Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"Fear No Evil" Is A Choice

Make it today. There is no power greater than a woman who is tired of trouble.

In "The Best Yes", Lysa Terkeurst reminds us of the story of a wise woman from 2 Samuel. We don't know her name, but we KNOW she was sick of trouble. She didn't want violence in her city.

Lisa writes...

"A traitor named Sheba was hiding behind the city walls, so King David's fighting men were on the attack. There was no time to delay, get panicked, or react with anxiety. There was no time to call together the townspeople and have a committee meeting. There was no time to research or study...She had to trust that her knowledge, insight, and discernment were wise."

Basically, she went to the wall of the city, asked King David why he was there and when she found out, she literally said, "His head will be thrown to you from the wall." Then she went to the people of the town, filled them in and together they found the traitor, somebody beheaded him, threw it over the wall and that was that.

If you can watch Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings or for God's sake, the evening news, you can handle that story. The point of it, the reason why she is recorded in the Bible still today, was her wisdom. She found the shortest, most efficient way to get things done and she did it.

Where in your life are you taking the long way, for whining's sake? What needs to get done? Today.

P.S. Don't behead anyone, okay?

Monday, February 6, 2017

I've Been Failing SO Hard At This Blog

I'm really sorry. I realize that this domain name is a responsibility and I am failing at it. I am asking for God's forgiveness tonight and I will attempt to do better. I've just been so scared. But I'm working on it.

Right now, I'm in a book study with some women at my church and we are reading along with a book called The Best Yes. It's been such a healing experience already. Even though I'm very different than many of my fellow "church wives" in so many different ways, I'm learning that I am just as irrationally hard on myself, but for very different reasons.

I also recently finished the Discover God's Dream For You reading plan in the Bible app.

I've even been in therapy and my therapist is a wonderful mix of medical professional and open woman of faith. She gives me hope. She uses the Bible. In a world that is turning upside down, in a world full of christians who are so full of hate and vitriol, she reminds me that genuine faith is something to aspire to. Following Jesus, for real, is hope and healing. We have to remember that, we have to cling to that SO HARD right now. It would be so easy to get disillusioned and turn away from our faith when so many people are misrepresenting the gospel.

Tonight, in our The Best Yes book study, we talked about the passage that emphasized the fact that wisdom gathers and mobilizes, it never separates or scatters. Remember that in these crazy times that seem to be only getting crazier. It is better to follow Jesus' example, to err on the side of love, inclusion and peace.

Resist the urge to batten down the hatches and tribe up, to shut out anything you disagree with, to let companies or fear mongering or politics shut down your ministry or separate you from your friends, family or strangers who need your help. Don't let some huge biased corporate entity tell you what the issues are about and don't be naive enough to believe they aren't protecting their own financial interests. The love of money is the root of all evil, if you have the holy spirit in your life, ask Him to help you translate the events of this present time.

Have the wisdom to investigate the roots of discord...and I mean really research. Don't just look for someone easy to blame. Political strife is always complex and we don't get a "get out of jail free card" when it comes to understanding just because we are good little girls who want to be well-behaved.

Without sympathy, you can never have understanding. Without empathy, there is no ministry. Do not let your heart grow hard. 

You are not here on planet Earth to point fingers. For example, if you are more concerned with the women using foul language on protest signs than you are with a leader who spoke them, if you are willing to over-simplify complex arguments so you can get out of sympathizing with the poor because you think they deserve to lose birth control or their dignity or access to cancer screenings...I am literally going to beg you to be willing to enter into the suffering of others by understanding where it comes from. I've worked in a prison, I've spent time in the poorest parts of Mexico and post-communist Eastern Europe. Ask yourself, where have you been? What do you know? What makes your perspective unique and what can you do to broaden it? Where would God have you go? If you don't know, ask! Luke 10:2 says:

I know it would be an easier narrative if everyone who was angry or if everyone who protested was just a trouble-maker or a rebel. I know many of you have been taught that all poor people are lazy. Please search for ministries that work with the poor and disenfranchised. Step outside of your mega-church.

