Monthly Archives: September 2013

Video Tuesday: Inland by Jars Of Clay

I love this song from Jars of Clay’s new album. Hope you enjoy and happy Tuesday !

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Video Tuesday : The Cure.

 

This Video Tuesday is brought to you by an amazing, life altering book called The Cure. You’ve gotta read this. From the book …

the cure“We thought we were cured. 

We thought so, but most of us unwittingly carried an old, dead outlook into our new life. We couldn’t measure up to the standard we created, so we convinced ourselves it was God’s. We read his words through our grid of shame and felt ourselves fall farther and farther behind. We took it out on each other; judging, comparing, faking, splintering. Some of us retreated from the whole charade, becoming cynical, mistrusting, jaded from hope. Our marriages, churches, families, friendships, our marketplaces, our culture… they all need the cure. 

But God’s cures rarely come in the form we expect. 

What if, indeed, God is not who we think he is… and neither are we?”

Check it out at truefaced.com

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Mommy, What Does Gay Mean?

I Was Told There'd Be Cookies

There it was . The question I had been scared of oh for about 8 almost 9 years, in other words since my daughter was born.

Why is this question scary to me, you might ask? Well I will tell you and it’s probably not for the reason you think, but first let me give you some background.

My dad is gay. My mom knew he was gay when they got married.It wasn’t one of those “ Let’s try to be normal and hope it fixes my gayness” things. It was more of a “ We don’t know how or why God want’s us to do this but we just know he does” kinda thing. And the blessing is it turned into a “ love of my life sort of thing” you can read part of that story here,or here ,if you’re curious (it’s really beautiful. )

I grew…

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What’s not to like about the like button

20130916-083106.jpgLast week Kristin and I were discussing blog stats for Tourniquet. I’m not really a stats person, the information is too broad and impersonal in most cases for me. This is a striking difference in Kristin and I’s personalities, because she’s fantastic with managing stats. I pay attention to the stats enough to get a vague understanding of all the things you’re supposed to understand when looking at statistics, Kristin, on the other hand, is driven to understand in great detail the ebb and flow of traffic, where it comes from, what produces more of it, etc.

In our conversation we got to talking about how many times something or other had been ‘liked’ and people ‘liking’ it on facebook versus ‘liking’ it on our site. In all that talk about ‘liking’ I told Kristin how much I don’t like the like button sometimes. To me it feels like pseudo communication, you push the like button to communicate a vague sense of appreciation or approval of what a person is saying or posting, but there’s no real commitment there because there are no words there to indicate whether you like because you sympathize, agree, approve of their passion whether or not you approve of their message.

Then there are those comments that you do get time to time in addition to a ‘like’ or without one that go something like, “I wish I could super like this!” or “When are they going to invent a ‘dislike’ button?” And I want to shout, “USE YOUR WORDS!”

Don’t get me wrong, I was up on my proverbial soap box about ‘liking’ and fully admitting that I am just as guilty of employing the use of the like button as the next person. It’s convenient when I’m on a break skimming my Facebook news feed to blanket like status updates and things that have been shared. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it says, “Hey, I see you said that.” And I’m for letting the people in my sphere know they are seen even when they’re just broadcasting what they had for lunch that day.

The thing is, as I thought about it then and ever since that conversation a week ago today, what I’ve realized is, I don’t want the ‘like’ button to be my default response. I crave communication and understanding of how and what people think, so I really appreciate it when people take the time to leave comments on my updates and blog posts. I have to assume that if ‘likes’ make other people feel good, that actual communication with them and expression of how whatever they’ve said has impacted me will make them feel better.

This is especially true in a world where a dislike button has NOT been created. Don’t you think that’s just a little funny? Our social media outlets are set up so that when we agree or approve we have the “convenience” of expressing it quickly and vaguely, but we read something we don’t agree with or approve of and we want to express ourselves we’re forced into confrontation. Therefore, the majority of the time when we’re actually communicating with words, we’re communicating something negative or upsetting. That’s just sad.

