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

Morning Musing 12/13/16 – The Ache of Being “Handled”

“Well, I feel encouraged and hope you do too.” he said while beginning to stand up…clearly indicating that the conversation was over and it was time for me to leave. Encouraged? Really? Nothing has been corrected. No changes are being put into place. No questions or sharing of ideas…just a bunch of catch phrases that make him sound like he was invested. I’m not even really sure that this two-person conversation required my presence because I certainly was not heard…we weren’t having a dialogue…I was just being…handled…like a problem to be dealt with…like a dreaded chore on a list that you have to muscle through in order to get to the more important things.

I hated that realization…that I was a problem to be handled as opposed to a member of a team…that unity meant “shut up and fall in line” instead of different people bringing different ideas and gifts to the table to accomplish something greater than the sum of our talents. To this man, unity meant uniformity. There was a lack of investment in the present and a lack of value in the people on the team. And that insight into his heart space as the team leader was the beginning of me leaving the team altogether…I just wouldn’t know it for almost a year.

Why am I talking about this weird conversation? Well, I guess it’s because it hurt so much despite the other person involved in the conversation thinking it went fabulously well. I used to think that someone being intentionally mean was the worst thing they could do…but I have since learned that being dismissed as unimportant or as a problem is worse (at least to me.) If someone is intentionally mean, I can chalk it up to their character or lashing out because of circumstances. But when I find that I am just invisible…or worse…someone that must be handled…that plants seeds of doubt into me about my value…about my contribution…about why I am here…or maybe it’s just me that struggles in this way?  

I know in my head that my value is determined by my Creator and not by anything that I can do or accomplish…but sometimes my heart doesn’t listen to my head…especially in this area. My head and heart jive in a lot of ways…but my worth…it’s been a constant struggle for me for a long, long time. A few weeks ago, though, I tried a new tact for getting my head space and heart space in agreement. Instead of coming up with all the ways that I define myself like I usually would do to bolster my confidence, I spent an entire day (from breakfast until bedtime) asking God who he says I am. Instead of yelling at the Creator the things the creation wants to be…I shut my mouth and let the Creator tell me what aspects of himself he lovingly graced me with. And it was the best day ever. Instead of telling him that I’m tough, that I easily adapt, that I’m outgoing, etcetera…I listened to him tell me how I reflect him. I found out that day that I love with a pure and BIG love because I have been loved deeply…even in my most broken places. I found out that I am a forgiver because I have been forgiven of hurts that I have caused. I found out that I was purposely created, and because of that, I can create with a purpose. These things are the essence of who I am regardless of my circumstances. This is how I am an image-bearer of the Almighty…he put some of his essence…some of who he is…into the mix when he created me…and that takes investment…effort. He didn’t just handle me.

How are you doing with this? Do you sometimes feel like you are invisible or that your value is lacking? If so, have you talked to God about it? Have you let him do some of the talking in your conversation or have you been super busy talking at him about who you say you are? Are there people in your sphere of influence who struggle with their self-worth? Could you improve how you interact with them in order to make sure that they know that you value them? Are there vulnerable areas in yourself that you could reveal to them in order to help open their hearts up to a deeper and more healing conversation? In what ways could you be approaching yourself and/or others with tenderness and truth about who God would say you/they are?

My prayer today is that we would not be afraid to ask God for the truth and that we would be quiet in his presence so that we can actually hear his whisper. I am praying that we would value each other and be present with each other instead of handling each other. And finally, I am praying that we would love well and, in doing so, would reflect God’s love to the hurting people around us.  

Much love friends, 
Beks

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

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

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

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

Much love friends,
Beks  

2/18/16 Morning Musing: Reconciliation and Forgiveness are Not the Same Animal

Over the last few years, I have been doing a lot of work in the area of forgiveness. I’ve worked on forgiving and reconciling with those who have hurt me. I have worked at length on forgiving myself for things that deeply injured others…things that those people have forgiven me for and that Jesus has long since taken on my behalf. And I have worked tirelessly on forgiving those who deeply wounded me…injured me in such a way that it affects nearly every area of my life…and from whom an apology (or even an acknowledgement) never came.

