Use Your Words

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“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” is a show for toddlers that not only entertains but educates young ones on basic life skills. I was first introduced to this show a few years ago when my adorable nephew became an avid fan. I believe my first episode was when Daniel Tiger was learning to use the bathroom. There was a cute little jingle created to reinforce correct thinking and response when they feel they have to potty. “If you have to go potty STOP and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way.” So simple. YET EFFECTIVE. I caught myself singing it to myself. Keep your sly remarks to yourself. Ha.

I really appreciate the show and its wonderful connections to one of my childhood favorites, “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.” It has quickly become a favorite among many. The theme park “Storybook Forest” has a live show and a fun trolly ride that takes you into “the neighborhood” to meet all of Daniel’s friends. I was there yesterday with my nephew and niece and had a wonderful time. As we were leaving Daniel Tiger Live a song was playing “Use your words.” I had never heard it before. But it really made me think, “Wow, adults need this song just as much as kids do.”

Take a quick look: Use your Words

It has become a struggle for many to use their words. As a millennial it is almost a daily occurrence I hear conversations, or rather watch conversations on Facebook or texting, that usually end with someone using one word responses or phrases like, “I don’t know.” What is that communicating? How is that encouraging a healthy relationship to grow in understanding and fellowship. Fellowship and community are rooted in common knowledge. How do you have common knowledge when you don’t SPEAK YOUR KNOWLEDGE?

I see this struggle to share emotions in friendship, dating, and marriage. In case you have not come to this conclusion on your own, I will enlighten you. Humans do not have the ability to read minds. The closest thing to mind reading that mankind has come in contact with is a woman’s intuition. But even that is not fool proof.(And this coming from a woman!)

I understand there is fear involved in speaking your emotions. I understand it takes SELF-EXAMINATION to understand what your feeling. I understand it takes WORK to self-examine. I understand it takes HUMILITY to admit your weaknesses or struggles. But guess what, as a Christian we should be using our words because it makes us more like Christ. Look at the words that our in bold. These words are biblical. God calls us to self-examination in 1 Corinthians 11:27-34:

Self-Examination

27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body[h] and blood of the Lord. 2So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body,[i] eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world.

33 Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you gather together you will not come under judgment. And I will give instructions about the other matters whenever I come.

Self-examination is required in order to lead us to repentance. We must be AWARE OF OUR SIN, QUARRELS, OR ILL FEELINGS. Repentance leads us to the cross. Self-examination can also lead to POSITIVE feelings. For instance self-examination can reveal you are in love with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Or it can reveal that you are in a program in college that makes you happy and  you honestly love what you are studying. Self-examination is not to make you feel guilty but it can affirm good choices you’ve made in your life. There is peace when we are living righteously. Do you have peace?

We were also made for workIt is clear as day in Genesis. In the beginning man was created to work in the garden and then man was commanded to work the land for food. We have become so lazy. I admit I am lazy. I also ADMIT IT (because of self-examination) and I am not content with staying that way! I know it is not what God created me for. There is JOY IN WORKING. Have your heard of expressions like “I’m a good-kind-of-tired?”I have been a good tired. I prefer to be tired from a good day’s work than from laziness. Relationships take work, my friends. But it leaves you feeling a good-kind-of-tired because you are living your purpose.

This sermon by Matt Chandler called “Source and Surface Idols” does a beautiful job instructing the church to identify four source idols in their lives. These source idols are the root to other idols. Once we can identify (by self-examination) what source idol(s) we are a slave to, we will be able to break free of other surface idols. Listening to this sermon would be a great first step to practice self-examination: Source and Surface Idols

I can give you a million examples of why humbleness is required of believes. The most important and hopefully the most motivating is because Christ was humble. Philippians 2: 5-11:

Christ’s Humility and Exaltation

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.[a]
Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
For this reason God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,[b]
to the glory of God the Father.

    We must use our words. I have grown weary as a young adult woman who wants to have meaningful relationships. I want to have relationships that are a two way street.

    Young men and ladies, want some dating advice? ASK SOMEONE HOW THEY ARE DOING!  

