50 Shades of Rape

*disclaimer, I have not, nor do I need to see a movie to review its cultural impact*

I will never forget the time as a teenager I saw Jody Foster play a Sarah a woman who was gang raped in the movie, The Accused. I kept thinking how in the world could men stand by and cheer on the violence going on before them. Now, the spectators didn’t rape Sarah so somehow it was okay, but they didn’t stop it either. I would say guilty as charged and most of you would agree; would you not? I cannot be silent as these men in the movie were. I cannot be complacent and stick my head in the sand because I am afraid of the backlash or judgment thrown at me because I am sounding an alarm. As a woman, I am grieved in my core, and sickened beyond what I can stand.

Yes, by now, you have probably realized that I was not partaking in the movie 50 Shades of Grey this weekend. I instead watched my news feed blow up with the arguments of why we should and why we shouldn’t see it. I saw the reviews by Pluggedinonline.com, but didn’t even need to read it. I read the blog on http://www.scarymommy.com/ and have read many other reviews and that is what I base this opinion piece on. Here are some things I am asking you to think about as related to our culture and the upcoming generation of young women who will see this film.

1. Rape is ALWAYS rape, and no is ALWAYS no! You cannot romanticize, you cannot explain it away as acceptable on any level. Here is quote from the blog The Rambling Curl, ” Christian turns up uninvited.  He proceeds to try to seduce Ana, given that that’s pretty much all he ever does.  Ana tells him that she doesn’t want sex and would rather talk.  “‘No,’ I protest, kicking him off.”  But this is Christian Grey.  The abusive scum bucket who only considers his own desires.  So, upon hearing the woman he claims to care for saying a very definite “no” to sex, he replies with these words: “If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet, too.  If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you.  Keep quiet.  Katherine is probably outside listening, right now.”  He then proceeds to have sex with her, in spite of her trying to kick him away and saying “no.”  I don’t understand how people aren’t getting that this is at the very least sexual assault, but apparently, because EL James writes that Ana enjoys the sex that Christian forced on her, we’re meant to ignore the fact that she asked him to stop and he didn’t.  I don’t even know how anyone can happily defend that scene, but I promise you, I’ve had plenty of Fifty Shades fans try.”

2. Abuse is not love, pain is not love. I found it interesting that the actress who played the innocent Anastasia in the movie chose these quotes when describing just the filming of the movie. ” “Sometimes I did walk off the set feeling a bit shell-shocked,” she told Glamour, admitting that while shooting the sex scenes, “there were some painful moments.” “I got whiplash once from him throwing me on the bed; so f–king painful.” And just in case you thought that maybe there was something sexy about shooting a sex scene. Nope. Definitely not. “It’s just sweaty and it’s not very comfortable. And on top of that, my hands and legs were tied, and I was blindfolded, and I was being hit with this bizarre tool. … It was emotionally taxing. At first I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,’ and then I was like, ‘All right, let’s get on with it.'” So, if an actress who is playing a part is feeling uncomfortable, in pain, emotionally taxed, and like it is the worst thing ever how would a women feel who is living with pain and abuse.

3. Real men protect, not rape, not abuse, and do not live life for their own pleasure! For the love of everything holy please tell me why any woman would want to be raped, tortured, stalked, and isolated for some mans pleasure?? Is this where feminism as left us? The complete neutering of the male species has left them desiring masculinity in ANY form, even abuse? What? I would never want a man to dominate me~ Excuse me, but I am worth more than that!

So here is where you will all argue with me that it is a movie, and you will say, “Becky, you started your blog about watching a woman get raped” so you can’t speak to this plus you  haven’t seen the movie. Let me just say, the movie the Accused had a deep, profound affect on me for years. For years I lived in fear of being raped, and had nightmares over the movie. Since then, I have become more careful about what I put in front of my eyes including books, movies, and tv shows. I choose not to watch things like CSI, or SVU, or read books about the victimization of women.

