Jan 012010
 

Monkees! I’m in Lorain, Ohio hiding out with my 14 insane, beautiful cousins. It’s 26 degrees here and Craig, Bubba and the rest of the boys in my family are about to jump into Lake Erie after many shots of JD. It’s one of many ridiculously wonderful New Year traditions I’ll tell ya about next week.

I sneaked out to my uncle’s den to tell you that I love you …and that I could not be more excited to discover what the G-O-D has in store for His Monkees this year.
My New Year Revolution is to show up here every morning of 2010 to try not to be a jerk.
I make no promises about the rest of the day.
God Bless The Monkees!
Catch ya back here on Monday morning.
Love, G
PS. Do you have any New Year Revolutions for 2010?
PPS. Hermit Crab Book Club meets this week. We’ll discuss Just Courage on Tuesday!

Jan 042010
 

I was laying in bed this morning thinking about the thirty-three year period in my life when I used to wake every morning without you Monkees to play with. I can’t really imagine it now, but it must have been awful. I’m so grateful for you. Husband and Sister are too, because I’m sure you can imagine that I was a lot for two people to field on their own. It seems kinder to divide responsibility for me among all 242 of you. Thanks for helping my caretakers.

On to the Monkee Business of the day.

If it’s not too exhausting, I’d like to amend our Monkee Motto. In 2009 we were “trying very hard not to be jerks.” I’d like to add a little something for 2010. I’d like us to ALSO start “trying very hard not to be afraid.”

So it would look a little something like this:

2009: Monkees try to be LOVING.

2010: Monkees try to be LOVING AND FEARLESS.

As always, when we get too tired, we will stop trying and read trash magazines and eat Cheetos. It is crucial to make back up plans.

Today my dear friend Jessica is going to tell you about her efforts to fear less. If I had to choose one friend with whom to be stranded on an island, I’d choose Jessica. Unless booze on the island was limited. Then I’d choose someone else. Jess and I met in college and since then, we have loved each other and tried to take care of one another. In college, that meant providing each other with endless Marlboro Lights. Today it means providing each other with encouragement and honesty while we try desperately to act like grown-ups, wives, and mommies and keep the faith. Jessica is special. She is funny and interesting and interested. She listens. She prays for her friends. She loves Jesus, Trent, Emme, Nate, her brother, her parents, her friends, and a glass of wine after an exhausting, beautiful day caring for all of them.

Monkees, meet …your Jess.


Fear. Less.


As others have mentioned, Glennon’s advice to me about writing this piece was this: don’t think too much; don’t try too hard; just tell your truth. She promised that the topic would come to me if I prayed about it and listened for God’s answer. Well friends, I struggled, because every time I got quiet enough to think about the blog and to let God do his thing, all that I could hear, taste, feel, and smell was FEAR. I mean seriously, write for Glennon?! In my mind, Momastery is sacred ground, and Glennon is the master groundskeeper. I knew I couldn’t say no, but to say yes made my pulse quicken and my head spin. A dear friend of mine (and fellow Monkee), summed it up best when she said, “writing for Glennon is like singing to Celine Dion or dancing for Baryshnikov”.

Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

So I sat with the idea and I waited for something marvelous and ground-breaking and Momastery-worthy to come to me. Ironically, the longer I sat and the quieter I became, the louder and uglier the fear became. This is ridiculous, I thought. You are not going for the Pulitzer Prize here. And your fellow Monkees are wonderful. They will not judge you, even if you can‘t build bonfires, write poetry, speak Tibetan, or organize a charity event. (Geesh, y‘all are a hard act to follow!). It is a BLOG, for Pete’s sake. But the truth is we all know that it is more than that. And the harder I tried to push the fear away, the stronger it made its presence known. Until it occurred to me that this fear, this thing that was holding me back from even wanting to accept Glennon‘s invitation, was exactly the thing I was suppose to write about.

So here, my friends, is my truth du jour.

The first time I remember fear affecting my life was at the age of 6 or 7. I was excelling in gymnastics and one day the coach approached my mother and me to discuss my moving on to the next level. He wanted me to begin competing and, although I would be the youngest girl on the team, he was confident I was up to the task. I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. Not because I didn’t love gymnastics and certainly not because I was fearful of the possibility of injury. No, my fear grew from a place of insecurity, pride and self-preservation. I was fearful that I might not prove to be as good of a gymnast as I had tricked the coach into believing I was. That I might not win. That I might want to quit but not know how to say so. That I might let people down.

