Part Three: Redefining Family Structure in the Church, AKA, “This is Man’s World.”

(Okay, let’s be honest: I can’t say the phrase, “This is a Man’s World,” without thinking of Christina Aguilera’s best performance of her lifetime. She did a tribute to James Brown at the Grammys several years ago, and KILLED it. So, now THAT’s in my head. Squirrel!!!)

This is a series that started as a response to the Pesky Umbrella Graphic (PUG):Natural-Order-of-The-Family

For the first blog post, I started  with what I  feel is the most important part: Jesus as the Song of Solomon bridegroom, as the One Who leads us to the banqueting table in celebration with a Banner over us…”His banner over me is love.” If you haven’t read it yet, take a second and go back to it.

I did a follow-up blog on marriage, and parts of it might have sounded more like it was about reasons NOT to get married (totally not my intention, LOL): Mawwiage

Marriage is tricky. Going into it with crazy, Disney-expectations is setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment. Image result for disney romantic coupleI’m not trying to rain on your parade; we’re all humans, and we’re terrifically flawed. Even under the banner of Jesus’ love, we make mistakes and we lose sight of our goals. We hurt each other, but the beauty of it all is that we learn to forgive, and we learn to grow together. It’s a lifelong process that requires incredible tenacity and faith.

So, for today, I’m going to discuss the role of the husband in this blog. This gets delicate because if you haven’t figured it out, I’m married. 🙂IMG_20180404_182209_201 I’m also EXTREMELY difficult to be married to (but hey, I have my good points). We were once told that 80% of couples who have lost a child, divorce, regardless of faith. That statistic has been proven to be false, but when you have that information hanging over your head and you’ve been through hell, it adds some extra challenges. Our marriage has been through more than anyone will ever know, but 13 years in, I’d say we’re successful in maintaining our relationship, SOLELY BY THE GRACE OF GOD.

Did I mention I’m difficult to be married to? Oh, and don’t get it twisted–David’s not the easiest thing in the world, LOL. He’s generally pretty great, but ask me about cabinet doors and cereal bowls….

I don’t want anyone to think that when I describe the role of a husband in a marriage, that I am disparaging or focusing on my husband unless I say so. Don’t put thoughts in your brain that shouldn’t be there. 🙂 I really do have a great man in my life, and the ratio of things that bug me verses the incredible qualities he has, is completely disproportionate. 🙂 I won.

So, let’s go back to the PUG, okay? Image result for cute pug

 

Ah, there’s that HUSBAND, lording over everyone else, burdened with being both the spiritual leader, the provider, and loving like Christ loves the church…

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See, this is why we have to start disassembling this graphic by changing it from an Umbrella to a Banner. To hearken back to my original blog in this series, Jesus is over our family as a banner of victory, a banner of recognition, a banner of declaration that screams out the Love of God like a megaphone across the heavenlies. He shouts His love for us in the face of the accusations of the Enemy, in the face of the temptations that come our way…That banner is everything; whereas an umbrella will only shield you from the elements, a banner carries the mark of the King! We have this amazing declaration over our household that WE ARE LOVED uncontrollably, without human understanding! We are covered in grace and dripping in mercy, and where we walk as a family, we leave a trail of the fruits of the Spirit. That’s the goal.

And there’s Mr. Right: There’s the Husband of the Household.

Is he a dictator? A lord? King of the house? Ruler of all? Is he a doormat that a contentious wife stomps all over (ouch, occasionally guilty)?

No, and if he’s playing the role like any of those descriptions, he’s out of line with the direction of the Lord.

I like this quote from Family Life:

“Head” does not mean male dominance, where a man lords it over a woman and demands her total obedience to his every wish and command. God never viewed women as second-class citizens. His Word clearly states that we are all equally His children and are of equal value and worth before Him. As Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The teaching of the New Testament clearly shows that women are to be respected, revered, and treated as equals with men. Unfortunately, many husbands have not gotten the message. They degrade their wives by neglect or with insensitive and abusive treatment. One cause of the feminist movement may have been that men abandoned God’s design. When God presented Eve to Adam in the Garden, Adam received her as a gift of great value to God and to himself. When husbands, particularly Christian husbands, do not treat their wives as a precious gift from God and helpmate, they can cause those wives to search for ways to find significance and value as persons, often outside God’s will.

The PUG gives men 3 responsibilities, so I’m going to address each one:

