Monday, July 7, 2014

Team Girl

" The woman who does not require validation is the most feared woman on the planet" -najumi

I have never been a girly girl.
I grew up with 5 brothers wearing their hand me down clothes.
When my best friend and neighbor got a brand new banana seat bicycle with streamers and a basket, I got the hand me down big wheel.
I relate better to boys and their, what seems to be, less complicated relationships. How many times have I heard myself saying "I just don't like the drama that comes with woman".

Than the other day something happened - I watched "Bride wars" and I was in tears thinking of my girlfriends.
 You see that same neighbor that had the banana seat bicycle when we were 6, , is still to this day my very best friend.
She and I stomped through elementary school together, survived middle and high school together, drove across country to college together, stood as each others maids of honors on our wedding days and are now both raising families (2 of which had the SAME due date ) and married to pastors in Greenville South Carolina.
My best friend has more memories and experiences with me than my own family and my husband. As I think through my life I recognize now that you can not replace the beauty of sweet girlfriends in your life.
Doing ministry with women and raising a middle school girl I have been so grieved especially in the last few months as I watch girls and woman tear each other apart. Satan has gotten wind of the powerful truth that he can take a woman's insecurities and use them to destroy each other. 

A beautiful woman enters a new friend group and is instantly sized up and ostracized. An intelligent woman is given a new position at work and the woman in her life resent her. The object of one girls affection asks out another girl instantly making her a target. Relationships with men are constantly prioritized over relationships with each other.

All of these scenarios I have watched happen as of recent and each time a little voice in my head has screamed "No!"
Ladies don't you see it? The enemy is rejoicing as we size each other up. 

Another woman's beauty does not take away from mine. Another woman's intelligence does not take away from mine. THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION.

We all live our lives in a line, where we’re always looking ahead and feeling jealous of those who are in front of us, then looking behind and feeling superior over those who are behind us. And we like it that way, as long as we’re moving up.*

This happens ladies when we find our identity in something worldly.
 If our identity is in our boyfriend or the attention we get from a crush and another woman threatens that? Tear her down.
 If our identity is found in our beauty and a beautiful woman enters our community? If our identity is found in our fastest mile or our latest PR at the gym and a stronger woman beats it? If our identity is found in our children and another woman's children excel?
Tear her down, talk about her , pick her apart. Does this make you feel better?

The saddest part to me ladies is the relationships we are losing and missing out on. What if I had torn my fellow six year old friend apart when she rolled up in her streamer bearing bicycle? Or in High school when she made the drill team and I didn't? The idea that I would have missed out on the sweetest memories and three decade friendship is frightening.

Please ladies lets stop living in the line with other woman, sizing each other up. There will ALWAYS be a stronger more beautiful intelligent woman - CHEER HER ON!  - I'm stepping out of the line and I'm quiting the game. You know why? Because we all win.

We all win because He loves us and has entrusted each of us with our own gifts we are all created in His image to NO credit of our own. We all win and the strength and accomplishments of others in the kingdom of God- only make us stronger.

I am happily now a girly girl. I have learned to cheer on a fellow woman and basque in their mighty beauty and accomplishments. Im quitting the game. #teamgirl

*steve wiens

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Help me Help you"

You cannot fulfill God's purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans. ” - Rick Warren

New years resolutions are in full swing and one of mine is to read the Bible in chronological order.
This goal, last week, had me mid Genesis reading about Lot.

As you may be familiar the story takes place when God decides to destroy Sodom and spare His servant Lot and his family. The Lord sends in angels to warn Lot of what is going to happen in an attempt to save his life.
The next verse is what struck me. Scripture tells us that after being warned to hurry and leave
"Lot Lingered". Yep.

Lot had two angels IN THE FLESH warning him that the city was going to be burned to the ground in a matter of minutes and he lingered?
What was he DOING? I wonder. Was he finishing his "Gomorrah Times" crossword? Still chiseling the new coffee table he promised his wife? What would cause an individual to linger in the face of such a warning?

