What’s Your Next Move?

Posted by on Sunday, Aug 6, 2017 in Blog | 2 comments

On an impulse, I decided I’d jump in for a swim in the Chesapeake. What I hadn’t considered was how I’d get back into my kayak. Since I wasn’t able to pull myself up into the boat I decided to simply grab on and …well, I wasn’t sure. I guess I’d just keep hanging on. My son pulled up along side and humorously asked, “Mom, what’s your next move?”  I burst out laughing; I didn’t have one. Thank goodness he had more of a plan than me. I’d pull up on his board and from there get into my kayak. Over the past several days I’ve found myself chuckling at this silly episode. Tonight I woke in the middle of the night chuckling except for this time, my thoughts led to Jesus. How many times in life have I impetuously jumped out of the boat giving no thought as to how I’d get back in? Oh my, the conversation the trinity must have while I cling to that boat. I suspect Jesus finds it as humorous as my son did. And here he comes, Jesus, he pulls up alongside calmly without condemnation but a snicker in his tone and asks, “What’s your next move?”  Then he gently suggests I pull myself up onto his paddle board so I can then get myself back into my kayak. What’s your next move? It’s funny and it’s...

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We Leave Things Out

Posted by on Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

When my kids were toddlers, Steve and I presented each of them in a what our faith tradition called a baby dedication. Many bible churches enact baby dedication instead of baby baptism. Baptism is saved for when the child is of age to declare Jesus as their Savior. Baby dedications are rooted in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and in the fact that Mary and Joseph dedicated Jesus at the Temple. On a Baby Dedication Sunday we would take our child on stage alongside other parents and their children. The pastor would lead the parents and congregation through a ceremony of commitment to raise our children in God’s Word and in his ways. The pastor might say something like; “In 1 Samuel 1 Hannah presented her son to the Lord. In Luke 2:22 we read Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to present him before the Lord. In the same way, Jackie and Steve bring Hunter to be presented before the Lord our God and commit to raising Hunter in God’s Word and ways.” It was a lovely time, a moment when as a parent you felt full of hope and anticipation for your child’s future. Then I read Luke 2:22-35, once again surprised that Scripture isn’t as sanitized as we’ve made it. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord… At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,  “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,     as you have promised. I have seen your salvation,     which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations,     and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Simeon then blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very...

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Living the Blessed Life

Posted by on Monday, Apr 10, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I never heard it growing up. It just wasn’t a saying. I heard it when I moved to Dallas. You’ve heard it, too – Blessed. We Christians use it often. “They have a blessed life.” “I’ve lived a blessed life.” I googled images of “blessed life.” Here’s a sample of what pops up. I’ve been noodling on the birth of Jesus in Luke. There I tripped over Mary’s words in the Magnificat, specifically the ones where she proclaims that she’s blessed and that God has done great things for her. And I’m wondering, as I noodle over the meaning of her life if I’ve minimized the meaning of blessed. What exactly are we referring to when we say “our life is blessed?” That we are financially ok…that our relationships are in a good place…that our health is holding up? The more and more I read Scripture the more I realize how unsanitized it is, how what we say or think isn’t what’s being said through the lives of those of whom the Scriptures speak. Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49) I’ve spent the week noodling on Mary’s life. The events that Scripture reveals about her. As I’ve pondered I’ve increasingly wondered how she could say, “God did great things for her?” Mary got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. (That’s freaky!) She could have faced death by stoning for the pregnancy. (That’s scary!) There was a time of tension over it with Joseph. (How awkward was that conversation?) She lived in a shame/honor culture. Where her parents ashamed? What about the community? Did they mock her? Leave her out? Say mean things to her? Her reputation, the most valuable possession a woman had, was on the line. While very pregnant she traveled on a donkey. (Ouch.) She gave birth in a cave with animals. (Smells. Need I say more?) She had no other woman present for the delivery. No mother, sister, or aunt to look her in the eye and help her navigate this painful experience. Herod’s threat forced her to go on the run. She left her home and friends. Some of those friends she left behind lost their sons on account of hers. Don’t blow past that. When I had my 2-year-old son Hunter, we had playdates with other 2-year-olds. And us moms would make them PB&Js and chat while the kids played. What was it like to leave...

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Questions I Had After A Shame Conference