  • Spiritually Lead the Family
    • We live in a society that has categorically undermined the authority of men and the structure of family in the media for the past 30 years. I’m 40, so I’ve had a front-row seat to this destruction. Shows like, “Married With Children,” “The Simpsons.” and the original “Rosanne” all painted pictures of men being basic morons, and the wives being the brains of the family. It was a huge departure from the shows of the 1950’s and 60’s that seemed to emphasize family. Men are now the brunt of every joke and have no authority whatsoever, in the name of comedy. I believe that issues such as sexual harassment, and abuse, are on the rise partially resulting from this oppression of the leadership role men are supposed to be in. They’re undermined and disrespected by women and children, so they retaliate with terrible behaviors (speaking broadly, of course). They’re designed to be respected, and they’re gonna get it one way or another, by golly, even if it’s by force!  Maybe that’s a stretch, but if a man is treated the way he should be treated, and if he’s locked in spiritually the way he should be, walking in the love of Jesus, there’s balance. Our world is miserably OUT of balance; men are mistreated, and are reacting by behaving badly.  I will say however, on the flip side of this, that the mistreatment of women by men most likely caused them to be portrayed as morons, so it’s a cycle of bad examples, poor leadership, and retaliation. If we carried ourselves with the balance that God created men and women to carry, NONE of this would be an issue.
    • Okay, so he’s supposed to lead the family in spiritual ways. …but that’s also something we all have to work together on. We’re not supposed to be unequally yoked, right? We’re supposed to be partners in fulfilling this mission to raise Godly children:  Deuteronomy 6:7 says that we are to “impress [the commandments] on our children; Talk about them when you sit at home, & when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.”  It doesn’t say “Fathers Only–do this.” It’s for ALL of us to do…
    • So, what does it mean to “spiritually lead?”
      • First of all, we all stand before God ALONE. When I die, David’s spiritual walk will have no bearing on how my walk with Jesus is judged. So, I’m responsible for how I spiritually lead our son. Am I instructing our son in God’s Word? Am I teaching him biblical concepts and Scriptures? Am I doing everything I can to pray for him, and to set him in the direction that Jesus would have me set him in? Spiritual leadership is just that: Using personal examples and teachable moments, combined with prayer, to direct the household in walking in the will of God. It’s having a life dedicated to pursing Jesus, and in sharing that pursuit with those around you.  My husband has the same responsibility to do that, as I do–one of us is not more responsible to live a godly life than the other.
      • Spiritual leadership for a husband, like leadership over the family, involves biblical submission for a woman (ooooooooh, we hate that word!! “Submission?!?!?!” NOOOOO!) For women, this means that we stay respectful, even when we disagree with the direction he’s taking us. It means we listen, we pray, and we stay open to suggestions. It doesn’t mean that he’s abusive or an authoritarian. It means we give him the chance to explain where he’s coming from; it means we pray about it, we search our hearts, and we see where we stand with the result. If your husband is trying to lead you, spiritually, in a direction you know is wrong, I say stand your ground and pray that God changes his heart. Or, pray that if you’re wrong, that God will change your heart.
      • Example: Around 7 years ago, David & I were at a crossroads. I was on the worship team at a larger church, and had “commitment.” David had never really felt like he fit in, and just wasn’t getting fed spiritually in a way that he needed to. He wanted to find a different church, and he knew where he wanted us to go (did I mention that he originally picked THIS church, shortly after we got married?). He wanted to make a significant change, and I was NOT having it. It took a year of praying on both of our parts, independently (I know, we should have prayed together), for God to change my heart and get the understanding that YES, we needed to leave that church. It was time. The craziest thing (and I’m NOT saying this will happen for everyone; it’s just our story), is that shortly after making that decision in unity, I got pregnant with our miracle baby. When a husband and wife come together in spiritual agreement, radical changes can happen. The Bible says that “one of us can send a thousand to flight, and 2 of us can send a legion fleeing” (Deut. 32:30). Personally, praying together with my husband is challenging for me. It doesn’t come naturally to me, even after 13 years. That doesn’t mean we stop trying, though.
  • Provide for the Family
    • Um, EXCUSE ME? What have I been doing for the past 18 years? What did my mom do for over 20 years? I’m coming at this defensively, because as a working mother, I’ve been seriously hurt by crap people have said about my decision/need to be a working mother. This isn’t 200B.C., people. They need to take that off of the graphic like, NOW. It’s borderline offensive. Welcome to a world where everything costs a fortune and most households cannot survive on one family member’s income. This is 2018, people, and diminishing the contributions of a woman in providing for the family is insulting. We work just as hard, and frankly, stay-at-home moms ALSO work just as hard at providing for the family (I think I read a statistic once that said if a SAHM was paid for the work she does, it would average over $150,000/year). WOMEN. FREAKING. WORK in this world, harder than we have ever had to, and we deserve to be counted as providers for our families. Men shouldn’t have to bear that burden alone in today’s world.
    • I will 100% say that up until the 1950’s, women didn’t have to contribute to household finances to the extent that they now have to. I will say that consumerism, materialism, humanism, and an entire textbook of -isms have contributed to the change in the atmosphere that has resulted in women joining and/or taking over the work force. However, this is how it is NOW, regardless of what was intended in the beginning of Creation, and most of us have children to think about. I’m not sorry that I’m a working woman. I fully recognize the sacrifice that goes into being a SAHM, and it’s not one I feel like our household can make, or that my nature can process.
    • Does the fact that I have to work in order for our lights to stay on, mean my husband is out of God’s Will as a provider for our family? ABSOLUTELY NOT. However, I also believe very firmly that if a woman is working and a man is physically capable of working, then he’d better WORK and not make her shoulder that entire burden alone. I do believe that God created man in His image, and just as He said in the Garden of Eden, they’re to work to provide for their families. Laziness is not a godly quality, no matter how you try to spin it. We’re not made to be a lazy, dependent people; God created both man and woman to be industrious (see Proverbs 31, for the ladies’ version) for provision and for mental well-being. When we do good work, we feel good about ourselves; a man that feels good about himself passes that along to his entire household. 🙂
  • Love Wife like Christ loves the Church
    • This is the third thing the PUG lists (reading L-<R), but it should be the first thing men are responsible to do…leave it to an archaic, misinformed, misogynistic graphic to put the leadership role first, and the loving role last. 🙂
    • HOW DOES CHRIST LOVE THE CHURCH?  Read the Song of Solomon–it lays it all out. In SOS, Jesus is the Groomsman, and we as the Church are the Bride. Read that book, men, and get your action plan on how to love your wife (and please, actually put it into practice. Just reading it won’t do the trick. Preaching to myself…). Here’s some killer resources that will revolutionize your Christianity:
      • International House of Prayer with Mike Bickle. The link takes you to a ton of free downloads.
      • Gateway House of Prayer with Tammy Riddering. Same concepts as the IHOP version, but taught from a woman’s perspective
      • My husband has been studying this for at least 10 years. I’ve just started (again–this is so difficult for me to grasp, but I’m on my like, 3rd try of the in-depth study. I’m a fighter, not a lover). When you just barely, just lightly, start to grasp the love Jesus has for His Church, your brain will explode. And when you think that’s how a husband is to love his WIFE?!?!? BOOM.
    • What does the love of Christ for the Church look like? It’s wholehearted. It’s full. Mike Bickle of IHOP says, “The way the God loves within the fellowship of the Trinity, beloved, here is the glorious thing—it is the only way
      He loves. He cannot love partially. He only loves wholeheartedly. God does not suspend one attribute to exercise another. He does not put love “on hold” when He shows justice. He does not put His holiness “on hold” when He expresses mercy.”

      • I John 4:7-8 says that “God is love.” He’s made up of Love–how is that possible? Bickle says in the same sermon I quoted above that “He always loves in fullness.” He doesn’t love halfway. He doesn’t STOP. He can’t love us anymore than He already does. His love is endless, boundless, and eternal. We can’t run from it. He won’t hide it from us. He doesn’t play games or manipulate it. God. IS. Love.
      • A man can TRY to love like Christ loves the Church, but it’s basically not possible, because we’re flawed. 🙂 It’s not possible without having Jesus at the front/back/middle of the relationship. Jesus is literally the glue that holds a loving marriage together, because He IS Love!
    • A man is to love his wife:
      • Wholeheartedly: Don’t reserve your heart or your feelings.
      • Honestly: Don’t play games or hide truths.
      • Humbly: Recognize your flaws and work together to fill in the gaps. Ask forgiveness when you’re wrong. Don’t be too proud to help; the Bridegroom in SOS is as much of a servant as He is a King.
      • Shamelessly: Don’t embarrass your spouse for the sake of a punchline, and don’t be afraid to be publicly vocal about how much you love each other. Be vocal with compliments, and back them up with action.
      • Compassionately: Egos are fragile. Contentiousness will destroy a marriage and will eat a person’s self-esteem from the inside-out.
      • Demonstratively: You set an example to your family and your friends by how you love each other.
      • Faithfully: This goes for physically, emotionally, and mentally. Cheating is a nasty, complicated parasite that will destroy your life. Whether it’s a physical act of being unfaithful to your spouse, or a lustful act of letting impure things creep into your marriage, you have to get that garbage out before it’s too late.  It is SO HARD to stay pure in this world, for both men and women, but our hearts have to be towards our spouses! If you’re tuned into the will of God and you catch that stuff creeping in (it’s so bad that I’ve had to leave the room for a commercial. RIDICULOUS), you have to get out. It’s a constant discipline to maintain faithfulness and purity, and you have to commit to it daily. It’s not impossible. Men can be faithful. Women can be faithful. Relying on Jesus and being honest with yourself is the only way, because it’s coming at us from every angle today.

As a woman, and as a wife, it’s easy for me to look at the PUG with contempt. After all, it IS 2018, and women are enjoying more freedom and independence than ever before, right? We can be who and what we want; we can hang with the boys and be equals, right? I don’t need a man, right?!?!?!?!?!?

WRONG.

