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How To Own Your Sh*t: A Series

A friend is in the middle of a DIY remodel and posted after a long day of work, “Why is it so embarrassing to admit we don’t know how to do something?”

The question struck me because the word, “embarrassing,” is a curious thing. It got me wondering…

First of all, this person is crushing their first DIY! It takes bravery and tenacity to try something you’ve never done! This friend has consulted youtube, friends, neighbors, and hashed things out on their own, as well as gratefully accepting help here and there.

This friend’s schooling, training, and work experience to some extent have overlapping themes which gave them foresight to take on such a project, but in practice, this person has never refurbished anything on their own.

Can we just pause and talk about what a feat it is to simply TRY!? 

Whether we are cognizant of our fears when trying new things, or if we try things blindly, the action of trying should be recognized, for sure…even celebrated.

Take note: Before this I didn’t know how to do “X.” Here’s what I’d do next time, here’s what I’d do differently.

This is called learning…and some learning can’t solely be done by reading books, listening to lectures or sermons, or being told, “This is how you do ‘X.'”

Much of life is made up of experiential learning…hands on…as it unfolds.

For example, growing up, I had parents, but when it came time to become a parent, everything was new…it was all a first time experience. Yes, there are many things my Dad, especially, told me to do, “Because he said so.” And, sure I had babysat and all that in middle and high school, but those kids’ parents came home at night and I got paid to walk out the door and get a good night’s sleep. Parenting, in practice, is just that: practice.

The sooner we can admit this, we’re able to experience empathy for our parents, grace for ourselves, and know how to cut the cord and not take everything so personally with our own kids.

These kids are new to us and we’re new to them. Their DNA has never existed on earth prior to this time and space and as a parent, there’s no manual with specific instructions or coding, other than: love ’em, feed ’em, and train them up. I mean, preschool isn’t even a requirement to do life on earth. Back up 1000 years and $500 jogging strollers, BPA-free bottles, carseats, safety locks, screen time limits, vaccinations, ACT tutors, prom after parties, and Wednesday night youth group weren’t even things. Running water and electricity aren’t even requirements.

And somehow, miraculously, humankind has perpetuated. Generation after generation has continued to live and learn, and personally, I believe every generation is doing it better than the one before them. At least, that should be the hope of every generation: not that they do it the same way we did, because, by God, we had our sh*t together, but that they graciously take note that we were doing the best we knew how with what resources we had, and they have permission to tweak, alter, and even radically overhaul the way they want to do life in the future.

This is the miraculous gift of critical thinking. This is owning our sh*t. This is taking responsibility for ourselves and not projecting onto others what we think they should and should not do, and how, or casting blame like they did back in the Garden.

We are all trying to figure it out as we go. And admitting we’ve done things wrong, or don’t know how to do something, though I don’t know if I’d use the word, “embarrassing,” is hard to swallow. Our pride and love and protection, and our declaration to do some things the same as our parents did with us and others the opposite, drive us to either draw a line in the sand and not budge, or to trust the process, and the One who breathed life into us, and our kids, in the first place.

This is sometimes excruciating as a parent who wants to protect our kids from pain and the stupid ass mistakes we made when we were younger.

So, we tell them, “Don’t do such and such.” But they do it anyway. You did it anyway. I did it anyway.

So, what if we make mistakes and do it wrong along the way? 

The fear that’s swelled over the last two to three generations in America’s Christianity has almost snuffed out the actual gospel, the Good News of God’s extravagant love and whole reason for creating of it in the first place: Love. Love. Love.

When we’re stuck in shame or embarrassment because we don’t know how to do something, don’t have the answer, or are genuinely, “wrong,” instead of staying there, being reminded of the power of our beliefs is key.

-Being wrong isn’t bad…believing being wrong makes us “bad” is destructive.
-Not knowing how to do something isn’t bad.
-Making mistakes isn’t bad…but believing making mistakes somehow usurps our God-designed worth, or someone else’s, is loathing and judgment.

