me start mentally engineering patterns like I tend to do:

So, what I know is that there is a person parked in a minivan, in the dark, at a park, in a neighborhood at 5:45 am on a Monday morning. Their headlights are on so they aren’t worried about being seen here. They are smoking a cigar…which takes a while…so they aren’t in a hurry. I continued to think about it as I walked down to the middle school, around the baseball field, and then began circling back. The smoker in the minivan was still there when I was back to the same part of the path and, as I often do, I began to feel what they were feeling: Escape. Maybe a hidden little guilty pleasure? Possibly some defiance…but within carefully-crafted limits. So, here is my conclusion: I think that this person is a parent who feels a lot of expectations are placed on them by someone that they live with. They love the person and don’t want to disappoint them but, at the same time, they want to feel independent and strong. So, they do something that their spouse (I’m guessing) wouldn’t approve of but it’s not something that they feel is necessarily a bad thing (which is why they were away from their home but not necessarily hiding from people in general.) My guess is that they told their spouse that they had to be somewhere (probably work) early this morning and came here to unwind on their own and get a little space. This person is probably feeling a little bit of a thrill from the secret escape and will return to do this regularly until the thrill doesn’t show up anymore…then, this thrill will have to be replaced with something bigger in order to feel that same sense of…getting away with something.

Ok, so you have probably figured out by now that I am some kind of lunatic…I see a person in a van and concoct an entire back-story to what is going on in this person’s life. (It’s what I do…I love studying people and their behavior…I find myself asking why someone would do what they are doing and then I determine how I would feel if I was in their shoes (assuming that I determine the correct shoes to try on)…it’s like a puzzle that I can’t put down. But whether or not I am right about this person isn’t really my point. (It was just a little mental exercise to start my day.) My main reason for writing this is to get to the cause of why a person…any person…would feel the need to hide things from those that they love most. (Didn’t see that coming did you?) And the conclusion that I come to is something that I think we all need to work on: Scandal. (Now, give me a second before you roll your eyes and move on to something else.) The only reason that I can think of for hiding something from someone you love is for the purpose of avoiding disappointing them…”protecting them” you might say…but when we protect someone from the truth, I think we are back to avoiding disappointing them…which means that there is some element of shame involved. So, that makes me think about hiding and shame in general and why we do it. We hide and feel shame because we don’t want someone to know what is true about us because the way that they see us…the way that they look at us…could forever change: “If he/she really knew what I think/do/feel/am/believe, he/she would be scandalized.” 

Now, I am going to flip things around on you. Instead of approaching this from the point of view of why we should not feel shame and how God would be saddened for those he loves to be weighed down unnecessarily by shame, I want to approach this from the perspective of the person who loves the shamed individual…the one who would be scandalized. (See the last sentence of the paragraph above.) I think that we need to do a better job of not being scandalized. That probably sounds weird to you but hear me out: I have talked to a lot of hurting people over the years and, the best I can tell, being scandalized only causes harm. What do I mean by that? Well, being shocked or aghast at what you discover someone has done only distances you from that person. It does not close the gap…it only emphasizes the distance between you…which isolates the person experiencing the shame. (We are really bad about this in Christian circles. Think along the lines of specific areas of sin/struggle that are made out to be worse than other areas. If you still don’t know what I mean, fill in the blank and you will know what scandalzes you: “I sin…I mess up…but at least I am not _________________. I may have my faults but I don’t do ________________.” If you can easily fill in those blanks, then you have an area in life that shocks or scandalizes you…and that means that there are hurting people who need Jesus and they certainly won’t come to see him through you. Now hear me when I say that I am NOT excusing sin…I think sin deeply saddens God…but I think our responses to it tend to run in the wrong direction…we respond with feelings of shock, anger, and judgement when we what we should feel is empathy (because we know what it feels like to be broken and hurting and lonely.) We distance ourselves from them and their guilt so that we can feel ok about ourselves and feel clean…but distance is not what Jesus came here to do (The Good Shepherd brings his sheep together…he doesn’t let them exist at a comfortable distance from each other…because that distance leads to the death of his sheep that he loves.) 