So, this weekend, when I listened to a sermon on reconciliation, I was struck by how the pastor was lumping forgiveness and reconciliation together as the same thing. Maybe I am getting lost in semantics but I don’t see them as the same at all. I see forgiveness as the place where I can affect change. I think forgiveness has everything to do with my posture before God and nothing really to do with any action at all by the other person. Forgiveness is the part where I wipe the account clean (at least from my side)…where my heart comes to a place and says “You owe me nothing.” Forgiveness is where healing begins but where pain is not magically erased. See, I think that pain will still crop up as the wounds heal…and that hurt…that little bit of agony…can be offered up to God as worship through obedience each time I feel it…because it doesn’t go away in one big hurrah…it creeps back in…all stealthy-like…and catches me off-guard when I see it because I think “I’ve already done this! I’ve already forgiven him!” But, it is time to forgive him again…and I embark on the weighty task once again.
On the other hand, reconciliation is the mending of the relationship…and while I think this is a beautiful thing…I don’t think it always happens and I don’t think that we always have any control over it…nor do I think it is always healthy and good. See, I don’t think that reconciliation is meaningful unless forgiveness has happened first…forgiveness is what happens in the heart-space…it is what is bone-deep and, I think, connects us to Jesus more deeply…because it teaches us (in a tiny way) about the work that he had to do to forgive us. I think that forgiveness is a part of us being image-bearers…and consequently it is deeply spiritual. Reconciliation is also spiritual and a blessing…but I think it is a result…a natural consequence…of the work done through forgiveness…a beautiful side-effect.

This may not make sense to everyone…we haven’t all struggled in the same ways…but I am hoping that it brings a little bit of clarity…and a touch of peace…to someone who has struggled in the ways that I have. If you find that you forgive someone and then it keeps cropping back up, don’t beat yourself up…pain doesn’t just disappear because you have forgiven someone…but you can acknowledge that pain…from the deep and tender place in you…and give it to the healer as an offering. Reconciliation, if it is meant to be, will come…opportunities will be presented…but first…the heart space.

So, how are you doing this? Are you doing the hard work of forgiving someone? Yourself? Do you find yourself having to go back and repeat the work that you have already done? Instead of getting frustrated and berating yourself, can you acknowledge the pain that exists there? Can you trust God enough to offer that pain to him? To allow that offering to be a way that you worship him? If you are being forgiven by someone, can you allow them the time necessary to work through it? If it doesn’t happen magically for you, you can bet it won’t happen magically for them either. Can you allow them to be hurt without your interference? Whether it is you or someone else doing the hard work of forgiveness, allow time and space to work through it…don’t press for an immediate result and don’t be surprised if much of the work must be repeated in order to heal.

My prayer today is that we would reconcile where appropriate…but that first, we would do the hard work that is forgiveness. I am praying that we honor the one who has forgiven us of so much by embarking on the same task. I am praying that we wouldn’t press for an outward result until we are healed inside so that reconciliation has a chance of being authentic and lasting.

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

1/13/15 Morning Musing: Drawing From an Empty Well

Three times in the last week, I have been asked by people that I respect spiritually, “I can see you are deeply committed in your ministry…and you are carrying some heavy burdens around for others…but what are you doing personally to commune with Jesus and refill your own soul?” Ummm…yikes! I’ve been awfully busy lately…not all difficult stuff…but very very busy. I admitted to each of these friends that I feel closest to God when I am musing…and over the last few months, I have had less and less time available to do this. For one thing, I only seem able to do it in the mornings (hence the name “Morning Musing.”) It is as if my brain turns off by about 12:30pm and the opportunity for that day is lost…bizarre…no? And of course, my mornings seem to get filled by stuff…not bad stuff…just stuff…like meetings or doctor appointments or volunteering…just stuff…and the musings have been crowded out. I don’t know why I am unable to write like this in the afternoons…but…as of now, I am unable to (believe me…I’ve tried…and failed…a lot.) Then, one of my good friends, one of the people I trust most in the world, asked me yesterday “Why is what fills us back up always the thing we think is expendable…the thing that we can afford to drop from our lives?” She then told me about one of our mutual friends who will volunteer and pour into others and get so busy emptying herself out that she quits painting…but painting is what feeds her soul so that she can pour into others…it is how she meets with God and hears him speak…so then this friend gets depleted (and I imagine frustrated because she runs out of steam on her own.) Hmmm…I guess that is why the verse reads: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭13‬ NKJV) It doesn’t say I can do all things “if I schedule my time right” or “if I try hard enough” or “if I…anything…fill in the blank.” I can only do all the things that I am called to do through Jesus.

