Crazy Cycle

This whole parenting gig is hard.

H-A-R-D.

It makes you feel a bit like a crazy person, and some days I feel like I’ve absolutely lost my mind.

I spent the weekends with some BFF’s in Tennessee and it was gorgeous and life giving and fun and the mountains were okay too.

The first night I was like a spunky school girl dancing and prancing at the reality of being out past 7pm or eating dinner with both hands in one setting.

But then the crazy set in.

You know what I’m talking about. The crazy that is when every microbe of your body is yearning is for privacy at home but then the moment you’re separated, you miss miss your baby so bad you never knew why you wanted alone time in the first place.

The crazy that is counting down the literal minutes to bedtime and then as soon as they’re asleep staring longingly into the monitor as if they weren’t just wailing and throwing spaghettios all over your kitchen a few moments ago.

I don’t understand it. I don’t know that I ever will.

But I do know that this is part of it. The ebb and flow of snuggling your babies and smelling their sweet faces to hiding to eat twizzlers in your closet.

Parenting is hard, we’re all a little bit crazy, and everything and everyone is gonna be just fine.

I hope.

Redefining Warrior

Warriors come in all shapes and sizes.

Warriors come in all forms of personality and gender and race and socioeconomic statuses.

But today I want to talk about the warriors that are unseen.

All too often we see strength as the loudest voice, the strongest personality, the puffed chest. But when Jesus came to earth He showed us an entirely different kind of strength.

The kind of strength that is less concerned about potential, and more concerned about mission. Jesus never lived up to his potential, rather he humbled himself and fulfilled his mission.

And thank God he did.

Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

In other words, it’s not programs and buildings that need our attention. It’s people. If we don’t have the time for each other, we’re missing the whole point.

Programs and buildings may bring recognition. The world’s view of success is tempting. It’s validating. It quenches the ache in me that says “I’m only as worthy as they say I am.”

But if I’m living by the praise of man, then I’ll also fall by his criticism.

It hit me hard when I realized I would rather prove myself worthy than have to receive my worth from God. 😳

I take a look around me, at powerful and influential people who the world may never know their names. People who are generating disciples and changing lives because they’re not climbing ladders but believing in themselves enough to stoop low and love well.

I want to be more like them. I want to be more like Jesus.

So pause for just a moment. Forget about your potential.

What’s your mission?

 

 

 

 

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” – Philippians 2:3-4 (MSG)

 Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 

Thank You Ms. Jefferies

I thought it was normal to have regular appointments with your junior high guidance counselor. I thought every kid was taken out of class to talk about what their life was like outside of the brick walls of the school building. It took a specific day for me to realize that meeting with Ms. Jefferies wasn’t normal, and neither was my life at home.

Ms. Jefferies was a bubbly blonde whose hair had seen one too many perm treatments. She was genuine and kind and remarkably unstylish, even to a 12 year old. But she sat across from me every week, hands folded in her lap, knee to knee with me and asked how I was. She asked how my brother and sisters were, how school was going, and how my weekend went. I had no idea this wasn’t routine for everyone. I never wondered why I was there or why she was asking how I was, I simply sat in the safety of her office and chatted openly wherever the conversation led.

That changed.

I was brought to Ms. Jefferies office in the middle of class. You remember that moment? The electrifying moment when someone shows up in your classroom door with that little white piece of paper and reads, “Meagan Holland, Ms. Jefferies wants to see you.” In those moments you don’t even care why or who or what, you’re just excited you get to skip out on whatever was going on in class that day.

Walking into her office felt different this time. I didn’t know why, but she looked serious. The door closed and she took her usual place across from me, knees almost touching.

“Tell me about your Stepdad.”

What did she want to know that I haven’t already said? I didn’t like him. He didn’t treat me well. He didn’t treat any of us well.

“Has he ever hurt you?”

My eyes widened. No one has asked me that question. How do I answer it? Is it safe to tell the truth?

The truth was, yes. My mouth opened and the words dropped out like anvils on my chest. It didn’t feel freeing, it felt terrifying. What would happen if he found out I told?

I don’t remember if I cried. I remember walking away wondering what that was all about and how she knew. I still to this day don’t know why she talked to me so pointedly that morning.

“Did you call Child Protective Services?!” My Mom asked when I got home from school.

“What? No! I would nev….” Wait. Is THAT why Ms.Jefferies pulled me aside? Did she call CPS? She must have.

