How these Superbowl Ads are Going Against our Culture

The Superbowl commercials have been celebrated for decades. We watch with great expectations. To laugh. To cry. To groan. To cheer. Mini-movies which make us laugh, cry, groan, cheer, fall in love, and of course, want what they’re selling.

And yet, my friends, for years I avoided the commercial breaks. The message many of the ads sold was simply sex. Or rather, men: want these women. Lust after them. This is what you want. This is what will make you happy. A bit of breast. A piece of a$$. We know you only think of one thing. Let’s settle and give you only that.

Let’s forget that you are so much more.

But every day I watch my husband. I see him struggle against this culture which reduces him to one desire. Which forgets that he is a father. Ignores that he is a husband. Neglects that he is a strong, complex, capable, feeling, thinking man.

tim reading to jack

Every day my husband takes care of our kids. He gets them dressed. Drops them off at school. Works HARD at his business to support them. Takes care of their laundry. Feeds them. Snuggles and tickles and wrestles and plays with them. And every evening, I get the front row seat to him reading their bedtime stories before kissing them goodnight.

This year it seems that people have finally noticed: Our men are so much more.

Men love. Men cry. Men have passion. Men fear. Men hope. Men dream. Men make a difference.

Thank you, Nissan. Thank you, Dove. Thank you for affirming the men in our lives. The dads who build up our children. The people we love.

If we can all follow in their footsteps. Stop laughing at the mistakes men make. Stop mocking their different styles of parenting. Stop expecting them to be like women.

Start accepting their tears. Start listening to their fears. Start encouraging their hopes and dreams. If we can start supporting them to change a diaper, hold our child, be an active dad – the dad their kids so desperately need. If we can trust them for a night or a weekend alone to experience 24 hours with their kids, what would happen? They might not do it the same… no, they might do it better.

For once they might be built up in who God created them to be. Not a 2 dimensional character in a godaddy commercial, but a strong man who has gifts, talents and abilities. For once they might shine in their expression of love. For once they might be equipped to support their family beyond their finances. For once they might be seen as respectable contributors to the holistic well being of the family.

What would change in your family if you entrusted your husband with your child? What would change in him if he saw you respect him? What would change in your kids? What would change in you?

** I want to make a note to you friends whose husbands have proved themselves to be untrustworthy because of abuse. Please know, this is not for you. My prayers are with you. Bless you.

As a Christian Perfectionist, I feel like a failure (intro to my sermon)

A month ago I preached what has been called my “best sermon yet.” While it didn’t feel that awesome to me (I was tired and a bit uncertain) I do believe that God had something to say. Here is the introduction to the sermon. If you want to hear the whole thing, listen here or get it on iTunes here (11/9/14 “Clothe Yourself in Christ”).

During my sophomore year of high school, I woke up each morning at 5:30 in order to spend 30 minutes reading my Bible and praying before getting ready for school. During those times, the Spirit moved within me as God’s word began to impact my life as never before. I read about love, forgiveness, life. And as I struggled with depression for the first time, I experienced comfort and acceptance in God’s presence.

Those times were precious to me.

I desired my friends to experience this life and I’m sure I came across pushy and judgmental as I awkwardly told them they needed to read the Bible, too. But it came from this deep desire that they know God.

This season was sweet. And it was short. Summer vacation came and so did my late nights watching every episode of Wonder Years on Nick @ Nite and sleeping in. As I went on, still following Jesus, I felt pangs of guilt in my conscious that I should have been better at reading the Bible. The few times a week here and there were not good enough. I believed I was not doing well as a Christian. My youth group meetings, church services, and FCA meetings confirmed this. Read your Bible! Pray! And for 30 minutes. In the morning. Because that’s when Jesus did it. While it was still dark. Before everyone else got up.

If you check this off of your list, you will be ok.

