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. 🙂

Part Two: Redefining Family Structure, AKA, “Mawwiage, that Blessed Awwangement…”

.That Dweam Wifin a Dweam..…”

PeterCookPrincessBride

This is a series that started as a response to the troublesome umbrella graphic:Natural-Order-of-The-Family

I began 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.

Before I get too much farther into the husband/wife dynamic, though, let’s take a pause and talk about the “M” word:  Marriage.

As women (keep in mind that although this is a blog about family dynamics, I’m going to come at this from a woman’s perspective without apology, because guess what???  I’M A WOMAN.), we are taught from birth that our goal in life, particularly if we’re raised in the church, is to get married and have dem babies!  Opting to stay single is not portrayed as an option at all in the church, and we’re all pushed toward marriage pretty early on. And it kinda makes sense–I mean, we’re not supposed to have sex until we’re married, and celibacy isn’t really an option for most of us. “Taking care of business” isn’t discussed and if it is, it’s never in a favorable light, so in order to meet sexual needs, we get married. In order to have children, we get married. In order to be considered as grown-ups and valid members of society (it seems), we get married. Staying single isn’t an option, and if you DO stay single (either by choice or by just, life), it’s looked down on. You really do feel ostracized in the church as a single person. Singles groups tend to be college-age driven, so for the over-30 group, being single is like being the Loch Ness Monster. I’ve never lived that life (I got married at 27–waaaaay after all of my college friends, I believe), but I’ve had friends that weren’t married until they were in their 30’s, and it’s a common complaint. Now, I’m not saying that we get married primarily out of duty and then out of love–don’t twist this. I’m saying that IF we aren’t following the textbook path of marriage and babies, there can be a curtain of condescension that comes over us in the eyes of the church, and it can push us towards making hasty decisions.

It almost feels like there’s an age-related checklist of our duties:

  1. Get saved by ____years old (the younger, the better!)
  2. Get water baptized by ____years old.
  3. Get your Scriptures memorized (and get your prize) by ____years old.
  4. Get involved in your youth group, and eventually get promoted to being a leader, by ____years old.
  5. Go to college, find a member of the opposite sex (but don’t have sex) by _____.
  6. Get married by _____. For women, focus on that magic age more than your education. After all, that MRS degree is FAR more important than investing in your career or your future, right?!?!? “If you have your college degree before your MRS degree, well, that’s okay, honey. It’s just how it worked out for you.”
  7. Start having dem babies, okay?  OKAY?!?!  “NO, of course there won’t be any problems! Breastfeeding will be a dream, your sex life will bounce back, and your babies will sleep through the night, no problems! After all, you’re doing God’s will!!!!!!!!!!!”

People, this is a lie (especially #7, LOL, but that’s another blog). Learn these three words:  MARRIAGE. IS. HARD.

It’s hard.

But not being married is difficult, too, and I don’t think we should discount the issues singles face. People assume that we all want to be in a relationship. Maybe not–why is that wrong? Some people truly are happy on their own, and no one has any right to assume there’s anything negative about that.  The single life is difficult particularly in the Church, because you have to take an all-out stand to be valued independently of a married couple. You’re just as important of a church member as the next person, because guess what? When we all stand before God, we stand ALONE. I stand independently of my husband (I’m sure he’s thankful for that, because I’m not kidding when I call myself a hot mess!). Churches have to stop singling out the singles, because they’re so foundational to a successful ministry. People assume that being single means you’re much more available and flexible than married couples which can be true, but not necessarily, so the church also has to realize that being single does NOT equal Free Help. 🙂

There are huge blessings in being single; Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians 7 (Message Translation):

7 Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.

8-9 I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me. But if they can’t manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married. The difficulties of marriage are preferable by far to a sexually tortured life as a single.

I have to laugh at the phrase, “sexually tortured life as a single.” It’s The Message translation, and I think it might be stretching it a tad, here….but maybe not? In today’s hypersexualized world, a celibate life probably IS tortuous, particularly if you’re not guarding your heart, your eyes, and your mind–that’s a key issue. Purity is difficult to keep, whether married or single; I would imagine that it would be more difficult as a single person, but with the easy access to explicit materials? We all struggle. I know I do.

Before I sidetrack on THAT discussion, back to being single:  My mother, God love her, divorced my biological father when I was 2. She had her reasons; he was not a good person. The best thing my biological father ever did, was to give me an amazing stepbrother and stepsister. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, and I’m so grateful to have them in my lives.

