Saturday, March 29, 2014

Family

A friend of mine asked me if I would be willing to blog about my experience with being single and pursuing friendship with families. Gladly.

Over the past few years there have been many times where I have read, written, cheered and clapped when people (pastors, married friends, single friends) acknowledge the unique challenges and pains of being unattached and childless.  The validation that comes from being “seen, known and loved” is a gift.  However, if it is only one-sided validation then it stops short of what could be an invitation to much deeper and richer relationship.  

Recently I have heard accounts of families who feel a little used due to always being the one to give, invite, minister to and intercede on behalf of singles.  Hear me out here.  I know the Church largely caters to families and Sunday’s can be the hardest day of the week for singles. I see you, single friend.  I know. I am you. BUT (the BIG BUT) sometimes families have a need to get an invitation as well.  You have much to offer families.  What a gift it is to invite others in to your world and to love them and give of yourself!  Yes, it might take a little extra work and preparation, but the effort, thought, and inclusive of children invitation speaks value.  You know how much value you feel when your mama friends get a babysitter so they can go out and celebrate you on your birthday???? Inviting children over is a gift. So what if you can’t have a coherent, full sentence conversation due to toy guns bonking you in the head, someone wanting to twirl, a baby spitting on you, 4 kids on your legs trying to put you in “jail” as you braid hair??? IT IS AWESOME and it is real life. 

I understand there might be some seasons where it is too much, but more often than not I have found that by engaging in the joys and sorrows with my family friends it only enriches and opens my own heart.  God sets the lonely in family.  I have found this to be one of the most healing things in my life.  Does it also deepen the pain of my own longings? Yes, sometimes, but why is that always a bad thing?  It pushes me into God like nothing else can.  


If I choose to avoid families and only choose friendship with single people then I am in big trouble.  Here’s who I would have missed out on:


The Burr's.  Ami is my cousin (more like my sister) and her 6 kids and her husband who is truly a brother to me.  This family has challenged me and loved me like Jesus.  I was driving Laura Beth (my namesake - the only blonde on) to a birthday party and I wasn't saying something very nice about the driver in front of me and she quickly called me out. Nice. :)  There are so many things to say here, but they fill my heart.

And I'd miss out on this:


I held Emory since she was just a few weeks old and prayed over her and held her in worship so mama could have a hand free to lift. :)  Greg has challenged, loved, encouraged and been a brother like no other.  Hudson is a charmer and his grin and curls kill me. Don't even get me started on Allison - a friend who has listened to me hour after hour and prayed for me, spoken promises over me and allowed me into her life as well.

OH and how about this family:


My pastor Jarrod, Jen and their boys Liam, Gladden and Rocco.  I don't know if it hurts parent's feelings if you have favorites of their kids, but I have to say that little Gladden (blonde) stole my heart.  He's so sweet.  He was trying to put me in "jail" and so kindly looked up and said with a lisp, "Der are toythz."  Gotta watch my back with that one. He's a charmer and coercive and he doesn't even know it.  I love watching the Justice's parent.  They give such freedom and they don't fall into the trap of pressure to parent someway just because a book or other people think they should  They are AMAZING parent's.  I have learned a ton.

And new friends:

I have a new friendship with Arehearts.  I love being around them.  They are hilarious and easy to be with.  I know their oldest, Carolina, the most.  She stands and sings with me sometimes in church.  She can also do a kick tail version of "Let It Go" with the most passion and pure heart.  I love that the Arehearts invited me to Carolina's birthday party even though I don't have kids. I think I will have more fun than the rest of them. :)

Last but not least:


Everyone needs to have a Marshman family in their lives.  Chrisy is one of my best friends and Hank is too young to be my dad, but too old to be my brother. He's just the best.  Brett and Blake have taught me what it's like to be a big sister to little brothers.  I have learned about seasons of life, prayer, laughter, sacrifice and showing up in all things from the Marshman's.  I love them dearly.


These are just a few of the families that I could highlight.  Don't miss out on investing in families.  It really is selfish in some ways, because of what you gain.  So, go be selfish and invite a family of 8 over for dinner. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Men

Men! Who needs ‘em?  I hear this statement time and again from women who are walking various roads of life.  Some have been deeply wounded by fathers.  Some have risked and have had their hearts broken so they make a vow to stay away from men.  Others take the “strong, independent woman” identity, and make sure it is known that they are “okay” and the last thing they need is a man. 

I have a confession.  I need men in my life.  

“Need” and “neediness” are two different things.  

