Monday, July 8, 2013

Slow Your Roll: A Message to My Sisters in Faith

Several years ago, I attended a Bible study for college kids (hence the term SEVERAL) that I anxiously awaited each week.  The messages were great and the worship music was really incredible.  Louie Giglio was the may have heard of a study called 7:22.

One week while wrapping up 7:22, Louie was giving one of his lengthy (sorry, that's what they are/were) prayers.  During the prayer, my ears perked up at the undeniable sound of wailing.  From an infant.  At a college kid Bible study.

I felt my face go hot.  This was a Bible study for young people.  This lady, obviously, had no reason being there - especially not with her amazingly annoying kid.

Then, I heard Louie's prayer shift (and I paraphrase):  "Lord, while we're all thinking about that lady with her baby, remind us all of something.  She really, really wanted to be here with us tonight."

Just like that, I remembered grace.

For lack of a better term, there are many "babies crying"  in our lives - many incidences which can deter us from remembering circumstances and the people behind them.  Circumstances that can render our brains to wrap around a pattern of judgement as opposed to a pattern of empathy.

Social media, for many of us, has moved our speech from our never-stopping mouths to our never-slowing fingertips. We get up in a cycle of consistently talking - sharing the latest trends, opinions, and viral videos.  We talk a whole lot, and we share a whole lot.

For the past few weeks, it's been bikinis.  There's a video going around that features a smart speech from a girl who didn't like her choices in swimsuits, so she designed some lovely one-piece designs for herself.  I watched the video.  I liked the video.  Her thoughts were organized and given in a thoughtful manner.  I understood her perspective, and yet it didn't change mine.

I turned to some of the commentary surrounding the video. This, of course, was a major mistake.

Commentaries from my sisters in faith can be a fearsome and frightening thing to behold.  The comments sound similar on most blogs/video sites of this sort.

The commentaries in general read an awful lot like this:  

 "Are we really _______________ (fill in the blank) if we wear/do/see/read _______________ (fill in the blank again)?" 

"Am I really enough of a _______________________ because I still like/wear/read/do___________________?"

And, my favorite...

"Women who ______________________ are not really setting good examples."

Ladies, I'd like to offer us some advice, straight from the mouths of (8th grade) babes:

Slow. Your. Roll.

Y'all, it's time us - all of us - to chill out.   Are dresses too short?  Yes.  Are certain types of literature too sketchy for Christian women?  I'm not an authority on this subject, but yeah - probably.   Do we need to spend as much time on facebook as some of us do?  Probably not.  Should I have bought that Cuisinart ice cream maker? Definitely not!  Are you crafting/making food/living up to modern female Christian expectations?  NO, YO!  They're impossible!

Are we all bad? YES!  Don't you see?!  Slow your roll!

(Have you already stopped reading this blog?  Maybe.)

But here's the thing - do you know what we need more than opinions?

Grace.  Do we all need grace?

Yes, yes, and yes.

I'm not're not perfect...that girl with the too short dress in the bikini reading that sketch-a-letch book isn't perfect, either (though she would be quite a woman to behold in such attire!).

But you know what?  That girl needs love and peace and kindness and hope like everyone else.  She needs a cup of coffee/tea/coke/ice water and a hug.  She needs to be told, "I know life is hard."  She needs to be told, "I understand."  Those are two of the most empathy-saturated, life-giving words out there.

A simple lifestyle choice, quietly made, can say more than a thousand clicks of a mouse.  Than a comment snidely stated.

I'm in a Beth Moore Bible study right now, and it comes with "levels."  Level one is just to attend the study.  She implicitly states that if you just want to attend the study, she's fine with it.  "Don't let anyone make you feel bad about that," she says.

Homegirl gets it...why can't the rest of us?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just understand that we're all at different levels of life and offer love and encouragement to those around us?  Wouldn't it be great if we could meet each other at our levels and love one another?

See, I'm not too different from that girl in that college Bible study.  Every day, my brain is wired to that pattern of judgement - of forgetting levels, forgetting people.  Every day, I'm apt to forget grace.  I'm just as guilty - and just as much in need of slowing my roll.

I let blogs and pictures and instagrammed lives with their glossed-over sheen dictate my feelings and my run the gamut of my emotions.  But I'm wrong. There's more behind people than the lives they show.  There's more behind people than what we know.

It's time we reach beyond the scope of our parameters and love beyond our self-instilled borders.

Are we ready?

Y'all, sometimes that baby cries hard.  Sometimes that baby crying comes in the form of that girl in the super-short dress at church.  Sometimes that baby crying comes in the form of the people talking all through church (I'm guilty!  That angers me so much - it's my biggest pet peeve.).  Sometimes that baby crying is literally that baby crying and you think you might pull your hair out - every single strand.

But let us remember who we are.  When our brains snap to places that are unkind, let us boomerang our thoughts to places of understanding.

Jesus can do that for us.

Let us love our sisters more than we love the sound of our own opinions.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thoughts that Cross Your Mind During Monsoon Season

The Rain.

The never-ending Rain.

I don't think I've seen the sun for a week.

A rainy week for me as temporary stay-at-home mom inclines me to be creative, especially when I have a three year old who adores being outside.  We've had tea parties, read lots of books, had friends over, met friends, gone to the aquarium, played games, and of course had lots of fun.