That I might fail.

During my sophomore year in college, I had a similar experience when I felt a calling towards the study of medicine. The idea of taking on such a challenge terrified me and I tried to ignore it for as long as possible. As the window of opportunity to switch majors began to close, I decided that the least I could do was look into it by talking to the Dean of the department. When the day of our meeting finally came, I went off without telling anyone of my plan and remember the butterflies in my stomach as I entered the office. After a very brief discussion and review of my transcripts, the Dean stated rather unequivocally that I did not appear to be a candidate. To this day, I cannot tell you his reasons for saying so. I was a straight A student, had a passion for studying, and had all the means and support necessary to pursue a career in medicine. What I can tell you is that I experienced an enormous sense of relief as I walked out his office that day, for the simple fact that the decision had been made for me. That someone else had confirmed my fear that I might not be good enough or smart enough to be a doctor and that now, I didn’t have to find out on my own.

I could offer you numerous other examples of the ways in which fear has snaked its way into my life, but the point is this: when faced with a challenge that I perceive to be beyond my means, I fold. I rarely even try. I have become a master of choosing things that I am really good at and avoiding things that could potentially result in failure. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that failure was the enemy and was to be avoided at all cost. That risk-taking was for other people, even though I was left envious of their courage.

There has been a lot of talk on this blog of the state of our souls and the light that resides there. One of the most unfortunate consequences of fear is that it dims that light; contains it. It has also been my experience that a fearful, timid nature drives people away. As a general rule, people are not attracted to these qualities and so when they sense it in others they turn away, for fear it might be contagious.

My time in our “momastery” has reminded that living, TRUE living, involves a whole lot of risk and, yes, even failure. As I prayed and mediated on the writing of this piece, I tried to imagine what risk would look like now. I tried to image myself in those scenarios, those dreams, and those challenges that I have side-stepped for so many years. As you might imagine, my old friend Fear reared her ugly head almost immediately. But whereas three or four years ago I might have allowed Her to stop me there, I now have the impetus for change: my children. For as a mother, I want so much more for my kids. I want them to experience all that life has to offer without fear of failure. More importantly, I want them to feel secure enough in themselves to take risks on behalf of others. I must teach them this. I must show them this.

I believe God has called me to share this with you so that you might pray for me. That you might help me to transcend that which attempts to hold me back from living life more fully.

The key to overcoming fear, then, is total and complete trust in God. Trusting God is a refusal to give in to fear. It is a turning to God even in the darkest times and trusting Him to make things right. This trust comes from knowing God and knowing that He is good.

A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God and I am confident that we will be judged more by our efforts than by our failures. Certainly, Glennon has reminded us of this by offering herself and her life as a beautiful example of how to live faithfully and fearlessly. Her light remains bright as she continues to take risks on behalf of others. She is brave enough to be still when asked to be still and soar when she is asked to soar (and write frantically when she is asked to write frantically). I can only aspire to learn from her example and from all of you as we take this journey together.

Monkee see, Monkee do.


*********************************************


See, Monkees? I told you. She’s special.

If you get a chance, comment and tell us…


What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?



ps. first meeting of HC book club is tomorrow. we’ll discuss just courage by gary haugen. i think i’ve set itup so everyone can participate. no worries if you don’t have the book.

pps. if i had a dime for every time i’ve been compared to baryshnikov…….


Jan 052010
 


I NOW CALL TO ORDER THE FIRST MEETING OF THE HERMIT CRAB BOOK CLUB.

Our name is derived from the fact that we are too reclusive and cranky to attend real book clubs. So here we are.

Hermit Crab Book Club Rules:

1. Everyone is invited.

2.We will try not to be jerks.

3.We will try to feel inspired rather than guilty, since we’re exhausted and likely can’t fly to the third world today. We will consider that a shift in thinking can be as powerful as a shift in doing. We might even decide that since we’ve been up all night with sick children or we have a big presentation or 49 PB and Js to make today…we won’t think or do a darn thing other than become more aware. And maybe pray for those on the battlefield of oppression. And we will grow more fearless by loving bravely and telling the truth at home and the office. This is enough work for a day in the life of a Revolutionary.