Turn away from conspiracy theory websites and turn to the Bible. The whole Bible, not passages hand-selected and presented to you by said conspiracy theory websites.

Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus out there right now. And not just to your girlfriends who are just like you, but to everyone. Whether you like them or not, whether you believe they deserve it or not. Be love. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Proverbs Woman Study - Week 2 - She Is Worth Far More Than Rubies

The Proverbs Woman Study - Week 2 - The Question of Worth

Hey. How have you been? Me? Oh...weird. As usual. I'm so full of strange emotions because of what's happening in the world right now. Bear with me though, because the winding path this study takes this week might match the shape of your own confusion about what it means to be a wife or a woman in these times.

(Translation: This is less fun than week one. I'm serious, it gets kind of intense. This week is definitely more about asking a big question vs. offering an answer.)

Right now, I feel fear, which is an emotion the Bible tells us not to feel. Not because God's word is without compassion, but because we don't need to fear. It's a useless emotion compared to God's power. If God is in control of our lives, what do we have to fear?

And yet, I am still afraid. I think that specific emotion sits at the heart of why this study has been so difficult for me to even begin. The second line of the famous Proverbs woman scripture reads, "She is Worth Far More Than Rubies". And here's the thing, not only do I feel less valuable than rubies, most days, I feel less valuable than the dirt beneath my feet.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

*breathes deep* Maybe Now I'm Really Ready To Begin

I come back to you now
at the turn of the...
oh nevermind.
I'm back. Maybe. Sort of. Geez, don't pressure me!

A lot has happened since I dreamed of this blog, then quit. A lot.

The most important thing was that I got talked off a metaphorical ledge by a wonderful friend, Teri. (Maybe I misspelled her name to keep her anonymous...maybe I didn't. *drops magical smoke pellet to distract you, you probably see me walking away anyway*)

First I'll give you a lot more of my story, then I'll tell you what my friend Teri said to me that helped me so much. I hope it helps you too. But first? Confession time.

So here's me: I'm 34. I have a lot of health problems. I'm not financially well despite the fact that my husband and I have been working our rear ends off for years.* (See: very expensive health problems) I don't have kids yet. Sometimes that makes me really sad. Other days, I honestly feel okay about it.

I had really big dreams when I was young. I've lived a few different careers, to great success as far as the world can see, all related to those dreams but never quite on the nose. None of them have made me happy for various reasons I won't go into here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Good News/Bad News

So...the good news is, I mean, you know. It's THE good news. Jesus.

The bad news is...I don't think I have this blogging thing in me anymore. I've been called to art, not commentary. I wasn't so sure, but I prayed about it a lot and I feel like I received an answer. In fact, I think this tiny, short-lived blog was just my really verbose way of telling God, "I'll do this direct ministry thing if you want me to, because I want to be obedient to you." But I know, I'm sure, I'm meant to make art. And art is about asking questions, not providing people with answers.

It's just that I'm so different than anyone else I'm around and I wanted to make sure that was by God's design and not me being rebellious. I'm very different. I'd like to trust that God made me that way instead of lamenting the fact that I'm not a devout Martha Stewart.

Ten years ago, I would've nailed this blogging thing. Because back then, well, I was a professional blogger and journalist. But first-person essays are inevitably about self and I don't want to be about myself anymore. At least, not in a day in/day out writing sense. I just don't want to spend that much time with myself. I'd rather spend it writing about characters and making short films and what-not.

I just don't think the world needs any more think pieces. I think it needs more art. So I'm gonna go make that now. To everyone who read anything here during the month that I tried this, thank you.

Keep me in your prayers. Art is dangerous.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Only Testimony You Have Is Your Life (a.k.a. The Turquoise Necklace Part Deux)

Welcome to the Maternal
Order of the Weirdo Sisters Christian!
What if I told you all you have to give in this life is your testimony of who Jesus is and why and how you've come to know Him?

What if I took away all your life tips and your Pinterest boards and your Bible study workbooks? All good things, mind you...but what if I took them away?