    And young men and ladies, actually answer with MORE THAN ONE WORD or a shoulder shrug. VOLUNTEER INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF. This is how you get to know someone. Its called having a conversation.

A conversation is when two or more people gather together and share knowledge USING WORDS. There is a balance of sharing and listening. BUT IT TAKES PRACTICE! Some may have anxiety of talking too much about themselves and others may have anxiety of not being able to share all they have to say but you must practice to improve these skills! Its a skill you need in a career and in MARRIAGE. Do you think your spouse is going to be content with a shoulder shrug or one word response after a long day? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

   Let us practice using our words. Maybe learn Daniel Tiger’s song to get you started. We have too many adults with toddler-level communication skills.

    use your words

 

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They Saw You Do It First…

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Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow, I dress like my mother.” Or in mid-sentence experience deja vu because what you are about to say has been repeatedly said to you by your own father since youth? *Insert dramatic yelling of “NOOOOOOOO!” here*

What you are experiencing is not the beginning stages of lunacy. Nor are you the target of a cruel joke from mother nature. You are living proof that behavior is learned. 

This subject has been in the forefront of my mind since I stepped back into the world of substitute teaching. Everyday as I enter a classroom I take a deep breath and WATCH. It is quite amazing to see how personalities are so CLEARLY DEVELOPED at a young age. The best setting to witness these true colors is *dun dun dun* the playground.

To my right we have Tucker sir tattles-a-lot and Betty-boo-who. One child has learned that if he points the finger he can walk away free while the other noticed that if she cries she gets her way. In the center we have Lisa the Leader who is bossing her little chicks around the playground, who are all but bowing down at her feet to her dominant charisma. To my left is Austin-all-star turned Grumpy Cat. Why you may ask? Because Sweet Sally just caught his throw in a game of dodgeball. He is out. He therefore thinks this is the most stupid game he has ever played….until a new game begins in which he quickly becomes the best thing to have ever graced the blacktop since 1975. Now a few of you are already saying, “They are just being kids. This is what kids do.” Wrong.

I believe into the depths of my soul that we are all born with an innate sense of right and wrong. There is no instruction needed to distinguish between these two actions. It is always clear that there are different ways to respond. A good way and a bad way. So how is it that some children(adults) choose to do the kind thing verses the one that inevitably gives them their way. They saw you do it first. 

I recently returned home from a mini vacation. I spent a good amount of that time awaiting my flights in airports. Or as I like to call them, the adult playgrounds.

Again, I am watching. My friends and I are waiting to board the plane in the Group 3 line.

* I also would like to say that it was very clearly labeled that we were supposed to line up in our groups and proceed to board in a single file line when dismissed…you know, elementary stuff. At least so I thought…

The flight attendant is dismissing Group 1 to board when a very verbal SHARK of a man pushes his way to the front of the line, expecting to be the first to board. The flight attendant just so happened to be a woman of fire and sassed him right back to the end of the line. She held the fort. Inside I was cheering, “You go, girl! You tell that shark to get to the end of the line!” What offended me more was the manner of which the man continued to make a scene up until he boarded the plane. Still yelling at the woman. How did this man become such a bully? One day he yelled until he got his way, he liked it and has been living life by the same philosophy ever since. A behavior he most likely witnessed by a parent or guardian figure in his own life. A behavior he is most likely passing on as a err loom to his own children…a bunch of future sharks.

Children are watching. Children are listening. Children trust you.

We are currently in a position in which our culture is constantly complaining about how “horrible” the next generation will be. It is no wonder with the types of behavior, crude humor, violence, sarcasm, pride, and selfishness they are witnessing from the people they trust on a daily basis.

If we want a better country, we need to be better parents.

If we want to be better parents, we need to be better people.

If we want to be better people, we have to peacefully go to the end of the line. We have to be willing to be last.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent but there is a parent that can say sorry and show their children how to make good choices after a mistake. There are parents who verbalize and physically express their love for their children by compliments, hugs, or attending their games or dance recitals. A parent who keeps their word. There is a parent who wants to be better for them.