The last blog in this series will cover the roles of women in today’s world, and it’s probably going to be the most challenging for me to write. Like I said in the first blog,  I’m not a feminist; I’m an Equalist. I believe we should be respected equally, paid equally, and treated equally, regardless of gender or race….but to be a woman is a glorious, unique thing, and I think our differences are to be celebrated.

Men carry such a burden. The phrase, “toxic masculinity” has recently become popularized, and to be honest, it makes me nauseous. Men are now being “punished” for being, well, MANLY. I think the definition of “manly” is more than a little distorted in today’s world, so let me take a crack at it:

Being “manly” is not determined by how much Budweiser you can drink, how well you can shoot a gun, or by how quickly you can disassemble an engine.  A man that follows Jesus is to love in fullness, to walk humbly, to seek justice and to give mercy. He has shoulders that carry responsibilities with strength and a heart that seeks the will of God, and he makes that his priority. He protects, he provides, and he works in partnership with his Bride. There is nothing more manly than a guy who leads his family with humility and serves his God wholeheartedly.

In closing (phew!), I’m going to reference a blog I linked to in my first post of this series: The Thistlette. In this blog, the writer keeps the umbrella, but places them on equal footing with mutual submission to Jesus. Although I’m still not a fan of the umbrella itself, I can appreciate how she relocates the relationships out of the hierarchy that the PUG places them in:

Christian Family Hierarchy

We have a responsibility, male and female alike, that we share equally: Love Jesus. Tell the world about Him, and set an example of His love with your life. Raise a family together that does the same. We have different-but-equal responsibilities in the kingdom, and a goal to work towards, together. Setting aside religious misconceptions and walking forward in freedom to further the goals of the Kingdom is what we should all be striving towards, and building families together without judgment is key.

One more section of the PUG to go……..#JustKeepWriting

Pause…

A funny thing happens when I’m on the right track: The bottom falls out. Seriously, though, any time I’m researching something that I feel like the Lord is leading me to write (& I’ve never felt the need to keep moving forward on a subject quite like this, for whatever reason), I get TESTED…..and sometimes, I fail. Since my last blog post, I’ve been struggling at work, struggling to keep my mouth shut….Struggling at home, arguing with David…struggling to keep my mouth shut (& failing)….Just struggling.

Last week, I skipped church and went to the mall. I did my go-to, which is to make bad financial decisions….For the last 4-6 weeks, my food choices have been terrible.

I’ve been swimming in a pit, and I’ve been avoiding getting honest and getting back on track.

I’m working on it.

So, I’m aware of my shortcomings, and I will be back at this sooner than later. I’m not dropping this. To me, there is too much at stake, and too many hearts in the Church that have been damaged or burned. I’m not saying that I am going to be the one that fixes it, with my tiny, little blog….but if one person reads something I’ve written, & one heart is changed, even if that heart is mine, than it’s worth it.

I’m not stopping.

Just taking a short break. 🙂

This message will self-destruct…but I won’t.

I’ve had something brewing in my heart for a few weeks now.

Something’s changing…something’s being restored and redefined…

I have to process these words before I post.

I feel like I’ve gone back to school,

And the learning curve is steep.

 

I’ve been studying what it means to be a Christian wife

And mother…

And how wounded women are left to pick up

A battlefield full of broken soldiers

That bite the hand that bandages the shattered….

How warrior women

Become contentious

And the difference between

Nice and “Nasty.”

 

Something new is coming…

I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to write this, but it’s percolating…

It’s time to redefine

And

It’s time to shatter the mold.

 

….To Be Continued…..

Stay little….just a little while longer…

He crawls up beside me on this couch where I’ve been recuperating for the millionth time…”Play with me, Mommy!”

He sounds off–my Mom-radar is triggered, & I covertly check his cheek for warmth. Nope, all good. He snuggles up. Evidently, “play with me” is Rico-speak for, “I’m tired, and I just want to use you as my giant pillow, Mommy.” I oblige. Even when he hits a sore spot, or digs in his dagger-like elbows to jockey for position, I welcome him to this space that he has made on my lap. 

He takes his glasses off, he pats my arm, and he floats back-&-forth between watching, “Meet the Robinsons,” & whatever 5-year olds dream of.

He really is beautiful.

He gets those eyelashes from his father. 🙂

I know that I have to be consistent, set rules, maintain boundaries. I have to have structure, schedule, education, etc….But sometimes? I just want to look at him. My little miracle boy…Gosh. He’s just such a gregarious, hilarious, mysterious little creature….he’s happy, sunny, and just plain glorious. He makes my heart smile in ways I never could have understood, and I am so, so grateful for him.

I was a big advocate of “baby-wearing” from early on with him. We started with a Moby wrap (thanks, Kat & Susie!), went to an Ergo, and finally, moved up to a Tula that can go up to 50lbs. He’s just now 40lbs., and because of my surgeries, I haven’t been able to backpack him like I was. And, although he still meets the size requirements, he’s 5, so there’s that. I’ve been purging the house, simplifying closets and storage,  etc., and when I cleaned out my car, the Tula was sitting there. 

I know I can get a good price for it.

I’m not ready to sell it, yet. 

I’m not ready to close that chapter. 

He’s growing up so, so fast…How can I save every moment? How can I hang on, but let go while he grows? He met his kindergarten teacher today, & I am more emotional than I’d like to admit. Kindergarten!!! But….but….He was just born, like, yesterd……oh…..

You start letting go the second you say hello.

Go to sleep, Beautiful Boy, and I will still be your squishy Mama when you wake up. Stay little just a little while longer…..

Hamilton.

I WON THE #HAM4HAM LOTTERY. I freaking WON. I’m still doing my interpretive dance of joy.

In case you don’t understand what the heck I’m talking about, in recent years, Broadway shows have offered a lottery, by which those of us that are poor/broke/financially strapped have the opportunity to enter a lottery, where we are randomly selected to purchase HEAVILY discounted tickets to shows. In the case of our dear Alexander Hamilton, the “$10-Founding-Father,” the selected lottery winners can purchase tickets for an unbelievable $10/each, with a maximum of 2. Odds of winning? Well, there are 40 tickets at the Fox Theatre in each lottery, with around, I believe per the Post-Dispatch, like, 10,000 entries per performance. AND I WON.

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I received the notification from the app the evening before the performance (the show was last night, the 2nd night of the show’s run in St. Louis), and promptly LOST MY MIND. I ran through my house (it’s a good thing our house is tiny, because I do NOT run), screamed, waved my arms, got speechless, got my voice back, screamed some more, ran some more, and basically closely mimicked a very fat version of one of these:

Image result for wavy arm blow up

Yep. That’s me….just imagine that thing way plumper and WAY happier. 🙂

Honestly, my first thought was, “Oh, no, you can’t do that! It’s a weeknight event! You’re going to be ZAPPED for work the next day, and you can’t take off of work! You can’t get childcare! This will be impossible!!! THERE WILL BE PEOPLE, CASSIDY.” Anxiety, SHUT UP. You can just SHUT UP. This is HAMILTON, AND I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT (insert cymbal clash)!!!!!!!!.  Getting out of my routine and doing something new, especially during the week, seems like an insurmountable hurdle sometimes. That’s anxiety. Anxiety robs me of more than I let on, but IT’S NOT GETTING HAMILTON. Period.

