on getting outside our heads

outsideyourhead

As I shared the other day, my eyes are being pried open to the need and opportunity to love all around me. And not just to love half-heartedly, but to go all in, go hog wild, as we say here in Texas. To give with no agenda or ulterior motive, just unconditional love. I’m not saying I do this with any sort of consistency or depth, but I’m saying my eyes have been opened, at least a little bit.

I think the whole ordeal with World Vision just revealed to me how much inside our own head we are. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, basically a couple of days ago World Vision (a Christian based humanitarian effort that supports children in poverty all around the world) announced that they would change their hiring policy and hire Christian gay people who were married.

People went crazy.

Thousands and thousands of people withdrew their $35 monthly donations for the child they had been supporting for years because of this decision.

In other words, people yanked back their promise of love, support, and provision of food, medicine, education, and clothing for a child because they decided in their own mind that punishing the “sin” of being gay was way more important than providing a child with life.

They would rather punish gay people than provide food to a child in poverty. (Benjamin Corey had an awesome post that first made me aware of this whole situation.)

Then, yesterday, World Vision reversed their decision. Nish Weiseth wrote an excellent piece about this, also.

I get why World Vision would do that. These are real kids losing real, tangible needs because people withdrew their support. But it still sucks.

And in all of this, it struck me how much inside our own heads, our own lives, our own minds we are. How did we, as Jesus-followers, end up deciding that homosexuality was worse than greed? Or selfishness? Or idolatry? Or divorce? Or economic injustice? Because we live inside our own heads, with little to no thought for the needs of those around us.

We’re great at loving our kids. Or our spouses. Or our friends. We’re great at loving people just like us.

But what happens when you don’t like someone’s behavior? When you don’t agree with their lifestyle? Well. Then we don’t have to love them, of course. And furthermore, they deserve to be called out, shunned, and made to wear scarlet letters so we can separate those who agree with us from those who don’t. We become modern-day Pharisees, knowing we’re supposed to “love our neighbors as ourselves” but asking who our neighbor is – who do we have to love? Who can we get away with hating?

When we get stuck living the Christian life in our own heads, with our own judgements and opinions and rhetoric, the entire Christian life becomes all about judging other people’s behavior. There is no room in our minds for loving others because love doesn’t come from your head. 

Love comes from God, who resides in us, in union with our spirit. God, who is Love, and who is revealed in the person of Jesus, isn’t interested in punishing people for their behavior or creating in clubs and out clubs or in ranking sins. He is about loving unconditionally. He is about social and economic justice (which, by the way, he addresses way more often than anything remotely regarding homosexuality), He is about loving our enemies, He is about redemption and healing and mercy.

To participate in this crazy, counter-culture, wildly loving, Kingdom of God, we must get outside our own head. We must be willing to enter into the swirling Grace around us, to dive in and let go of the rhetoric we thought we knew, the judgements and arguments and “I’m-right-and-you’re-going-to-hell” speech.

We must be willing to open our eyes to what Jesus really said, what He really cares about. What did He say were the greatest commandments? To love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others. And then He went on to say that all of the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40). All of the head-based, rule-following behaviors and decisions must be seen through the greatest commandment to love.

Because when it comes down to it, can anyone really picture Jesus dumping hungry kids off his lap to stand up and call out a gay person who was trying to feed those kids?

Let’s get outside our own heads, our own stuff, and let’s be about the business of loving others.

 

moms loving moms

 

It’s been building, y’all. In the silence of this blog, in the corners of my heart, in this undeniable need to love unconditionally, outward, with no agenda. I feel like this God who is Love is opening my squinted-shut eyes to all the need around me. Especially the needs of other women.

Maybe it started with Jesus Feminist by the wordsmith of wordsmiths, Sarah Bessey. Besides the fact that it is the best book I’ve read in a while, it put to speak out loud words what has been brewing in me for a while.

“We are creating a world where every woman can be who she is, without apology, in freedom.”

And she also quotes Idelette McVicker, who simply states, “Let us be women who love.” A to the men.

And so it is that I find myself with a foyer full of diaper boxes and ultra maxi pads and used baby blankets. Why, you ask?

Because there are ONE in THIRTEEN women in Sub-Saharan Africa who die in childbirth. And it’s ONE in SEVEN women in Papua New Guinea. These women aren’t debating the use of an epidural. They aren’t discussing c-section options or typing up birth plans or stocking up on diapers. They just want to survive childbirth.

And then when you read that the infant mortality rate is equally as high in these countries. Mommies and babies are dying for lack of a clean delivery.

The best/worst news is that so much of these deaths could be prevented with access to clean birthing items. My dear friend and fellow Love-bearer Colleen came across the idea of assembling clean-delivery birth kits.

An organization called Every Mother Counts is heading up this birth kit drive, now through mid April. The crazy part? There are only seven items in a birth kit and they are super simple to buy/find.