I imagine the Lord watching this with a smirk on His face. "My sweet son Lot…I haven't warned anyone else of what I am about to do...your neighbors are still planning the block party. HELP ME HELP YOU. Take your family and get out buddy."
The second half of the verse is my favorite. "So the {angels} seized him by the hand and set him outside the city. The Lord being merciful to Him."
Wow. Sit back and take that in for a moment. The Lord was ALREADY sparing him, ALREADY warning him. He could have said "Seriously? Lot I've gone above and beyond here if you die it wasn't for lack of trying". But he reached in and DRAGGED Lot to His purposes.

How many times do I linger in the face of the Lords attempt to help me. How many times does the Lord whisper "sweet stubborn daughter. Help me help you."

But the most beautiful part? Our God doesn't stop there. My stubbornness or belief that I know better for my life doesn't throw off His plan. My failures and apprehensiveness to trust Him only lead Him to "take my hand and place me outside the city"

"Daughter please stop and rest" but I linger and end up being forced to rest with a snow day.
"Daughter please repent to the person you offended" but I linger and I end up being approached by the individual.

How gracious is our loving Father?
Nothing can stop His purposes for you.
Not even ourselves. He loves us enough to grab our hand and drag us to safety.
Thank you Jesus.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Avoiding Catholic Schools and Traffic Laws.

"Is that fair? No. Its better than fair. Its Grace." - Andy Stanley

I grew up in South Florida where there is a large Jewish population. So large, in fact that most Jewish holidays were observed by the school system and this Protestant sun lover had a day off to hit the beach. It was a nice system.

You can imagine my surprise when I was pulled over for going 30 in a 15 mph school zone. 
In the need to defend myself I explained " but officer the sign clearly says 'on school days only", today is Yom Kipper, so I'm told, and there is no school". 
To which the officer curtly responded " Mam that was a Catholic school." and wrote me a rather large ticket. Defensive doesn't begin to describe how I felt. After all, I had a right to defend myself here!

I felt like I was on an episode of "Really?" with Seth Myers and Amy Poehler. REALLY?

As I drove away feeling that the justice system had done everything BUT provide justice, I clearly felt the spirit of the Lord calm me. If I had heard Him audibly it would have sounded something like:
"Jerushah…your defense here is justified I get it, but how many times HAVE you broken a traffic law and NOT been punished. What if that officer could have pulled up a secret camera to your entire driving career? Would you still be defensive?"

How many things in our life can we apply this to?  In ministry we are accused of things we didn't do quite often. Misunderstood, not given the benefit of the doubt, motives are questioned and rumors are spread. In many of these situations we find ourselves with a very valid and clear defense.
"you simply misunderstood me" or "That's actually not what happened at all."

If our every thought and action was played out on a screen for all to see we would be offending A lot more people A lot more often. Why? Because we are all sinners, we are all complicated, selfish, reactive people who are guilty of more that we will ever have to be accountable for by the Grace of Jesus.
So maybe this accusation isn't true or that rumor isn't true or you feel your motives were misinterpreted. How many times HAVE you been guilty? Aside from the work of Jesus Christ in our life we have NO DEFENSE. 

How disarming to our accuser if we simply apologize that our actions or words made a negative impression on them in any way. Seem unfair? Sometimes yes. 
However "Fair" isn't a concept Christians have much room to stand upon. The only blameless person who COULD have yelled "NO FAIR" is the same person who was falsely accused to the point of death on a cross for you and me.

"Its better than Fair. Its Grace"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Let there be light: The inevitability of the steps

We work so hard to get somewhere, to realize a dream, to arrive at some destination, that we often forget that though some satisfaction may be waiting at the end of our endurance and effort, there is great and irreplaceable aliveness in the steps along the way.” 
― Mark Nepo

One of the upsides of working with so many people in their 20s is it seems that so many life changes happen in those years. I'm surrounded by people who are always searching always anticipating and quite frankly often discouraged. 