I ask you parents, please remember they saw you do it first before you yell your correction. Maybe, mommy and daddy need to “Stop that!” before a behavior is learned…

 

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Delayed Response

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I am known for my delayed responses. You can ask my college friends to verify this information. We would all be sitting in chapel and the speaker would say a phrase or a joke that would have the entire crowd howling and I would sit there, replay the moment in my head and THEN respond. This would usually happen when the crowd had finished their laughter and I was the girl who cackled after the joke was over. I still am that girl.

I have recently undergone a lot of changes in my life and I will say most (if not all of them) have been for the best. The changes seemed to overlap each other and I couldn’t stop to process. I had to keep moving. I had to keep smiling. I had to stay faithful. This isn’t necessarily a bad coping mechanism but it definitely has its consequences. A delayed response.

This response has been building up since February last year. I went through my first relationship and my first break up. Let’s just say passionate people don’t handle broken hearts like “normal people”. I spent the past year refusing to let this experience change me and kept trying to go back. I am really stubborn.

I was explaining it to a dear friend the other day because she is going through a very similar situation. A break up is like a car accident. One person always loses more. And in my case it felt like I was in a head on collision with another driver and I was left paralyzed. I feel like I can’t move. I can’t move back and I can’t move forward. I just exist. But I do believe in God’s timing and healing. It wasn’t until this conversation that I realized that I am just in a coma and only THINK I am paralyzed. I am the only thing in the way of walking again. I just need to wake up. At the same time it is not that simple. It’s in God’s timing. Or if I were to put a Disney idealism in the metaphor I would say I just need my true love’s first kiss. That is not how that works at all!!! It just made me laugh and I thought it would lighten the tone. Ha. Anyway…

Several months later I was laid off. I felt rejected once more but I chose to stay positive and proactive. I put on a tough face. I chose to only say good things about the situation. I wouldn’t let myself get mad and I wouldn’t let myself cry. I had to be strong. I had to show people that I am faithful. I was so afraid of reacting in the wrong way that I didn’t allow myself to feel anything.

Fast forward a few more months I was directing a play. It can be very stressful working for a school district. There is a LOT of pressure to be perfect and you begin to worry about what the administration thinks of you. Will I lose this job too? It can be extremely difficult and a long process to get things approved; and you begin to feel a lack of support. Or in another word…rejected.

Fast forward again and I was once again faced with rejection (or at least perceived rejection). One of my closest friends was quickly bonding with someone else and I felt threatened. I immediately was jealous and very emotional. It was a trigger. This trigger caused me to replay every moment in the past year I ever felt rejected and unwanted. This delayed response was not laughter. I was hit in the face with a full blown anxiety attack.

This was not your normal anxiety attack. I didn’t freeze. I had a tantrum. Looking back I responded just how I did as a two year old when my parents told me “no” in a store. When they said, “No, Traci Jo, we are not renting a stroller just so you can be pushed around in the mall.” Yea, I basically threw myself on the ground and screamed bloody murder. My poor parents had to quickly evacuate the premises on account that they may have been accused of child abuse. I was screaming that much. This is amusing because I was two years old and the fact that I am actually (when I am in a healthy state of mind) quite a jovial person. In this case, I may not have screamed on the outside but was screaming on the inside. No one can see that I am having a tantrum, but I am. I have been told “no.” But it was not from my parents. It was from God.

This past year has just felt like one big NO from God. I wanted to be with this guy I dated. NO. I wanted to have security in a job that was possibly outside of God’s plan for me. NO. I wanted to have the security of being my friend’s one and only Christian girl best friend. NO. I wanted to be married. NO. I wanted a verbal affirmation from the school district my play was a success and they liked me. NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOO! I broke.

The good thing is God loves me a lot. He always convicts me rather quickly and reveals truth to me so I do not make a complete mess of my life. It is always redeemable with an attitude and heart change. I am starting to realize the danger of verses like, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting.” I am certainly being tested. And there is definitely some very offensive ways in me. I was finally feeling the anger of moving on from a first love. I was finally hit with rage of losing my security from a job. I was hit with fury that it is impossible to find security in people. Life is changing and it is not how I pictured it. I was walking in fear.