Here is the real reason I am writing this, because I will not be one on the sidelines staying silent by saying this movie is just a movie for entertainment. No, not it is not~ It is a cultural dichotomy that this movie was even made, and then flocked to by thousands of women. As a woman I support causes that help women who have sexually exploited, and what grieves me beyond more than anything is how women are now buying into it. Remember that scene I talked about earlier? Those were men cheering on the perpetrators of violence against a woman~

Now, you have thousands of women cheering on the sidelines and even lusting after the perpetrator of violence against a woman. My how times have changed… Either you believe a woman has a right to say no, or you stand with the perpetrators of violence. Which is women of America? Please, ask yourself, is this what I want for my sons and daughters? I know that I don’t…

Focus Refocus

I am officially a Certified Coach for my company. With my job I learn so many great skills for dealing with life and people. These coaching skills help me to deal with very difficult people in often difficult situations. A new skill I have been working on is the idea of focus/refocus and how it can move someone forward.

When you are coaching someone they are often stuck, they repeat the same action over and over, and get very frustrated that they cannot make changes to move them forward. Often the conversation revolves around how they feel, instead of what they do. This is where the skill of focus/refocus becomes of premier importance.

When I feel a certain way, I am often not subjective to what behaviors I am doing. The behaviors you are doing are a direct reflection of a beliefs you have. The beliefs you have then create strong emotional reactions that will cause you to behave in a certain way. Most of us get really caught up in the “why” behind what we do. What I am discovering is that by changing your behavior in simple ways it can actually re-tune the belief you have. That is where focus/refocus comes into play, let me show you what I mean.

Say I find myself getting my feelings hurt all the time. I can blame it on a variety of things but what I really need to do in the moment is focus on the fact that my feels are hurt, and then I need to refocus. Instead of looking at the “why” my feelings are hurt, I need to refocus onto “how” it is that I am always in this place. We are all human, with crazy swings of emotions that we really can’t trust. I can feel something so strongly yet have no basis for truth in that feeling. Acknowledging that I am feeling a certain way will pull yourself together, but you have to move on so focusing on how to change where you are will move you forward instead of keeping stuck.

Most people don’t want to deal with the “why” behind what they do. So, if you can’t focus on the “why” then focus on the “how”. You can make small behavior changes that will make a huge impact. In my life, I often got all bent out of shape when things didn’t go how I thought they should go. Aka~ Control Freak. Here is the thing, I didn’t like reacting that way. So what moved me forward was focusing on how I could approach my reactions differently. I could focus on how out of control I felt in the situation, then refocus on what was really important and how could I move it forward. Simple things like take a deep breath and LET IT GO, or ask for understanding, admit to others that this situation is hard for me and it leaves me feeling venerable, or making sure history didn’t repeat itself.

You will react to outside situations based on inner beliefs. One thing I will add to this very practical application is simply this. Most of the time when we react or over-react, it because we are exceedingly selfish. We in our core belief, believe that we should be treated differently, we are owed something, or you should be thankful that I am even apart of your life. That my friends, is simply sin that needs to be dealt with. What I am talking about is maturing beyond where you are, not resurrecting a selfish heart. Only Jesus can do that, and no amount of small behavior changes will help. So, if you’re in an emotional spot you don’t like, focus your heart to the only one capable of changing it, and then refocus on how you can make small changes to enforce it!

If your in the spot where you have Jesus then just give it a try this year. Focus on how you feel, and refocus on how you can make small changes to move you forward. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. You have the results you have based on the amount of effort you have put forward to deal with it. So, if you don’t like where you’re at then deal with how you feel about it then make some small baby step changes and don’t look back. You can do it, it is a matter of will you do it.