I’ve done my best to outline JC into questions followed by Haugen quotes to get us thinking and talking, and in hopes that this would help Monkees who didn’t read the book. (SHC- Slacker Hermit Crabs) I’ve overdone it, sorry. Feel free to comment on the questions and quotes or ignore them completely and go rogue



“In a world where 27 million children, women, and men live as modern day slaves, the fight for justice cannot wait.”

“Like abolitionists from Moses to Harriet Tubman, those who carry on their legacy honor the simple belief that slaves are our sisters and brothers.”

-At the End of Slavery: The Battle for Justice In Our Time


G- I’ve been too busy reading about your sex life to read this book. What is “Just Courage” about? Make it snappy.

Please read this post for the history of IJM and why the Monkees are involved. Just Courage was written by Gary Haugen, the founder of the International Justice Mission, a Christian organization that takes to heart God’s commands to:

“seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

IJM storms into the darkest places in the world to rescue victims of injustice and violence. Then they prosecute the abusers and rehabilitate their clients. Many of IJM clients are young children, girls as young as five in bondage as sex slaves. This is a commonplace scenario in many parts of the world. IJM believes they can make a difference for these children of God and by God, they are, one rescued person at a time.

Haugen suggests that here on the shiny side of the world, where things are relatively comfortable…it becomes easy to pretend that the world is an okay place, and that people are pretty much fine. Apparently, it’s not, and they’re not. They’ve got problems. They can’t feed their families and their kids are being kidnapped and raped and they have no recourse because their legal systems are corrupt. And we’ve got problems over here in shiny land, too. Because sometimes we feel bored, unfulfilled, uninspired, impotent, lost when it comes to our faith life. We know deep down that there has to be more. That we were made for more. That life can’t really be about acquiring stuff and status. Haugen suggests that the disconnect between these two worlds is the cause of both sets of problems. If we in this world used our power (time, money, and energy) to follow God’s repeated commands to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:17)” both sets of problems would be solved, because we would all witness God’s healing power, and be forever changed. The victims of violence would be free to care for their families and we would be free from our restlessness and feelings of uselessness. They would find freedom and peace and we would find purpose and peace. Haugen suggests that the pursuit of happiness is in the pursuit of JUSTICE. It’s the Holy Grail, if you will. The joy, the adventure, the peace, is with the poor. Seems like Jesus agrees, with all His “blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness sake, blessed are the merciful” and things such as this.

From Just Courage:

“To love our neighbor is simply to consider how we would want to be treated- and then treat all others that way. For those neighbors around the world who are suffering injustice, we can’t say that we love them if we do not draw near and seek justice on their behalf.” 74

“This is the moment in which we can see that the all the work that God has been doing in our lives and in the life of the church is not an end in itself; rather, the work he has been doing in us is a powerful means to a grander purpose beyond ourselves. This is the supernatural moment when the rescued entered into their divine destiny as rescuers.” (28)

“Rather than looking away from ugliness, Christians actually have to go looking for it.” 51

“According to Christ, significance is found in transforming people’s lives through love. This is living a truly significant life.” 119

“Deep within all of us there is a yearning to be brave. And like all of our deepest, truest, and best yearnings, it comes from how we were made. Courage- the power to do the right thing even when it is scary and hard – resonates deeply within the original shape of our soul…who we truly are and were meant to be is evidenced more by our yearnings than by our history.” 104

“There are two things that are always the will of God and almost always dangerous: telling the truth and loving needy people. (Jesus tells us this is where the deepest joy is found) In fact, if following Jesus does not feel dangerous, I should probably pause and check to see if it is Jesus I’m following.” 115


G- I just made it through the family holiday without doubling my Prozac, so I feel brave enough, thank you very much. But just for arguments sake..why is it so hard to be brave and try to make a difference?


(My first thought when I looked at this picture, taken outside of a brothel, was that the the girl was texting. She’s not.)

From Just Courage

“Ignorance. (We don’t know about the suffering of the world)

Despair (We don’t think there’s anything we can do about it.)