This realization brought me to 1 John once again. There is no fear in love. I am learning that if I walk in fear I will lose my emotional health but I also lose relationships. I push God away, I push friends away, and I am flat out and straight up a hot mess because I am craving control and I have NONE. Absolutely none. I have lost complete confidence in myself and in God’s plan for my life. I know that it is a good plan but I just don’t think I have the strength to wake from my coma and start living out God’s will for my life. I am afraid to wake up to what I might find. I am angry I can’t know the future in advance so I can avoid pain.

I recently attended a bible study where we read and studied Acts 18. One of us asked a question regarding verses 9-10, “Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, ‘Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” She asked why the Lord told Paul not to be afraid. We had quite a lively discussion and came to the conclusion that after Paul had been rejected so frequently by Jews and have been chased out of cities by violent mobs on more than one occasion, it could have easily shaken Paul’s confidence in himself and on his missionary journeys.

Paul comes off as an extremely passionate and confident person. I have always related to Paul on that level. It was in this moment when I knew God’s words of encouragement and comfort were not just for Paul. They were for me as well…

Paul must have felt rejected and questioned his purpose on his journey. It is so frustrating to give all of your heart to everything you do and not see results. It seems pointless or it can cause deep pain from not receiving the same affection in return. You grow weary. You grow FRUSTRATED. You feel like you are alone and why should you care anymore. Why should I still strive to be faithful and obey when all I hear is NO? Well, sometimes we need to hear God say, “Don’t be afraid. For I am with you.” I know intellectually that I am going to always have victory in Christ but I am afraid of the pain that comes with living life. Sometimes pain is necessary for growth. Sometimes someone else will experience joy and love at the expense of my comfort. Sometimes you do love passionately and get nothing in return. Sometimes you will pursue people and no one will pursue you back. But God sees and knows; and God is with you. And that is enough. It has always been enough.

I can’t help but think of the lyrics to Chris Tomlin’s song “Whom shall I fear.”

I know who goes before me
I know who goes behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises

You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Whoa. If that doesn’t make you feel wanted, precious, loved, protected, and chosen. Nothing will.

I sometimes have delayed responses but its better late than never. Yes, I feel angry and that I have no control. I am aware of what scripture says I have to do in these circumstances. I need to have difficult conversations to work through my bitterness with the body of Christ. But 1 John says this in chapter two verses 28 and 29:

“So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: Everyone who does what is right has be born of Him”

I pray I always do what is right. It starts with repentance and a contrite heart. Dear Lord, search me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting.

Amen.

 

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Through the Eyes of a Child.

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I have been feeling the urge to write for a few weeks now but I was not sure exactly WHAT I wanted to say. I have been in the process of relearning myself. I have always considered myself an extreme extrovert that needed people to feel refreshed but as I have been accepting my times of isolation I have come to realize these are the times that I am truly being refreshed. The only thing I can think to compare it to is when you are cleaning out your room as a child and you come across this toy you have not seen in AGES. You are all at once brought to experience warm memories and this fresh desire to play. That is me. I am remembering who I am and I want to play.

Transitioning to adulthood is such a strange experience. You are so excited to be independent and responsible. You are now at the part in your life where your dreams of childhood become the realities of today.

But I was not expecting this constant tug to settle.

I was not expecting this tempation to accept defeat and take the easy path.

I was not ready to lose my fire when things were hard emotionally and circumstances unexpecatantly change.

It was these moments of isolation that I was able to creap back into the corners of my mind where my childhood self is kept and I am able to remember who I am at the core.

I have recently been working at a daycare and the majority of my new little friends are between the ages of 4 and 8. I sit and marvel at them as they play and interact (or at least when we turn the electronics off. That is another blog entirely. Do not get me started on the imagination killers.) The pre-school class in particular really fascinate me. They all have such distinct personalities that I can almost tell you with certainty the types of people they will grow up to be someday. I immediately see faces of adults are already know and imagine this child growing up to be similar to them. Its so fun.

