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“I’m standing in the flames, It’s a beautiful kind of pain, Setting fire to yesterday find the light, find the light, find the light…”

Do you know how long my hand has hovered over the keys, afraid to hit “publish”?

I like to be good at things. I like my life to be functional, polished. I like to be seen as efficient and effective, capable and strong and brave. I’ll settle for okay, but I prefer talented.

The last six months have been an enormous time of growing for me, both mentally and spiritually, and I can say with certainty that one of the most important lessons I have learned about myself is that I am not good at endurance. I can rock the suffering…as long as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Faith? I got it…as long as I can feel some sense of a lesson in the end. And to be totally honest, some of what I call peace may be a bit of shrugging and giving up. When you have a chronic disease, people kindly say things like “You are brave. I could never deal with what you deal with!”  Horse hockey. Yes you could. You would have no choice. I am not brave, I am afraid. I am not strong, I am terribly weak. I am not skilled at enduring, I am desperately hanging on.

But I love where I am.

Pain is a gift. Oh please, dear one who is struggling, please don’t click away in anger, because I know the feeling that this is ANYTHING but a gift. I know the desperate anger that comes with longing that has no ending, that feeling of just wanting one day, one hour of calm, before your body betrays you and reminds you yet again of your frail humanity. I promise I know, and I have cried plenty of angry tears too. But the pain that batters my body around, reminding me daily of lost time, lost ability, lost babies, that pain extends to batter my heart too and the bruising has made it softer.

But it’s not hard for me to talk about empathy. Empathy isn’t what keeps the hand hovering over the publish button. It’s fear and it’s shame.

I never realized until this year how we conceptualize pain as something to triumph over or give into. We celebrate unmedicated birth as though it is the strong women who can endure. We talk about high and low tolerances. We self describe, using words like “I’m a baby about pain”. We lift up athletes who play through the pain. We see pain as an event- it has a beginning, a middle and end, and like an Olympic sprinter, we give gold, silver, and bronze medals to those who sprint well, with minimal complaining. And the problem is that when you have only experienced a sprint, then a marathon can’t be understood. Sure, running is the common theme here, but that is where the similarities end and the fear and shame begins.

I remember a teacher in high school telling me once “Your reputation is all you really have!”  I don’t think he intended to, but those words stuck with me and made me terrified to ever disappoint anyone. In the last six months, I have had to disappoint people. I’ve had to cancel plans or say no more often. I’ve had to give less effort in order to save energy. I’ve had to rest when I really wanted to play. Shame.

I’ve walked to the pharmacy every single month with my head down, don’t make eye contact, and cried every single time I leave. Don’t get me wrong, my pharmacist has been wonderful, very kind and caring towards me. But the shame and fear I have felt is paralyzing. I hate it. On the outside, I look fine, totally healthy. They can’t see the pictures I saw of my surgery, with my insides bonded together from adhesions and endometriosis. So I fear being judged and critiqued. I fear being thought of as a wimp, a girl with a low pain tolerance, a girl who just can’t push through a little pain. Shame.

Be honest. Come on, you can do it. You’ve had those thoughts about someone. I know I have.

But here’s the gift- in some ways, that teacher was right- my reputation is a big deal. It’s just that I now have realized Who’s thoughts about me are important. I have to let go of the fact that there will be a person, doctor or otherwise, who looks at me and instead of seeing me, they will view my pain through their lens, and how they would handle it.  And I WILL come up lacking. I have to let go of the fact that there will be people, even people who dearly love me, who will secretly think I am just not doing the right things to deal with this disease. I get it- they are sprinters. The gift is that I can love and honor these people without letting their opinion of me hold me hostage in shame.

I don’t know why God has allowed me to suffer. That isn’t the part of the marathon that I get to see yet. But I sincerely would not trade this marathon for the sprint, and miss out on the utter joy of grasping onto my Daddy’s hand daily. The marathon is long, and difficult, and I need Him beside me. There is sweetness in being unable to do anything but pray. There is sweetness in insomnia and taking deep breaths and saying “hold on sweetie. Mommy needs a minute” and giving a hug to a friend who gets it because they are marathoning too. Somehow, that sweetness comes in and invades and chases the bitterness of shame and fear away.