Posted by on Monday, Apr 3, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

This past week I attended a conference called “The Soul of Shame” by Dr. Curt Thompson, psychiatrist, and author. In the evening, Steve was gracious enough to appease me with these questions I formulated during the conference. Sitting outside with a glass of wine, we discussed what fear our parents operated out of. Then we shared what fear we thought we parented from. It was interesting to hear what each of us shared. For Mother’s day, I’m going to ask my kids for the gift of “conversation” around that question. I’d like to know their perspective on the question. When the concept was presented in the conference, I prayed for the Spirit to show me where my parents operated out of fear. Interestingly, I couldn’t see any fear from my mother. I shared with her what I learned and what I sensed from her parenting. She proceeded to share something with me I never knew about her. Her mother and father were fearless. She never grew up hearing, “Don’t do that or you’ll hurt yourself.” It wasn’t until she became a mother and was around other mothers she realized how fearful women were. I never knew that about my mom. She must be still percolating on my question because a few days later she texted me another thought. I thought I’d post some of the questions we’ve been chatting about in our friend/family circle – maybe you’d like to ask them, too. Being known is risky but it’s also soul filling. It’s what we are made to be – to be known. 1. As an adult looking back on how your parents parented, what were they afraid of? Not afraid of for you so much as how they operated out of their fear. What fear did they operate out of? In your parenting, what did (do) you communicate you were (are) afraid of? 2. Certain parts of our brains weren’t developed as a child because our parents taught us not to “pay attention” to that part; i.e.: sexual abuse, feelings/emotions, etc. What did your family train you to not to “pay attention to?” 3. We don’t know what we don’t know. We need others to ask us questions to help us come to know ourselves. What questions have you been asked that helped you to know yourself? 4. Practicing what we want to become. Perseverance is practicing over and over without knowing for sure the outcome (hope). Draw who you are in 5 years. Now draw your daily practices. Do they get you where you want to go? What practice will? 5. John 1:29, Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. 1:35, John’s disciples...

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Water’s Women’s Work

Posted by on Monday, Feb 27, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

Steve ran across this talk he gave at the UN a few years back on “Women and Water in South Sudan.” Thought you might enjoy hearing it.  “Distinguished Attendees – What is the greatest invention of the 20th century? Before the invention of the washing machine, WOMEN gathered water from a pipe, lake, river, well – it required 8-10 trips per day, then the water had to be heated, poured into a tub with soap, and then the real work started. The washing machine, piped gas, running water, and all these mundane household technologies enabled women to enter the labor market, which then meant that they had fewer children, had them later, invested more in each of them, especially female children. That changed their bargaining positions within the household and in wider society, giving women votes and endless changes. It has transformed the way we live. Ha-Joon Chang, a South Korean Economist, suggests that simple labor-saving inventions, the kind we pay little attention to, have reduced household labor from 60 hours/week to 3-4. Is he right? I have no idea, but I do know this…if women in the developed west were still spending 6,8,10,12, 15 hours per day managing the home, collecting water, cleaning clothes, gathering food items and then cooking them and then cleaning up afterward and then getting the clothes around for the next day and then… and then… and then… We would not see more women in college today than men.  There would be no women at this UN gathering.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, 200,000,000 hours are spent each day collecting water, 40,000,000,000 hours/year. I hear that 71% of water gathering is done by women in Africa. I don’t know how that number was arrived at because I have rarely seen a man collecting water. Given that women raise 75% of the crops, 50% of the livestock, and yet collect only 10% of the income and own a mere 1% of the assets in Africa… There is a great deal of talk these days about slavery as well there should be… But I suggest: Unless we free women from the slavery of daily household chores, how will they ever change the statistics I just gave? Unless women occupy key decision-making positions, who will free them? In 2012 only 6% of ministerial positions within government environment and natural resource departments were held by women.  Unless women are seen as partners rather than competitors in the labor marketplace, we will not see their many hours of toil for the waste that it is.  As Lakshmi Puri said at this very United Nations, ‘Development is neither sustainable nor inclusive if it does not free women and girls from the burden of carrying heavy buckets of...

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What Men Should Know About Catcalling

Posted by on Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

This American Life podcast. It’s about a woman named Eleanor who tries to persuade men not to catcall or accost women in the streets. She ends up having a long, open, and honest conversation with one guy – Zack. As you listen, note this: Zack thinks he’s flattering women by singling them out among their friends. Listen carefully to what he’s saying about his own desires. Human beings long to be wanted, known, chosen. I am not sure why this man expresses that normal human desire in unhealthy ways but… It got me thinking, “What if a woman came up to him and did to him what he does to women?” What would be different? What would be the same? The objectification is the same, but the sense of vulnerability is not. Zach, and I suspect many other men as well, are unaware that we feel vulnerable. Over Christmas break I found myself working out at a gym with only one other person – a guy – a very big guy. As I laid on the floor doing crunches I became extremely aware of my small frame. I felt every short inch of my 5’2″ body, and it crossed my mind that this guy could harm me in seconds. I’m not a fearful person nor do I consider myself a wimp; however, there’s a reality to being female. I count on men being good. Zach doesn’t get that. I’m not sure most men do. Or can. But maybe it’s time we helped them. Podcasts like this help. Zach was surprised to learn that women don’t like men catcalling at them. “They chuckle,” he responded. Eleanor explained it wasn’t a chuckle of approval but rather a means of getting out of an uncomfortable situation safely. How many of us have chuckled at sexual statements or inappropriate touches in hopes of “getting out of an uncomfortable situation?” How many men have misread that chuckle? I love Zach’s willingness to engage Eleanor in this conversation. It seems he truly never wanted to offend women or make us feel unsafe. He was shocked and sincere. What would happen if we had more Eleanor and Zach conversations in the home and workplace? I would love to hear your thoughts. As we share, let’s not degrade men. Rather, let’s discuss what’s informative and how we can help others rethink what they have been doing. (Listen to Act One -13 ½...

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