My favorite part of this age group is their innocence and their hunger to learn. When did we lose this? It makes me sad the day children no longer look at the world with wide-eyed curiosity. I believe their eyes see the world more clearly than I do. Its untainted from pain and is able to witness the truth playing out before their eyes.

I am currently directing a musical called You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. It is all about this very thing, looking at the world through the eyes of a child. It has been such an enjoyable experience to study this script and allow myself to remember how to see. I am not saying children are little perfect angels. Oh my goodness. They know how to sin and be mean naturally.

Selfishness is there since birth.

What I am marveling at is the fact they have not felt pain and live life with so much joy. It reminds me of scripture and how Jesus encourages His followers to have a child’s faith. A good example of that is the feeding of the 5,000 and a boy is willing to share his lunch to help Jesus feed a crowd. He looked at his lunch and thought, “Hm, I want to help. What do I have? Well, Jesus can have it. He will help everyone.” Its as simple as that. He witnessed truth, Jesus, and believed he would help.

So as I accept my isolation and find my inner child, I have found that God always made me a joyful person with a desire to make friends, make people happy and hear a good story. It is interesting to note that when I experience pain the first thing it effects are the things I have always been good at since childhood. I was on the verge of depression, I used my friends to make me feel better, I put myself first, and struggled to listen to stories. (Especially being involved in theatre). I am starting to really appreciate my time alone because it has truly become quality time with Jesus. I am learning that He is always listening and I am beginning to feel his presence in a very real way. (My cats help too. haha)

I am so thankful for this season and these thoughts because I know I am becoming more like Christ and it makes me want to do a happy dance. He has a BEAUTIFUL story for me. I am ready to hear it and see it with my child-faith-eyes.

 

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Disappointment. On the Stage and in Life.

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Disappointment.

I think this word is greatly overlooked in today’s society. Until recently it has been ignored in my very own life. Disappointment as defined by Kristi Walker in her recently published book, Disappointment, A Subtle Path Away From Christ, is “An unfulfilled self-appointment, expectation, longing, desire, or hope in someone or something other than God and His will, resulting in feelings of loss, sadness, or even depression.”

Let that definition sink in for a while. Can you think of a moment when you had a longing or expectation and it fell short of becoming reality? Do you remember how you felt? I am currently experiencing the consequences of unfulfilled self-appointments. I’m a single 25 (almost 26) year old christian woman. I expected to be married to a youth pastor, developing a christian community theatre through my husband’s church while raising our three adorable children (two boys and a girl named Peter, James, and Bella Joy). How many of you are raising your eyebrows thinking, “Girl, you have put too much thought into this?” You’re right! I have! I am a dreamer and passionate with a DEEP longing to be married with children and at the same time start a ministry that impacts families in a community. Guess what? This has not happened and I am constantly hit with waves of depression so much so that I have taken my pain to a counselor to help me refocus on Christ. It is NOT easy!

Why did God give us these dreams and desires only to NOT give them to us? This is where we are mistaken. This question is coming from a heart that does not completely understand. God has given us gifts and abilities but His desire for us is for us to desire Him. These things I am longing for are gifts and appointments MADE BY GOD and given in His time, wisdom, and sovereignty. If I desire only God’s will, I will be kept safe from the devastating results of disappointment. I had a life illustration of this very concept this week with the students I am directing.

I held auditions this week. I was very pleased with the turn out and after much time in prayer, studying the script and the music for this show my team and I made a final cast list. WE WERE SO EXCITED. I believe I made the right choice based upon their performance at auditions and my knowledge of their abilities.

I heard through the grape vine that some of my ensemble AND leads were not happy with the role they were given. They are seriously considering not doing this show. I was deeply hurt and offended by their responses. I felt disrespected as their director. How dare they question me? I am their teacher, their mentor. I have experience and I LOVE them. I only want what is best for them. I have been studying the script and know them. I can see the big picture and believe they are the right person for the roles given. Then it hit me like a tidal wave. I do this to God ALL THE TIME. I say, “God, I don’t want this role. You obviously have this wrong. Don’t you know I want this part?”