So next month, I will try. I will try to hold my head up when I pick up my medicine. The walk from the car to the store is part of my marathon.

Deep breath. And publish.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies.org

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“I’ll help you be popular! You’ll hang with the right cohorts You’ll be good at sports Know the slang you’ve got to know so let’s start ’cause you’ve got an awfully long way to go…”

*She tiptoes in and looks around. Hello?, she asks, and hears the echo bouncing off the blog walls…*

I have reasons why I haven’t written. The beginning of school is always a difficult transition (true), I am working on managing my daily pain and trying to balance how to expend my energy (true), I have had writer’s block (true), I have been discouraged and overwhelmed by world events (true), Gilmore Girls came on Netflix (true. So true). I spent some extended time away this past weekend and realized that while all those reasons are true, the REAL reason comes down to the fact that my favorite color is gray.

I know. It’s weird. Stay with me please, I hope it will make sense in the end. First off, I need to defend my choice- I know gray isn’t the most logical choice for a favorite color. If you’ve ever been shopping with me, you’ve probably heard my theory that you could take any item of clothing and if you made it gray, it would automatically become 87% more comfortable. You can’t argue with science. There’s just something about the soft mix of black and white that seems cozy, comforting. A gray sky means snuggling on the couch with movies and a warm blanket. A gray sweatshirt swallows me in warmth and takes me back to walking through crunchy leaves on a college campus.

I like some gray in my thinking too. In my 20’s, I gravitated to the black and white, the right and wrong. Gray was scary, gray was disobedient, gray was BACKSLIDING. But the funny thing is, as I’ve gotten older I have become more convinced of what I believe to be true, and more convinced that my ways are not His ways. My gray now isn’t theology, it’s just the recognition that He is so much bigger than I ever thought He was. My gray now is more compassionate, slower to speak and quicker to listen. It’s the respectful recognition that His plans are bigger and better than mine, and they don’t always look like the Christian plan I have in my head.

So back to writing. Or, lack of writing.

Once you start blogging, it doesn’t take long before you discover the cool table. Some people are at the cool table simply because they sincerely and without guise are cool. They didn’t do anything except be who they are. Others are there by pushing other people around and striving to be at the top. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell these people apart (here’s a tip- watch what happens to them when someone disagrees with them on social media. It’s pretty easy to figure it out). Not only do you discover the cool table, you discover that you are supposed to want to BE at the cool table. On the walk to the cool table are words like branding, followers, conferences, stats, hustle, etc. None of these words are bad in of themselves but unfortunately as you navigate around those words, you can trip over arrogance, fear, harshness, rudeness. If I’m honest, I want to skip the entire room and hole up in my bed with my gray blanket and laptop. I don’t want the black and white of making a plan and goals and a chapter a day. I don’t want to hear about publishing or book proposals or speaker fees or amazon or make.it.stop.

Now, it is tempting for me to just turn to a different kind of arrogance and claim to be above all that popularity nonsense. I don’t want that kind of foolishness either. So I realized this weekend that part of why I like gray is because gray is safe. Gray doesn’t require choices. Gray with it’s laissez faire lures me in with a lack of pressure and worry about publishing and success. And there’s no risk of failure. 

So here’s the deal. I don’t know what He has for me in this writing gig. I don’t know if I will ever be at the cool table. I don’t know if I am supposed to want to be there either. I don’t know if I will write a book or be published. But I am so glad that He knows. I am so thankful that my only job is to be faithful.

Friends, would you pray for me? Would you pray that I will not embrace fear, and instead step out, knowing that He know exactly what is going to happen? Would you pray that I will be faithful to what He’s asked me and gifted me to do, and not get caught up in what I think I am supposed to care about? Would you pray that I will only choose His way, and I won’t be attracted to the world’s definition of success?  Will you pray that I will chase the butterflies, and not just wait for them to come land on me?

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies.org

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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“The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was Ooh, yes he was…”

Around seventeen years ago, a young girl barely out of her teens got up early on a Sunday morning and got dressed for church. She could see the steam rising from the street from those rare and quick summer Abilene storms, and it was already hot enough to fry her eggs on the sidewalk so she chose a modest sundress and sandals. She always got to church early because her husband was the music minister. She wandered around the blue carpeted building, dodging the wasps that always made a home inside the sanctuary, like they were searching for redemption for all the kids they had stung. She also dodged that one sweet old lady who insisted on asking questions about how marriage was going *wink wink*.