And as I read scripture, I began to see that there were behaviors that would please God and those that God did not like so much. So, as I read, I tried to change. I would search for ways that I needed to change and try to learn how to be the girl God & others wanted me to be, on my own.

If you can hold your tongue, not swear, never drink alcohol, dress modestly, if you could just be perfect, sweet, humble, kind, quiet, then you will be acceptable as a Christian woman. Then you are good enough.

But I have a temper. I used to scream at my little sisters and smack them, hard, if they got in my way. When I was 15 or 16 I left a stinging hand print on my 7 year old sister’s back. I was horrified with my sin and vowed to never hit anyone again. I refrained from my sisters and have avoided spanking my children, terrified of the wrath inside of me.

And there’s this thought in me, if only I was better at following Jesus I would not have a temper. If only I just did more to follow Christ, then maybe I could have myself under control.

As humans, we tend to view ourselves as one of two ways. Either we work our butts off to prove to everyone that we are good enough, terrified of failure, constantly trying to perfect ourselves on our own. Or we feel that we are not good enough and give up trying to be, accepting that no one, not even God could love or help us. We are perfectionists, trying to “make it” on our own. Or we believe ourselves to be failures and give up before we even try.

Any one of the individuals on either side of the spectrum are desperate, whether we will admit it or not…

Listen here for more…

clothe in christ

That time God showed me I had Him all wrong (the continuation of my story)

Day 16 of 31 Days of Connecting (this is the continuation of my story which began back here.)

Two days after my friend prayed for me – two days after I realized God knew how much I was hurting, that God cared for my pain, I was driving home from church on highway 85 asking Him: How could you do this to me? How could you call me away from everyone I love – when I needed people the most? You knew I would say yes!!

Maybe I didn’t want you to.

Come again?

Maybe I wanted you to question me. Maybe I wanted you to be in discussion with me.

God’s words almost made me stop in the middle of Highway 85.

Could it be that I had God wrong the whole time? That he does not want me to act subservient or to be his “Yes-Man,” but to be in relationship?

Suddenly everything was clear. Suddenly I knew. I could have said no. I could have said no and been with my family. I could have said no and lived in the land of green trees, masses of water, and mosquitos. I could have said no.

Not that I necessarily would have… but I didn’t even consider pondering His call. I didn’t even think it was an option to think it over, to wrestle with Him about it.

I remember Jacob who wrestled with an angel of God all night one night. He would not let him go until God blessed him. Eventually, God did – and He gave him a new name, Israel: One who wrestles with God. And that name became the name of Jacob’s descendants, Israel: The people who wrestle with God are God’s people.

day 16

By assuming God desired a willing servant who did not feel, who did not question, who did not think, I had made God into someone He is not – heartless, distant, and careless with our souls.

If I had questioned God and told him about my aches and fears, I think those three years in Denver would have been different. If we had come to a decision together, I would not have resented the call. If I had worked with Him, I would have been more at peace, more secure in saying goodbye to our families three or four times a year.

But mostly, if I had been honest, I could have known myself as God’s child rather than gone on believing I was merely his pawn. His slave.

If I had been honest, I could have received His love.

Though I was not honest, I am learning to be honest now. And receiving His love has become my most favorite thing. I can’t wait to tell you those stories…

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. -Jesus in John 15:15

31 days of connecting

I Will Not Tell A Lie

Day 13 of 31 Days of Connecting

31 days big

Today I had a choice:

Be honest. Be truthful. Or hide.

Say what was hurting me. Or put on a mask.

Encourage my kids to speak out. Or tell them to be silent.

Over and over again this past week I have been encouraged by those who have told me I have been brave for speaking the truth about the loss, the pain, the struggle that I have encountered in this life.

And over and over again I have read stories other women have written about their own heartache. About their addictions. Their infidelity. Their loss.

It is their honesty that keeps me going.

When I read my friend’s blog – and her commitment to be authentic for 31 days – that’s when I knew I needed to speak the truth.