Anyways, Mom decided for some crazy reason, to put me in a Christian school for K-12. I went to a VERY small school where my mother was the only divorcee that I knew of. I didn’t realize there was anything “wrong” with our family until the 3rd or 4th grade, when the snide comments began to be made from others with so-called nuclear families. I will never forget the shame I felt when I was asked to do a family tree around that time.

Hey, guess what?!?  NOT EVERYONE CAN DO A FAMILY TREE. Maybe you should stop and consider the ramifications of that assignment before you send it out? My mother is adopted. My family is a combination of adoption, steps, surprise babies, and more. I finally invested in an AncestryDNA kit to find out what the heck I am, and I was so surprised that this stupid family tree assignment kept coming up in my thoughts to pester me. Finding out our actual family history (I traced my mom back to the Quakers. QUAKERS, PEOPLE!!!) closed a gap I didn’t realize was quite so deep. I mean, I know WHO I am; why should knowing WHAT I am be such an important thing?!?!?

It became important because of years of being made to feel “less than”…like there was some kind of great honor in having that so-called nuclear family…years of being made to feel like MY family wasn’t the “ideal” of the Church. I didn’t have 1 Mom and 1 Dad. I had a single mom, and eventually, an awesome stepdad, and then at one point, I had 2 Moms, 2 Dads, and more grandparents than I could shake a stick at. My friends at school didn’t get it; my best friend understood my issues the most, because she was the child of a single mom who was being raised by that mom and her grandparents. Since her family dynamic didn’t match the other families around us, we had a special bond. We also didn’t fit in with most of the other families in the school. My mom didn’t do the PTA (did I mention my mom was in the minority, as a working mother? GASP.). We didn’t do weekend “play dates” (and she wore makeup, darn it, so take THAT). My mother worked her rear off as a single mother, and she didn’t have time to care whether or not the other mothers approved. I don’t know how she did it. . As a married, working mother of one, I have to lean so much on my husband and on my parents; how did Mom survive with 2 kids?!?!?!?  Grace of God, I tell ya. As a child, I couldn’t see the incredible honor in the sacrifices she made. As an adult, I’m amazed by her more and more.

But as an impressionable girl growing up in a Mid-western Christian school, I was more impressed by the sneers and snobbery of the girls I was in class with, and even by some of the teachers.  My household shouldn’t have determined how my classmates or teachers perceived me, but it did, and that became more evident the older I became.

I firmly believe that a household is defined as a place where a nuclear group loves Jesus, serves God, and if kids are involved, commits to raising them in a Godly way. I say we love all households and all families, and we don’t treat kids any differently if they come from a 1-parent household, a 2-parent household, or a carnival. I didn’t have that luxury as a kid, so I longed for that “Mayberry” life it looked like my classmates had.

I wanted that MRS degree, so I could make my very own cookie-cutter, Leave-It-To-Beaver life.

Leave-It-to-Beaver

I knew I could be “good enough,” if I could just mark a few things off of that checklist….

Being single was NOT on that checklist.

When you’re rushed out of the time you need…the time God plans for…to be single, you find yourself making regrettable choices. DON’T RUSH BEING SINGLE, just because you want to check your list off. TAKE YOUR TIME.

I almost screwed it all up by marrying a guy my sophomore year of college. The relationship was toxic and abusive, and left me desolate for at least 3 years….but I felt guilty and broken, like I didn’t deserve anything else or better. Had he not dumped me, I would have stayed with him out of a perverse sense of Christian obligation–doesn’t that sound like a loving marriage?!? How many women have done the same thing?!? How many people have done the same thing?

Marriage is supposed to be a union that is based on the love of Jesus, not on some crappy sense of duty or obligation. Marriage is a step we take onto the battlefield of this earth under a banner that shouts the love of Jesus, not under an umbrella of oppression and duty!!!!!!!  If you feel like you’re about to get married and you don’t feel a sense of freedom and joy, DON’T DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!  Stay single! Really, and I know it’s cliche, but if it’s meant to be, it will be. I firmly believe that if God gives us a vision, a “heart’s desire,” He is FAITHFUL to complete it. If you have a heart’s desire to be a husband, a wife, a mom, a dad, whatever, HE WILL COMPLETE THAT WORK IN YOU. If you don’t, THERE IS NO SHAME IN THAT. Don’t try to make something happen if it’s not in your heart to do so. If you don’t want to be married, DON’T GET MARRIED. If you don’t want kids, DON’T HAVE THEM. Why do we feel like we have to be something God didn’t necessarily create us to be? I Corinthians 7 mentioned “the gift” of the single life. Why can’t Christians accept it, if they don’t have that burning desire to be a spouse?!?