So, I know this all sounds like I’m on a soapbox…but it is aimed at myself. Over the last few years, I have learned some things about myself: I learn primarily in two ways: through doing (kinesthetic…this is why I love science!) and through relationships (interpersonal…I never tire of meaningful conversations with people…my brain feeds off of this and I am rejuvenated by it…I know that sounds weird to you introverts…but it is true for me.) I’ve never been one who was a verbal learner (can’t just hear a lecture and learn…can’t just read and learn…that is why school was so difficult for me and why I thought for so long that I was not smart…think of how 99% of “learning” happens in American schools…no wonder I thought I was an idiot!) And this morning, it finally hit me (ok, it took this long…maybe not so smart after all) that my musings are how I have conversations with the Holy Spirit…it is how I have that interpersonal interaction with him…how I enter into relationship with him and give him the space to speak to me instead of me doing all the talking. I’ve honestly been confused for the last year as to why I feel I need to write…remember…not a verbal learner…I don’t follow anyone’s blog…I don’t learn by reading…it seems weird that I would be a hypocrite and expect anyone else to read my stuff…but this morning, through this musing, I have come to understand that it’s not about anyone else reading this…no offense, but it’s not about any of you…it’s about me prioritizing it so I can hear from Jesus…but I leave it open to be observed by y’all because I feel like I am supposed to…so if anyone else can hear from Jesus through this…then they are welcome to do so…maybe some of you are verbal learners and can learn from reading or maybe you are interpersonal this makes you feel like you know me better and like we are having a conversation. I don’t know how it all works…I just know that I must.

So, the question of the day for myself and you: How are you doing with this? How has God wired you to learn? How are you using that natural wiring to learn more about him? How are you letting God speak to you? (Are you letting God speak to you?) What impediments to your relationship with God are popping up? What can you do about those? For me, I’m going to have to prioritize this morning time. I’m going to have to re-arrange my schedule some so that I have more mornings available to sit at my Rabbi’s feet and learn from him…because I have been swapping things out…I have been giving up the best thing for some good things…and it’s unfulfilling…and honestly, it’s sinful. I welcome feedback on this. I welcome accountability…if you see me falling off the radar with these musings…feel free to nudge me gently and remind me to get back at it. If you want some accountability, let me know…we can encourage each other to pursue Jesus.

My prayer this morning is that we would all look honestly at how we are designed and discover how God talks to us. It won’t be the same for everyone and that is fine…that is why we are called to be in community with one another…so that we can all share what we are learning about God with each other and gain new perspectives. Friends, I am praying that you would pursue relationship with Jesus today and that you would not sacrifice the way he speaks to you (through busy-ness or ministry or anything else.) Much love friends,

Beks

10/3/14 Morning Musing: Tap the Brakes, Babycakes!

I know this dad who loves his kids deeply…but doesn’t know how to relate to them very well. He has made huge efforts to do fun over-the-top things with them only to have the kids respond with luke-warm feelings at best and disinterest most of the time. The responses from the kids are disheartening to the dad and he withdraws a bit to lick his wounds. A month or so later, the process repeats itself. It’s leaving the kids disconnected from the dad and the dad feeling like a failure and frustrated with the kids for not wanting to do the fun things together.

I’ve thought about this many times…and I’ve never said a word to the dad because I don’t want to come off wrong…condescending or like I have a clue what I’m doing…and let’s face it, he didn’t ask for my opinion…but from the outside looking in, it’s easier to get perspective…my pride and emotions aren’t the ones being damaged more and more with each pass through the cycle. So, this morning, I am musing about it so that I can process what I am seeing.