One thing theatre has taught me is that there are certain roles that you are BORN to play. They are the roles that come so naturally and you quite literally shine when you are cast in them. The audience has no problem believing you are the character because you ARE the character. It was a tough lesson for me to learn for the stage. I love Disney princesses but I have to come to the place where I understand (and have peace) that I will never be Ariel in The Little Mermaid or Belle in Beauty and the Beast. My gifts and abilities will shine more as an Ursula or Mrs. Potts and I can see myself as a kick-butt Wardrobe. Haha!

I had a hard time learning this for the stage but I struggle more to learn this in life.

After I had this realization I wrote on our Facebook page this message:

You guys!!!! I am so pumped!!!! Think about it like this: there are so many kids and families you are going to encourage by giving them a break from reality and a time to laugh and remember what it truly means to be happy!! (Listen to the final song “Happiness”. I cry every time I hear it!) I’m excited for you to study the scripts and fall in love with your characters and this show. Stayed tuned for our first meeting when I give you scripts. It will be before your Christmas break! Congratulations!!! You all blew me away at auditions and did not make this easy for me to cast. I had many late nights in the script listening to the music and it brought me to our current cast list. I hope you trust me! I would never steer you wrong!!! Let’s break some legs!!!”

I hope you trust me. I would never steer you wrong. I feel like that is God’s heart to us in these times of disappointment. I don’t know what my kids are going to do. I know a few of them will fight me. They will struggle to trust me. They will question my direction. They will even ignore where I tell them to stand. But what a blessing for me to be in a position to see and understand by HEAVENLY FATHER AND DIRECTOR in an intimate way. And what a tremendous platform to give Him glory when I respond the exact way my Father does to me; with patience, unconditional love, and endless grace.

Pray for my kiddos and their disappointed hearts. I pray I am given an opportunity to invite them to know a God who will never disappoint them. Pray with me!

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Confessions of a Strong Woman

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It has been an interesting few weeks. I have found myself with an insurmountable amount of free time which could not have been said a short month ago. It has left me to do the unthinkable…spend time alone. *gasp* As a people-person and extravert I can say I am also surprised I am still alive.

I have peace about this season of waiting. I have no idea what is going to happen next. For the first time in my life I do not have a plan. I am also quite ok with not having one. I am praying and seeking God’s will. And no, folks, I do not want to be on Broadway. No, I do not want to work at Disney World or be in cruise ship entertainment. I do not want to audition for Sight and Sound Theatre. Do I still have a passion for theatre? ABSOLUTELY. Just please hear me out.

Over the past few years God has sketched a dream in me to teach and do ministry. I have no idea where or how. I just know that I am wired like a teacher. I don’t necessarily want to get my education degree (but I am willing if it becomes clear that is my next step). I don’t even necessarily want to work for a school system (but again, I am willing if that becomes clear that is what God has for me.) I do know that when I work with youth my spirit is light and I feel so much joy I forget any negative emotion exists in the world. Ok, that may have been a very poetic hyperbole. I do not forget about negative emotions because let’s face it, sometimes kids push your buttons. And I love it.

Here is the point, I would love to combine teaching AND theatre AND ministry together. And that is not very easy to find in this day. So I am praying and waiting. I know those jobs exist and I found a few I am currently doing now for part time. AND I LOVE IT.

But knowing what you would love to do with your life and not being able to do it can be hard on your self esteem and cause you to doubt. It can cause you to question. It can cause you to take a different direction. I have done that and it has brought me to where I am today: to the same desires. God was so good and made it so I once again find myself completely unattached and able to pursue that calling again. Its so humbling. I know it is of God because I have so much PEACE.

But there is one area of my life that is not so peaceful. I have been battling for some time with the Lord about my role as a woman. It has led me to feel so much rejection in the past year. I have felt that women are so limited. I have been surrounded by a community that calls out to men to lead and to pastor. Which I believe God has given men that role, and I respect that. But it has left me frustrated on so many fronts.