She went into the bathroom before the service started and while in the stall, a group of women came in. They were all in their seventies and eighties, maybe even older, she didn’t really know because to a barely 20-year-old, 40 seemed ancient. Either way, these were the ladies who knew everything about everyone. And if they didn’t know, they’d ask. And bless your heart if they didn’t approve of your answer. She listened quietly as they talked about how they hoped the piano would be softer this week, and how they understood that we needed to sing that newer music for the “young people”, but how they just knew Jesus REALLY loved the hymns best. Then she heard this bomb.

“Did you see Wes’ wife this morning? No minister worth his salt would let his wife wear open toed shoes to church!”

 

Dear Wesley,

The twenty year old me went home that afternoon, cried, and promptly went out and bought old lady shoes to cover up my offensive and ungodly toes. The thirty-seven year old me wants to give her a hug and tell her to show up that next week with clown shoes on. We spent two years serving at that church, then three years at another, and monday marked ten years serving at Watermark Community Church.

When I went to Hardin-Simmons University back so many years ago, I decided that I was NOT interested in marrying anyone who might want to be a full-time minister. Or a part-time minister. Maybe not even a Baptist. An unfair opinion, but I thought that would be a world of being alone, being judged, having to perfect a fake smile, moving around frequently whenever the deacons decided they didn’t like you, being poor, and having my life slowly dissolve into a world of homeschooling my 17 children while learning to sew the floor length skirts I would be required to wear. But there was another reason I didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife.

I was terrified that I would disappoint.

I was a big faker. I mean, I had the right clothes and the bible with the flowery cloth cover and the full Point of Grace songbook memorized. But by myself in my car, I listened to Pearl Jam. I didn’t feel patient or kind and wanted nothing to do with being involved in college ministries. I didn’t have a “gentle and quiet spirit” and what’s more, I didn’t want one. It wasn’t that being a christian was boring, but serving in churches certainly seemed to be. It seemed like an odd sort of political career, where you show your best face to get elected, hope for good pay and benefits, enjoy some twisted form of celebrity, hope you don’t screw up too badly to get fired, and likely get fired anyway over something dumb.

It breaks my heart to know there are pastor’s wives reading this right now who are nodding their heads in sad recognition because this is their reality.

So it should say a lot about how cute and charming you are that you convinced me to marry you, knowing that you would be serving in churches. And not everything in being in full-time ministry lived up to those awful expectations, but some of it did. I’m glad we can both laugh at our first fight over you wanting me to use a certain book for the children’s choir and me sweetly telling you what you could do with that book. You gently reminded me that technically, you were “my boss” and I, full of grace and meekness, told you to shove it. It was a long time before we chose to work together again. I remember another fight, one that I still cannot laugh at, where you felt the oppressing weight of people’s whispers and expectations that your wife would serve as a teacher of youth, and I would have rather been eaten alive by sharks than teach teenagers. This ended in cruel whispered words in a church hallway, and a loss of trust for years. So I can admit, my love, that when we moved to Dallas, I halfway hoped you might find a new passion for being an accountant or something.

And then you began an internship at Watermark that turned into a full-time job. And we had babies. And our marriage imploded. And I braced myself for the impeachment and the stares. And it never came.

Ten years later, I am so honored to be not only your wife, but a wife of a man on staff at Watermark. There is nothing magical about Dallas or the building, but Jesus has changed you, me, us. And He’s used so many of the men and women on staff to do that. And I am so proud of the work that you do. You love authentically, not politically. And you teach me so much about Christ, by the way you and your leadership have allowed me to be…me. Pearl Jam, open toed shoes and all. I am not expected to be an appendage of you. My gentle and quiet spirit can also be funny and authoritative. And while I completely understand the seduction of image, I wish I could adequately express the relief that comes with the freedom of letting go of the image.

Ten years ago, I thought that there was a good chance that we would not stay married or I would be forever miserable in a fake happy marriage. Ten years ago, I would have said that I would be happier if you never wanted to work for a church again. And ten years later, we are not in a perfect church or a perfect marriage, but I am so blessed to be called yours and to be a member of this body.