So, I commenced screaming, tried to incoherently explain to David exactly what had just happened to us, told him it was happening, and frantically called for childcare. MOM TO THE RESCUE! You guys, my mom is amazing. She’d just worked that whole day at the election, and she drove up the next day and stayed overnight, just to watch Jericho so that David & I could have this amazing opportunity. Mom gets my love of musical theatre. Fun fact: I still have the ticket stubs from my very first show. She took me to see the Phantom of the Opera at the Fox when I was 16…and off I was going again, to my favorite place in St. Louis…that we can honestly just never afford…UNLESS WE WIN A TICKET LOTTERY, WHICH WE DID. WE. FREAKING WON (still in shock, 2 days later).

Yesterday, I floated through my work day, carefully timing my caffeine and my Nawgan (literally the only energy drink I can handle, with my heart. It’s great–B vitamins, no jitters, just an all-around clarity of thought and a gentle, subtle increase of energy with no crash and no weirdness), and drove home to get ready. I got Jericho ready for Grammy, and she arrived in plenty of time for me to figure out what I was going to wear (which I already had picked out, because I am ME. I wore a LuLaRoe Carly from their elegant collection, FYI, that I had purchased from a GOOB sale, because #Deals). Mom brought pizza (again, she’s THE BEST), and we left as soon as David got home.

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Honestly, that’s not highlighter. I’m glowing. David is humoring me. He had no idea what he was in for. 🙂

We got down to the theatre (I pre-paid for parking in the new garage on North Grand. You should try it. $15, and it’s secure, well-lit, and right off of the Fox. You can pre-pay, at MetroTix.com), and I went into the Box Office to present my receipt and my ID, and found out we’d lucked into THIRD ROW SEATS, Y’ALL!!  I almost hugged the ticket vendor. Keep in mind, through some kind of a glitch in the app, I didn’t automatically get my receipt. I had to e-mail, call, and eventually send a message to LuckySeat via Facebook messenger; once they responded, they were so nice, and very quick to help me out. The customer service with the Fox and with LuckySeat was AMAZING, and I couldn’t be happier. So, when I found out they were 3rd-row seats, I kinda-sorta yelled in the Box Office, and may have outed myself as too-poor-to-be-in-present-company, LOL. Those tickets at full-price are super-expensive (but I have to say, after watching the 60+ cast members dance, sing, and play for almost 3 hours, they’re definitely worth it!)!  Once we had our tickets, we went across the street for some grub at The Best Steakhouse (meh. It’s an experience), where I definitely enjoyed the company more than the food. The people were great to watch & listen to!

Finally, it was time…We were ready to go into the theatre.

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(I am not going to comment on how enormous I look in this picture. It is what it is. I’m not as fat as I’ve been. I’m not as thin as I’ve been. I’m me. I have to accept it. Also, that’s a big coat:) ).

People crammed into the theatre like sardines. Rare moments of rudeness were overshadowed by the general atmosphere of excitement to just be in the presence of the Hamilton Juggernaut. The merchandise was displayed; I was mentally prepared for the expense, thanks to the Hamilton app ($40 for a T-shirt, $15 for a keychain, etc.) so I knew we wouldn’t be purchasing anything. I already have the electronic libretto from Amazon, and I took as many pictures as possible (they won’t let you take a picture of the stage, so DON’T EVEN TRY. The ushers are trained in Krav-Maga and Jujitsu, and will chop you. I’m kidding…or am I?), so I’m happy with my takeaway. I MEAN, I GOT TO SEE IT FOR $10/TICKET.

The show STARTED ON TIME. No introductions, no flashing of the theatre lights, no warning: Aaron Burr (Nicholas Christopher) took the stage with a fury, stating his lyrics with a clarity and intensity that caught me off guard. He was HERE FOR IT, and he possessed the role. You can’t help but compare each cast member with the original Broadway cast; if there was anyone who took the role in a new direction, it was Nicholas Christopher. Leslie Odom, Jr.’s, Aaron Burr was passionate, and evoked compassion to a point, in the recorded performance. Nicholas Christopher charged in and grabbed your attention, and showed more of a character development than I realized in the original cast recording.

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And that leads me to a huge point–All I’ve had to go on, are some video recordings, and the original Broadway cast recording.  I consider myself to be pretty imaginative, and I’ve read so much about the production that I feel like I know these characters; however, seeing them played in-person brought so much more to the roles, and the interpretations with the touring actors was so different. It really was incredible, to see my imaginations come to life and then change from my presupposed concepts. Leslie Odom, Jr.’s Aaron Burr was competitive, passionate, and focused from the first line. Nicholas Christopher played him as searching in the beginning, to getting a handle on his destiny and finally, during the Senate Race where he defeats Schuyler, seeing a clear direction and method to achieve success. His ambition is complete, and then he goes off the rails & lets his ego and paranoia make him a perpetual villain. I really loved the way Nicholas Christopher portrayed such a heavy character with such vulnerability, comedy, and eventually, as the bad guy you just want to misfire. You feel sort of sorry for him at the end, but you’re really mostly facepalming his victim mentality. He was performing his last soliloquy, and I leaned over to David, “Oh, shut up, already, no one feels sorry for you. You did this to yourself.” I was invested, y’all!!!!!  I kept wishing for an alternate ending, just like I do, every time I listen to the soundtrack. Darn irrefutable facts.

Austin Scott played the titular character, and I felt like he exhibited such a gentle nature. It played well to the emotional flaws of Alexander Hamilton. Comparatively, Lin-Manuel Miranda played the role with greater intensity in regards to the passion Hamilton had for his legacy, but lacking the genteel dignity that Scott brings to the role. I can’t say that I prefer one to the other; I love the differences. Vocally, he was stunning. He flowed back-and-forth from rap to singing without any hesitation; he walked across the stage like he was born there, and he seemed to seamlessly take on this very high-pressure role with grace. Yes, “grace”–that’s the perfect word for his entire performance. Graceful. He really was beautiful to watch and to listen to, and the cameraderie he displayed in the first act felt genuine. You really think these guys get along off of the stage? It sure seems like it!! He had a different spin on Alexander, of course, but he truly embraced the softer side, even in his moments of fury. He played the role of a gentleman, and he played it extremely well.

I’m not going to break down the entire cast, but one person in particular took the entire show, wrapped it up, and made it a gift to us all: Chris De’Sean Lee. Taking on the roles of Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Lee needs his own show, and he needs it YESTERDAY. He had my theatre-hating husband eating out of the palm of his hand.

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He made us laugh, he tore up the stage during “Guns & Ships,” and he made me want to throw my shoes on stage. I’m a huge admirer of Daveed Diggs, and I was very curious as to how anyone could take on that role as less than a copycat. Mr. Lee did so much with it; he made it his own. He didn’t need a spotlight; he IS a light, and he is a joy to watch. I have to wonder what he’s like in-person, because if he illuminates half of what he puts out on stage, he must be a world-changer. I’m officially a fan, and I want to hug that guy. That’s not weird at all, BTW.