I gave myself a little challenge after that conversation with my sister in order to “be the change I wish to see in the world” (ha) and I’ve spent the past week taking as many opportunities  to comment and leave words in place of or in addition to ‘liking’ what people have to say. I’ll be honest and say it’s not always been easy. Getting out of like-brain is a little difficult at first, which just made me all the more determined because  it indicated just how deeply the habit was rooted.

Yes, commenting has been more time consuming.
Yes, there were times when I had to sit and think for a minute about what exactly I wanted to say, or why I actually liked something or even if I actually liked it.

At first it felt as though there was gravitational pull to the like button, but more quickly than I could have hoped for that feeling started to fade and I found myself reaching for the comment link automatically. I also found that I was paying attention to things differently, my brain was looking for things in my friends words to respond to. It’s great!

The real reward, however, came late last night when after leaving a very simple one word comment on something one of the teenage girls I work with had written, she commented back saying, “I really appreciate your participation in my status updates lately!”

We haven’t had any deep conversations.
We haven’t even had long conversations.

All I did was replace my ‘likes’ with words and it mattered. It was noticeable and appreciated, because real communication is important.

I’m not suggesting we all abandon the ‘like’ button completely, even though it would be nice, I know it will never happen. What I suggest is more awareness for the words we leave behind us and not let them be mostly negative. We have many wonderful words in our vocabulary to communicate love, approval, agreement, encouragement and comfort, to name just a few, let’s not limit ourselves to ‘liking’ things and take the time to communicate what we really feel.

