The Desire to Win, Go Fish.

Go Fish.

The other day, I played a highly sophisticated round of “Go Fish” with a four year old. This game involved a pretend pole that we used to “fish” for a new card, my how this game has changed!

Since I’d never played this version of the game, and no rule sheet could be found, the 4-year-old took the lead to teach me the rules. I was soon informed that when “fishing” for a card, I was looking for the number “3” to “fill my boat.” It didn’t take long for this game of Go Fish to become less about the rules and more about the desire to win… (shocking, right??)

Riiiigght….

It’s hard to believe, I know but my four-year-old Go Fish competition, really wanted to win. And she was willing to bend, change and expand the rules to make sure that happened.

My own desire to win.

As we fished, I couldn’t help but notice my similarity to this 4-year-old and my own dance with desire. How often do I want to change God’s rules to accommodate my desire for certainty? My desire for a needed outcome?

Time and time again, I return to Scripture and I am challenged to trust these Words meant to guide me towards abundant life. And truth be told, I do not always like what I read, and I want to bend the rules that seem to be preventing me from getting what I want. Do I trust that God knows and sees more than what is in front of me?

How often does my Creator graciously play Go Fish with me? Observing how conveniently I shift and change rules to fit my wants and desires?

My desire came toe-to-toe today with a Go-Fishing four-year-old’s desire today, yet at the core, I have to believe it’s similar. Deep down, I believe that just like I wanted this little girl to win, God wants me to win. Am I teachable, willing to be in the struggle to be honest with myself about what really “goes in my boat” and risk laying down that which does not belong?

Simple but true, desire is a part of how we are designed. Maybe learning to notice how we are playing the game of life has something to teach us…

~ becky

Is desire evil or simply an invitation to notice?

Desire for me has been a word that I have often associated with evil, something that I need to suppress, control or (dare I say) even kill all in the pursuit of “being spiritual.” I can’t help but wonder, is desire really evil?

When I think about my day-to-day emotions, two seemingly different “desires” can emerge in the exact same moment.

  • “I crave B.B.Q potato chips!” (Which I do, almost daily.)
  • “I long to make sure my husband knows he was wrong!”

Is the answer to suppress these desires? To destroy them?

Webster’s describes desire as “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.”

Could desire be the invitation to begin a conversation that is true?

Seeing desire as an invitation.

Genesis 4:7 uses the word “desire” in the form of longing. Here God is walking with Cain (who is comparing himself to his brother and is no longer looking at God as his source) and talking with him about the desire of sin to overtake his heart. God doesn’t say, kill it, destroy it, maim or deny that this desire exists, but rather God names IT, speaks about the power IT has and ultimately invites Cain to engage with IT in order to “master it.”

The desire was evidence of Cain being alive to something other than God. IT revealed a pull into a deeper struggle. IT revealed an invitation to see into a deeper existence of living fully alive with God, not away from God.

And there it is — the invitation.

From watching Cain’s story, I can see the sacred potential that rests in recognizing my own desires – big and small – and how they have something to teach me about who I am, who God is and where I am headed.

Allowing desire to tutor me.

“Master it” seems a rather ominous term here, but if desire is not named and seen, it becomes the master manipulator of my actions. In the past two years, I have been intentionally looking at desire in my own life:

  • engage with it
  • push it away
  • struggle against
  • struggle for
  • acknowledging
  • denying
  • giving in and giving up
  • testing
  • naming

Here is what “mastering it” is teaching me – and wow, this is hard work. Untangling the core of my desires is about seeing the small and large ways that I have turned from the invitation of desire. So instead of ignoring IT, I’m trying to notice my desire and then to let it teach me to live present, fully alive to the moment before me — with God present with me.

I admit that it is easy to want to return to my old pattern of thinking:

DESIRE = EVIL – IT is the enemy! 

The truth is, desire is my tutor. IT has something to teach me about how being made in the image of God is “…good, very good!”