Say it with me: IT IS OKAY TO BE SINGLE. IT IS GOOD TO BE SINGLE. It’s better to be single and happy than in a relationship that is bound up in oppression!! And if you are in a marriage that is bound up in oppression, GET FREE (easier said than done–that’s another blog).

Being single is not to be burdened in loneliness and sadness, and I recommend running from any Church that treats it like it is. There is no timeline for single-ness (is that  word?). And when I say, “single,” I mean “single for any reason:” Never married, divorced, single with kids, whatever. Single is SINGLE, regardless of why or how, and you can love your life without judgement. There is joy in being single, believe me.

Before I met my husband (I was like, 24), I remember sitting in my bedroom at my parents’ house (I had to move back in with them after college. Harsh.), thinking about what life would be like if I were never to be married. Keep in mind, I’ve wanted to be a wife and a mother since I could talk, so this was a major moment. I realized that in that moment, I was honestly HAPPY. I had peace and joy. I felt like the world was about to shift, and I was okay with it. I was HAPPY with it. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, but whatever happened, I had peace in my walk with God, on my own, by myself. I had absolutely no burdens; I was ready for whatever came next. I learned to be happy with who I was, and I WAS.  It was a huge moment of clarity and of self-acceptance, and I’ve gone back to that moment many times in my mind.  I was truly, truly happy being single, and it was a revalation that I never knew I could come to.

As women, as soon as we get into a relationship, we field questions about marriage. As soon as we’re married, we field questions about having kids. We are never given the time to JUST BE IN THE MOMENT of our lives, and we never get those moments back again. As a church, WHY ARE WE ALWAYS RUSHING PEOPLE?! Why are we so eager to check those marks off of  lists? Why can we not just enjoy our lives without the pressure to be something we’re not, or to move faster onto something we’re not ready for? That’s not a Godly way to live, and it’s not fair to subject kids to. We have to learn to redefine families and homes in a way that BREATHES, because the church is SUFFOCATING people and families RIGHT OUT THE DOORS.

Family = Single people.

Family = Married people.

Family = People with kids.

Family = People without kids.

Family = Divorced people.

Family = Remarried people.

Family = A home where people within its walls want to love and serve Christ.

Jesus goes out before us as His children, and His banner over us is love. Who walks under that banner? Holy, perfect people? Or people who are marked and battle-scarred, who have fought in the trenches and lived to tell the tales? People who are TRYING to serve, trying to show His love, and are trying to live their best life in the Kingdom? He takes our broken pieces and He puts them together under His banner, to make a picture of a family that defies the portrait studios in our minds…He calls us all to the table, married, single, whatever, and He celebrates us where we are.

Why can’t the Church do the same?

 

 

 

Part One: Redefining Family Structure in the Church, AKA, “Um, No, I am NEVER on the bottom of the totem pole.”

A few weeks ago, I had an unfiltered discussion with an old friend from college. We hadn’t seen each other in 20 years; we reconnected over Facebook quite a while ago, and randomly decided to host a yard sale together. During the down times of the sale, we caught up on all of the stuff that we HADN’T put on social media since Bible college, and needless to say, it got real.

It was cathartic.

We both agreed that the Church, in our experiences as Midwestern Gen-Xers that were raised in denominational/non-denominational upbringings, had done a crappy job of directing us as Christian women in what a “fulfilled” life should look like:

Follow the rules. Make sure your life is Better Homes & Gardens-worthy. Keep your voice low, your head lower, and remember your station in life. Love Jesus, love your husband, pop out babies, and live the American dream (God help you if those babies don’t come on the regular, you Barren Woman. You MUST be in sin).

Be bland, be meek, and for the love of God, never mention sex in any casual conversation…or ever. That’s for procreation, not fun, and any other perspective is just sin (especially for women). Never voice what you need or want (oh, and don’t have any wants) in the bedroom. After all, you exist for the pleasure of your husband and for his needs.

Do as your told. Submit, submit, SUBMIT.