Need - to require something because it is essential or important
Needy - wanting or needing attention, affection or reassurance, especially to an excessive degree

There’s so much shame associated with “need.”  I think it’s time we busted that out of the water.  

I need my dad to call.
I need Darren to call out vision for a new season.
I need Brad to call me out when I start to shut down.
I need Greg’s words of care for me as his sister.
I need Joe to fix my toilet and get angry when my heart is hurt.
I need Jarrod to believe in me as a woman who can lead, serve and speak in the Church.
I need Fred to ask the hard questions and call out the real Beth.
I need Chris as he is one  of the only people who can sit with me and I not have to explain my family because he was there.
I need Hank because everyone needs a Hank.
I need David to tell me to walk away from a toxic relationship. Not once, not twice, but three times. 
I need Jerrod to laugh with and to be realistic with.
I need Peter to sit down with me on my birthday, put his arm around me as I’m weeping and say, “I believe God wants to give you the desires of your heart.”
I need to see Chris sit at my feet and pray over me and weep as he prays for the “not yet.”
I need to hear Chad say time and again (unprompted) - “There is nothing wrong with you. You are a catch.”

I love my girl friends and my sisters. I love that they know me and we can connect deeply.  They bring their own unique flavor and element to my life, but there is something about the weight of a mans words that have deep impact on the lives of so many women.  And I find this to be a gift. Healing, restorative and deeply moving.

In a world where tv shows, movies, talk shows, etc. act like men are complete morons incapable of washing their own socks and respecting women, I say “enough.”  Are there those weak men out there? Sure. Just as there are women out there who play stupid, say “totes” a lot  and use their looks to further their own agenda.  But I feel there’s not enough honoring of our brothers in a way that calls out the most strong and best parts of who they are.  This could be said of women as well.  We have a lonnnnnngggg way to go in the gender struggle, but what would it be like to really help each other win?  Men platforming, encouraging, and  honoring women and women platforming, encouraging and calling out men to be just that…..men.  I love and deeply value the men in my life.  I need them and am grateful they are ok with that.  



Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'll Walk With You

When I was little I remember watching my dad act in a Christmas pageant at church.  First of all, let’s just pause at the thought of my dad acting in a Christmas play, but he did.  He would’ve won a TBN Oscar for his portrayal of Simon of Cyrene because he did such a fabulous job.  He didn’t even flinch when I grinned and waved at him as he carried the cross down the red-carpeted aisle.  Bravo, Daddy. Bravo!  

Today I went to see the movie Son of God.  Jesus had perfect teeth and a British robotic accent that was slightly breathy, like Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone (if you are under the age of 30, google it), but other than that I really liked it. I sat there with my friend Chastin (whose “allergies” acted up often throughout the movie), and just soaked it in.  I was dry-eyed until I saw Jesus struggling in agony to carry his cross. Jesus. The only amazing, loving, pure, perfect man to ever sojourn on this earth. Struggling.  Physical pain? Check.  Emotional pain? Check.  Spiritual pain? Check.  Mental pain? Check.  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  
Hebrews 12:1-3

He endured this and the whole time there was joy set before Him.  Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow him.  So that brings me back to Simon of Cyrene. Catholics are familiar with Simon and in most churches there is a picture depicting this scene (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stations_of_the_Cross). 

“Why did this scene move me so much today vs. times past?” 

There is something powerful about WITHNESS, shouldering the burden, walking with someone in the most difficult point of the journey when they cannot carry the load on their own.  It’s the friend who says, “Hey, you rest. Let me carry this for a bit.  You are going to need your energy for the journey, but for these few moments, let me help.”

Jesus was bleeding on his back and sides and a prickly crown was crushing into his head and he had to carry approximately 300 lbs.  

It was too much to do alone. That last mile, someone helped. I am crying thinking about Simon and what it must have been like to look back on that time and to realize he walked with God to his death. 

To walk the last steps with Jesus, carrying the object that would ultimately become a sign of salvation to the world - what was that like? 

No suffering I will ever endure will ever come close to what Jesus endured.  However, because he suffered he cares about our suffering and provides us with “Simon’s” along with way.  


My Simons come in the form of sisters, heart friends, family, my boss, and my beloved church.  Who are the Simon’s in your life?  Often we do not fully experience a Simon moment because we do not want to be that vulnerable and exposed.  IT is painful to be vulnerable and exposed, but to allow someone to enter in to that raw place…..there’s joy.  We need joy on this journey of ours.  

Thank you to all my Simons.  You know who you are.