Romance: My role as a woman is to wait to be pursued. I am not to pursue a man. I have to wait until one CHOOSES me. I have to be mysterious and be fun to chase. (Some would call this, “hard to get”) I am to keep my standards high so I don’t get hurt but also be gentle and wait for boys to mature.

Sorry, I am not mysterious. I say whats on my mind. I am open about what I believe. I am gentle but if you are sinning or making choices that say you have low standards for yourself…you better bet, buster, Imma gonna call you out (especially if you claim to know Christ and want to be more like Him). I’m not your wife. I am your sister, your neighbor. Love is pulling them out of the pit. Love doesn’t let you sit alone in the dark.

I’m a woman who fights. And I am not going to pretend to be a dainty princess when God has made my heart to be a princess warrior. And let me just say one more thing on the subject, I think a man with a warrior princess for a wife is one of the luckiest men in the world. He knows his wife is gonna pick up the sword next to him and keep his kingdom running when he is away. She is strong and will raise strong children.

Ministry: This one in particular has always been hard for me. When a women has teaching and leadership gifts, she often gets put in the children’s classroom. And I love teaching children. I already said that. Yet there are times when I feel like I am not allowed to be in front of a group of males and females together and teach a message from the Bible. I don’t want to be a pastor. But I do think I am gifted in communicating God’s Word. I find myself become mouse-like in an attempt to be a gentle-spirit and to not get in the way of what men are supposed to do. This has greatly affected my worth and how I see myself. But again, I am learning that I am their sister. I have every right to speak to men the way I speak to women; and that is in love and building them up with God’s Word.

Why is the role of women so hard for my mind to grasp? God made me a leader and I find myself feeling rejected whenever I begin to accept who God made me to be. I know a lot of that is because I fear man and not God. Actually, it has everything to do with that. I am not blaming anyone. I am in an identity crisis. So what should I do. Yes, I GO TO GOD’S WORD!

I have been thinking about the life of Moses a lot recently. So I decided to read Exodus to refresh my memory of all the details of his story. Within the first chapter I was stopped cold:

“Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you help the Hebrew women give birth, observe them as they deliver. If the child is a son, kill him, but if its a daughter, she may live.” The Hebrew midwives, however, FEARED GOD and DID NOT DO as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before a midwife can get to them.” SO GOD WAS GOOD TO THE MIDWIVES, AND THE PEOPLE MULTIPLIED AND BECAME VERY NUMEROUS. SINCE THE MIDWIVES FEARED GOD, HE GAVE THEM FAMILIES.” (1:15-22 HCSB)

I was blown away. These women fought. These women were strong. Yes, they lied and God does not approve of lying but they were in the face of GREAT EVIL and knew that killing those innocent babies was against God’s will. They feared God and disobeyed Pharaoh. And guess what, God blessed them! He even gave them a family. That spoke straight to my heart. I openly admit I would love to have a family someday. What a sweet gift God gave to these women who were strong and did what was right.

THEN in the next chapter I am blown away again by THREE MORE STRONG WOMEN! Moses’ mother risked her life to protect baby Moses. For three months she hid him from Pharaoh. Then she did what only a strong mother could do, send her son BY FAITH in a basket floating down the Nile, praying he would be found by a merciful savior. Next Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses, “When she opened it, she saw the child–a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for Him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrew boys.'”. SHE KNEW HE WAS A HEBREW! Yet she still saved him! She went against the Pharaoh’s commands! And then finally, Moses’ sister boldly approaches the princess (for she had been following her brother’s basket the entire time!) and says, “Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?” You will never believe what happens next. Moses’ sister fetches her mother, WHO COMES, and the Pharaoh’s daughter says, “Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay your wages”

Moses’ mother is being paid to take care of her own child. That is unheard of! Then after he grows up…GIVES HIM BACK! But I can’t help but think this: women have very good intuition when it comes to mothering. I ponder if the Pharaoh’s daughter knew that she was the mother of Moses. How could a mother hide the relief and even mask her deep, sacrificial love for her child. I am sure as soon as Moses’ mother took her son in her arms the Pharaoh’s daughter saw it in her eyes and knew..and yet she still allowed this exchange. UNBELIEVABLE.