I see two children who are checked out. They would rather interact with a video game or tv screen than with a human. (That part is not necessarily unusual in most homes unfortunately.) I see parents who love their kids deeply but who are willing to let the video game and tv be the main influencers of their kids 90% of the time. Then, the parents clue in to what is going on and make a huge effort to do something with the kids that will “wow” them. The kids know that this will fizzle out shortly (because it always has) and so they no longer respond to the over-the-top display of affection. This leaves the parents exasperated and frustrated and feeling like failures. The cycle repeats constantly and relationships are becoming more and more fractured.

I understand the lure of letting the tv or video games or whatever dominate your child’s attention because, let’s face it, there is a lot to do and not enough time to do it. (My current to do list is 3 pages long! I get it!) The thing is, there is not one single thing on that list that is more important than any relationship you have in your life. What if, instead of big overtures, we spent precious little moments with those we love. If the goal is to connect, why not steal away moments alone with the child to ask them about their lives (and…here is the hard part…not offer advice unless it is asked for.) Ask questions that get them talking about what they are interested in. Talk about the gifts and talents that you see in them and ask them if they see them too, how they are developing those talents, and how those talents play into their future. Ask them about their friends, what characteristics their friends have that they admire and why. If you show someone every day that you are invested in them, the walls come down. If you are only showing them investment every once in a while, well…it’s easy to defend against that…and make no mistake…it is defense for them even if it is intended to be fun…because they know your interest in them will go away again…it isn’t sustainable in the large doses because life is going to steal your attention away again…and that hurts.

So how are you doing with this? Do you have a relationship in your life that is waning because of a lack of daily (or at least regular) investment? Is there some way that you could invest on a small but regular basis…something sustainable? Who are you meant to go deeper with? Are you? If you aren’t, how can you let them know that you want to develop a healthier, more stable relationship with them?

My prayer this morning is that we would reduce our to-do lists by putting names on them instead of activities. I’m praying that we would focus on the people God has blessed us with and that they would feel loved and seen and valued…and consequently, that we would show them one more glimpse of God’s character. Much love friends,

Beks

5/28/14 Morning Musing: The Ministry of Accepting Help

Last fall, I was sick and feeling terribly with some sort of throat-nastiness (I think that is the medical term for it) and my sweet girlfriend brought me all the stuff to make a yummy and boozy hot apple cider (apple cider, honey vodka, the works!) Anyway, this sweet gal is always the first one to volunteer to help others but she won’t let anyone do anything to help her out. Right now for instance, she is in terrible pain with her back and waiting to get in for an MRI and she won’t let me bring her dinner or take her kids or anything. So, it got me thinking about this in a different kind of way.

I think that God impresses on our hearts when we should be doing things to help others…I know that he has gone to great lengths to have me help people at various times…sometimes I have been obedient and other times I was left wishing I had been obedient: paying for someone’s groceries when they were short money in the grocery checkout line, helping someone who’s car has broken down, catching a dog that is running loose through the neighborhood and trying to find the owner, offering drinks or lunch to delivery people or people who are doing work for me, etc. I think that we are supposed to respond to those urges…not only with obedience…but with quick obedience before the opportunity is lost. My girlfriend that I am writing about is quick to do that…and I love her deeply for it…honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful things about her! But, sometimes, I wonder if she understands that others are divinely called to do this as well. God lays things on our hearts and there is great joy to be had in obeying his requests. There is great fulfillment in being where God would have me be and doing what he would have me do.

My point? Glad you asked! I think that many of us recognize when we are supposed to do these acts of kindness or obedience or however you want to think about it. Whether we respond appropriately to that is important and we should all be evaluating whether or not we are screaming “No!” to God. But, do we realize that accepting help can be an act of obedience as well and allowing others to say yes to what God has put before them is really important too? I know that I don’t want to be responsible for squelching the Holy Spirit’s work in someone else’s life. So, how are you doing with this? Do you hear God prodding you? Do you obey when you do? If you are obedient, are you obeying quickly so that you don’t miss opportunities? How are you doing with accepting help? It’s hard, isn’t it?! Are you able to allow others to use their giftedness in your life?

I am praying that you all have the kind of people in your life that you can both give and receive help from. Have a lovely day friends!