It's one thing to look to a wiser woman for guidance and support. It's another to watch them so closely that you feel you have to be just like them. I'm not talking to the people out there who follow someone's blog or try their recipes or do bible study groups with their friends.

I'm talking to the women who hate themselves so much, they think becoming just like Beth Moore or Rachel Held Evans or Joanna Gaines will make them better. And that's not to say a single cross word to any of those women. I'm just using them as examples of popular christian women today.

Though I'm sure from the amount of harassment each of them receive for preaching the gospel of Christ (even from their fellow christians) would make them want to choose a word other than "popular". But I listed them for a reason, to talk to the women who are missing the point, the women who think that the glory of God will come to rest in their lives if they can just change. If they can just fix themselves. Be good.

Listen to me, sisters...you can change your hair and your speech and your habits. But you've only lived the life you've lived. And there are other women in the world who are going to need to see your example, because maybe they have lived a similar life.

If you pretend to be someone you're not because you think it will make you more holy, if you try to be like someone else...if you're making yourself into the image of another female christian, that's idol worship. And well-intentioned idol worship is still idol worship. Stop trying to be one of the cool kids. Stop erasing your history, your story...your testimony.

Salvation Is Not A Makeover (a.k.a. The Chunky Turquoise Necklace Principle)

Look! Now I'm good! Right? RIGHT?!
One thing we hear a lot in church culture now is to surrender yourself fully to Jesus Christ. Hallelujah? I'm so on board with that.

But sometimes, I feel like the underlying implication there is actually, "Surrender yourself to Church World. Become different. And could you please do it quickly? You don't want to make anyone uncomfortable."

The idea is not to change into a more obedient woman to Christ, according on his timeline and the revelations you will receive from the gospel, but to someone who fits into your church's culture, whatever or wherever that may be.

We've all overheard the conversations. The gossip. "She shouldn't wear that when she's singing worship onstage!" "Did you know that years ago, she and her husband..." "Watch out for her, she voted for..." Blah, blah, blah...

Honestly. Some days, my life in the religious south makes Edward Scissorhands look like a documentary. That's how correct Tim Burton got it. The judgement, the condemnation and the desperate need to get people to conform is so real.

And you guys, that's why so many actual imposters get through our doors and do so much damageWe make it too easy to fake it. If what you're selling is something that can easily be imitated by phonies...you are selling snake oil. Not the gospel of Christ.

Sometimes in Church World, we're so obsessed with the makeover. We're so fixated on wanting to see someone's After Jesus", post-Richard Gere shopping montage that we subconsciously try to rush them through a transition that Jesus may want to take years on, for spiritual reasons that are far beyond our grasp. Yes, I know that was a run-on sentence. But it was merited. Because I'm emotional, that's why.

We're so obsessed with stories of instant transformation. Overnight holiness. We're quick to spot a "wolf in sheep's clothing" using standards that are entirely earthly. In this culture of needing to see people fixed and changed to our liking, we're losing a lot of people who legitimately need our help or long-term ministry. We're not saying, "Come to Jesus, the healing he offers is astounding!" We're saying, "Come, let me dress you up to look like me!"

People can pick up on what you really want from them. Just FYI. They can sense it. If someone in your congregation shares a deep wound with you and the most you can manage is to try to talk politics with them? They've got your number. The intimacy will be shut down. Because now they know what you're looking for. Sameness. Recognition. Safety.

Salvation is not a makeover. It's not like you give your heart to Jesus and wake up the next day with chunky blonde highlights and a turquoise statement necklace. It's not supposed to look like self-improvement and self-help. It's being given an entirely new self. It's giving yourself back over to the one who created you, taking a knee and saying, "I trust you with my life. You are my Lord."

The trick is, though we are made new when we accept Jesus as our savior, we're still driving around the meatbag that reminds a lot of us of our old self. And we'll be driving it around until we die. So if you try to make yourself a new meatbag, you're going to miss helping some of the other meatbags who might recognize you and vice versa. And now I'll stop saying meatbag. Because I know it's bothering you.

Now, where can I get a great turquoise statement necklace?