You’re totally worth your salt, babe. Happy 10 years.

Love,

Me

 

Would these have been better, old lady committee? They look sort of Old Testamentish.

Would these have been better, old lady committee? They look sort of Old Testamentish.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

“Take your make up off, Let your hair down, Take a breath, Look into the mirror at yourself, Don’t you like you? Cause I like you…”

“Put your make up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?”
 It’s the tiniest slip, a mere 100 feet from Gymboree to Justice, but it’s another galaxy. Kittens to cheerleading. Tiny bows to sparkly boots. The smallest change in cuts, so that the shoulder is exposed a bit more. You pull it down, I pull it up. This is the year of more no than yes. The year that the one piece versus bikini became reality instead of theory. These baby girls who hate being called babies walk their spindly legs down familiar halls, and the bathrooms suddenly have mirrors. When did they get mirrors? Us moms, we don’t ever forget that first time we see you suck your stomach in. We want to warn you, but we also see the freight train that carries braces, pimples, and cramps barreling down the track, and we are powerless to do anything but catch a ride alongside you. Doesn’t it feel like a race? To catch onto the thing that will make you “it”,  you just can’t be the last to catch on! You ask us when you can start shaving your legs, and we beg for more time. Babies, do you know how loved you are? Do you know how we stay awake, memorizing every dip and curve of your face? Do you know about the moments that we catch a glimpse and can’t speak because of your beauty? Can you hear your mother’s voice as it cracks with tears when she talks about you? Can you see the desperation in her eyes when you tell her that you just wish you were pretty, because she just can’t find enough words to express how beautiful you are?
Babies, did you know your Father feels this way about you?
“Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?”
 A thousand voices compete for your attention, and sometimes the most negative one is your own. You might despise us now. Loves, we mamas need grace. It’s probably easy for you to forget that along with hurting with you, we can be hurt by you too. We remember our own adolescent struggles with dress sizes and acne, with that one boy who spoke cruel words, with that embarrassing moment we were sure no one would ever forget, and then we sigh and remember that you have all these same moments captured on Instagram. When you walk into that high school on that first day, your mama is pleading for you, that you might rise above the fray, but we also know that no destination is worth getting to if you don’t have to swim hard for it. So we step back and continue the gut wrenching process of releasing that which we never owned, and give you a sympathetic smile when you cry over dateless dances. Did you know we would still let you stand on our feet to dance? Do you know that at every turn, we are praying that you won’t fall for the scheme of letting others decide your beauty?
Loves, did you know your Father pursues you this way?
“Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?”
Sisters, aren’t you tired? Do you remember a time when you thought that desire to belong and fit in was simply a childish goal and someday you wouldn’t care? And now we hover in doorways at PTA meetings, we sit alone on park benches, we form a line of quiet loneliness while our kids play soccer. We’ve gotten good at the game, claiming ignorance of the game itself. But we go home and slather on our expensive night cream, and we look in the mirror and sigh. Sure, we proudly own our laboring stretch marks and embrace the gray, but that desire, the one to be known, it is just as strong. Sisters, did you know that He put that in you? And yet we protect and manage, putting our best night creamed face forward, just to come home exhausted because its just.so.much.work.
Beloved Sisters, did you know your Father wants you to rest?
Today is the first day of school. Today, His daughters will venture out into a world that can be incredibly cruel. Today I will pray for myself and for my sisters.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

A letter to my children’s teachers….

Dearest Teachers of my precious angels,

I have spent some time in the classroom, and it didn’t take me long to discover that teaching wasn’t my gig. I enjoyed being around the kids, and there was some pleasure in seeing them learn new concepts, but the main feedback I got from my supervising instructor was “you seem much more interested in the parents and dynamics of the home”. Guilty as charged. I spent a year with an elementary school music teacher. At the end of the year, I had gotten her officially diagnosed with adult ADHD, created a system for her to stay organized, intervened with an immigrant child who was consistently hungry, and helped to resolve four different conflicts between different teachers, yet nary one music lesson fell from my lips. My supervisor was kind, but let me know that she didn’t see me as a long-term teacher. I couldn’t have agreed more.