We had some friends over for new years eve and I had not had the opportunity to warn my husband that one of the dinner guests was coming solo because his plus one was no longer his plus one. 

As my husband excitedly asked where she was I cringed and watched as the individual explained…as best he knew how…that the relationship had ended. 

"I just don't want to hear 'she wasn't the one' anymore". 

I wanted to sit him and every discouraged single down and say but are you walking away asking the Lord to TEACH you. Are you opening your heart to what He is showing you? (I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have wanted to hear that either).

I know I'm married and can't relate to that discouragement but I CAN relate to discouragement in general. I can relate to trying and trying and things simply not panning out. 

Heck I ran what was supposed to be my last marathon a few weeks ago. My training times were the best they had been. Through various circumstances I fell VERY short of my goal the day of the race. I was discouraged. OK fine maybe I still am. OK OK I can't even look at my medal. BUT I also learned what my 35 year old body needs to succeed next time. I learned the tweaks I need to make to my training. 

I was inspired the other day reading about Thomas Edison. Here is a man very familiar with things not materializing the way he had hoped. His outlook however was not that He failed, but that he was learning. 

"Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”  

 Edison tried over 9,000 times to create the light bulb but with each failed attempt he walked away with having LEARNED something. 

"I have not failed. I have simply found 10,000 ways that don't work."

 Edison did not view his many attempts as failure but instead as an inevitable part of his process. Scripture TELLS us we are a work in the making. There is no way of " getting around " the process.

Lets walk away from our discouragements this year without failing to learn from them. 
Each failed relationship is an opportunity to see yourself better. Each argument with your loved ones allows you to walk away seeking a better understanding. 

Lets not look at our unmet desires and goals as failures. 

Lets look at them as steps. 

Maybe this wasn't a failed relationship for my friend.  Maybe this was a simply a step. 
Maybe my run wasn't a failure to meet my time, it was simply another training session, another step.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The importance of the background: a lesson from Rebel Wilson & Anna Kendrick

"In my home the most important light is not the large chandelier seen by all , its the night light no one sees but lights my way and prevents me from stubbing my toe" - Rick Warren

I love music. I love listening to it especially when I'm driving, and if I'm alone I'm definitely belting along with the tune.
In the last month I have been on the road a lot and a lot of "mash ups" and acapella stuff seems to have been in my ears. I enjoy singing along with tunes from Glee and Pitch Perfect because, for some reason they make everyone in the car feel like they can carry a tune.
This week as I was listening to a mash up sound track I noticed something. I noticed that those songs take a LOT of different talented people to get the popular catchy effect that draws us to all download them and watch the movies. However, without fail, every time I'm in the car alone, with friends or with the kids…every one of us takes over and sings the lyrics of the lead. What happens then is the effects of the song that make it so unique and effective are basically rendered ineffective. Listen...


What makes that song so beautiful and unique is the harmonies being sung to support the lead. Yet without even recognizing it, we each took over with the lead when she came in. All of us were in the car singing the lead and the beautiful melodies and harmonies in the back were ignored.

Don't we all do this? We fail to recognize that what makes Gods plans so beautiful is that each of his children plays a different role.
We each are designed to either lead in a particular area or support those that are leading. The support role is NOT a lesser role. The support role is crucial for the beauty of the plan to come to fruition. What if the girls singing the harmonies in the back quit when the lead took over? They didn't. They stayed on track and kept THEIR role moving.

Are you the wife or mom that feels like her role as supporting her husband and children is somewhat smaller? Are you the assistant that feels their absence in the project wouldn't be missed? Are you the college student looking to make a name for yourself in life? The associate pastor who is always behind the scenes? Stop and recognize that each role in Gods kingdom is crucial and needed.
Play the song again and try to only sing the backup melody all the way through. Beautiful right?

"All of you together are Christ's body and each of you is a separate and necessary part of it"
1 Corinthians 12:27

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Love never fails ; a powerful reminder in an open letter from a lesbian to a pastors wife.