My desire in writing this, is to invite you into some of the joys and struggles of desire – the tension filled moments of choosing. Will I separate myself and turn away from God or will I place my desires with God, the one who understands what it is that I am moving towards, communion or consumption?

Desire is rising in me right now in the form of, run, don’t be that honest about this, but instead I am going to stay in the tension and see what writing about desire has to teach me.

~ becky

PS In case you missed it last week, I guest blogged about desire on my dear friend Steve Wien’s blog, The Actual Pastor.

Photo credit.

Lingering on Happy

When was the last time you lingered with a happy thought?

Cleaning through some old emails, I found this great site a friend had sent to me: 60 of the World’s Happiest Facts. As I scrolled through this fabulously wonderful list of happy facts, I began to wonder if too often we are gathering information for the sheer purpose of finding solutions to problems, information to strengthen our position or proof that the world can’t be trusted. How often might we miss the simple hidden within the complexity of creation?

Who knew that if you fake laugh (#2) long enough you will begin to laugh naturally? I decided to try it right then and there at my desk. Guess what? It actually works.

Did you know that spinner dolphins and otters have intentional sleeping partners for comfort and protection (#45 & #15)? I fall asleep in my own cocoon of pillows, ear-plugs and comforter, maybe tonight I’ll hold my husband’s hand, just to make sure he doesn’t drift away during the night.

dolfins

Those pesky squirrels in my backyard are actually doing their part in repopulating the earth with oak trees at the rate of millions every year (#6). Dear backyard squirrels, thank you for forgetting where you bury your nuts, but please quit chewing through my siding. Thanks.

squirrels forget where they bury acorns

Scripture says that if we keep quiet about who God, our Creator is, “…the stones will cry out…”

While that would certainly be a site  to see, I would hate to think that it happened because we had become blind to the wonder of creation all around us. Don’t you agree?

So today I invite you to notice something that makes you happy, that causes you to smile and IF you are having trouble finding something, then take the time to look at this list – something has to grab your attention and trigger a smile – (#57). Worms communicate by snuggling?!

~ becky

For those of you who need to be the center of the universe, even just for a moment, (#46) might be just want you need.

The Dirt On Dating

Dating doesn’t look like it use to.

In fact, depending on the person you ask, you might get many different perceptions on the word. The teens I talk to are excited to date, often claiming that mom and dad are just too “old-fashioned”. 20-somethings can sometimes be more hesitant to be locked into a dating relationship claiming that the traditional dating is dead and has been replaced with the new “no strings attached” kind of relationships.

So what exactly is dating? And who gets to define it?

“Let’s Date” – a (very) short history lesson

In comparison to how many years we humans have been alive and been attracted to one another, the history of “dating” is really quite new. In the past, dating has been tied to marriage, family and reproduction. Dating was a precursor to exploring if we are compatible, then we take the next step.

Up until about 200 years ago, parents, matchmakers and Rulers were in charge of arranging marriages. Marriage was not about love, but rather about economic systems and political alliances. One might argue that modernity has created the concept of “dating”.

Adam didn’t have this dating problem; he only had eyes for Eve. (Sorry – but I couldn’t help myself!)

For general purposes, I’d like to define the term “dating” as:

“an exploration of compatibility for partnership to create and establish good in this world.”

Where did I contrive this definition? Let’s head back to Genesis.

What does God say about relationships?

When we return to Genesis, where humankind was created in the image of God, we read about God saying “…be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth…” God saw everything created and declared it “…good, very good.”

Together this first man and first woman were invited to enter a relationship with one another. This relationship was intended for the purpose of:

  • caring well for everything.
  • creating life that would continue to be good for this world – just like their Creator.

This type of relationship is a lot of work and yet, God seemed to think that the best way to accomplish these things would be in relationship with others – not alone.

Notice I did not say marriage. I do not believe that everyone needs to be married in order to “establish good in this world.”

So what does this have to do with dating? From my perspective? Absolutely everything!

What is your motivation for dating?

