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Earthly experiences | Dallas Willard

 “We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience.”

Years ago, to a crowd of people in a large auditorium, Dallas Willard spoke these words and they pierced my heart, changing my perspective on life and death. His words took root in the soil of truth that was buried deep inside of me and every time I returned to remember these words, they grew…

Dallas Willard’s earthly experience is now complete. I found this out when opening my inbox this morning and now I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears on my cheeks. I truly loved this man and am grateful for how his words continue to tutor my heart.

While many will write eloquent words of eulogy for a life well lived, I merely want to offer up a small thank you to this man and how his words have carved hope into my life:

  • Challenging my legalistic view of the disciplines, calling me to come home to God’s heart
  • Comforting my father on his death bed, calling him to trust as he journeyed home, returning to God’s heart
  • In seeing my father comforted by your words, I was invited me to stay present in death to God’s heart
  • Crafting your language to reveal intimate truth in Scripture, familiar words now caress my heart by God.

Yes Dallas, your spiritual journey goes on and though your physical experience is now complete.

The words you spoke in love, the ones we heard and let penetrate, they are still very much alive, moving among us and will continue to do so for generations to come.

And now, even in your death, dear friend, you tutor me. I feel deeply aware that much of what I am planting right now in my physical experience will live beyond me…

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

I will continue to meet you at the heart of God.

With gratitude,

Becky

Meet My Tutor, Desire.

The parental NO.

I remember as a kid wanting to attend a weekend away with a group of friends and my parents proclaimed “NO!”

The details are sketchy to me now, but what I experienced deep within was this strong scheming desire to

  • go behind their back
  • to trick them
  • push against being under their authority
  • even plotting how I would “eliminate” them in my life (scary but true and I do not think I am the only kid who has plotted revenge in this way).

Desire was calling, wooing me to make all my own decisions, go where I wanted, do what I wanted to do, with out anyone limiting my “freedom.”

Does desire exist to lead me into a trap?

Like Cain, “…sin is crouching at my door” always, but it’s my desire that unearths the choices set before me. What will I choose? How will I see and engage with my desires?

Often I hear people talk about how God feels far away and absent when this “sin” knocks. But in Cain’s story, we see God walking with Cain in the midst of the “sin” that is at his door. This is not a place of God’s absence, but rather it’s a place that God seems highly engaged with us!

Could desire be the place where my darkest shadows get unearthed? Might what is unearthed be a tilling of my heart to reveal roots of desire?

Years later, as I looked into my daughter’s eyes, this time I was the one issuing the “NO!” Now it was my turn to stand on the other side and face her desire.

What I noticed inside myself was a deep and fierce love for her. This love was so strong that I was more than willing to stand face to face with her desires. I wanted to protect her, from herself, from the world, from the decisions that could cause her harm. My desire stood toe to toe with her desire and, since I was the parent, I won – for the moment.

“Tame your demons and turn them into angels.” – Richard Rohr

How often do I make God far away from anything that I would qualify as a “sinful desire?” To often my thinking is that God is absent, waiting on the “right” side of my decision. But I am coming to see, taste, smell, hear and touch this presence of God with me in the choice.

The simple but profound moment is when I pause and notice that this Presence wants to be with my desires – not to destroy them, but to transform them and me.

My demons are many: pride – gluttony – lust – greed – self-centeredness (I could go on, but you get the idea…)

So today, in this state of having to rest, I am being still and listening to some of my desires:

  • to see marriages healed from the ravages of lust…
  • to kick some sexual sense into the groins of some men I know and love…
  • to experience being free from the shame of not loving some people well…
  • to shake a mother I know and demand she seek help for her addiction…
  • to protect the innocent children hurt by their parent’s choices…
  • to quit casual swearing…
  • to be reconciled to someone I love…
  • to quit having to engage with people who hurt me…
  • to run…

It’s precisely within these desires that God wants to meet me. It’s here that I am invited to “look up” and into my Creator’s face and not rely on my own perceptions. It’s here that is holy ground. Not always pretty, but it is holy…and only from this place will my demons begin to be tamed…

 

~ becky

 

Photo credit.

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

A blue shovel snow day

They predicted it.

It came.

Snarling traffic, cancelling schools, changing flights it is – a foot of snow!

Minnesota winter living

I have shoveled my driveway three times in the last 12 hours – yes I did say shoveled. How does one can live in Minnesota and not own an operating snow blower? That’s a good question.