But one important insight that time did give me is that a huge percentage of the success of a child depends on parents and the home environment, so I decided that instead of making you guess what happens in the Butler home, I would just write you a letter to give you the inside scoop. I promise to be completely and totally honest in this letter about my skills as a mother, and I am using this letter to also hereby declare that you have my permission to use this letter against me if needed. So like, if I say something ridiculous like “I don’t know how I forgot that, I am usually so on top of things!”, you can cackle in my face and say “Au contraire, mon frere! Your letter proves otherwise!” and then I will mumble something about you needing glasses maybe because I get snarky when I am proven wrong.  So here’s what you need to know about me-

– I am 13. I mean, not REALLY, because I have a 10-year-old, so that would mean I had a child at age three and I would be weirdly famous. I mean I like Vampire Diaries and I am totes Team Damon. Whatevs to Team Stephan. I like bands made out of boys. I know who Taylor Swift has dated. And Taylor and me are basically besties. I use the word “besties.” I accidentally taught my six-year-old to say “hella dope.”  I will try to be mature, but just know that inside, there is a fangirl freaking out because Justin Timberlake exists.

– I lose things. In fact, you might just go ahead and email me a copy of stuff you send home. I have great intentions, but somehow papers just seem to fly away into a land where they hang out with lost socks. I have devised a system for this year and I have high hopes for it, but if I don’t respond to a request for cookies or help with a trip, don’t feel bad about asking me again.

– I’m not fancy. There is a very good chance that you may never see me in anything other than yoga pants. I’ll wear a shirt too, I’m not THAT unorganized. If I were a teacher, I would strike with my only demand as being allowed to wear yoga pants. I would become a P.E. teacher, even though I have ZERO knowledge of sports, just to wear the pants of the yoga. I have a deep abiding love with my yoga pants. This year, I may even go to a yoga class.

– This is probably the most important thing you need to know about me. If I made a list of the top ten things in the world that contribute to the world being awful, homework might be the top one, right under dental appointments and electronic books. I know, you probably hate it too. But I am THE WORST at helping with homework. (no really-  http://followingbutterflies.org/2014/01/29/oh-baby-you-know-i-may-be-a-fool-im-wastin-my-time-by-goin-to-school-the-way-you-got-me-holdin-your-door-i-cant-do-my-homework-anymore/ ) I miss my kids and I don’t like that I have to give up another hour or two when they have already been gone, not to mention that I am about as good at math as I am about making dental appointments and wearing high heels. So, there you go. Full disclosure.

Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that I am just made of flaws. The truth is, Wes and I chose to send our kids to public school intentionally, and we chose our particular school intentionally. So here are some other things that you should know-

– I am fiercely protective of my kids, but I am not a helicopter mom. If they mess up, they clean it up. if they choose not to work hard, I will not rescue them. I expect them to say yes ma’am and please and thank you. If they are disrespectful to you, they will apologize and ask for your forgiveness. I am much more interested in their character development than their math and reading ability. I am a sappy mess about my kids, but I am under no delusion that they are perfect cherubs who would never cause any trouble or be mean to another child.

– I know that you are human and will make mistakes, and you need grace just like I do. I promise that I will not gossip about you to another person or talk badly about you to my kids. I promise that I will come to you directly with any issue. I will remember that you have a life completely outside of your job and that sometimes, teachers have bad days too.

– I long to be involved! Ask me to do stuff, and I will do it. I may have to do it in between live tweeting the MTV Music Video Awards, but it will get done.

– I am navigating the waters of race and attachment with my kids, and I need you to be there with me. Part of being protective of my kids is understanding when a subject or issue might trigger any grief or questions from them. Most of the time, my kids are proud of their adoption stories, and then there are times when they don’t want to be the family that looks different. There are times that Malachi does not want to be black instead of white. There are times that Selah is sensitive to questions about her birth parents. There are moments when stress in our family gets tangled up in attachment, and we have to slow down, reevaluate and engage in more intentional bonding. This might mean that I tell my kids to forgo their homework so we can snuggle. I promise not to abuse this. It might mean that we leave early from an event because it’s too crowded. It might mean that you and I will have conversations about any family history lessons, and it definitely means that I have become much more sensitive to racial tension and micro aggressions.