Earlier this week, I was sitting with two singles that were both re-entering the dating world. They mentioned how being in a dating relationship is both wonderful and so much work. These two individuals in this dating relationship are intentionally working to:

  • value the other’s voice
  • honor one another’s differences of opinion

This dating relationship is helping them explore and gain new insight in how to care well for another person as well as caring well for their own self. And this is creating new life that is good, very good.

What is your motivation for dating? Is there a desire to “get something” from another? Or is there something that this relationship is creating that is good for this world?

Dating is certainly not what it used to be, and sure, there might not be an absolute definition. But I do think that when underlying, hidden motives are examined there is great potential to learn how we can better engage with one another in relationship as human beings.

After all, the earth and everything in it has been entrusted to us human beings – made in the image of God. And maybe, just maybe God wants to be the dating coach we return to over and over…

~ becky

photo credit.

Love That’s Dangerous

You know that moment, when you’re standing across from someone and the only thing in the entire world that you want to do is deck them one right across the face? When it’s way past the time of being nice. When it’s time to get real and give that person just exactly what their behavior REALLY deserves??

Yes. It’s hard to admit, but sometimes (sometimes) I go here and it’s just about as ugly as it sounds.

In that all-I-want-to-do-is-deck-you moment, my focus is not on the other person at all, but rather it’s only on…

front and center

table for one

center stage

me, myself and

ME.

Life could be so much easier if relationships did not have the twisted impact of two very different individuals seeking to find common ground and see one another without judgement or competition.

These two words – judgement and competition.

More than I’m even able to admit, these two words rob me from truly seeing another person and loving them well.

Derek Tasker in his book An Exploration into God writes:

“I wonder what would happen if

I treated everyone like I was in love

with them, whether I like them or not

and whether they respond or not and no matter

what they say or do to me and even if I see

things in them which are ugly twisted petty

cruel vain deceitful indifferent, just accept

all that and turn my attention to some small

weak tender hidden part and keep my eyes on

that until it shines like a beam of light

like a bonfire I can warm my hands by and trust

it to burn away all the waste which is not

never was my business to meddle with.”

This kind of love looks dangerous and takes my breath away. Who could love like this anyway? And who would ever risk loving this way?

Love like that would require risking everything about who I am…

And this would not be fair would it?

No, no no. It would not be fair at all. And that kind of love it not cheap, not cheap at all because it would cost me everything.

Oh God, give me the desire to desire what you desire…

~ becky

Photo credit.

Acronyms of Love

There’s a game I play with myself in the car and it goes something like this: I take the letters of the license plate on the car in front of me (or on the car I’m speeding past) and use it to create a statement.

Here are a few from recent car trips, let me show you:

  • 785 NPL = Nearly pure love
  • 366 ACC = Actually compassion creates
  • 129 LGL = Love generates life
  • 112 UPS = Under passion’s spell

I admit, kind of a dorky game, but this practice began in a season of my life when I was consumed by self-judging thoughts. I was defining my identity by everything I did poorly and everything I was not. One day, as I sat in bumper to bumper traffic – the kind that makes you want to swear with the best of them – I was again lost on the trail of these consuming thoughts when an unexpected license image caught me:

joy2luv

My self-effacing thoughts gasped and didn’t know how to continue their pattern. In that moment, my well-worn thorny thoughts were interrupted long enough for me to realize that I was expertly practicing not loving myself. My negative thought patterns were consuming and starving my own love within me… so I began to use license plates to speak truth to my parched soul.

Just the other day as I drove along, I returned to this memory and wondered – what acronym would I use for the word L O V E?

Here are a couple that I came up with:

Lingering

Over

Visual

Encouragements

or

Listening

Offers

Various

Enrichment

Since acronyms are too long to put on a license plate, I think someday I could see creating one that reads:

LuvB4

I don’t know if it would interrupt another, but it would remind me that when I say, “I Love You!” I am actively taking that which is within me and sharing it with another.

What is love growing in you now? What acronym would you give to love in this season of your life?

~ becky

photo credit.