However, sometimes we just watch television.  We just do.  Judge me if you want.  I don't really care. Television taught me to read (okay, not really.  Kind of.).

And during day after day of rainy day deluges, you start thinking about the absolute silliness that is imbued within children's programming and movies.

Why do characters on Peppa Pig oink every few seconds?  If they talk like humans, shouldn't they just talk instead of oink?  Why are they using human and oinking pig language interchagably?

If the Beast was cursed for ten years until his twenty-first year...would he have been 11 when that enchantress cursed him?  Isn't that a little young to prejudge a prince?  Did time stand still in that random French castle (is the Beast a prince of France, or just some weird Franco-esque kingdom?) those dang Bubble Guppies have an airport underwater?

How does Doc McStuffins' head not cause her to fall over constantly?  Seriously, how does she keep her head up?

Why does Dora's monkey wear boots and no other clothes?  He's obviously self-aware.  That monkey needs clothes!

Who on earth would make Oso a secret agent?  He can't even make a salad!

Calliou.  Why?  Dear goodness, just why?  Who thought this would be quality children's programming?   I feel so angry and bad for his parents all at once.  They were probably members of a cool punk-rock band before their bratty-butt kid came along.  Caillou's mom probably hides her "punk forever" tat underneath her incredibly dowdy mom clothes.

What the heck is a Wubbzy, and how many people have had seizures watching this show?

Where...WHERE are Max and Ruby's Parents?
(Yes, I actually paused my television and took this picture.)

Max and Ruby's parents are obviously in the picture above, and I've yet to see them anywhere else.  They've got a Grandma and annoying parents.  Maybe pictures on this show work like the ones in Harry Potter, and their parents are constantly yelling directions to them through oil-based paint.  "Ruby, put down that Bunny Scout badge and go get your brother's hand away from that boiling pot of lobster tails!"

This is what I think about.  Seriously.

Sunshine, please come soon...

A Prayer for Not Enough

Amelia is a force to be reckoned with - sheer, unbridled emotion.

A whirlwind of chaos, crazy, and wonderful.

She's three...almost four.  She's starting to test boundaries, figure out the world, and see how it ticks.  And in terms of ticking, my personal clock of sanity is about to go cookoo.  I try to set boundaries, maintain my temper, and stay firm to my rules.

This works well in an 8th grade classroom.  I am comfortable in this domain.  Fourteen year-olds are much more rational than one would imagine.  They are, for the most part, afraid of consequences.  This does not work well for a three year old who will scream, "I don't want _____________ (insert punishment here)!" for as long as it is necessary.  She will become a broken record, scream for an extended period of time, and collapse from exhaustion.  In the meantime, my nerves evolve into a frazzled web of mess and anger and crazy and hurt and all other things that are not happy.

I know that there are people out there who wondered when or if I'm having another kid.  Here's my response:  I'm so terrible with this one.  Do I deserve another kid? I can't effectively parent the one God gave I really ready to take on two kids?  Do they deserve such lackluster parenting?

And it is in the moments in the midst of these meltdowns when I start to think, "what if I did this?"  "What does _________ do in this situation?"  "What book do I need to read to help me with this?" "Am I really this terrible?" 

I'm doing a Beth Moore study right now on the book of James. 

Here's what "The Message" says in James, chapter 1, verses 5-8:

"If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help.  You'll get His help, and you won't be condesended to when you ask for it.  Ask boldly, belivingly, without a second thought.  People who worry 'their prayers' are like wind-whipped waves.  Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open."


In the study, I was asked to name an area where I needed wisdom in my life.  My first thought?  Motherhood.  I wrote down "Mom" in my book in my devotional at the beach.

I watched the waves toss about like my doubt in my own prayers.  I pray...I ask for help...but do I believe?

The woosh of wind and salt water stung my nostrils like the words stung my heart that day.

And today, thinking about Amelia and her 10,000th fit, I feel useless.  I feel like I flail. I feel like I fail.

Every time I wonder, "What can I do....?"  "What should I do...?" "What if I did this?" am I slapping another wave of doubt on that wind-whipped beach?  When I take matters into my own depraved hands, do I consider God?

Oh, God.  I'm not enough.

I'm just not.  I'll never be enough.  I can't do this on my own.

And yet, despite this, Beth Moore writes, "Can we count the times we chide ourselves in our lack of wisdom with the sick assurance that, after all, this is our own stupid fault?  I'm relieved to know that, even if my lack of wisdom won't get me into a mess, when I ask God for what I need, He won't delight to remind me that I'll never be enough.  Revel in knowing that the verb "ask" in James 1:5 is in present tense.  We're invited to ask as often or for as much wisdom as we need."

So Father, I acknowledge that I am just not enough.  I realize that it is wrong to constantly think about myself in an equation of trust with you.  I cannot attain anything without your help.  I don't want to be like the wind-whipped waves.  I want to be bold, confident, and believe that you can help me down this road of motherhood.  When I feel the tug of sanity loosening its grip, bring me calm.  When I feel my irrational emotions taking over, bring me wisdom.  Please help to make me the mother my daughter deserves.  Amen.