Finally, the roles of Angelica Schuyler and John Laurens/Phillip Schuyler were played by Sabrina Sloan & Ruben J. Carbajal, respectively. Vocally, Ms. Sloan is probably the best singer in the entire cast, and that is saying SOMETHING, because they’re all A-list. She was amazing to listen to; she never oversang, she hit notes that were strong without being screechy, she sang over the top of complicated musical pieces and never shouted. She was intense, strong (I keep saying that word), and her reactions after “Hurricane” were played with FORCE. She’s the kind of actress that can emote across a stage with a raise of an eyebrow, and watching her from the third row was a masterclass. As a “singer,” I know the notes she was hitting, and I know the difficulty in the runs she did. I sure as heck can’t do that. I don’t know anyone that can do that. She’s an eye-opening wonder.

Ruben Carbajal came out with gorgeous bravado in his role as John Laurens, and brought so much maturity & power to the role by the end of the first act. His death was the first time I cried in the production; the true dream that John Laurens had for equality in history rang especially poignant yesterday, on the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ruben seemed to preach that message like an evangelist on fire. You wouldn’t think that his character didn’t have time to really grow in the first act, but he did–Ruben pulled so much more out of John Laurens than I ever knew, and I’m grateful. When he died again in the second half, as Phillip Schuyler, I was officially ugly-crying, so Ruben, thanks for that. Good thing I’m good with primer, because otherwise, I’d have been full-Alice-Coopering my ride home.

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Okay, so I knew Phillip Schuyler dies in the production, of course. I knew it would be a difficult moment for me, as a mom who has lost a child. I knew I was probably going to cry. I did. OF COURSE I DID! Julia Harriman shone in her role during this time, and played Eliza with sensitivity. Her interactions with Alexander during this, and the aftermath of his affair with the “whore wife,” Ms. Mariah Reynolds (grr), were excellent. When Phillip dies, Alexander reaches for her hand; she shoves his hand off with all of the passion of the spurned wife, and it’s glorious. She had my full “you go, girl” with that tiny little gesture, even in the midst of the sadness. 🙂 (Also, makeup team, her highlighter? Shut UP, with your awesomeness. I need some of that in my life!!!!).

I ALMOST FORGOT:  KING GEORGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Peter Matthew Smith played our archenemy, and just owned the crown. I hope he gets to keep it when his tour finishes (if he ever stops), because he’s Theatre Royalty. He was a show-stopper, and even though I’ve watched Jonathan Groff on video perform those pieces a few times, as well as Thayne Jasperson, I have to say that his take is actually my favorite! Maybe it’s a certain level of maturity? Can I say that? He just seemed really, really believable, and likeable-but-hateable. 🙂 Every time he came on stage, every single person in the theatre was smiling. It’s a pretty great skillset, to play someone everyone hates, but to also be able to make all of them grin back at you. I’m not sure how you do that, but Mr. Smith certainly knows. He was an unexpected delight. 🙂

So, that’s a lot–that’s a really, really long description of a shut-up-this-is-really-happening night at an amazing musical. I just don’t have the time or the space to break down all of the actors, but please know that each of them performed at a level of excellence that I can’t even begin to describe. Carvens Lissaint as Washington was so powerful & strong; you never question his ability to portray a Commander-in-Chief (and vocally, just soared. He left both David & I with our jaws on the floor). Chaundre Hall-Bloomfield was great as Hercules Mulligan, but had us laughing so hard as James Madison–I hadn’t caught the humor in the role over the audio recordings, so that was a nice surprise.

I still can’t believe how the cast made this show come to life…how amazing it was, to see the things I’ve only read about, in person. The stage was glorious, and far more complicated than meets the eye (2 turntables?!?). Sets are used in multiple ways; costumes are used and reused (it’s amazing how a jacket change can change a scene–who thought of that?!? BRILLIANT!!!), and the lighting is masterful in its apparent simplicity. The musicians–WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?!?!?  We were sitting right behind the orchestra pit, and it seemed like so few musicians made such an incredible sound! HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?

The dancers….oh, the dancers. I’ve never seen dancing like that. They danced THE ENTIRE SHOW, and one guy in particular stood out to me the most (Andrew Wojtal, I believe; he’s also the doctor for both duels, LOL, as well as The Farmer), as he never broke in his intensity. I don’t think any of the dancers did, but this guy RADIATED focus & intention. Like, almost 3 hours of intensive dancing and singing? Phenomenal. The dancers were ridiculous, and if that wasn’t enough, their vocals were SICK. Just amazing. That word keeps coming up…because it’s true. The whole show was freaking AMAZING. The whole night was freaking AMAZING. MY MOM IS FREAKING AMAZING, for dropping everything to watch our son so that we could have this AMAZING experience. She gets a medal!!!!

THE FACT THAT WE WON THE HAM4HAM TICKETS WAS FREAKING AMAZING, PEOPLE.

And like I said at the beginning, everything started on time, from the start of the show, to the intermission–it’s a tight ship, and that gets nothing but applause from me! By the time we made it home, we were so tired; 4am hit WAY too soon for me today, but I made it to the office, and I am surviving on coffee and my last Nawgan, along with good mascara and a gigantic bottle of water that will no doubt, be refilled 3-4 times. 🙂

I am euphoric, and I’m still riding the post-Hamilton wave, combined with the wave of actually winning something. It’s a good wave.

I’m glad I took my shot. 🙂 IMG_20180404_191504_964

Not forgotten, just hanging out in a cave somewhere…

 

I haven’t written anything since 2/15.

It’s not because I’ve given up on writing…it’s just because I don’t really have anything good to say, and what good is that, to anyone? We go through times in our lives of struggle…of deserts and valleys, and occasionally, of caves, and they’re not the times we want to share with anyone. On Facebook and Twitter, in status-length blurbs, anyone can seem positive and upbeat. But when you write upwards of 5,000 words, cracks begin to appear, and your true feelings start oozing out.

And that’s where I am.

I’m not in a funk; I’m just in a place of questioning my worth and my value. There’s no point in talking to someone if you’re not heard, and right now, I’m screaming at brick walls. I’m hoarse. I listened to a message lately where someone was crying out to God, face-planting on a keyboard, begging Him, “Don’t leave me here!!!!”

That’s where I am:  “God, don’t leave me here! Don’t abandon your Bride.”

It’s an echoing sentiment in my life.

So, yeah, I guess I am in a funk. You won’t see it, if you see me at church or out-&-about…you may not even see if if we’re in deep conversation, because I am wrestling. I’m wrestling with doubt, with motivation, with direction, with abandonment, with the constant feeling of being ignored, and with the frustration of chasing my own tail in trying to be heard.

I’ve said that twice now, in this piece–“trying to be heard.”

One way or another, I’ll be on the other side of this, soon enough. Breakthrough has to happen (breaking through WHAT, though, is the question). I’m not giving up on that. There’s not an end in sight, but I know God is faithful, and I know there is hope in there, somewhere.

Until then, I’ll hang out in my cave, waiting for the storm, the thunder, and the lightning to pass…I’ll be out when the peace passes by.

 

**Edit: A friend posted this link on Facebook shortly after I wrote this today. I felt like I had to listen to it….It was worth stopping everything to hear….

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Sunday morning and Florida…

I am heartsick. 

Beyond the politics,  beyond the spin….beyond the pundits and the blaming, and the mistakes that led to the deaths of 17 people….

There is the death of a group of 17 people.

Reality: 30-34 parents are devastated. Countless kids, friends, relatives, and co-workers are devastated.