Image result for be a submissive wife

Oh, and if your life doesn’t look like what we tell you it should (complete with a picket fence), you’ve FAILED. You’ve failed as a woman, and you’ve certainly disappointed God, you horrible thing. Go sit on the back pew (if you dare to show your face in church), and do not think for an INSTANT that you’re ever going to be fit for ministry again in this life. You don’t speak in church, you don’t question things in church, and you spend the rest of your life lamenting every missed opportunity. You’re JUST a woman, and you’re a second-class citizen, at best.

I’ve watched the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale (and read the book), and it was uncomfortable…the mind control and “biblical” structure they use is familiar to me, although highly dramatized. The concept, though, of owning a woman and of valuing her based on her fertility, all in the Name of God, is NOTHING new. Christianity has long been twisted and perverted to control family structure and the role of a woman. When I watched THT, my most recurrent thought was how easily everything flipped over to such oppression, and how easily it could happen today (I haven’t seen any of the new season, so no spoilers!).

Sexism is rampant in the American church, even in today’s world, even on a collegiate level (ask me about being a woman in a ministry program in Bible college, and why I couldn’t take Hermeneutics class), and I think it starts with a foundation of a jacked-up “understanding” of the structure of a family, which then turns over to jacking up the roles of men & women in the family.

(I want to clearly state that I am NOT a feminist. I’m an equalist: Equal rights, equal pay, equal roles, in Biblical context. I think my explanation of that term will present itself in the course of these posts…Save your “you’re a liberal!” torches for after I’ve finished the series. 🙂 )

After the conversation at the yard sale, my friend sent me the following graphic, with a caption that expressed her discomfort with the tiers:

Related image

I agreed with her discomfort. I’ve seen this reposted a few times, and every time I see it, I inhale reflexively. Everything in me as a Christian and as a woman has issues with this graphic. For this first blog post, and because I believe it’s hugely foundational for the conversation, I want to focus on the importance of Jesus being at the forefront of the discussion…but not as an overlord or as some kind of oppressive umbrella. I want to focus on Jesus as the Song of Solomon portrays Him to be…as the Lover of our Souls. Bear with me, and let’s rethink this design…

Capture3

I cannot say it enough: Jesus has to be at the forefront of the family structure. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ—not a relationship where you do all of the talking, not a relationship where you follow a routine and a protocol, but a true, genuine, personal relationship with Jesus is foundational for any relationship we have with other human beings. It’s foundational for how we treat ourselves, our friends, our spouses, our kids, our pets, whatever. There is no relationship without a relationship with Jesus Christ. How does that happen? What does that look like? I’ll tell you right now, in my house, we get it wrong on the regular, and that’s okay. Jesus’ first priority isn’t looking at how we’re doing things wrong. He’s looking as to whether or not we have a desire and a want to TRY TO DO IT AT ALL. Eventually, we’re going to get it “right.” but in the meanwhile? Do you WANT to serve the Lord? Do you want to be His friend? Do you care about what He thinks? Do you read His Word (ouch—that’s a huge hurdle for me)? Do you WANT to read His Word? Do you know that He loves you with all of His heart? That His love goes beyond His death and resurrection 2,000 years ago? That His love is a daily, confounding, life-altering thing that will render you unable to ever be the same person, the more you learn about it? Do you know that you are His perfect Bride, the one His heart beats for? The one He chases, chastises, embraces; the one He longs for, the one He truly desires? He LOVES us, collectively and individually, and that Love is greater than any Umbrella graphic, any stereotype, any sexism, feminism, or –ism at all. We are so, so loved, and it goes so far beyond our ability to put words or thoughts around it. It’s REAL, and it’s amazing, and every day, I marvel at it. It makes no sense, but there He is, and there is no place we can hide. There is no cosmic “smite” button that’s waiting to hit us with a lightning bolt whenever we screw it up; there is gentle conviction (NEVER CONDEMNATION) from His Holy Spirit, but He’s not waiting in Heaven to take us down. He’s waiting for us to talk to Him, to have a relationship with Him. I can’t stress it enough: Jesus loves us. The Umbrella graphic makes the Name of Jesus seem like it’s ominously looming over us. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Song of Solomon 2:4 says that Jesus (portrayed in the story as the Bridegroom or the Beloved) leads us into the banquet hall, and “His banner over me is love.” He’s not looming or oppressing; He is pouring His love over us, and that is a foundational concept for Biblical family structure.