– My kids have an amazing daddy. I know this is not the case for many of your students. I can identify personally with those students, so my heart is a little broken for them. My husband is a great resource for you when you need a man’s perspective or presence in the classroom. I promise that he will not only help out, but sincerely love all your kids. He’s also incredibly funny and crazy, so anytime you need a silly character (ask our neighborhood kids about Jefferee the Referee), he’s your guy!

– I know that the actual teaching is only a small percentage of your job, and that you are also dealing with a larger system, interpersonal relationships with other coworkers, parents, and a personal life. I promise that you are being prayed for! We are here to support you and help you, because we know that people can rarely do their job well when they do not feel loved and appreciated. I would love nothing more than to know how to serve you best this year, and to be able to be a source of support and friendship for you. If you have a bad week, I’m up for a movie and margarita! If you need a book series to get lost in to distract you, I’m gonna lend you my Harry Potter series. If I catch you crying, you’re getting a hug and a drink from Sonic.

 

So that’s us. Looking forward to the first day- I’ll be the one in the yoga pants and tears.

Love,

Brandy

photo

“Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore…”

Back in May, our family sat around our dinner table and made a list of individual goals. We divided them up into reading goals, learning goals, activity goals, and just fun goals. Some examples were- reading 10,000 pages, learning to make pizza, learning about civil rights, learning to fish, learning to run, going to a water park, having two days a week with no technology, etc.

I’m happy to report that we met all our goals and we are entering the new school year as well rested, well-rounded people who are quite frankly, much smarter and cooler than the rest of you slackers.

Eh…something like that. Here’s the truth- only Josiah met his reading goal. He surpassed 10,000 pages actually, which is impressive until I tell you that we probably haven’t spoken to him in a few weeks. There’s been no fishing, no deck building, I have learned 0 new songs on the guitar, no water park, and my children have developed a deep abiding relationship with the television this summer, followed closely by becoming besties with the Xbox. I did not learn how to make artisan bread or homemade sushi, but I DID learn that if you offer no alternative, your children will eat peanut butter and jelly for more than one day in a row.

This week has been difficult, for many reasons, but one of the reasons is that I have been struggling with guilt over how our summer has progressed, and the lack of meaningful interactions between me and my kids. Actually, that’s just fancy blog talk for saying I feel like a failure. A big old not running, frozen waffle making, swimming counts as a bath failure. School starts in a week and my house isn’t more organized. I have no meal plans ready. There are no homework stations and at this point, I am not quite sure where Josiah’s toothbrush is.

It’s amazing to me that we do this- we look at summer vacation and forget that it’s only a vacation for the kids. My life and responsibilities haven’t stopped! In fact, they have at least doubled, because now I have three kids home. Home. All the time. All the days and hours. They are home. With me. All the days. They are home with me and that means I have 88% less time to do laundry, cook, clean, organize the house, take care of the dog, do ministry, write, spend time with friends, spend time with the Lord, and be a wife. Not sure if 88% is right, but who has time to do correct math when all the children are here?? So we have less time and less energy, yet we make goals for ourselves as though we have all the free time in the world. It’s crazy and unrealistic. And for me, it has set me up for grouchiness and crying and guilt.

And I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I can’t find any scripture about spanish lessons or running a marathon or reading Shakespeare or learning cursive. But I’ve read plenty about rest and loving others and laughter and being patient and kind. And I think my ancestors would roll their eyes at my fretting, so I am taking my cues from them. I want to encourage you with the following questions-

1. Has your child been eaten by a wooly mammoth or scarred by an attack while gathering water at the watering hole?

2. Has your child lost any fingers or limbs in a combine this summer?

3. Did you child contract Bubonic Plague while gathering wild mushrooms to feed the family?

If you answered “no” to each of these, then congratulations, your summer was a success!

And more questions-

1. Did your child eat this summer?

2. Did water come into contact with your child’s body this summer?

3. Is your child currently breathing?

If you answered “yes”, then you are a rock star summer parent.