Why the heck am I talking about headlights, cigars, scandal, and sheep? Because I think we can do this better. I think we are all hurting in some way…which means that the ones we love most are also hurting in some way…and we can love them better by not being scandalized by their stuff. Regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we all need to feel loved and accepted…we need to know we can be forgiven and that not all is lost…that we can be redeemed…and thank goodness Jesus is in the business of redeeming and restoring.  
So how are you doing with this? Is shame causing you to hide from the ones that love you? Do you know that hiding leads to more hiding which leads to being unknown? What have you kept hidden that needs to be brought to light? Do you have someone you love who is struggling with some hidden damage? (I’ll help you out on that one…the answer is YES!) How can you become a safe person for them? How can you become someone who will lovingly point them to the one who would redeem and restore them? How can you be less scandalized by your people’s stuff and, instead, close the distance?

My prayer today is that we would not hide from those that we love and that we would become people who others don’t feel the need to hide from. I am praying that we would erect fewer walls in our relationships, focus on our similarities, and employ empathy in order to close some of the distance between us. And I am praying that we would love people into the presence of God…because if we already know God…really know him…then someone loved us into his presence. Much love friends,
Beks

12/7/15 Morning Musing: Uncommon

A lot of illness has rolled through the adults in our house. My niece Abigail was sick for a day, then I ended up compounding my last two months of daily migraines with bronchitis and some sort of flu-like virus complete with whole-body aches (those are the worst!) and now Stan is recovering from a cold as well. Of course, the kids and puppies are still going full steam while all the adults stare glassy-eyed at them…unable to keep up with them visually much less physically. So, it was a surprise to me when, on top of being sick and needing to go in to work an hour early several days last week, I discovered that Stan had scraped the ice off my windshield for me each morning. I would go out to the car to warm it up before taking the mini-Masseys to school and would see the remnants of scraping on the windshield where he had already cleared it off in the early morning cold. Some women want flowers and candy…I want a man who sees me and chooses me anyway (ha!!!) My love language is acts of service so I do for those that I love…and when they do for me, I really notice.  

Well, as it often does, life happened and I didn’t get a chance to thank Stan right away. We got bombarded with papers to sign, decisions to make, events to plan, presents to buy, rental house stuff to handle, etc. A few days later, I saw a spray bottle that I had put aside last year with rubbing alcohol and water in it for frozen windshields. (I read in a magazine that it melts the ice quickly so that you can get through the ice and get going faster but never had a chance to try it because I read it after the last frost of the season last year.) I called Stan to tell him about it and thank him for scraping my windshield and in the course of the conversation, I learned that my sick husband had not only been out there at an ungodly hour scraping his windshield and mine…but my niece’s also! What?! That…that right there is the stuff that melts me. When I see a man who, by all rights, could have simply looked out for himself and moved on (and nobody would have faulted him for it or even thought about it) but took the time several different mornings to serve those of us who were still warm and sleeping in the house…when I think about how he was probably shivering and his hands were stinging and nose running while he served us and loved us well…when I think about the selfless heart space that that comes out of…well, that is my idea of an aphrodisiac! Whew!

What’s the point Bekah? Well, I think that we are naturally selfish…all of us…our selfish natures reveal themselves so often that we don’t even take notice…it’s normal…common. Because of that, we are touched by stories that defy that selfishness: generosity of strangers, communities working together for a common goal, kindness from unexpected people, children using allowance money for charity or using free time doing community service, etc. We are touched by this because it doesn’t come naturally to us…it’s uncommon. Being in the Season of Advent, I can’t help but make the connection to Christ’s call to us…to be uncommon: Forgiveness of sins, loving your enemy, treating your neighbor as yourself…none of these are natural human reactions…they are uncommon…which is why we take notice.

So, how are you doing with this? Are you so wrapped up in the details of your frantic life that you are missing the large themes running through it? Take a step back…take a beat…look…see…when you get a glimpse at the big picture…the large themes…is what you see common or uncommon? Do you like what you see? If you don’t, I would humbly suggest carving out time to do work on your heart space…not the stuff you do. If you have love, love will flow out of your heart space. If you are grateful for God’s generosity, generosity will naturally flow out of your heart space. Whatever you value in your heart space always finds a way of revealing itself (usually when you are sick, tired, or in a hurry…like Stan was at the beginning of this musing…since it’s the season for all kinds of little cooties, you may get the chance to examine your heart space while sick sooner than you think!) Just know that where ever you are in this process…no matter how common you think you are…God wants you right now…as is. There is no need to clean up or change in order to meet him…just be willing to meet with him and let your heart respond how it will. **Note: If you are in a “busy season” of life and “things will be better after this season” I would urge you to make changes now…my experience is that the next season will find a way to be just as busy (kind of like starting a diet next week.)**

My prayer today is that we would not do “fake it ’til we make it” Christianity. I am praying that we would be authentic, broken people who are willing to be made uncommon so that others would get to see our uncommon God. Much love friends,
Beks

11/17/15 Morning Musing: The Only Way Forward is Through.