Happy New year, y’all~

Fortitude

Each year for the last 10 or so years I have been given a “word” in the beginning of the year that often sums up the lesson to be learned during the next 365 days. This year the word came without an utter prayer or even a thought, and much earlier than normal. I was sitting behind a computer, as has become the norm, and with a deep supersonic resonance I heard the word leak from my very core…

Fortitude 

I am going to be completely honest, when it happened I was rather annoyed that a word that I wasn’t familiar with was resonating so much with me right in the middle of a hectic and busy day. I said it out loud and even as I said it I felt an inner shudder. It sounded like such a great and powerful word yet I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, and certainly not what it meant for me.

Being the busy wife, and the mom that I am I did the only responsible thing~ I put off all thought and kept plugging away. That has been almost 3 and half weeks ago and today of all days, the first day of the year, God brought a depth of understanding to the word fortitude.

When I initially looked up the definition of the word I can say I didn’t really like how it sounded.

Courage in pain or adversity.

Okay, let’s be honest, that doesn’t sound good. Sure we all want it but who in their right mind would invite pain or adversity into your life so people could see it! I immediately pushed the grave sounding definition aside and went on with life. Then, today happened, and God in so often his way, wrecked me.

I spent a great deal of quiet time with God today in my comings and goings to prepare for a wedding I am doing this weekend. At a rather long stop light on a country road I felt God stirring my heart to look up fortitude again. So I googled it again but this time I felt like I got great understanding to what God meant for me and my family by this word. As I got to a stopping point on my way home I found a blog that God used, here it is if you want to read it:

 http://marymajor.blogspot.com/2008/12/7-gifts-of-holy-spirit-4-fortitude.html

In reading this I realized that actually Skipp and I already have fortitude and that it was a gift given us long ago to deal with the crazy path that God has chosen for our lives. There has been many opportunities to see through our journey from dealing with a blind child, to bullying, to poverty, to job loss, to sickness, death, and many years of church work. Fortitude isn’t some lesson for me to learn, it is a reminder of who God is.

I have no courage in the face of pain, but the God I serve is a Mighty Fortress. The word fortitude isn’t about me, and it isn’t about Skipp.  It is about a lasting legacy that God wants us to pass on to our sons. My guys have had a front row seat into the pain of childhood and teenage life in high school and junior high. Yet, there is a deeper lesson in this life. Strength, without valor is wasted, knowledge without humility is folly, and fear other than in God is sin. Valor, humility, and the fear of the Lord all make up the depth that is fortitude. It is the constant understanding of whose you are and who He is.

This year is about us demonstrating and using the gifts that God has given us to love those who know no love, to protect those who are without protection, to endure for those who can’t, all while worshiping God with knowledge that He alone is in complete control. I no longer quiver with uncertainty of the thought that this year could be wrought with difficulty rather I chose to embrace the One who controls it. #Letsdothis #Thisjustreal

Keep It Simple, Mama!

Chances are if you have kids you know that in just two weeks you will be knee deep in wrapping paper, mess, and chaos.

CHRISTMAS is almost here!

Now that exclamation point might mean different things to different mamas. What does it mean to you? Excitement, stress, worry, sadness, or simply just overwhelmed. I can say over the last 19 years of motherhood it has meant all those things. I have had seasons of joy and excitement but I have also had seasons of sadness and worry.

My question is why do we try and be everything to everybody? We cook everyone’s favorite treats, we wrap presents with the precision of a ninja, we shop for that perfect gift, we spend hours cleaning our houses all for one reason… Love.

You see, at the end of the day all the actions we take are really centered around wanting the people closest to us to experience love. We shower them with gifts, cookies, happy memories and all while we are driving ourselves NUTS!

I remember one year when the kids were 10, 7, and 4 we didn’t have much money. We were climbing out of a huge hole from my husband losing his job and starting his own business. Things were tight, and I felt this overwhelming sense to not let our kids now how bad we were struggling. We bought gifts but they weren’t what I really wanted to give them, and honestly I was just stressed. I decided to deep clean the house and you know how hard that is with little kids and I was determined to keep it clean until Christmas morning.