 

Admitting we don’t know something, or admitting and owning we were wrong and want to do it differently next time is called learning. And when it’s received and extended between people, because it was first extended to us, is called grace. And there’s ample of that to go around if we give it a try.

 

31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids

free photo: pixabay user/sasint

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to counseling.

If you didn’t raise your hand, it’s not because your parents were perfect or that you actually have your schtuff together. You either didn’t raise your hand because: you’re lying; you didn’t hear the question; you were raised with strict religious, intellectual, or spiritual shaming messages that counseling is for the weak or faithless; or, it’s just that your parents probably didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling, so, like a helluvalotta other things, they passed that belief onto you.

It’s not our faults. It’s theirs. It’s always “theirs.”

But every generation has the opportunity to write its own story…every generation, collectively and on individual scale, is responsible to make peace with the past and create a healthier today and tomorrow.

And if you’re a parent, one day, when your kids encounter conflict, especially if they’re off to college and possibly for the first time hear they’re actually designed with “critical-thinking,” all their problems will be because of you.

That’s right. It’ll be your fault…you’ll be the “them,” and that kind of sucks. But it doesn’t have to be all that bad!

So, how does one generation screw up the next? When are we going to start owning our schtuff long enough to see our part in the mess? And what can we do to deal with and let go of our schtuff in a healthy and timely fashion as not to project our sludge into the future generations but cheer them on to explore and do it differently and better than us?

Here are 31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids, in no particular order:

  1. Know everything and make sure your kids believe you’re the authority on all the things.
  2. Shut down questions with, “Because I said so, that’s why…end of discussion.”
  3. Forget you were once a kid, of all the ages your kids are and will be one day.
  4. Believe you have nothing to learn from a kid, or anyone else, for that matter.
  5. Multi-task time with your kids with something you have to check off your to-do list.
  6. Never let your kids see you sad or disappointed or anything other than happy happy joy joy.
  7. Forget that you are figuring it out, too…all of it.
  8. Demand immediate submission and obedience. 
  9. Believe, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” is something kids need to memorize, but not something you have to live out in front of them.
  10. Do things because that’s just how you’ve always done them.
  11. Overcompensate for the lack of whatever thing you think your childhood was missing.
  12. Tell your kids HOW to believe and WHAT to believe in, and DEFINE what their faith should look like.
  13. Let your fear of death and eternity be your filter for everything.
  14. NEVER model authenticity or vulnerability…get yourself together, dude!
  15. Never tell them you are sorry, by God, you’re the freaking parent! Parent up, YO!
  16. Diet or “cleanse,” constantly exercise, own a scale and use it often, and pinch your muffin top in the mirror in front of them, but tell them they are beautiful.
  17. Tell them never to talk to strangers, and model the part where you don’t make eye contact with one.
  18. Demand perfection in every area, especially: manners, appearance, grades, performance, hygiene, human interactions.
  19. Use God as your scapegoat by cherry picking scriptures and whatever your pastor said, to back the way you’ve chosen to “discipline.”
  20. Abolish all empathy from your parenting game.
  21. Model intolerance, first for yourself, then especially for “others.”
  22. Live offended…of everything and everyone, especially when your kids think differently than you.
  23. Teach them to believe the worst about people.
  24. Use blanket statements, stereotypes, and generalizations when talking about people.
  25. Drive like you own the road and tell those people in the other cars just what you think of them, out loud.
  26. Make them eat their veggies, but you don’t have to since you did your time as a kid.
  27. Have people over only when your house is clean.
  28. Project onto your kids what you assume they are feeling, thinking, experiencing.
  29. Forget that the back of your phone and computer are today’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
  30. Tell them they have to pick a “real major” in college because you know it’ll financially help them in the long run, even if you hate your life, but have a padded bank account.
  31. When they come home from their first year of college and tell you they learned their family of origin is dysfunctional, tell them, “Hey, I put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.” And then change the subject and discount what they’re saying as stupid, 18-year old rebellious teenage stuff…cuz, what could they know, right?!