Yet here we are in mid-America, singing about the Reckless Love of God. 

There is nothing harder than singing about the love of God after you’ve buried your child. 

We jump into worship like it’s second nature, without pause, because it didn’t happen to us, but what about those 17 families? What about those friends and colleagues? 

I look at the kids at our church, and I wonder about them…Jeremiah, Nia, Aiden, Lila, Ruby…I think about Jack, and Scout, and Temple, about the families I know and love.  I think about my son…my Jericho…and his pending first day of school.

We trust Him with them. 

He loves us, yes. But when you’ve buried your child, you bury your hope, and even though it is only for a season, it feels like an eternity. His love is excruciatingly hard to see in that place. 

I am past that season in the valley, but I remember how difficult in that place it was to say, “You are Good.” It crushed me.

Eventually, I got there.

But there are 17 families taking their first steps into that valley, and my heart aches with an understanding of the journey they have unwillingly embarked upon….

Yet here I am, on a stage, singing about the Reckless Love of God in Mid-America….like everything is okay.

It’s not okay.

When Hannah died, I felt like the world should stop & take notice; of course, it didn’t. The earth spins, and our routines (those of us that are blissfully unaffected) don’t stop. Some pastors aren’t even mentioning Florida today,  which feels so wrong, to me…We just keep going, maybe because we’ve found out how difficult it is to get going again after we’ve faced the heartache. 

We have to stop. We have to acknowledge, we have to intercede and lift these families up on a corporate level, as a body of believers. We have to accept the very power of prayer we say we have, and put it to use. We have a nation that is SICK, and the time has come for us to stop ignoring it on Sunday morning, and to do something about it on a spiritual level.

17 families, people. Look at your kids. Imagine the journey back to saying, “God is good,” after they’re gone. 

Now worship like you’re not affected.  

I can’t “act” like I’m okay. I can’t pretend to be in a “safe” place in regards to worship when old questions raise their hands, when that pestering, “Why?” nags the back of my skull. I remember finally getting to a place where I understood that God is not obligated to explain Himself to me, but I am obligated to trust Him. I still do, and I always will, but I remember the ache of that question, and the stupid things people said to me, to assuage their own version of that question. I remember, and I have such a deep compassion for these 17 families that I cannot help but to pray for an avalanche of grace…

Would you please pray with me, for these lives? For these hearts and minds? Pray for connections and networking, for church bodies and hearts to reach out of the unexpected places to bring comfort and love  to these people.  Pray for an influx of the Holy Spirit to flood that school with hope and with a passion for an abundant life…Pray that for the next year, for this critical year after such a loss, that they would encounter, radically encounter, renewed and restored faith and purpose….

There is a way out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death….coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on our Beloved. 

His mercies, His grace, are renewed every morning, and I pray that He pours it over Florida and our nation.

#MeToo verses #IAm…AKA, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark…”

Luke 12:2-3 “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

Everything in darkness will be brought into the Light…isn’t that an Obvious Truth that we should all be familiar with by now? We get away with NOTHING in the end…or sometimes, in the middle.

When I was a kid, I swore that God had some kind of hotline to my mother. She KNEW, not from the look on my face, but by the tone of my voice, if I’d lied about something. It was the craziest thing, and now, as a parent, I get it. We know our kids better than they realize. Yesterday, I picked my 4-year old up from school, and he said in a little, panicky voice, “Have you talked to Miss Leslie?!?” I hadn’t, but I didn’t need to, did I? I knew from the look on his face and the tone of his voice that he’d behaved badly (it couldn’t have been too bad, because she would have messaged me). He told me exactly what he’d done, because he knew I’d figure it out, eventually.

Society needs to get that point: It ALL gets figured out, eventually.

Headlines were made recently when our governor was outed as having had an extramarital affair back in 2015. He had already dealt with it internally with his family, but now the media had a hold of it, so it’s being excavated all over again. Apparently, the husband of the woman he had the affair with, was getting pestered by the media to dish the dirt, so he came out with the story, and now the governor has to address it…as does his wife. Even when we’ve been forgiven, sometimes the consequences come back years later to haunt us….

But should they?

The internet is full of headlines about men behaving badly (and some women). The #MeToo movement has grown wings, and women everywhere are coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment. Many of these are just that—stories—and cannot be corroborated as anything more than he-said-she-said. In fact, once an accusation is made, a career is seemingly over. This strikes me as overkill, but before you eviscerate me, let me explain:

Find me a woman on this planet that has never, EVER, had a man make an inappropriate comment toward her.

I don’t know of a single one, based on how far-reaching I’ve seen some of these stories.

Being forced into a physical encounter is one thing. Having a guy catcall you as you walk down the street is another. Both things are being labeled as “sexual assault,” and without any further explanations, accusing someone of such can be easily misconstrued.

As a young woman (in Bible college, of all things), I was nicknamed “Hoots” by a member of the basketball team, who felt the need to comment at any given opportunity about the size of my breasts. This was demeaning, rude, and embarrassing. Should I name him? Should I name every other guy who felt the need to comment about my body? Should I talk about the shame I felt? Should I talk about the confusion I had, wondering why in the world this was “acceptable” behavior? I guess I could. I guess I could track him down, I could track down the others, and file suit. I could write articles naming them, and bring them embarrassment and shame like they brought me. Would it be justified? Maybe?

It’s been 20 years since I was in college. Those guys have families. I have a family. I’m sure those guys are all different men, and if they’re not, well, that’s on them. God can take care of them. I’m not going to be their judge and jury, and forgiveness has long been issued. However, I can take that experience, and use it to educate my son (when he’s of age) that you don’t treat a woman that way. It’s a learning experience that is not lost on me as a mother of a boy.

Over the course of the past 2 years, I’ve gone to several people affiliated with my alma mater and discussed their culture of sexual harassment. My alma mater has repeatedly hid their head in the sand about several stories of harassment and assault. Rather than acknowledge the past, they’ve simply remarked that they will try and improve in the future. This is not the best solution, and I don’t accept that it’s “better than nothing.” However, I do believe that per the verse I quoted in the beginning of this blog, truth will out, and our stories will be told. Patience, as they say, is a virtue.

My point in sharing my stories with my alma mater has not been to punish the men in the past who made poor choices. The goal in sharing #MeToo with my college is to teach women that they do NOT have to wait 20 years to speak up against sexual harassment. They can speak NOW, and they do not need permission to do so. Leadership cannot harbor the people who do these things, be they male or female, and ignoring a culture of harassment encourages MORE harassment. I don’t feel that names need to be named, in the stories of 20 years ago. However, if that story from 20 years ago helps the girl who was groped by a student in the back of the classroom YESTERDAY to go to leadership and have the offender punished, then YES, tell your #MeToo and shout it from the rooftops. Stop making people feel ashamed for what others have done to them. It’s time to make the current harassers feel ashamed. It’s time to make the people who cover it up, feel ashamed. It’s time to STOP CREATING A CULTURE THAT SHAMES VICTIMS. It’s time to encourage people to speak up when they have been victimized, instead of 10, 15, 20, years later.