We live in a culture that encourages falsehood and masks. From internet trolls who will smash the most vulnerable to photoshop that “corrects” a beautiful body, we are told we are not enough – that the truth isn’t good. And even church culture can tie the mask on tight. We encourage one another to “trust in God” when we don’t even know where He is in our own lives. We smile and say “praise Him” when inside we are weeping.

We encourage one another that we can tell the truth, but inside we’re afraid that if we speak up we will lose… again.

What would it look like if instead of giving a quick platitude we told our crying friends we don’t have the answers either? What would it look like if we just held them instead of trying to make them (or us) feel better? What would it look like if we learned to embrace the discomfort of honest emotion?

I am convinced the loneliness that surrounds us exists because we have not yet discovered the ability to be truthful. And it’s understandable after being rejected. Or rebuked. Or abused.

But we have to keep trying.

We need each other.

We need to be heard.

And we need to hear that others have experienced the same things, too.

day 13Is there someone you have that you can speak the truth to? Who is it? If not… who would you like it to be? Start looking and praying… I didn’t always have that someone either. And until then, be that person for someone else.

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. (Ephesians 4:25 The Message)

For the first time, I acknowledged my loss…

Day 8 of 31 Days of Connecting31 days of connecting

My journey of 31 days is taking a little turn. Over the next days – as many as it takes – I want to share my recent story with you. It started here, yesterday. Please start there. I pray that hearing my story of connecting – of REconnecting – will help you connect with God, others, and yourself.

In January 2013, I felt life was going really well. Ben was one, Jack was four, my depression was under control, I had excitement for Scum of the Earth Church and sensed that God was bringing something new to our community through a movement of prayer and worship.  I had hope of redemption and faith that God brings things around for the better – hope that I had been missing for a few years. At last God had reminded me that He brings joy to life, not just endurance.

So, when we held our first night of prayer and worship at Scum, I was filled with anticipation and expectation of what God would do.

The evening was beautiful as people came and saught the LORD. And God was moving. He was redeeming. He was encouraging. He was speaking. I was honored to be part of it and more confident than ever that this was where I was supposed to be.

Then one of our leaders asked my husband, Tim, and me to pray for his health. I prayed. Tim prayed. When we finished, he turned to Tim and told him how impactful his prayer was. That there was power in his hands.

He said nothing to me.

I felt myself fall to pieces. My confidence vanished. I was hurt that he didn’t recognize God’s work in me – I feared maybe God wasn’t working in me. I battled with my insecurity and shame until I finally told Tim, “I feel useless.”

Tim then wanted to ask that same leader we prayed for to pray for me. I was horrified and scared to discover where these feelings were coming from. Was I under spiritual attack?

But we asked the leader, and he prayed over me. Then he said the thing I least expected. He said that fear is often connected to grief. He told me I need to consider what I’ve lost in my life and how that has affected me and caused me to fear. My fear and insecurity was not an outside attack, but God was healing me by revealing my deep pain.

I was bewildered. I had never considered myself as needing to grieve. However, within 24 hours, I had a list of lost relationships; more than 20 individuals whose relationship with me had been severed in some way. From middle school friends to professional mentors. From relatives to peers. From best friends to boyfriends. Deaths. Illnesses. Moves. I had said goodbye to so many people and I felt the hurt of them all.

For the first time I acknowledged my loss.

And my pain.

I wrote in my journal:

Sometimes I fear no one loves me as deeply as I do them. That Tim could not be as crazy about me as I am about him. Or that friends don’t want my friendship. Or even, Lord, that I have to earn your favor… Now, being away from family, having few friends, or even close co-workers, I feel afraid of losing more, being rejected all over again…

I began to grieve.

day 8to be continued…

 

I Was Dishonest with God

Day 7 of 31 Days of Connecting

Over 9 years ago, Tim and I moved to Colorado so I could get my MDiv at Denver Seminary. When our son Jack was born the day after I turned in my final assignment (wrap your head around that for a minute), my heart ached to return to Minnesota to live near our family. When they all came to visit for Christmas that year and had to leave again, there wasn’t a dry eye in the apartment.