The Mud-Pit of Love

These past few weeks, I have been pondering and entertaining my own perceptions of love that have been a part of my own 50+ years of journeying on this earth. Here’s what I have so far, love is:

  • a feeling,
  • an action,
  • saying “I am sorry,”
  • accepting another’s apology,
  • being silent, and
  • speaking.

One thing I know for certain about love is that LOVE is incredibly complicated. It has many different facets and depending on where I am and who I am with, “it” can look really different. Let me tell you what I mean.

Opening old wounds

Have you ever experienced having a heart-wound unexpectedly exposed in front of another human being? And the absolute and only thing you want to do is run away as fast as you can?

When we experience a deep wound being exposed like that, there’s the opportunity for two things: there’s the potential of the wound being further infected OR the wound has the potential of being more deeply healed.

A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to sit with a man and woman I deeply treasure. As I sat with them, I saw two things.

  1. First, there was an intense love that was fiercely pursuing the other and,
  2. The second thing I saw was this love was dangerously close to destroying.

Well, wounds were opened and very much exposed and those two individuals, in that moment, were given a choice.

This man and this woman sitting in front of me could have stormed out of the room, mad at one another, while justifiably holding their own story and their own truth to protect them from having to “hear” the words of the other.

But something else happened instead. I witnessed an incredible act of love when one of them chose to lay down a long held false identity and risked letting in the words of another that held the power to begin healing this wounded identity.

As she looked up and received words of God’s love for her, love took the form of:

  • words spoken,
  • not running away,
  • laying down self-protection, and
  • vulnerability to another.

The holy mud-pit of LOVE

Scripture talks about three different kinds of love — one of which is agape. As N. Gordon Cosby says, 

Agape love is the power to love the unlovable. It is the power to love people we do not like… we are not told to love in order to win our enemies or to get results…” 

This kind of love gets into the arena, experiences the messiness, engages, and lets go of the outcome. 

Love is a messy arena — like mud wrestling messy, getting down, sliding around, feeling stuck, and falling over. If we choose to stay on the sidelines, there will only be a small splattering and we also will miss out on the (rather surprising) beneficial property that mud has to exfoliate when it gets washed off.

This sacred exchange between my friends that day was a holy mud-pit of love. The potential for healing was there if the other chose to step into the messiness.

Do I really want to love well?

I readily admit that I often just want to clean up the messiness of love, but yesterday, as I was cleaning up from a very full weekend, I couldn’t help but pause for a moment at the table where my two dear friends encountered one another in this holy mud-pit kind of a way. Just as I was cleaning and gathering up remnant crumbs from our dinner together, I couldn’t help but be touched again by the remnants of beauty that the messiness of love had left behind.

Do I really want to love well? If I want to love like Jesus does, it will include getting into the arena and letting the messiness of love transform me.

Where do you see love’s messiness around you? Does it have the power to transform?

~ becky
 

Photo credit.

February | a month of love

let's talk about love

Speaking of to-do lists.

One thing that is continually on my to-do list is blogging.

I always dreaming up new topics. Throughout the week, I voice message myself thoughts when I drive and I doodle in my journal about different topics I could write about. When I hear questions around the pain that’s generated by sexual disorder, I can’t help put jotting them down.

The sad reality is, that only about 10% of what I think would make a worthy blog post actually makes it into print. Why is that!?
 

To-do lists, do not equal reality.

I’m learning that even my best intentions for productivity, do not equal extra hours in the day. Honestly, who can actually do everything that mind asks it to do? Martha Stewart? Maybe Oprah? But those talented women have a staff and an empire making it look really easy. Not fair.

As I turn to face this month of February (yes, I do realize we’re already a full week in), I see two things to blog about:

    • Cold – the difference between bitter cold, freezing cold and super super cold.
    • Love – this month gushes hearts, red, cupids, dates and romance.

What could I blog about cold? Dress warm! Spring will come I am sure! Right, we all know this. So what could I blog about love? The lists seem to be endless.