Here’s what each kit needs: (everything is put into 1 gallon-sized ziploc)

  • Baby blanket (new or gently used)
  • 1-2 cotton baby sheets (new or gently used, crib size, fitted or not fitted)
  • Baby hat
  • Cloth diapers (2) &, if diapers require it, 4 large safety pins
  • Washcloth
  • Gentle bar soap
  • 2 gauze rolls (90cmX5cm)
  • 1 box feminine pads (ultra)

Each kit works out to only $3. Three dollars, y’all. That’s less than a Starbucks latte.

If you’re interested in donating items, assembled birth kits, or money to buy more birth kits, please, please contact me here on the blog or by emailing me at { belovedone100 at gmail dot com }. If you live close to me, you can drop items off or I can pick them up.

Let us be moms who love other moms. Let us be women who love.

 

vacation stories

You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, I tend to agree. The hubs and I spent 8 (kidless!) days on vacation two weeks ago. 4 days in Belize, 4 days in Costa Rica. Need I say more? No, I shouldn’t. I should just show you some pictures.

| Ambergris Caye, Belize |

| San Jose and surrounding areas, Costa Rica |

It was amazing and unforgettable and relaxing and awesome.

the blog was on vacation

Can it really still be considered a blog if you haven’t blogged in SIX MONTHS? Hmmm.

In all honesty, I needed a six month break from this. I was getting too worried about it, too anxious about comments, too scheduled to posts, too all up in its bloggy little bizness.

I feel like I’m ready to write again after I held down the reset button for six months and now, NOW, my cursor is blinking rapidly with excitement instead of dread. It’s a good thing, to quote Martha.

Because the truth is, I love to write. I think I’m reminding myself of that these days. I’ve missed just typing out my thoughts. I’ve missed processing through written words.

And so. There it is. We (the blog and I) were on a little vacay. And now we’re back in the real (Internet) world, fat and happy from relaxing by the sea, ready to blog again.

Until we need another vacation, anyway. :)

you are wanted

Did you know that today, you are wanted?

Not just loved, although that is rather huge all by itself.

But loved so fully that you are desired, sought after, wanted.

You, with all your quirks and eccentricities and loveliness and personality, are wanted. You might smell like spit up breastmilk, or you might have dirt under your fingernails or 4 day old unwashed hair or the same pair of yoga pants on as yesterday. You might have just lost it with your 3 year old or you might be relishing the summer days with your 8 year old. You might be simmering in bitterness and anger or you might feel crushed under the weight of perfectionism or I’m-not-enough-ism.

Wherever today finds you, know this. You are wanted.

In fact, you are so wanted that 2,000 years ago, Someone came so you could be included in His love.

He, the Great I Am, wanted you with Him more than anything. And so He came. For you. He died, and you died with Him. He rose, and you rose with Him. And even if you don’t yet see it, don’t yet believe it, it is still true.

We don’t believe to make it true, we believe because it’s already true. {Steve McVey}

You are already complete in Christ. God so intensely desired you already. He loves you, every single little part of you, already.

And – hear me on this – He wants you in spite of all the reasons you think you’re unworthy. All those whispers that tell you you’re not enough or you’re not worth it or you’re not wanted – they are lies, my friend.

You, your entire being, the essence of who you are – you are wanted, desired, pursued by the God who is Love. “God has a fire in his belly over you,” as my friend Malcolm says. That’s why He came to get you 2,000 years ago.

So if you ponder anything today, ponder this. God wants me.

I do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. {Ephesians 1:16-19}

happy Monday

{source} via Refeathered on Pinterest

Elizabeth Bennett {via Jane Austen} is echoing my sentiments today. On yet another beginning to a new week, may you step into the liveliness of the week. May your life-enjoyment come from the knowledge that He is your life and there is no life apart from Him. May you play today with people who make you know who you really are. May you pick up those paints or words or flowers or spices or whatever makes you come alive with creativity. May you delight in the ridiculous, the silly, the smallness of things.

Enjoy your Monday, friends.

grace for the good girl :: chapter 16

We’re back with our beloved Grace for the Good Girl book, talking about chapter 16: safe, even in failure. Man, oh man. Story. of. my. life.

“If your life is hidden with Christ in God, then failure loses the power it used to have over you. {p. 193}

“Life is so much further from my control than even I know. This earth, fleshy, eyes-down perspective I live with keeps me living a small story. We cannot release these rights on our own. Without Christ, these rights are all we have. But with him, we can release the right to be perfect and never mess up…we are able to experience strength from weakness, beauty from ashes, and freedom even in the midst of failure.” {p. 195}

And what about this? What if failure isn’t not measuring up, or doing or being wrong? What if failure is simply our unwillingness to depend on Him? {Emily brings these questions up on p. 247}

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

1. In what ways might this definition {God’s perspective of} failure frustrate the mask-wearing good girl?

2. What does dependence on Jesus look like as we are affected by the failures of others?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

And finally, this.

being.

The sun shines through the windows and I’m all snuggled down, bottom-deep in my favorite $40 resale store comfy chair. The littles are napping, the air conditioner kicks on, and the day pauses. Steam rises from my vanilla coffee on the table next to me and I take a deep breath.