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Dear Mrs. Hall

Dear Mrs. Hall,
I work in youth ministry, it’s one of the things I’m most passionate about, so when your blog post directed at teenage girls showed up in my Facebook feed this morning it caught my attention and curiosity.
I’d like to preface this note by saying I am neither a mother or a married woman. I do not have a family of my own, but I am an Aunt to two precious nieces and four rough and tumble nephews and I hope and pray that I care for the youth I serve as if they were my own children. It is the deepest desire of my heart that the young men and women in my care are ceaselessly pointed towards the God who fearfully and wonderfully made them. And that they come to respect and care for the opposite sex the way God intended. I’d also like to make it clear that I am in NO WAY promoting the use of suggestive facebook (or any other social media for that matter) pictures.
That said, I was more than a little disappointed in your blog post. I respect, applaud, and admire your desire to raise young men who honor God and respect the young women in their lives, however, I’d like to suggest that there might be a better way to do that than the way you’ve chosen. Again, I know I’m not a parent and I’m fully aware that fact might discount my entire opinion for you. But your blog post reflects something I see happening in culture, not simply in parenting, and it concerns me.
First there’s the obvious double-standard that’s presented when you chastise (in a friendly way?) young women for their scantily clad photos on Facebook, while illustrating your blog post with topless photos of your male family members [Edit: Due to the overwhelmingly negative response to these photos Mrs. Hall has recently changed the blog post to only include fully clothed photos of her sons and removed or edited some of the statements commenters voiced concern over. While we appreciate this effort, the concerns we voice in this post remain the same.You can read the post in it’s original form here.] The comment thread on your blog indicates that I am not the only one to notice and be bothered by this mild form of hypocrisy. Let’s hope for the best and assume that we all have common sense and clearly understand that yes, there is a difference between young women imitating poses only naturally assumed by amateur sex-workers and young men enjoying a fun day at the beach, but as other commenters mentioned, given the tone of your blog post this seems like a really poor choice on your part. Especially considering that, for a woman who clearly values protecting the purity of the young male mind, you didn’t give a moments thought to the young men with same sex attractions who may come across these photos of your sons.
But the pictures aren’t even the bigger cause for concern for me. Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that the strong emphasis on female modesty is one step away from Sha’ria Law, that we live in a country that is about to start yet another war because we’re supposedly against Wahabi Islam and that St. Paul talked about freedom in Christ, not hajeeb. It’s the underlying messaging of your writing that is the problem for me. I realize you may be completely unaware of it and I have to believe for the best and hope that you don’t mean to sound as condescending as you do. Please allow me to explain my perspective.
The biggest problem I have with your post is that you are unwittingly perpetuating the exact messaging that encourages those girls on Facebook to dress and pose provocatively– Value based on performance and behaviors. Culture says, “You are valuable when…” you are sexy, when people are attracted to you, etc. Your blog post sends the same message using a different method– “You are worth my son’s time and attention when you are modest”. In both cases the message is that value is measured by the ability to act a certain way, in neither case is the emphasis on our value as human beings who are loved by God. This is a problem because the consequences of believing you must seek value for yourself versus knowing that you have value are devastating.
You mentioned at one point in your post that the provocative image of a young woman, once seen by a young man, cannot be unseen. While this mentality is frustrating to me because I believe feeding the stereotype that all men are slaves to their sexual impulses is dangerous and relieves them of fully learning the discipline of self-control, I’ll use your comment as an example to say that the same sort of principle can be applied to young women– Once the seed of doubt about their value has been planted, they cannot unlearn to question their value as an instinct. They will fight the rest of their lives to understand how they are valuable and a life lived seeking value will result in a lot of painful lessons, the least of which is not confusion about their personal relationship to God.
Posing in sexually explicit Facebook pictures becomes the least of our worries when we start to pay attention to the young men and women committing suicide because they feel no sense of value or purpose. There are children in the world starving themselves to be thinner, requesting plastic surgery to be considered more attractive and therefore acceptable, having sex and reproducing to feel loved, and using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain when they don’t measure up. And all of it extends out beyond youth and into adulthood and then the men and women we have left have no sense of who they are, no sense of who God is, and no sense of what it really means to love or be loved.
I am sure, as a woman, you can appreciate and understand (perhaps have even experienced) how easy it is for teenage girls to feel unworthy and worthless. The self-esteem of most teen girls walks with a limp, they come out of the gate already believing that they have to get enough “likes” to matter in this world.
Dangling your attractive young sons like carrots in front of their female Facebook friends and denying friendship to those who fall below the purity line may well produce results, but I don’t believe that the end justifies the means. Modesty motivated by a desire to gain value through someone’s approval isn’t any healthier or beneficial to these young women than provocative Facebook pictures motivated by the desire to have attention and feel valued is. The damage done to the girls through that message will be much greater than the damage your sons will suffer by encountering racy Facebook pictures. What will be truly damaging to your sons, however, is that you are objectifying them and thus teaching them to objectify others by making them bait to get young girls to do what you believe is right. Let’s be brutally honest, your sons are handsome young men, probably a part of the popular crowd, and you know that gives you some leverage with these young ladies. We wouldn’t be writing these blog posts if your sons were acne-prone and awkward and maybe that’s a little shocking of me to write, but we all know it’s true.
Bottom line– As Christian men and women, parents, leaders, and influencers of the young we should not be shaping children around their weaknesses. Reinforcing the idea in young men that they are subject to their sexual urges by putting so much emphasis on female modesty sets them up to fail the very first time they encounter temptation in the real world, and it insures that young women feel like their bodies are their enemies, whether because they attract too much attention or not enough.
If we really want to raise men who are Godly and treat women with respect and women who know their worth and are confident in their God-given beauty, adults MUST make relationships with young people a priority. Truth be told, Mrs. Hall, those girls you are blocking are probably the ones who need young men like your boys as friends the most and they would most definitely benefit from having a woman like yourself invest time in them. We should be trusting God with the youth in our lives and encouraging them to take every opportunity to see beyond sin and to the person. To look for what God sees in spite of what our impulses may draw our attention to and for love of God and other people, choose to recognize true value and build relationships rather than find offense and reasons to separate ourselves from others.
Sincerely,
Katie Elizabeth Brown
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Hero.