 

And this list could go on…

We’re all figuring it out. The point of every generation is to not only teach the next, but to learn from them, too…not hold on for dear life to the lessons of those who have gone before them. Our great greats and greats and grandparents and parents did a lot of things right, and they also had some things wrong, big and small. Same with us. And same with the next. It’s not rebellious to do it differently when hate or ignorance isn’t sustainable.

Let’s posture ourselves for learning and see what happens.

 

How to End Gun Violence

free photo/pixabay: user/DomAlberts

Ending gun violence begins before the gun is ever purchased, it begins before there’s a supply and demand. Ending gun violence, ending VIOLENCE: verbal, emotional, physical, spiritual; must begin with exposing fear for what it is: a liar whose tactic is to divide and isolate us, a liar that would lead us to believe in “us vs. them.”

Fear is real because we breed it. We believe something about “others,” ourselves, or a situation that’s simply not true, but we perceive it as truth.

When God made it all, us all included, God said it was, “Good.” Good. Period. When we ascribe anything other than that to ourselves or someone else, we are misaligned with God’s original design.

We have thousands of thoughts go through our heads in a day, but not every one of them is true or real. However, those we entertain, those we welcome or give space to, become real, whether good or bad, healthy or sick, hopeful or jaded, true or false. We are the ones created in the image of God to write and tell and live a better story, a story through the lens of God’s miraculous design, rather than through our limited perspectives.

No one is born an asshole. We become them with the layers and layers of filters that cloud our perception of God’s original design, in the mirror and when we look at the world.

Fear is the ultimate destroyer: the enemy kills, steals, and destroys its unsuspecting prey, people who believe and succumb to fear by isolating, retreating, over-protecting, controlling, projecting fault, and not owning our stuff.

One second ago, Adam and Eve were naked, and it was fine, in fact, it was, “Good.” Then their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil and their perception was that being naked wasn’t fine. Except it still was. God said this “knowledge” would kill them. God never said their nudity was “bad.” But God knew their “fig leaves” wouldn’t suffice in a world where their perception was off, so he fashioned them better clothes. God’s good like that.

I’m so grieved by the heinous sermons and historical movements that have hijacked God’s message of extravagant LOVE for God’s own creation. Man’s religion, each one of them, including systemic state “Christianity”, have attempted to box in the Creator of the Universe, God, the One who designed us and all that is, in caustic doctrine, dogma, and fear-mongering. It’s all come down to heaven and hell destinations, rather than reminding ourselves and everyone else that Jesus came declaring GOOD NEWS: LIFE, as originally designed children of God, NOW, Kingdom Come, sins forgiven, go and live abundantly.

Fear has no power in the presence of Love. And God is Love. Actually, God is perfect love, and perfect love casts off all fear.

So, we have to ask ourselves, “What is true? Am I functioning in fear or love at this moment, toward myself or another?”

Someone asked how they could be a practical point of help during a tragedy like a shooting. Shootings, suicide, rape, assault, violence…no one was born an asshole, remember, so when we live in the Light of God’s love, letting our light shine as a reflection of a bigger love than we could ever contain, darkness has no place.

So how can we help?

Show up BEFORE the shooting.

Show up BEFORE the violence.

Show up BEFORE the belief that isolation and separation are a choice, a safe, protective choice.

Show up without the platitudes and pre-rehearsed sermons and invite our neighbors to dinner.
Show up without words, but just be. Be there. Be present. Sit in the silence. Listen.

Show up BEFORE with authentic love, authentic community, authentic spaces where we don’t let fear win, but where perfect LOVE drives out fear.

Show up without pretense, on each other’s doorsteps, across the backyard fence, across the aisle, with a cup of tea and a gallon of repentance.

Show up with arms unfolded and hands unclenched.