When I went out the shovel the driveway for the third time, I couldn’t help but steal a wistful long look at our helpless dead snow blower. My mind began reminiscently wandering to all the years our snow blower had been there for me. All the occasions where it had faithfully trudged through piles upon piles of snow, throwing the accumulating inches into massive heaps that created a driveway snow bunker.

But now, after some 20+ years, the little trusty snow blower can no longer be something I depend on. No, I must let it go and recognize what is before me as my only option– a blue shovel and my very own strength.

 Blue shovel kind of snow day

So I took a “snow day” breaking away from my usual routine of “just-getting-it-done” timetable for snow removal and I decided to let the snow and my resources tutor me:

I felt:

  • snow falling down my unprotected neck…
  • cold wind scratching my cheeks…
  • the weight of snow being lifted chest high…

I saw:

  • footprints of animals – nothing wilder than bunnies and deer…
  • dimpled landscapes of trees releasing snow laden branches…
  • unmarred landscapes of white…
  • children jumping into piles of snow…

I heard:

  • the scrape of my shovel against asphalt…
  • birds singing…
  • airplanes overhead…
  • the soft ping of snowflakes hitting my jacket…
  • a snow blower’s roar to life down the street…

Caught up in the present moment, enjoying my “snow day” with a blue shovel, I was a bit caught off guard when out of the corner of my eye, a neighbor’s massive snow blower came barreling towards me.  I thought of my own snow blower that will be sent to the graveyards this year and realized how many times it had done the very same thing over the years.

Of course I didn’t refuse my neighbor and his snow blowers assistance, but I also realized that both of us were experiencing very different “snow days.”

Happy snow day– hope you are enjoying every moment!

~ becky

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.

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.

Different is not bad, it’s just different

Different is just different

I’ve got some news for you. Women are quite different from the men. And you know what else? Men are quite different from women.

    • Science reveals it.
    • Scripture confirms it.

Some of these differences are noticeable and others are more subtle, yet each difference has something to teach us about the other. And guess what, each of these differences also has something to teach us about who we are.

In my few short years of life (smile), I have come to believe that how I hold, name and value these differences is THE most important element in relationships.

Let’s explore some examples.

 

MY HUSBAND: in pain

One morning, I wake to find him moaning, sweating profusely and bent over in pain.

Bad food, appendicitis, kidney stones, he feels like he is dying.

I want to comfort him, so I go near him, but he pushes me away.

I Google away on my computer and come up with a diagnosis for what is happening – kidney stones.

Driving him to the hospital is seen as a possibility rather than a need – but I drive him there anyway.

His pain reveals a frightening level of vulnerability and how hard it is for him to ask for help.

Am I willing to see him in his pain and meet him there?

 

MY FRIEND: less words

This friend and I have known each other for most our lives. I know his silence is not a wall between us, but instead I know it as a place of perfect space to see him as he is.

My many words dwarf his few.

My joy in seeing him is met with a quiet hug and kiss on the cheek.

He values me not through language and many words, but instead he values me more through the consistency of showing up and being available.

Am I willing to trust the depth of a friendship over my desire for words to be exchanged?

 

MY WORK: logic vs. emotion

One of my colleagues, we speak together often, teaching on a topic that it is as wide as it is deep. You guessed it: sexuality and spirituality.

He appeals to the logic and reason of our audience.

I tell a story to bring it to life.

He seeks to provide a conclusion.

I linger in the unanswered questions.

Our common ground is sharing a heart for the people and a love for the Word.

Am I able to value the diversity and variance with which we approach teaching? 

 

LET’S BEGIN NOTICING: men and women are different

The differences between men and women are meant to be a place of expanding our views in this world, not an opportunity to label and categorize one another. 

As a woman, each difference I experience with the men who make up my world is offering me an opportunity to see, learn and notice more.

It’s the simplicity and complexity of the men in my life that continues to reveal I have much to learn. I admit that the arena of honoring and valuing these differences is often exhausting; yet I pray that I can make space for these God-given designs of men to continue to tutor me as a woman who also bears the Designer’s imprint.

 
Friends, both men & women, I invite you this week, as you go about your life, to stop and notice some of these everyday differences between men and women. As always, I love to hear from you either in the comments below or feel free to shoot me an email.

Here’s to noticing!

~ becky

 
Photo credit.