I have to pause right here and tell you about my Mom. My Mom is one of my favorite humans on the face of this planet. My Mom has not had it easy, and she worked hard to give us the best life she could. I love my Mom. But in this moment, my Mom was more scared than I was. She had married a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she was pregnant with his baby. Turns out there are a whole lot of legal issues (like who gets custody) if you attempt divorce while pregnant, if the court will even grant you a divorce in the first place. She was stuck.

CPS had come and they had gone. The only thing that changed was my Stepdad now knew I blabbed to other people. That’s the thing about manipulative sociopaths (my personal diagnosis for him), they’re charming as hell. They have good jobs. They smile…a lot. And they can certainly talk you out of the viability of the words of a 12 year old girl.

But Ms. Jefferies believed me. She didn’t stop meeting with me, and she didn’t stop asking me questions, and she didn’t stop giving me hall passes when I had absolutely no reason for them. She didn’t stop until I changed grades and changed schools, but I’ve never forgotten her.

I’m so grateful for people that fought and prayed over me. For people like Ms. Jefferies who probably felt incapable, but did what she could with what she had. For people like my Mom who shrewdly navigated the tricky waters of our judicial system to protect her not-yet-born baby.

We’re meant to stand in the gap of injustice. We’re meant to step outside of the comfort of our living rooms and into the guidance counselor offices of junior high kids who are so lost they don’t even know what found is.

That’s how rescue comes. It comes through us.

You’re here to defend the defenseless…Your job is to stand up for the powerless.”  Psalm 82:3-4 (MSG)

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Why Women?

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Before we dive in, I’d like to start the same way Sarah Bessey started in her book, “Jesus Feminist”, by relaxing our fists and resting in our worth. The more we fight for a seat at the table (you know, the table, where all the important decision makers sit), the more angst we feel and less heard we are.

Knowing your value means accepting it and exuding it, despite (and sometimes in spite) of what others tell us. We don’t need other people to validate us or give us position.

We all know positional authority is the weakest, so why do we keep striving for it? Relax. Know that you are valuable (silence that nagging voice in your head), and lean back. You were created for good and great things (Eph 2:10)

Now that that’s said….

Let’s talk about women. How are we made? What is our purpose? How can God use us?

Let’s go back to the beginning. Genesis 1: 26-27:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,a]”>[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them

God created male and female together. To rule over the earth and to subdue it, as a partnership. It was not good for them to operate alone, they both have a lot to offer the other and it is better when they operate together.

Let’s dive a little deeper. Genesis 2:18:

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

The word “helper” here is Ezer Kenegdo, meaning “to rescue, to be strong”. There are 21 exact representations of Ezer Kenegdo in scripture, and 16 of them are in relation to God rescuing (“The Lord is my help” Psalm 54:4 for example). 

This is how you are made. Fiercely feminine. A marvelous mixture of strength and beauty. You lead because you were made to. You are a discipler, leader, encourager, project manager, chef, accountant, teacher, counselor, makeup artist, handyman, interior decorator, and a fill in the blank with anything that needs to get done-er, and that’s all just inside of your home!

I may not know you, but I can tell you this much without having to…

You are strong. You are fierce. And you are lovely.

Even in a world where #metoo is as common as “I had lunch today”, we prevail. Even when we’re told we can’t have authority, we prevail. Even when we’re told to be silent, we prevail. We sit on buses and refuse to be less than, we stoop down low and feed orphans and the poor, we stand up tall and lead armies into victory,  we sit in the quiet and write truth with bravery and fortitude, we speak up for the marginalized and change the world.

Do you even know how strong you are? Do you even know how much is within you? When God created you, He called you RESCUER. He named you STRENGTH.

All too often we equate strength with masculinity, but meet a woman who survived an abusive man and tell me she’s not strong. Meet a woman who raised 3 kids and tell me she’s not strong. Meet a woman who worked to feed her babies and tell me she’s not strong. Meet a woman and threaten her babies, and tell me she’s not strong.

There is nothing wrong with being feminine, but it does not mean you are frail. There is nothing wrong with being strong, but it does not mean you are not feminine.

If we can agree that men and women are different, then we can also agree that so much is missing when women are not a part of it. 

We’re asking the wrong question when we ask, “should women be allowed to _______?” We should be asking, “what are we missing if they don’t?”

unsplash-logoJurica Koletić