Breathe. Let’s close our eyes and SEE the image of God of the handcrafted human in front of us.

Show up and share a cup of water together, and love each other, in spite of each other, before the assholes of fear and filters begin to layer thick and alter the perception with which we were designed:

The truth about each of us is that we are first all children of God. Treat one another accordingly, not as sinners in the hands of an angry God…God’s not angry. God is grieved over how we wield at one another.

Let’s not confuse our righteous anger with our self-righteousness.

We don’t need guns.

We need community.

We need to gather around tables and break bread, together, confessing we aren’t perfect because we all know we aren’t, and owning our stuff…all of us, not just “them.” WE.

Because if you’re passing me the bread, and I’m receiving it, we can’t be pointing weapons at one another.

And if we’re owning our imperfections, bringing them into the light, their power and strength weaken and are exposed for what they are: attempts to steal, kill, and destroy the Creation that God said was Good, the very Creation we are accountable to steward.

So, in the wake of another campaign season where words were just shy of murder…in the wake of another shooting in a nation that believes the right to own a gun is more important than the right to human life…in the days leading up to holidays that often leave people painfully believing there isn’t room for them at anyone’s table…on another day in America where we’ve forgotten to individually and collectively own our shit and stop pointing fingers, it’s time for our knees to bend, our heads to drop, our eyes to pour out, our hearts to rend at how we’ve treated one another.

And then it’s time to stop the mourning and start living, all up in each other’s business, real time accountability and face to face living, hand in hand, side by side, not divided, not cut into pieces…because there’s room for all of us and we must love and treat each other the way we were designed and the way we want to be treated, not like the assholes we’ve become.

 

Why Voting Matters

Americana, pixabay user jill111

 

On the 4th of July, when I was a little girl, I remember decorating my tricycle with streamers and riding down the middle of main street in a sea of red, white, and blue.

We ate cherries until our fingers were stained and didn’t notice the sun tanning our noses or shoulders as we spent hours running through the sprinklers, doing wheelbarrow races, and eating hot dogs and watermelon until our bellies were round.

Despite the exhaustion a normal day might have brought, we pressed on as we threw sweatshirts over our stuck-on swimsuits and headed to the river to take in the fireworks up and down the banks, getting twice the show as the bright bursts reflected on the water’s surface.

Finally, after the excitement came to an end, my dad would peel my sleepy body off his shoulder and tuck me into bed, for what had easily been an epic 18 hour day in the mind of a child.

The memories are wrapped up in all sorts of warm feelings, thick with nostalgia, happiness, and the carefree existence of a kid growing up in middle-class white America around the day this nation celebrates its independence from a world across an ocean where our ancestors either faced existences worth escaping or sought new lives worth living apart from oppressive monarchies.

However, this nostalgic remembrance is not the whole story of how I was born into a “free country,” where I have the right to vote and continue making it free for everyone. [Read more…]

May I Ask You a Few Questions?

pixabayuser: mland31

Hey guys, would you be willing to answer some questions, or give a little feedback, if you are inclined? Maybe we could sit for a while?

I wish we could…somewhere so your voice, facial expressions, and hand gestures and body language could accompany your answers! Maybe a park bench in NYC’s Central Park while it’s still September and the temperature is perfect, or a comfy couch in the lobby of a beautiful hotel with tall ceilings and exotic tropical planters, or in the warm sand on a beach in Mexico where the waves are washing up but not too loudly that we can’t hear one another…or at a cold keyboard in front of a stark computer screen on a boring desk…or whatever.

You don’t have to share these answers here. Feel free to ponder them, wrestle with them a bit, maybe journal about them or ask them of another person. I’d love to hear what you have to say, though, so feel free to share in the comments or shoot me an email.

I’m a curious person and people’s stories matter to me. It’s my life’s work. And I’d love to know you better.

An Interview with…YOU.

If you had 5 minutes and a microphone to share with the world, what would you share? Why is this important to you?