In the last week, people were killed just because they existed…their lives were such an affront to some terrorists that they felt they deserved to die. This week, I went to a religious women’s conference (that I will not name) and ended up in tears because I was so frustrated by the mis-information that I was being handed there…and I knew that people were totally buying in to it (including the speakers.) In the past week, I’ve learned of several friends having loved ones diagnosed with horrible diseases that will brutally ravage their bodies until their souls are forced to find alternative homes. For the past several weeks, I have endured horrible cluster headaches that have consumed so much of me when they are occurring, that I am unable to think or function.I am not telling you all this to bum you out…but this is the reality of the past week(s) for me and it feels heavy. I’m grieving.  
I’m grieving the senseless loss of lives…those who were victims of the attacks as well as those terribly confused and lost people who perpetrated them. God wanted better for them.  
I’m grieving over the lost opportunities for the women who were fed false information at that conference…and they probably don’t even know it…which makes me grieve even more. God wants better for them than this.  
I’m grieving the upcoming loss of loved ones that my friends will be facing…grieving their loss of health, their fading sharpness of minds, and eventually just their ability to be physically present with loved ones. God wants better for them than this.  
I’m grieving my own loss of health and energy in recent weeks…it makes me fearful that I could relapse into the poor health that I’ve endured over the last decade. God wants better for me than this.
I’m frustrated and I’m grieving because I know the character of my God…and because I know him, I also know that he wants better for us all. I know he values life because, as the Creator, he spoke it into existence. I know he values health because he is the Great Healer. I know he values truth, because he took on truth as part of WHO he is. (“I am the way, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.”) For that matter, I know he loves the lost and confused ones because he wants to be the WAY for them. (His statement would hold no value if we weren’t in need of it…we are lost, buying into lies, and dying…which is why his offer of the way, the truth, and the life is such a beautiful gift.)
But here’s the kicker: We were never designed to experience this stuff…it wasn’t part of God’s plan. He did not intend for us to ever experience death and illness. We weren’t supposed to ever feel lost or lonely. Relationships were not expected to ever be broken and humans were certainly not designed to endure suffering. So, it is no wonder that I am grieving (and I assume that you are as well…if you are allowing yourself the space to experience it.) God did not intend for us to experience this brokenness and pain and that is why we grieve…that is why we feel robbed of shalom…that is why we are offended all the way down deep in our very essence when we are confronted with the stark contrast between what we were meant to experience and what is our reality. And it is important that we do the messy work of experiencing this and feeling all of the nasty feels that go along with it…because if we don’t feel it…if it doesn’t make us grieve…then the contrast becomes a little less obvious each time these types of ruptures happen…and with less contrast, truth becomes less clear…becomes a little bit fuzzier…blurred…and then we will not only forget who our God is, we will forget who we are…because that God that we might forget…is the same one who gives us our identity.  
If you are like me, you don’t like to feel the messy stuff…it doesn’t feel good to grieve…but it is necessary because if I skip this part, I will miss the opportunity to learn more about my Creator…and instead of growing from this experience, I will be forced to experience it again and again due to stuffing all the feels down deep inside. See, it is like having a glass of water: You can keep putting a bit more water in…and that water will go deep down inside…but when the glass gets full and overflows, you can’t expect it to overflow with wine because that isn’t what was put into the glass. If you don’t allow yourself to grieve and properly process things, then understanding and holiness can not flow out of you…and this broken world could really use more people with understanding and holiness couldn’t it?
So, how are you doing with this? Are you allowing yourself the space and the freedom to grieve the things that break your heart? Or are you stuffing? Are you feeling all the feels (even the uncomfortable ones?) Are you allowing those that you love to grieve when their hearts get broken or are you trying to force them out of the grieving process so that you can feel better about things? Are you attempting to make everything in life fit into a nice, neat package with bow on it or are you allowing the messy things to be messy?
My prayer today is that we will grieve the things that grieve the Lord. I’m praying that we will allow our hearts to break and be softened so that we can be strong and whole in the end. I’m praying for health, protection, understanding, and wisdom for us all as together we learn to link arms and do the messy business of living. Much love friends,
Beks
**Please excuse any errors in typing or thinking…I took two benadryl before working on this.**