What do you have to say to me, God?

And I sit. And I wait.

And sometimes, answers come like puzzle pieces, filling in the gaps, making it all make sense.

Other times, there are no answers, no questions to be answered. There is just me be-ing.

It struck me this afternoon that maybe that is the point, after all, isn’t it? To be.

One of my very favorite, close to my heart verses is Acts 17:28.

For in Him, we live and move, and have our being.

If that verse is true, then He is how I’m typing these words. He is how I take the next breath. And the next. And the one after that.

He is the life-sustainer.

If I live and move in Him, if my being is in Him without me doing anything, then He is speaking, whispering, conversing with me all the live-long day.

He speaks through the littles, through the hubby, through creation, through sunshine.

And so it becomes not so much that I have to make it all quiet to hear Him, but that He is in me and unmovable and teh I AM regardless of external noise. Or lack thereof.

He is the unshakable core, the Rock that anchors me down deep into His love-ocean. And if I’m there, I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything to invite Him into what I’m doing.

Oh no. He is so much bigger than that.

I’m already a part of what He is doing, because I live and move in Him. Because He says that I do. That you do. Already.

As Rob Bell says, it all becomes “holy ground” then, doesn’t it? Changing the 8th dirty diaper before lunchtime – holy ground. Putting the 3 year old in time out again – redemptive work. Feeding, folding, sweeping, nursing, answering, loving. If He holds life together and me in it, then we – me joined into the Trinity – do all of these things together, as one.

And He doesn’t want just a little sliver of “quiet time” in the mornings. No, no. He invites us to see Him in all things, as the one holding every detail together. All day, in everything.

Remember that you are being held, every moment of every day.

In Him, you live and move and have your being.

 

what I’m reading {volume 2}

I love books. I used to read only fiction, used to want to escape every time I opened a book. I still read lots of fiction, but I’ve grown to love other people’s real life stories, what other people have to say about very real issues; about God, about me, about relationships.

Books have become a very real avenue for the Spirit to teach, reach, love on me.

And so. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately. {In no particular order of importance or likability- just the way I stacked them. Which was biggest to smallest because I’m slightly OCD and couldn’t stack them any other way. You understand.}

1. The Misunderstood God by Darin Hufford. The tagline is “The Lies Religion Tells About God”. Umm-hmm. We’re going through this one chapter at a time in my Tuesday night Bible study. Darin takes each verse of the love chapter of 1 Corinthians and shows how we (as a Christian religion) basically believe the complete opposite of who God really is, which is Love.

2. Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. No, I’m not 10 years behind the times. I’m reading it a second time, since it’s been the aforementioned 10 years since I’ve read it. At which time I dropped it in the bathtub while I was reading it. Hence, it is twice as thick as it should be with loud, crinkly pages. But it is still speaking to me about femininity, the woman part of God, and how God uniquely made me as a woman.

3. What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell. Bell stirred up quite the controversy with one of his other books, Love Wins. {Which I just read and which I highly, highly, highly recommend.} So far, this one has snagged me, too. Like how quantum physics proves all sorts of craziness {in a good way} about God.

4. 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I’m a year or two behind on this one, but I finally started reading it. The tagline is “An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” and it’s how Jen fasted from each of seven cultural excesses for one month at a time. Interesting read so far, and she is hilarious. Like, make you laugh out loud when you’re supposed to be quietly reading in a coffee shop and everyone stares over at you and you instinctively sink lower into your chair.

5. The Shack Revisited by C. Baxter Krueger. We all know how big a fan I am of The Shack. This is the theology behind The Shack and Baxter does an incredible job of explaining theological terms and Greek and Hebrew words and the infinite love of the Trinity. It’s what I always knew to be true in my spirit, but now can see how Scripture completely backs it up!

And that’s that.

What are y’all reading? I am a die-hard bookworm, so keep the suggestions coming.

happy Monday

groundedonthedaily etsy shop via Refeathered on Pinterest

You are, you know. You, whether you’re reading this in a good mood or a bad one, whether you’re on the mountaintop or in the valley, you are lovely.

love•ly (adj.) – 1. charmingly or exquisitely beautiful 2. delightful, highly pleasing

You are lovely. You are exquisitely beautiful. Every inch of your face and arms and eyelashes were woven together by the God who is in you, for you, holding you together. He breathed beauty into you before the foundation of the world and He unfailingly breathes beauty-life into you each second of every day.

You are unquestioningly beautiful.

You are delightful, highly pleasing. You make Him step back, take a good look at you, shake his head with wonder, say, “Isn’t she something?”

He is especially fond of you, as Papa says in The Shack.

You are beautiful because of who you are. Your name is lovely.  He calls you beautiful. He whispers lovingly, pats your cheek, holds your hand, and invites you to see your loveliness, too.

On this Monday, this beginning of a new week, may you see your loveliness. May you catch glimpses of how pleasing you are to Him. May you remember that your name is Lovely.

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