I Wanted to Be An Elephant for Christmas

Posted by on Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

In the wild, when a mama elephant is giving birth, all the other female elephants in the herd back around her in formation. They close ranks so that the delivering mama cannot even be seen in the middle. They stomp and kick up dirt and soil to throw attackers off the scent and basically act like a pack of badasses. They surround the mama and incoming baby in protection, sending a clear signal to predators that if they want to attack their friend while she is vulnerable, they’ll have to get through 40 tons of female aggression first. When the baby elephant is delivered, the sister elephants do two things: they kick sand or dirt over the newborn to protect its fragile skin from the sun, and then they all start trumpeting, a female celebration of new life, of sisterhood, of something beautiful being born in a harsh, wild world despite enemies and attackers and predators and odds. Scientists tell us this: They normally take this formation in only two cases – under attack by predators like lions, or during the birth of a new elephant. This is what we do, girls. When our sisters are vulnerable, when they are giving birth to new life, new ideas, new ministries, new spaces, when they are under attack, when they need their people to surround them so they can create, deliver, heal, recover…we get in formation. We close ranks and literally have each others’ backs. You want to mess with our sis? Come through us first. Good luck. And when delivery comes, when new life makes its entrance, when healing finally begins, when the night has passed and our sister is ready to rise back up, we sound our trumpets because we saw it through together. We celebrate! We cheer! We raise our glasses and give thanks.” (Jen Hatmaker ) This is a #sheforshe community. Life is beautiful and hard. And it’s God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people who help live well in the hard. We need each other to remind each other of God’s story about who we are. I need you to help me see myself clearly. We need you. I need you. “Encourage each other and build each other up.” (1 Thess 5:11) This is about cheering, reminding, encouraging, and inspiring each other to continue to live and love like Jesus. Two women do this very well in Scripture. Elizabeth was an older woman and in her culture that meant highly respected, regarded, and sage-like. She was a prominent family and so was her husband. They lived in the suburbs of Jerusalem, the hippest spiritual town in Israel. As you know, Elizabeth was with child, a fact...

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We’re Complicit In Sexually Objectifying Her

Posted by on Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

At one point or another, every woman must deal with the fact that her body is a problem. Isn’t that what we learn from the #METOO movement? Women face sexual objectification, assault, and rape in alarming numbers. Last year there was an outrage for a brief moment. There was hope that change was in the air. Finally, women’s voices heard and bodies appropriately honored. It wasn’t long-lived. The November 8, 2016 vote minimized us, silenced us, – or so it seemed. And as a woman of faith, the deafening silence by my male leaders left me feeling betrayed and disturbed. It’s been a year since Trump was elected, and once again I have a spark of hope. I contribute the outcry to be directly related to last year’s tape and election. Outraged women were silenced but even still the smoldering stayed. Last year‘s silence made way for this year’s cry of “ENOUGH!” I believe that’s what we’re observing with men like Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and as I write – Roy Moore. But even with the loud outcry of “enough” I’m bothered by the silence or worse yet, support reported by my brothers of faith. I’ve been noodling on why they support men who objectify women. I choose to think the best and forgo the idea that perhaps they don’t think what’s being done to women as a very big deal. You know, the “boys will be boys” attitude. Rather I’m wondering if it’s because they truly believe the church doesn’t contribute to the sexual exploitation of women. They don’t have a dog in this fight because they protect women rather than sexual objectify them.” It’s time to rethink that! We, the Church, also teach that her body equals sex. We hosted a salon on body image and had women write on sticky notes the messages they received about their bodies from their mom, culture and the church. As we read them out loud you could feel the toxicity. What caught my attention, which I’m sure it’s due to the climate right now, was how the church is also complicit in sexualizing the female body. We don’t do it the same way as our culture, but it’s still very real and present. Here’s a sample of the women’s sticky notes.   Take note how every message relates to her body and men. Sex, purity, and marriage. Her body is a problem for her and for him! Just like those men being accused, we too see her body as sex. Whether she’s a temptress or frigid, she’s defined by her body. And although I’ve never had a man of faith sexually assault my body (there are women who...

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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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The Best Conversations Are At A Bar

Posted by on Wednesday, Jan 11, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

 I came across this while cleaning my desktop. It’s one of my favorite pictures because it speaks volumes about Jesus. As most of you know, I didn’t grow up a Christian, going to church or around other Christians. I was a pagan, in the Biblical sense. Several months back I met up with an old high school friend. She described my younger years as “powerful and wild, wild in the good sense, edgy.” She was being polite. I was wild – sex, drugs and rock and roll – really a bit of a train wreck waiting to happen. I’ve often thought if I had continued down that road I’d be dead. Back when I was in high school the drinking age was 18, but at 14 we looked 18 and we all had fake I.D.s. My hometown had more bars per capita than any other city in NY.  Going to the bars was a social event for most of my school friends. “We all did it.” We drank like crazy, played foosball, danced, and at times “hooked” up… When I see this picture I’m reminded of the work of Jesus in my life. There’s so much I could say but a picture speaks a thousand words. Shalom Twenty years later, after a masters and doctorate degree and over a decade of church work, I find myself back at the bars. The cheap beer has been replaced by a lovely glass of white wine, and the only cute guy we’re “checking out” is Jesus. But what’s been most surprising is it’s there, more so than in the church and seminary, where I’ve encountered some of the most authentic, salty, questioning, thinking conversations about Jesus. For some reason, and there are several, the venue is safe. Safe for women to be real about their life and faith. It’s evident that the Holy Spirit swirls among and within these conversations. Recently a female educator shared with my husband that she couldn’t have me come speak to her classroom because “I was too edgy” (there’s that descriptor again) for her theological world. After all, “I taught the Bible in a bar.” Yes, after all, I teach in a bar. After all those years of drinking, dancing, and carousing – I teach the Word of God in a bar. I haven’t missed Jesus’ humor in all of this. Jesus is funny. No, seriously, you’ve got to lighten up; sometimes he’s really funny! That young girl who lived an “edgy life” at the bars now lives an “edgy life” at the bars. What was – wasn’t annihilated – but repurposed. That’s what we see of the items in the Temple and it’s what Jesus does with us – he repurposes...

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