Every year on Christmas eve our kids wear their new pj’s that their Nana gives them, and we read the Christmas story from Luke. I was so focused on having the perfect holiday that I lost it after the boys got in a wrestling match somewhere around Mary showing the shepherds the baby Jesus. I hollered, threatened, and ended up in tears. It was awful! So after apologizing we sent the kids to bed. I decided that I didn’t have the energy to cook a big breakfast in the morning so I got a small egg casserole together and a tube of cinnamon rolls.

You know what is funny about that Christmas, because out of the frustration of my perfect holiday being ruined we ended up with a new Christmas morning tradition. 9 years later for every Christmas breakfast we have a small egg casserole and a tube of cinnamon rolls. My guys love it, and it screams Christmas to them. They don’t remember the clean house, the wrestling match, or my melt down, but they do remember that somewhere along the way we started a new tradition.

So, this Christmas, keep it simple. Try not to stress, because your kids won’t remember all the work you did to give them a perfect Christmas. They will remember you… Your presence in their lives is the biggest gift you can give! So, keep your words kind, your stress low, and remember the real reason for the season.

Blessings all~

Grenade Mama

My identity this year has undergone a makeover of sorts. I have been many things through the years, daughter, rebellious, wife, mouthy, mom, Christ-follower, teacher, cook, maid, and many many more. I noted these things because they are not just things I have “done” but they are actually identities that I have been. Women especially will move through so many season of different identities that it is no wonder we lose our trains of thoughts and forget where we put stuff.

I, for the first time since I became a parent 19 year ago, am working full time. There is an army of women out there who this is old news to them as, either by necessity or choice, they have lived as I am learning to live; a life away from their family. Let me say that this is such a polarizing issue and one quite honestly one I have been wrong about during points in my life. There is a dangerous trend in motherhood today to say there is one “right” was to parent. The funny thing is we were probably all parented differently and turned out all right.

If your a working mom then you need to hear that if your exhausted, then you must be normal. There is a myth that exist between us ladies that we can/should have it all and no one will get hurt and we will all be happy. Can I just be honest with you for a minute~ there are moments in my fast paced world that I am just so tired, not happy, and just plain mean. Not just in my body because I am staring 40 in the face, but deep in my mind. My mind just gets tired! There are four different hurricanes blowing all at the same time and just keeping up can be exhausting.

If your a stay at home mom, or somewhere in between you should know that guess what, your exhausted too, which mean you must be normal! You have a house to keep up with, kids to feed and keep clean, you have a list of tasks to accomplish ever day. There are days that you keep doing the same thing and still find yourself in the same situation. Example, you do a pile of laundry and tomorrow there is another pile of laundry and just keeping up can be exhausting. Not to mention you are faced with your work space 24/7.

So, did you catch it? I don’t care what kind of mom you are, your normal if your exhausted! So, if we are all so tired why do we spend time launching grenades at each other? Isn’t motherhood exhausting enough without having force your choice down another woman’s throat? Let’s get over ourselves for a minute here girls…

You don’t really have it all together, your not perfect, your kids aren’t perfect, your way of life isn’t perfect; perfect doesn’t exist outside of Christ. Now, bare with me, some of you aren’t Jesus followers and it is okay! Your welcome to come along this journey, but I am asking you to try and see through the fray of conflict in our ranks to see that we have gotten a hair off focus.

How do we come together then? How about instead of pointing out the differences we focus on similarities? Did you get the one above? The point about how tired we all are? Yeah, that one… Guess what else we have in common? We are strong, we are smart, we are capable of multitasking, we have a special knack with taking care of people, and we feel like we are failing at is all most of the time. I purpose that we stop being grenade launching mamas and start appreciating other women and serving them!

The funny thing is I hear all the time from women “how nasty most women are”.  I am sure you have heard it too. Well, if you are the exception to the rule then what are you doing about it? If your a stay at home mom when was the last time you cooked dinner for a working mom? If your a working mom when was the last time you gave a stay at home mom the gift of a child free meal? Our example is and will always be Jesus, who came NOT to be served but to serve. How will you serve the women around you instead of judging them?