A few years after coming out; a practicing homosexual pens this letter to a friend who, along with her husband leads an evangelical Bible teaching church in the South. They remain close friends.

You really are THE ONLY person who has treated me as though Christ would treat me...through everything. 
Everyone else talked about me, judged me and turned their backs on me. I don't feel that way about you. 
Even though I know you don't agree with me or understand me, you never turned your back on me. 
I can never thank you enough for that. I am so lucky to know you and so lucky to have a friend like you. 
I would not truly know or understand Christianity without you and your example. You have no idea the impact you've had on my life. 
Again I'll say, I can never thank you enough. Thank you again for your words. Thank you for being such an amazing example. 
Because of you, I know what grace looks like.
Because of how you live your life and how you love other people, I know how Jesus did, too
I can't say that about any of the other Christians I know. 

"What if thoughtful folks in the gay and evangelical communities stopped shouting across the playground and sat down together? Glad I serve a God who loves evangelicals..and his gay neighbor equally and desires a relationship with them both. Hopefully we will desire the same" Joshua DuBois

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The advice I wish I had received 15 years ago

"It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unending patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain”   Ruth Bell Graham

I have attended more than my usual share of weddings in the last few weeks as well as preparing to mark my husband and I's 15 year anniversary. Marriage has been on my mind. What it is and what it isn't.

Leading a church with a large population of 20 somethings: relationships, engagement and marriage is a hot topic and so often in my mind, misguided. 

I'm not about to write about how I have all the answers. Far from it. I can say however what I wish I was told before I was married. The one piece of advice that maybe none of us anticipating the exciting road of marriage and planning a wedding would have even listened to.

I was told marriage would be fun. MAN is it. I was told marriage would be hard. MAN is it. (harder to be in one with me than for me to be in one with my husband but I digress.) 
I was told marriage would be scary and refining and amazing. It is all of those things. 

The one piece of advice I wish I had been given would not have changed my mind on the decision I was making, but may have allowed me to enter the relationship with a whole different set of standards. What is this advice? The advice I will scream from the mountaintops to every couple about to embark on this journey and that I myself am still learning everyday.

That Christ will and can be all to you that your spouse can't and won't. I think we all know this in some degree but how we live it out is backwards. 

Often we look to our spouse to meet our needs. We expect our partner to make us feel loved, to give us an identity, to give us joy and comfort and patience. What we fail to receive from our spouse we look to our children or job and eventually to Christ for. 
Marriage will never be what it was intended if we continue to follow this upside down and backward formula. 

No one shows off their engagement ring to friends followed by "I know He will fail me at times but I'm not looking to him to complete me", or "I asked her to marry me because I couldn't think of anyone better suited for me to humbly serve expecting nothing for myself for the rest of my life". We don't say these things partly because they aren't exciting to say out loud and partly because we don't believe it. 

**A brief side note to the unmarried. Young couples, when you dream about your future marriage what is in those mental pictures? Do they consist of serving or being served? Do they consist of this individual making your voyage through life better or an opportunity for you to look beyond yourself? 
Choose the mate that points you to HIM. (but this is another post all together)**

I want to challenge us to mix up the formula we have been following. I want us to stop looking to our spouse first but look to the only one who won't fail us. Once we do we will have everything we need in HIM. Having our completeness found in the safest place. Freeing us up to fail one another because CHRIST won. Freeing us up to hurt each other because Christ has a perfect love. Freeing us up to LOVE each other without fear because the Love we depend on is without fault. Its a much shorter and more fulfilling formula.  He is the FIRST step in our equation of finding what we need . Paul Tripp describes it well when he says “If I am seeking to get identity from you,I will watch you too closely, listen to you too intently, and need you to fundamentally."
 Lets watch Jesus closer, Listen to Jesus more intently and need HIM fundamentally. It's then and only then we are free to love and serve and journey through life without expectation.

That my friends is the beauty in marriage that Christ designed.