That being said, I do not believe sexual harassment is a reason to end someone’s career. I don’t feel that telling the story needs to be in such a way that a crime from 20 years ago ends a life that’s been built today, unless there is corroborated proof. Anyone can say someone did something from 20 years ago that affected your life. Naming names without proof, however, is a dangerous thing, and I think it’s something that is going to have some serious backlash. I can say that Joe Snow attacked me in a parking lot 20 years ago; I can publicly out him, but there is absolutely no shred of proof. It brands him; it makes him guilty until proven innocent, and I think as a society we need to be extremely careful in doing that with any kind of criminal. Joe Snow (not a real person, of course) might be a jerk. He might be a reformed family man. He might be any kind of a person, but he doesn’t deserve to be punished for a crime he may or may not have committed based on unsubstantiated words. Michael Douglas came forward recently, stating that he had been contacted by a reporter that wanted his comments regarding an accusation of sexual misconduct (that can be SO broad-sweeping, right?!?). He decided that rather than comment, he would come out and directly make a statement prior to the running of the original story. He stated the accusation, denied the accusation, and made some really great points in explaining his side of the story. Do you think anyone will hear HIM? Or will they see, “Michael Douglas” + “Sexual Harassment,” and make their choice that he’s a miscreant? It’s thin ice for the accused, and we have to be careful.

Again, I believe in sharing the stories of 2, 10, 15, 20 years ago. I do not necessarily believe in sharing the names, unless you have absolute proof of something that has been done. It’s far too easy to create this movement that’s full of unsubstantiated claims, and then cut off your own feet because of hyperbole. It’s what the #MeToo movement is in danger of. It’s a trending topic that should be much more than a trend, but without substantiation, that’s as far as it will go. It’s time to make real change, which can only come from facts.

People need to live in a culture of understanding that things done in secret will be brought to light. The harassment of 20 years ago will come to light. The affair of 2 years ago will be brought to light, whether you’re an ordinary person, or a governor, or a President. We live in an age of technology where everything is archived. Everything is accessible, we have a footprint, and it’s aaaaaaalllllll out there. Nothing is secret, and in today’s world, that’s truer than ever. We have to be accountable for our actions, and because God is Who He is, we have to be accountable to Him above all. Even without the cyberworld, God is God.

Jeremiah 23:24  “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the LORD “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.

He sees us. We have to live an exemplary life, so that when the past tries to haunt us, there’s nothing there to trip us up. If there is, there’s forgiveness…but that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t consequences. Our dear Governor is seeing this truth today—he’s forgiven by his wife and by God, but the State of Missouri may not be so kind, and his reputation is tarnished.

He’s just like the rest of us. I don’t want my high school hijinks coming back to haunt me. I don’t want the inappropriate things I’ve said, to come back to haunt me. Could someone accuse me of inappropriate behavior? I don’t think so, but I guess in today’s world, anything is possible? We’re to live our lives in such a way that when such accusations come against us, they’re immediately disregarded, because of the standards by which we live. That’s a difficult thing to do, but in today’s world, it’s more necessary than ever. Daniel, in the Old Testament, lived a pretty great life as far as standards go: “Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.” Daniel 6:4

“No error or fault was found in him?!?!?!?!” No one could say he had any skeletons rattling around in his closet! That’s pretty amazing. That’s The Gold Standard. And that’s also where grace and mercy come in, for those of us that fall short.

There’s room for grace and mercy in the #MeToo movement. There’s room for awareness, for positive change, and for education. There’s room for FACTS in the #MeToo movement, and I encourage those that support the movement to reiterate the importance of such. My biggest hope for the movement is acknowledgement, education, and improvement….that boys and girls would be educated that they are valuable and worthy of respect…that we would learn the beauty of boundaries, and the sacredness of these bodies we live in. There’s more to the #MeToo movement than the media portrays, and it all starts with viewing ourselves as unique, amazing creations of a God Who values and loves us. Once you understand your worth, you understand that you are worthy of protection, and that those around you are worthy of honor…I want to see this restored in our young people. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit…we were created by a God Who loves us with all of His heart, who gave His only Son for us. We are individual reflections of Who He is.

I don’t want to be a #MeToo.  I want to be an #IAm:

I Am loved by God.

I Am His unique creation.

I Am His child.

I Am who He made me to be.

And to that, I would like to hear an entire generation of young men and young women echo back, #MeToo.  

 

I’m a “Parenting Expert,” and So Are You…

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/parenting-experts-agree-kelly-clarksons-view-spanking-210541633.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

This.

Is.

National.

News.

WHY, people?!?!?!

A mom, who happens to be a celebrity, is disciplining her child in order to prevent said child from hurting herself or from behaving badly, or basically from growing up to be a narcissistic sociopath.  WHY IS THIS NEWS?!?  WHY IS THIS NATIONAL NEWS???

Last night, I watched a Facebook Live video of Elliott Davis of Fox2News outside of a local homeless shelter that was turning people away on a fairly chilly evening. A young woman discussed how she’d been turned away repeatedly from shelters, as she was neither a mother nor a “currently”-battered woman. THIS is news. Our city and our mayor decided that apartment property values meant more than helping the homeless, and shut down the only 24-hour shelter in the city. THIS is news.

I read an article where a 5-year old child is dying of a rare cancer, with a picture of her grieving grandfather next to her hospital bed. THIS is news.

Kelly Clarkson, mother of 2, stepmother of 2, sweet Southern girl, OG American Idol, helluva singer, and wife to the son of none-other-than Ms. Reba McEntire, is NOT news because she chooses to discipline her child. She is NOT news because she (& presumably her husband) choose to raise their child according to Biblical principles, to classical principles of “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.” She is NOT news because she & her spouse would rather not add to the national malaise surrounding parenthood, where we rely on teachers to play doctor and dole out prescriptions, and tablets and video games to play teacher so our kids learn to read. She is NOT news because she takes a normal, everyday Midwestern/Southern approach to raising her child as hands-on as possible as a working mother, and in making the tough decisions to PARENT as opposed to beFRIENDing her child. (Sidebar: I’m not knocking children that legitimately require medication in order to succeed physically or academically. I, however, do not believe in the increasing practice of teachers having to be the ones who “diagnose” a child’s need for such medication. A parent that is involved in their child’s life is aware of any issues and takes care of their kid. I see many, many children that do not have an involved parent, and THAT is pathetic. Teachers are not doctors, and they’re not parents, yet in today’s world, they have to be both. It’s not right.)

It’s easier to be our kids’ friends…until it’s not, and we realize we’ve screwed it all up & created pandering little narcissistic snowflakes that can’t be disciplined enough to do their homework OR TO HOLD DOWN A JOB.  And then, when our little snowflakes do something stupid, like publish videos of people who commit suicide in Japanese forests, and become national embarrassments like Logan Paul? Then THEY become National News.

People are really skewed on what “news” actually is. Mr. Trump keeps hammering away at the slogan, “fake news,” and he’s got a point: When the news media would rather focus on nonsensical stories such as Ms. Clarkson and her decision to properly raise her child, instead of on major issues such as homelessness, or drug addiction, or the suicide rates in our young people, then we really do have an issue with “fake news,” and it needs to change. There are much bigger issues in the world.

There are parents in the news on an almost-daily basis for abusing their children….for abandoning their children…for choosing drugs over their children.

That’s news.

Swatting or spanking your child because they’ve been disobedient?