Can we just be honest for a moment, drop this pretense that we have cornered the market on “Best Mom of the Year” and realize that we might actually be able to learn from other women who are different. Instead of resenting women who do it different how about you love them? Radical idea, I know! Let’s just give it a try… What do you say?

Your Part

I was sitting in church yesterday and during worship I was pondering how different my life is 10 years later. 10 years ago I was staring my 30’s down suspiciously as if it were the worse thing that could happen. My marriage was good, not great, but good and my dudes were 9, 6, and 3, {{SHUDDER}} I was over weight, and a full time stay at home mom… Another other thing about me a decade ago, I didn’t play piano.

So you can imagine many things have changed 10 years later, but one thing that was the same was my desire. I have always had a desire to play piano. In the fourth grade I had a best friend, Mandy, and she played piano. She was awesome at it, and had taken lessons since she was 6. She taught me to play a little bit, and I loved every minute of it. The problem was my mom was a single mom barely surviving so piano lessons, let alone a piano were completely out of reach.

I got married at 17, started a family at 20, added to the family at 23, and 26, with a hard working husband who was the sole provider so again as an adult, no money or time for that matter for a piano and lessons. Yet, the desire remained. There was no way that I would be able to play, but I always loved listening to it, dreaming about it, and even tickling the ivories every time we would happen to be in a music store. Since Skipp was a gifted musician I would find myself constantly around music, watching him write music, serve in the local church, and play whenever he could. It was a bit of a constant reminder that I wasn’t a musician, that I was an outsider, and yet the desire was still there. I wanted to play piano, and I wanted to be a piano player.

About 7 years ago my sister-in-law gave us their old piano with the hopes that our son would use it and learn to play. I would constantly mess around on it and I decided that I wanted to learn to play. I had an out of tune, 90 year old piano and no money for lessons. I was not sure how well it was going to go but at least I was trying to play piano. Over the next year I would steal Skipp’s music from church, and with basic understanding from Mandy all those years ago, I began to pound out the chords in a way that it was close a song. It was bad, but it was moving forward, and the desire to play piano was being realized. Now, what happened next still shocks me.

After a rather nasty church experience our church of 350 went to around 100 people in a matter of months. We were a church with no piano players. So, after just a year of learning to pound out some chords into a song, I decided I was ready to try out! I asked my husband, who had become the Worship Leader, for a try out. He made me go to the church, gave me music that I wasn’t allowed to practice and gave me a real tryout. His words were close to, “Well, that wasn’t horrible, and much better than I expected.” By default, I got the gig! So, I was playing piano at church. I was part of the team, I was on the inside~ Right? Yeah, no…

Over the next 5 years I learned so many things about playing with a team. Dynamics, flow, and how to not be a distraction… That one came after a funny moment when during an actual service I hit a wrong note and apologized to the entire congregation from the stage. {{palm to face}} Let’s just say I did it wrong more than I did it right. It was through the failure that I honed my skills, and my desire to play piano changed. I didn’t just wanted to play, I wanted to BE a piano player.

Two years ago we took about a year off of ministry and spent time with our family attended church as a family. We took a much needed sabbatical and during that time I maybe played 3-5 times and thought maybe the season of me playing piano was over.  After that time, we did what we do best, and plugged into a local church. This church was full of real musicians, and high expectations and how in the world would I be fit for a place like that. Remember, I played piano but I wasn’t a piano player, but often I would notice they would have weeks without a keyboard player.  Again, I did something I still don’t know how I had the courage to do and that was try out. Guess what, they didn’t know I wasn’t a piano player and I got the gig a bit by default again.