These women are strong! They are leaders. They did what was right. The Hebrew midwives, Moses’ mother, the Pharaoh’s daughter and Moses’ sister ALL have displayed the role that women have in this world. They were not timid. They were not mysterious. They were brave and fought for the Lord. They lived by faith. It is so inspiring to me.

I know that I may still struggle with my role as a woman. It is actually part of the curse of man, women will desire to rule over her husband. But here is the thing…I AM NOT A WIFE YET!!! I can’t act like one. I am called to live by faith just like these women. I am called to be radical and be strong and fight for my King (Jesus Christ) just as much as my fellow brother warriors. I don’t want to become prideful but I don’t want to be timid. And in my waiting season I pray that my warrior spirit continues to be refined. I want to be ready for my next adventure, an adventure that I play the role of a woman who FEARS GOD and is strong in her faith. 

The silhouette of a warrior woman with storm clouds in the background.

Speak Up in Truth and Love. Don’t be a Cowardly Lion.

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How many of you have been burned by silence? You have felt conflict or tension and you don’t know what to do about it? Maybe you are the one that avoids conflict because you can’t handle the pressure and are afraid of making a mistake? Or you feel someone doesn’t like you so you convince yourself it doesn’t bother you but you know it truly does affect your thoughts and opinions of them. It hurts not to be liked. It hurts to be ignored. It hurts to be lied to. But the truth can hurt as well.

Should we still say the truth? Even if it hurts?

YES.

When you don’t communicate with WORDS your thoughts and emotions, you are allowing others to base their relationship with you off of feelings (which change constantly.) and your relationship is not stable. That’s not truth. That’s not biblical. That is not Christ. He always tells us how he sees us and how he feels about us.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Duet. 31:6)

” For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16)

“But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,” (John 1:12)

God does not ever let you question where you stand with Him. He even tells the unrepentant sinner,
“Then I will announce to them, I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ ” (Matthew 7:23)

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)

God is an amazing communicator. He will always speak truth. A truth that is transforming, healing, and at times convicting. But it’s true. He even gave us the Holy Spirit to speak directly to us! (Psalm 25). The Holy Spirit is an awesome counselor.

Then why are we so afraid to be honest? Why are we so afraid to let others know where we stand? Or how we are truly doing?

Maybe we fear accountability? Maybe we fear man more than God? We don’t want to be mean. We don’t want to look bad. Well, if your words were spoken in love…how is that being mean? I actually find it cruel to not speak. You are not giving the person the opportunity to repent (Make a change!) How can they change of we don’t bring to LIGHT what we feel? Or how they make us feel?

Obviously we do need to practice the very useful conflict management skills of “attack the problem, not the person.”

For example, “When you do this, I feel…”

They can not argue with your feelings. They are truth. And folks, God made emotions. Don’t fear them. They are not meant to drive the car, but they can give insight to be a better driver. When our emotions are guided by truth, they can be an encouragement to the Christian. Feelings can give you insight to how or what you truly believe about a principle or person. And if that emotion does not line up with scripture, the Christian will be led to have a great conversation with God and to repentance.

Truth. We need to speak. We need to speak it in love. Speak up. Don’t let silence destroy your relationships.

If your words are not in love and are intended to hurt. Don’t speak. That is being selfish and a bully. (Philippians 2, Everyone should look out not only got his own interests but also for the interests of others.) But if your heart is to nuture the relationship and encourage the individual to be more like Christ, it would be pure cowardice not to pull them out of darkness.

As for the one receiving the words (Which we all at some point play the roles of speaker and listener.) In both roles, we should practice James 1:19-25:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. ”

We all should be in constant prayer that God softens our hearts to the truth. This is a great prayer to help you get started:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting.” (Psalm 138:23-24)

Let us be better communicators for God’s glory. I pray we use our words to edify the body of believers, encourage the broken hearted, and share the Gospel to the wandering soul.

Speak up in truth and in love. Don’t be a cowardly lion.