Late one night a man is crawling into bed after a long hard day. He is weary. Not just tired, weary. In his soul, his body and his bones. There are times, these days, when there aren’t words in existence that can unburden the heaviness of his heart and the best he can do is to drag himself before the thrown of God and ache at the feet of the Father. Just as his eyes are closing and his body is unclenching from the stress of trying to carry the unbearable all day he hears it. It’s the sound of his wife’s voice coming from the hospital bed across the room from him. She’s sick, possibly dying, he’s not sure because he can’t fathom that being the reality he’s living, and yet… She’s weak, her voice isn’t much more than a whisper, but she’s calling him. A rush of a emotion floods his body. Anger. Frustration. Pain. He is almost overcome by the desire to scream or cry. His love for her is undeniable, but right now he’s not only sleep deprived he’s peace deprived and he only wants a few hours of rest. What could she possibly need -now-? He steals himself against the anguish he feels and with cool resolve pulls himself out of the warmth of his bed and goes to her side. As soon as he’s there she raises a fragile arm and motions for him to come closer. He locks his jaw and leans in, ready to hear whatever it she wants him to do and anxious to get it over with so he can get back to bed. She waits until he’s close enough that she can be sure he hears the words and then she whispers, “You know you’re my hero, don’t you?

Heart-crushing. Breath-taking.

These words are more than the soul can bear in a moment when nerves are so excruciatingly raw and body and mind are so completely spent, but they are priceless. Utterly and unquestioningly priceless. Dear God, oh how we love you! You are the God who makes heros out of us when we are at our weakest, when we hang on by a thread, when we are at the end of our ropes, and when we are broken to bits. It is only Your great and limitless love for us that has the power to, even in our imperfection, use us for good.”

Herogreek

My siblings and I gave this bracelet to my dad the Christmas after our mom passed away, it says Hero in greek.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a hero lately. There have been two occasions with friends of mine recently where being a “hero” was dangled in front of them like a carrot, “You could be a hero of you would […just do this thing we all want you to]. Forgetting that this kind of thinking completely discounts the many people to whom the people in question may already be a hero to, is this really how we think a hero is made? Does one really set out to be a hero? Are you really a hero if you’ve accepted a bribe to become one? Hm. I was curious about what people thought of when they heard the world hero, so I asked my Facebook friends to tell me in comments what the word hero made them think of. The answers were both entertaining and good. The covered everything from Mariah Carry to Batman ( which, interestingly, was the only “superhero” that got mentioned). Many agreed that a hero is someone we look up to and aspire to be like, people who are fearless and selfless and full of courage. My friend Sarah hit the spot I had been thinking towards, however, when she mentioned that a hero never sets out to be one. Yes. That exactly.

 

I think our culture has created a bad habit of confusing heroism with celebrity and that’s not ok. We appeal to people’s desire to want to be the center of attention, to want to be praised and admired and a lot of the time we succeed in getting them to do what we want them to hoping for fame as a result. We have men and women in this country who are getting up every day and selflessly serving others… even when they don’t feel like it, and mostly without any form of recognition for it. No one sees the people of the world who sit with the sick and the dying, who hold open doors for the handicapped, who park further away from the grocery store doors so that the mother with small children has less trouble getting in and out. We dont notice or often appreciate the people who pick up our trash, clean off our tables and serve our coffee, and some of them are doing that to keep food in the bellies of the little people who definitely consider them to be heros. When I think of the word hero, I think of the story at the beginning of this post. The man and women from that story are my parents and the scene described happened not long before my Mom came face to face with Jesus several Septembers ago. My Dad is not a famous man, he’s never chased after the dream of being the center of attention, but he is a hero– He was one to my Mom and he is one to my siblings and I. There are a lot of heros in the world who are like my Dad, who get up every day and do what they must and it matters to those it effects. It means the world to them. To us. Let’s not do those people and ourselves the injustice of calling celebrity heroism and using it as a bribe. Let’s be careful not to desire to be those types of “heros” ourselves.

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