I have been playing in our church ever since and found myself to be an integral part of the team. Not because I can play piano, but because I am a worshiper.  I always have been, and always will be… Let me share why I wrote this out~

. Psalm 37:4

   Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart 

Here is the thing: God planted that desire in my heart as a child because he had a plan for my life. I didn’t just have this wild desire and get it because it was in my heart! God gave me his desire for my life, he gave me opportunities to hone that desire, a safe place to fail in that desire, people who would look past where I was in that desire to help me get further with it, and his Holy Spirit to guide me and teach me along the way.

It did take me being willing to take the risk, over and over, and over… To put myself out there, to go from pounding the piano to making beautiful music, to practicing for hours, to seeking out help when I didn’t know what to do, to trust God when I felt completely overwhelmed,… You have to risk it all to become who he desires you to be. He will give you the desires he places in your heart, but it will require some risk from you. What if I would have never been given that piano? What if I never had the courage to learn to play, or try out? What if I would never had the opportunity to play in a group? Would I play piano today if it just sat in a room and I never did anything with it?

You see, you can complain all you want about God not giving you what you desire, but maybe God is asking you,
What are you doing with the desire I gave you?”

Yesterday while in church I realized that 10 years ago I didn’t play piano, I didn’t here by default; it is who I am… It has become my identity because I walked through the doors God opened, risked it all, and let him teach me. I am a piano player~ I did my part.

Will you do your part? Who will you be in 10 years?

Mom Guilt

I watched the movie Mom’s Night Out last night. I have to say it was full of craziness but the message beneath it all was a mom trying to find herself in the chaos of little kids. Many of you spent your lives dreaming of what having your own children would be like. The thing about dreams is they are perfect, no hair out place, no vomit, and everyone smiling. Reality, however, is much different than dreams and boy can it be nasty.

I think back to the days when my guys were younger, say 7 and under and shudder. It gives me the sweats to think about going back there! My guys were normal for the most part, but I did have “that one kid” that I blogged about previously. Now at 39, siting here in my quiet and clean house on this Monday morning I think about all the other moms out there dealing with being overwhelmed and feeling guilty.

I looked up the definition of guilty this morning and part of the definition is deserving blame, as for an error. Well, there you have it. That pretty much sums up the first 10 years of my parenting style! I went back and forth from feeling like a total failure to feeling like whatever I did that worked was the ONLY way to parent.  Let me let you in on a little secret~ Your children in all their glory and failings are not your identity.

So, your kid made it into the honors program, is the starting short stop with a .750 batting average, is a starting setter on her volleyball team, is first chair clarinet, or the kid who never gets stickers because he is always in trouble, last in the mile run, worst speller, can’t read on grade level, can’t tie her shoes…. And the list goes on and on, and on…

God gifted your kid with giftings made specifically for them, but he also made you with giftings specifically for YOU! Yes, your a mom, but that isn’t your whole identity now is it? You might be sitting there with your two year old who is screaming because her socks on are straight and wonder how did I end up here? It wasn’t this way in the dream! We feel guilty because our reality doesn’t match the dream we set up for ourselves. Our perfect dream is really a noose choking us all to death.

Let me take the noose off your neck, let you sit down, catch your breath, and whisper something in your ear, “Your going to make it, even on days like today, your going to be a confident mom some day.”  I can say that, because I am here. Am I perfect? Nope! Do I care if I am perfect? Nope! My kids better not be a reflection of me because I am not perfect, but I better have taught them to be a reflection of Jesus. Do you my kids love God, do they love people, and do they help out others around them? I can say yes to those questions most days, (I have teenagers so some days they just hate everyone, lol) and on the days I can’t I simply trust that it is their choice, not mine.

Let go, it’s okay, your not to blame for some big error. We all have messes, and God comes in and cleans them up, so why would I worry about my sons’ messes. God will clean them up just like he did me. He cleans up beautiful messes~ Quit feeling guilty, your doing fine, and besides; didn’t God give you the kids you have? He must have trusted you, right? Find your identity in Him, and his word, and not in your children (good or bad). Find out who God has called you to be, shatter the perfect dream, and ENJOY your current reality. Your just making memories for the future~