When we say, “His Banner over me is Love,” do we think about the actual definition of the phrase? Banners in today’s world are hung as ways to identify celebrations, and the word has lost its luster. Banners were signs carried like flags over troops in times of war; they identified the clans or tribes that were fighting, and allowed allies to spot each other from a distance. It also allowed the enemy to get a broad scope of just how many people they were dealing with. Banners showed unity & cooperation in battle! People carried the banners either on their own, or in groups where they EACH took a pole, and walked the banner out in front of the troops to guide them into the battlefield. Banners were carried off of the field, sometimes in tatters, to lead the troops into celebration and to rest. The banner was the biggest inspiration to the people that were fighting, because as long as it waved, THE FIGHT WASN’T OVER!!!!!  Think about the history of “The Star-Spangled Banner:” Francis Scott Key wrote the song because during the war, “whose broad stripes & bright stars, through the perilous fight, over the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?”?!?!?!!??  Bombs bursting in air! Gunshots!  Fire! BUT THE AMERICAN FLAG STILL WAVED, so he knew the war wasn’t over, and we are still singing that dang song to celebrate!!!! (I’ll never sing it live again; I’m forever traumatized over accidentally butchering it in college)!!

The banners of the enemy in battle were DESTROYED…taken down, burned, erased, because they LOST. They were BROKEN.  The U.S. Military uses the phrase, “Loss of Colors,” meaning that when troops lost, their flag was captured by the enemy (remember playing, “capture the flag?”), so the losers had no banner to wave over them on their return to their base. They went back to their barracks in shame, unable to be identified by their people from a distance! There was no celebration, because no one could see them coming, because they LOST the FIGHT!!!!!  The Banner of Jesus is Love, and Love is VICTORIOUS.

Jesus goes before us as an Advocate with the Father. He goes before us, before we go into judgment, and He stakes His claims by identifying us as His own…by proclaiming His Love for us over all. Song of Solomon 2:4 says He leads us to the banqueting table–that’s a place only the victors are welcome to be. Losers don’t get to feast. We are His Beloved, regardless of the state we’re in. We’re His treasured, and we get to celebrate with His banner over us, leading us into the party, leading us into freedom without judgement…leading us away from sadness, from desolation, and from failure.

When you take a look at Biblical family structure, and you throw that picture of an oppressive, encompassing umbrella away and replace it with the idea of a banner, you open up a world of hope and of possibility. You throw away judgement, and you walk under a banner of love and freedom–no ceilings, and nothing holding you back from embracing everything He has to offer: Peace, rest, and eternity with Him. There are no limits to the love of Jesus, and there is no limit to how He embraces His children….

So, that’s Part One of redefining so-called Biblical family structure. I’m starting at the top, and I’m building a foundation of identity. When you start to rethink this thing, and you start to reidentify as a free Child of the King, as a Child that wears His Name, you start to see that your concepts of this structured, cookie-cutter, Martha-Stewart fantasy life of picket-fence perfection does not have to hold you back. You don’t have to be valued or categorized by your gender in the home, or by whether or not you’ve procreated, or by whether or not you bring home the bacon, or run the household. Don’t get it twisted–Jesus values gender, and I’ll get there. He loves us and He created us as men and as women, and we each have multiple roles to play in our families…but one is NOT better than the other, and one is not oppressively looming over the other, nor sycophantically fetching the coffee for the other. As spiritual beings, our spiritual lives take precedent over our physical bodies, so once we understand His love for who we are, and for how we draw near to Him, then we can discuss boys and girls, their physical/mental differences, and how those best equip us for various roles in the home. If you go into rethinking Biblical family values and you focus on the physical (boys vs. girls, for example), you’re already starting off on the wrong foot.

We start with Jesus. We start with His Love, because it’s Who He is. And we go from there.

Let’s throw the umbrella away.

Let’s run together under His banner of love.

 

To be continued….

 

*Note: I’m writing this from my own mind, my own prayers, and my own research. Occasionally, I’ll come across a resource that I like or dislike, or that I feel is worthy of note. I’ll usually link such things in the blog, but this deserves a separate shout-out. I found this after I was 3/4 of the way through writing this:

http://www.thethistlette.com/2017/01/13/umbrella-christian-family-hierarchy/

Seminary-types as a rule tend to freak me out, because I sort of feel like once someone’s gotten to that level of academia, their brain gets bigger than their spirit, and they start waxing uber-philosophical. However, I enjoyed reading this, and I plan on digging a bit deeper…

 

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:

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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.