    •  Assumptions and Misconceptions – looking for love in all the right places
    • Love vs. Lust – sex, an act of communion or consumption?
    • Is Dating Dying – the changes in how people date, then vs. now.

So for the remaining bit of February, let’s talk about LOVE. What if I let love surround me, will I notice it? Is being “in love” more than a romantic engagement with another?

Let’s dive in together shall we? Tune in next week as we get started. Until then, stay warm friends, it’s cold out there!

~ becky

Photo credit.

News From Truessence | February 2013

To-do lists

I like lists.

I have them on my computer, my phone, my iPad and I even have paper ones.

Perhaps its my age and the fact that I can’t hold all these details in my mind anymore. But I don’t totally think that’s true, it’s really just an excuse. I make lists because I like to write something down and then cross that something off.

The past eight months, as Truessence has transitioned to a non-profit, my “list mode” has been in fine form. While I will not bore with dramatic tales of my own personal transformative work as I staggered through my state and government to-do lists, I would like to share that my new to-do lists are coming from the fabulous Truessence board.

Now, the Truessence board and myself are creating lists and checking them twice, together as we  seek to notice what God has done and is doing.

So with the 2013 just barely beginning, here are a few highlights of how opportunities are being created that invite men and women to live out the truest essence of God’s relational design:

    • Meeting and working with beautiful people from Nebraska, Ohio California and Minnesota who are engaged and wrestling with real issues around spirituality and sexuality
    • Filming a new video about “Sex is Good” thanks to some great talent in Omaha, Nebraska. More details to come soon!
    • Wondering about opportunities of having the message of Holy Sexuality translated into Spanish.
    • Exploring options to take this message into Honduras and Haiti.

I am humbled, amazed and so very excited to get to see God at work in unique ways and healing deep sexual wounds. Thanks for being a part of the journey these past few months friends! I would never want to do it without you.
 

~ becky

Photo credit.

When you love the Superbowl

Football. It’s in my blood.

Ok fine. I’ll confess, football is truly one of my favorite sports –like ever.

Maybe it was the fact that during my formative years, my family lived in Texas. Awww Texas!  I remember hearing once that on Friday nights the burglary crime rate would actually drop! Apparently, thieves and petty criminals wouldn’t even miss a game.

Oh Texas. A state whose motto could be something like: We bleed football!

For better or for worse football is in my blood.

Think about it the thrill of competition, the sounds of clashing, the turf being torn apart and crowds cheering their hearts out for a team they love….wait did I say love? Oh yes it would be pretty definitive to say that many, including me, love football.

Speaking of l-o-v-e.

What does this love mean? Does it carry me? Does it define me? Am I changed by this kind of love?

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, and I should probably tell you that this will be the first game of the season that I’ve actually watched (gasp!). Why you ask? I decided to choose not to watch the 2012 football season.

Now please hear me out! I did not do this to be noble, heroic or more spiritual. Nope, absolutely not. I did this small act to examine in myself why I hold football in such high regard.

  • Why did I plan my Sunday/Monday schedules to watch games?
  • How could my blood pressure get so elevated by a ball sailing through the air?
  • What kind of power was in my pounding fist when that block was missed?

I realized that at the core of my love for football was relationships – not a game:

  • I learned the game by being with my father…
  • I asked questions, memorized plays and moves through curiosity…
  • Throwing a football to someone, I learned the feeing of tossing and receiving…
  • Game day meant gathering into one room to find a “side” that created a tension to hold us together…

Tonight two teams will take the field and battle to be number one. It will probably be memorable and even life altering for a few individuals out there. But for me this Super Bowl Sunday is an invitation to step back into a “love” with a new awareness and appreciation for those around me.

So here is what my love of football has taught me:

IT doesn’t love me back

IT is conditional

IT is replaceable

So if I am going to use the words “love” and “football” in the same sentence, I want to do it with a clarity of mind that honors the root of that love – relationships.

I am going to enjoy football tonight. Like really enjoy it. And I am going to love my relationships.

~ becky