Fear.” (We are scared to do anything about it)”

2″Sometimes the will of God is scary because he is asking us to choose between a life that looks successful and a life that is actually significant, between a life that wins applause of our peers and a life that actually transforms lives through love.” 119

“Hopelessness (despair) says to God: You are a God who calls your people to ministry without providing any power to actually do it.”

“I don’t know if Jesus actually rolls his eyes, but that is what I picture him doing every time he hears “realistic” and “mature” Christians give fourteen reasons why there is nothing we can do to stop violence and injustice. I think He is very sympathetic to our honest fears. But I think He is annoyed when those fears are dressed up in a sophisticated analysis of why nothing will work…because He hears us simply regurgitating the ancient, tired nostrums of the father of lies.” 78

“While our arguments for the impracticality of doing justice are understandable, they are ultimately not very interesting to Jesus. Nor are they very helpful to the slave boy or the prisoner being tortured or to the widow brutally thrown off her land. Imagine yourself enslaved on a concrete floor or violently chased from your own home, and then picture yourself listening to millions of Christians explain why there is nothing they can do to help you…Wouldn’t you long to hear someone- anyone-speak up and say, “Wait! We may not be able to do everything, but can’t we help this one?” 79

“What are we going to do? I am much more interested in telling Jesus and other what I believe, but Jesus (and the watching world) knows what I truly believe will be manifested in what I choose to do.” 125

“Christians are not insincere when they say that they believe these things. They do believe them, as people believe what they have always heard lauded but never discussed…they have a habitual respect for the sound of them…but wherever conduct is concerned, they look round for Mr. A and B to direct them how far to go in obeying Christ.”p 13

“Despair is a worse sin than any sin that causes it.” -C.S. Lewis


So…If I decide to be brave rather than safe….What’s in it for me?


From Just Courage

-You might change the world, and you might change the way the world views Christians:

“If we in the church really did justice today, we would turn our culture upside down for Jesus Christ. We need the high powered offense of justice to make headway in a world deeply suspicious of religious phonies.” 42

-You might become a hero to your children, and keep them in the “right” kind of trouble:

A child says to his Christian parent: “Your grand ambition for me is that nothing bad happens?” 126

“Doing justice, without sacrificing righteousness, is an effective way to keep our children passionate about following Jesus.”42

“Parenting seems to be the great leveling experience among human beings, especially in the unique sense of vulnerability that mysteriously accompanies parents of all places…parents all over the world love their kids but none of us- rich or poor- can control what happens to them.” “If any of us has ever felt the stomach churning panic of desperate love, then it turns out that Mary is not a total stranger to us after all. She is a human being who loves deeply, and like all of us, she needs some help. “94/95

-You might lose some friends and worldly success and feel scared:

“The fact is, when people choose to be brave instead of smart, their courage is generally so threatening to those who are smart rather than brave that they end up being maligned, not congratulated. This is what the Bible says we can expect…so are we going to love or are we going to look smart? Because loving the needy doesn’t look smart. And sadly, in much of our culture this is one of our deepest fears: looking like a fool, naïve, unsophisticated, a little too earnest, a loser.” 118

You might end up on the right side of history:

“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” MLK Jr.

“In the long run, it is always the tyrants and the bullies who end up on the ash heap of history.” 79

-And you might walk closer to your God each day. You might experience miracles. You might get to know your Father. You might find that peace for which you’ve become desperate:

It is a means of rescue not only for the powerless but also for the powerful who otherwise waste away in a world of triviality and fear.” 41

“They yearn for liberation from small and trivial things, and to experience the passion and power of God on the more jagged edges of faith, where true glory lies.” 38

“If you lose your life for my sake you will find it. We may give up: comfort, security, control, success. But we will find: adventure, faith, miracles. Deep knowledge of Jesus.” 123

“Rather, she has intentionally taken those gifts onto battlefields where she knows she can’t win on her own, and where she believes that God is pleased to stand with her. And she gets to experience God. Not without struggle and scrapes and doubts. But at the end of the day her cheeks are flushed, her eyes are clear, and she has stories. She has unforgettable days with her Father on great mountains.” 21


Kay..I’m picking up what you’re putting down. But knowing that God calls each of us to be brave in different ways…What brave choices can I make to help myself and others?

I dunno. Watcha think?


PHEW, I’m done. Talk amongst yourselves. I’m excited.