If practicality were not an issue, what job or career would you have, and why?

What strengths and gifts come naturally to you that you are offering to the world?

What’s your Highest high and your Lowest low?

When is the last time you felt like God was working through you to encourage or inspire others?

What do you think people say about you behind your back?

What breaks your heart?

How have you remained in community in our polarized country?

Has your faith or the way you practice your faith or belief, changed in the last 5-10-15 years?

Do you believe you are loved? Why or why not?

Do you believe God is good? Why or why not?

Has social media been a positive or negative aspect in your life? How so?

Do You Suffer from Paralysis by Analysis?

photo: pixabay user/publicdomainusers 17917

My husband will press buttons on his keyboard…

…buttons or tabs or keys he may not know what they are there for, but he presses them to find out what they do.

You guys, the thought of this has me over here breathing in a paper bag! [Read more…]

WOKE!

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

“I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred, I get so many things I don’t deserve…”
– Bono, The Miracle of Joey Ramone
 
It’s no secret I’m a huge U2 fan. Their music has impacted and influenced every season of my life.
 
This morning I woke up before 5am CST. The lyrics above were the first things that came to mind, and I gave Thanks.
 
Four years ago I was in Mountain Time Zone on this day, and it was around *right now that my Mom’s presence left her physical dwelling and continued on into eternity. I had just drifted off, having pulled 2 all-nighters in a row, but something stirred me and I simply knew.

 There’s a 100% chance our earthly bodies will all come to a close. We all “die.” But what percent chance will we fully LIVE? What percent chance will we wake up and realize each day, every moment, is a miracle, and if we’re breathing in it, we’re meant to be part of it, bringing love and life to it?

[Read more…]

“I Love Her More…”

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

 

I can’t sleep.

I’m not sure if it’s the hormone expressions of a 46 year old woman, the fact that I had to use the bathroom, a text from a friend in the middle of the night asking for prayer, or the fact that my 7 year old son has been sleeping with me for the last week and periodically throughout the night I get a heel in my side or an elbow to the face. We call him a sleeping octopus.

Either way, I just had one of those “Love You Forever,” moments and so now I have been awake since 3:54am.

Parenting isn’t easy.

[Read more…]

Are You Burned Out on Religion?

Since our son Noah died in 2007, I’ve been on a journey reassessing pretty much E V E R Y T H I N G.

People, things, involvement, passions, even thoughts or beliefs at times have met a death grip in my hands. Some days only purging keeps me grounded. Recently I attempted to strip down to few possessions, selling our home, even shaving my head, in search of the essentials. It was my outward reaction to an internal battle. I decided to apply this perspective to my relationship with God.

"Hope is where the door is, when the church is where the war is..." Lyrics by U2 from the song, Sleep Like a Baby Tonight, Songs of Innocence album

“Hope is where the door is, when the church is where the war is…” Lyrics by U2 from the song, Sleep Like a Baby Tonight, Songs of Innocence album

 

My experience in American Christianity had become a compass for measuring God’s pulse, as well as my morality, and truthfully, the morality of everyone else. I justified, “I’m part of ‘non-denominations,’ so at least I’m not religious, but I’m definitely more dialed into God’s Spirit than so and so.” [Read more…]

Sex Ed: 101

ME: “Sweetheart, do you have five minutes?”

Him: “I always have five minutes for you.”

My husband and I both work from home. During the week, he and I tag team the morning routine of kids, food, and hygiene moderation. Then, he usually drives them to school, a 30 minute round trip event, while I get in a quick workout. (Bonus: If I’m the one driving the kids to school, I love the 5 minutes on our local classical channel where the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor tells us word-nerdy things on The Writer’s Almanac.)

Anyway, either way, after we’re both back home before 8 o’clock even rolls around, Jason makes himself a little breakfast while I finish my squats and then we have a 5-minute stand up meeting to start the day. [Read more…]