 

The truth is, while many parents wrestle with wanting to have a perfect Pinterest summer, I struggled more with wanting some high level spiritual experience for my kids. I wanted us to be sweet and generous and loving and prayerful and creative and singing and Spinterest. Spiritual Pinterest. But I bet I don’t have to tell you that the world of Spinterest does contain an extraordinary amount of “spin”. Our family is just full of human sinners, and three months of constant togetherness has brought out that sin in some unique and loud ways. Some days were louder than others.

Sweet friends, take a deep breath. Channel your inner Elsa and let. it. go. Don’t let your Spinterest hopes distract you from what is right in front of you- a beautiful, restful, joy filled sink of dirty dishes. They’ll be there tomorrow. Maybe even the next day. And no one will die or abandon their faith because of it.

Your babies are watching to see how you feel about those dirty faces and dishes.

 

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Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

“Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours, give me open hands and open doors, Put Your light in my eyes and let me see that my own little world is not about me…”

I grew up going to See you at the Pole rallies. Does anyone else remember these? It was a day when the kids who attended churches would meet at the flagpole before school and pray together for the other heathens that were probably sleeping off their hangovers.

At least that’s what I assumed.

The scripture that I remember defining this experience was 2 Chronicles 7:14- “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”  I’d listen to the leader talk about how we need to take back our nation and rescue it from the influence of “the world”, how if we weren’t firm and didn’t stand up for Jesus, we were all just gonna go to hell in a hand basket. The leader didn’t actually say “hell in a hand basket”, but we all knew he was thinking it. I never really understood why a hand basket made the idea of hell more threatening. It’s a handbasket- the thing little Red Riding hood carried to bring a picnic lunch to her grandma. Was it lined with spikes? Filled with tracker jackers?  And really, are we shrinking down to tiny people, because hand baskets generally don’t fit typical size people. If they wanted to scare us, they should’ve said we would go to hell in a smart car.

But that’s not the point.

The point is, I don’t know if it was intentional, but the emphasis was always on the “turning from their wicked ways” part. I learned that we needed to help the world turn from their wicked ways and then God would step in and turn this proverbial car around and all would be right and clean and probably Republican. Even after my pole praying days were over, I heard this scripture used to encourage me to vote, to attend prayer rallies, to picket clinics, to even pray for certain weather. And when the world just got worse, sometimes I thought maybe the wicked ways of the world were just too strong and my prayers against it were just too weak.

I want to cover my ears and close my eyes against #Ferguson and the hatred that is bubbling up from long-held beliefs. I’m weary. Not just weary of hearing about another unarmed black teenager killed, but weary of the debate with people I love about if white privilege is a real thing. No one will debate if this is wickedness- surely death and pain and hatred is evil, and we want to be delivered from it. But we have to begin with the actual beginning- the humbling part. We aren’t asked to humble others, we are asked to humble ourselves.

Humble ourselves…and shut up.

Humble ourselves…and listen.

Humble ourselves…and decide that no matter what, we who are white do not understand what it is like to be black in this country.

Humble ourselves…and consider if perhaps the wicked ways belong to us.

Jesus is telling us to humble ourselves, admit that we might be wrong. I’m asking my brothers and sisters to just consider if everything you think you know about race relations might be wrong. Just consider it.

Jesus is telling us to pray. Not just for “them”, but for our own hearts. I love that He knows that our prayers are sweeter and more intimate when we are humble.

Jesus is telling us to seek His face. His face- the One that lovingly crafted every nuance of Michael Brown’s face AND the police officer. The face that I believe cries with me as I try not to see my precious Malachi in that crowd. The face that is recording every tear of a mother who has lost her baby.

Jesus is telling us to turn from OUR wicked ways. Mine. My wickedness- the side of me that still views other people as less important than me, the side of me that is unkind and selfish and lazy and quarrelsome and rude. The side of me that defends the underdog while cursing the oppressor.

Father, forgive me. Forgive me for my complacency and fear of man. Forgive me for avoiding conflict, when I should be standing up for those who could use a defender. Forgive me for my arrogance in thinking that I “get it”. I do not get it. I am so grateful that You do. Help me to shut up and listen. Help me to see the thoughts that I have that are not loving towards Your kids. Help me be a peacemaker. Remind me that healing an infection often requires painful surgery and help me be willing to be cut open. I couldn’t possibly bleed more than You did. 

 

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Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

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