NOT news.

I love how this article talks about “parenting experts.” I posted on Facebook that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “PARENTING EXPERT.” They’re like, NONEXISTENT. I’m going to run full-on into a flippin’ UNICORN before I run into someone I consider to be a “parenting expert.” Every parent is different. Every CHILD is different. Until you can tell me you’ve mastered every possible personality and interaction, don’t call yourself any kind of “expert” on this race we call human, unless you’re the One Who created us all.

You can study kids all you want. You can study adults all you want. You can study the kids until they grow up to become adults, and then you can study them some more. You’re not any more of a “parenting expert” than I am. We know what WE KNOW. We don’t know all of the variables that make us, or that make our child, or that make other people’s children, who they are. I think I know my kiddo pretty darn well. However, I can’t tell you WHY he does some of the things he does (Why does he lick the shopping cart?!?!?!?  WHY?!?!? Can you tell me that, “Parenting Expert?!?!?”). I can tell you what I think, what I see, and how I want to attempt to change what he does. I can try every method I know, and occasionally, I can ask my friends or read a book to get advice. I can tell you that I definitely pray every single day to be a better parent, but I make mistakes, as does my husband. Tempers run short, and days can be stressful. Sometimes, the noise level in my house makes me want to rip my ears off (and that’s with just ONE KID). We are all constantly in the process of learning how to live, and of learning how to be better human beings.

I am grateful for people like Kelly Clarkson who discipline their children and help shape them into better little people, that will eventually become better adults that can make this a better world….and THAT is NEWS.

Discipline is so important. We don’t spank our children in anger–that’s where spanking becomes reactive, and potentially abusive. In our house, there’s a lead-up: Redirection–>Warning–>Time Out–>Spanking. Generally, that’s how it goes, unless he’s doing something that will cause him imminent harm (taking off in a parking lot, which he knows is a HUGE no-no). I kind of think of discipline as a labyrinth game–you remember, the one that had the maze you had to use the knobs on, to get your marble through the maze without letting it fall through the holes? Image result for labyrinth game

That’s life. We have this little marble, and we have to mold and shape and direct him to go through life without falling through the holes. We have to set up barriers to keep him safe, and create paths for him to go through, and pick him back up again, if he falls through. Those barriers and paths are created by discipline and by encouragement, and we have to commit to it. We have to be consistent in it, which is hard when you’re a tired, working parent. We have to be disciplined to maintain discipline, and it makes everyone in the house a better person…

But it’s not easy.

Like I said before, it’s easier to be your kid’s friend, especially at this age. They’re fun when they’re in a good mood, right? And when they go in Time-Out, or get that spanking, they get crabby and whiny, right? And whining SUCKS. But what do we do? Give them whatever they want, and feed the snowflake mentality? We have a generation of kids that can’t take the heat of discipline. They can’t take the barriers, and all they want is encouragement…they’ve fallen through the holes of the labyrinth board, and they’re LOST. It’s the saddest thing, but hey, at least they’ve got their participation trophies, right?

Stop it.

My son doesn’t get what he wants all of the time. Money is tight, and that’s a good reason to tell him “no” on a material level. He should get used to not getting what things he wants, because that creates financial issues. He keeps screaming at people when he doesn’t get his way. That doesn’t work for me. He’s spending a lot of time in a corner, and he’s getting privileges taken away. At some point, it’s going to stick, but we have to be consistent with it. “Son, you can’t scream at people when you don’t get your way.” Every day for the last 4 days, I’ve had to remind him. Every day this week, he’s had something taken away for his behavior at school. I remind myself that we’ll get there, eventually. He’s 4. Every day, there is discipline. Every day, we discuss what happened, what he did well, and what he can improve on.

We are making an adult that will have a global impact.

Every parent is making an adult that will have a global impact.

My goal as a parent is to direct my beautiful child through this labyrinth called “life,” leaving global impact behind him, and an eternity with Christ in front of him. My success as a parent is marked by that one goal: Jesus.

Every Time Out.

Every spanking.

Every privilege that is taken away.

Every encouraging word.

Every reward.

Every gift.

Every day.

It starts and it ends with the only Parenting Expert that matters: Jesus.

If the end of my journey as both a human being and as a parent is marked with Him, than I’ve done it right. And if society thinks that discipline is the wrong thing to do, then that further solidifies my belief that I am on the right track, because I’m not raising a child who goes along with society. I’m raising a man who has the strength and the courage to defy it.

We parent with love, with encouragement, and with discipline.

We create world-changing human beings that have an eternal impact.

THAT.

IS.

NATIONAL.

NEWS.

 

 

 

The Toddler on my Lap, or Thermodynamics in Motion

I just kicked my son off of my lap.  He needs to take a nap, his Dad is snoring on the couch and needs to take the child upstairs, (as well as to take himself and his snoring upstairs), and I need to write.

There’s currently a general rebellion taking place, according to the wailing now coming from the small bedroom upstairs.

Now, if the chld could sit still on my lap and keep his grubby paws off of my keyboard, all would be well, but nope–pushing buttons of any kind is Just. Too. Tempting. So, off he goes, wagging his tongue at me for good measure (which got him into additional trouble). He’s something else.

I am not going to lie: Sometimes, all he has to do is smile at me with his ridiculously cute face, and I’m just undone. Sometimes, when he sits on my lap and I smell that Little Boy Smell (it’s a mixture of the fledgling remains of Baby Boy smell, dirt, and farts), I am undone. Sometimes, I hear his adorable voice say, “You’re the bestest Mama EVER!” and I am undone.

And sometimes, I internally buckle myself down, and say, “YES, CASSIDY, HE’S CUTE. However, you’re not raising an entitled hooligan, so keep him in line!!!!”  Things in life will naturally go from order to disorder….especially if toddlers are left responsible for control….

Parenting is a difficult balance. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction…we have to figure out what actions to take, to raise up a Godly, kind, compassionate, strong human in this world…and how to be Godly, kind, compassionate, and strong humans, ourselves.

He’s so darn cute. We sat down this morning and built a marble maze (I’m gonig to spell this incorrectly, but I believe it’s called a “Rube-Goldberg machine?”). He watched, David started it, and I did the bulk of it (because unlike SOME people, I WEAR MY GLASSES, and can read the fine print). I was quite proud of myself when I finished it, considering my hatred of puzzles. The machine pulls marbles up to the top, and circulates them throughout the machine using a variety of levers and gears. It’s pretty darn cool. We used to call this “science,” but now it’s called “S.T.E.M.” Whatever it’s called, I like it.

I like it because it gave me the opportunity to have a discussion regarding consequences with my son.  Thermodynamics aside, it was good to have a tangible method of teaching him about actions, reactions, and consequences. Hopefully, this machine will stay together long enough for us to reiterate the lesson a few more times.

If I could label each marble and each gear, I wonder how it would lay out? Spending = debt = indentured servitude. Sharing = joy= eternal impact. Kindness = more kindness in return. Fear = anger = resentment= hatred = violence = war.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

What actions have impacted your year thus far? Can you look at the beginning of 2017, and see the gears in motion and how they’ve affected you where you are now?

What will you label your gears in 2018, and how will you put them into motion?

And what actions/reactions do you hope to see, for this coming year?