Kaihoi's Pics 045 Kaihoi's Pics 048 Kaihoi's Pics 053

I did everything I could to move back.

Since Tim had decided to become a mechanic, we toured automotive schools in the Twin Cities.

I applied for every job I could find in my field both within the cities and out of them, but female pastors are not necessarily desired – especially during a great recession. I got few responses…

I was offered a position in Kansas. Middle of nowhere Kansas. I turned it down. That would have only been pulling me further from family, not closer.

I had an interview for a position in Willmar, MN. My Dad’s hometown – but that didn’t pan out.

We continued to pray, cry, and try to discern where God had us next.

One Sunday night Denver, we were in church during one of the most raw, uncomfortable, and honest services I have ever attended. I loved it. I had never felt at home at Scum of the Earth Church. It was not my culture. But when the staff was willing to put themselves out there in such vulnerability and honesty, I found myself asking God, can I find this anywhere else?

No.

And then He told me, I want you here.

Here? At Scum? I asked.

Yes, here.

I cried.

I was relieved to finally have an answer, but I was devastated that God was keeping me from my family. My support system. With tears streaming down my face, I said yes.

I said yes quickly, because I believed it was what God expected of me. I did not ask why Denver and not Minneapolis. I did not ask why He was keeping me from my family – though my heart was wounded. I did not ask if Scum would be a good fit for me. I just submitted without question. Like a good Christian girl does – or at least what I thought a good Christian girl did.

 

31 days of connectingBut my lack of honesty with God about my feelings that night, my lack of lamenting to God about His call away from my family, my lack of questioning His call, my quick yes to God, actually hindered my walk with Him… 

(more tomorrow)

Has God ever called you somewhere difficult? How did you respond?

“Sick Day”

I’m banging my head against the wall today.

I signed up my kids for VBS this week because I want them to learn about Jesus through fun songs, crafts and games. And, honestly? I also signed them up so I could have some time to myself and so that they would come home ready to nap. No whining. No questions. Just the sweet silence of sleep.

It happened yesterday! Yesterday was perfect. Even my five year old napped for two hours – and so did I!

But today… today Ben must have had a snooze on the ride home, because even though I dropped him off at VBS this morning glossy eyed with fatigue, he’s still awake now.

I fought for the nap. Really I did. For an hour I sent him back to bed. I lay down with him. I gave him a snack. I rubbed his back. And he just kept boomeranging back to me.

Commence head banging.

2014-07-29_15.33.54I realized I had a choice to make. Continue on with the fight I was clearly losing. Or give in.

I gave in.

But my attitude was fatalistic.

This is going to suck. He is going to be whining at me All.Day.Long. I am going to be whining. God help me. God help me. God help me.

So, I did what any rational mama would do. I hid in the basement.

But then I actually did pray…

God, I don’t know how to get through days like this. I hate days like this. How do I do this? Really, how?

In a few short minutes, I didn’t just give in, I accepted it. And I had an answer. Treat today like a sick day. Because in reality, if the sleep-deprived child is not sick, he will be.

So, Wild Kratts is on. Continuously. And for Jack, Up! is on in the other room.

2014-07-29 15.49.08And I am here, choosing to be constructive.* Choosing to continue on with my day. Choosing to seek God when my attitude is worse than my kids’. I still wish they were napping, but today it seems that I need to just go with it, make the best of it, and do what’s needed to honor my kids and honor my God.

Here’s hoping for an early bedtime.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life… (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

*Please know this isn’t easy. I don’t say this flippantly or with the expectation that I will succeed. I just continue on, trusting God’s grace to help me on what is sure to be a frustrating, head banging day.

UPDATE: He actually IS sick. #facepalm