Father’s Day Memories

Father’s Day Memories

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and the first day of our beach vacation. Father’s Day is such a special time for our family. It’s bittersweet, as we will be celebrating your 9th year as a dad, but it will also be the 6th Father’s Day without my own dad. It will be a day of remembering. You will honor that time. You will let me remember, listening as I think about Daddy. I will remember strength wrapped in gentleness. I’ll remember junking trips and flea markets. I’ll remember basketball and go-cart racing. I’ll remember the smallness of my hand in his larger one. I’ll remember his eyes, his smile, his laugh, and his arms, outstretched and ever ready to welcome me in. I’ll remember, “Well hey girl” and “I sure do love you.” I’ll remember hugs and kisses goodbye, and looking back in my rear view mirror, seeing him wave until I turned the corner, out of sight. I’ll remember blackberry cobbler and banana pudding, pinto beans and cornbread. I’ll remember uncomplicated faith and unwavering trust in Jesus. I’ll remember pick-up trucks and gospel music, roller-coasters and log-rides. I’ll remember flicking ears and practical jokes. I’ll remember being rescued in the broad daylight, the sound of his feet running to me, shot-gun ready, and knowing in that moment everything would be ok. I’ll remember being rescued in the night, picked up in Raleigh and driven home to the mountains, and knowing in that moment everything would be ok. I’ll remember being by his side as he took his last breath, telling him everything’s going to be ok. I’ll remember courage and humility and integrity and love. Yes, love, always love. It will be a day of remembering Paw for Matthew and Mason. We’ll remember rides in the back of the truck. We’ll remember big breakfasts and J&S. We’ll remember yard sales and auctions. We’ll remember Rascal. We’ll remember sled rides on the trash can lid and trips to the park. We’ll remember, “what a fine boy” and “that’s good sugar.” We’ll remember visits and birthday parties and camping trips. We’ll remember love. Yes, love, always love. After the memories, we’ll return to the present. The kids will take off towards the water with you, and I’ll watch. I’ll watch and I’ll remember. I’ll remember you holding first Matthew, then Mason, their tiny newborn bodies swaddled and smelling so sweet. I’ll remember how both their cries stopped as they heard you talking to them. I’ll remember to tell them it was your voice which first calmed them, which first assured them, which comforted them in the way they have come to expect from their Daddy. I’ll remember those first nights at home. I’ll remember you helping with every single part of it, the feedings, the diaper changes, the pure exhaustion and exhilaration of it all. As I remember Daddy-daughter dances, Y-Guides, and Daddy date nights, I see some of the very traits of my dad in you now with our children. As I watch you play football, basketball, and soccer only to turn around and play hide-and-seek, chase, and Peter Rabbit,. I see you in it, doing this dad-thing with your whole heart. As I see you lead them in devotion and prayer, I see an uncomplicated faith, as pure and simple as my Dad’s. As I listen from the kitchen as you read books and pray and tuck them in, I see strength wrapped in gentleness. As I watch tears form in your eyes when you watch them sleep, peaceful and bigger somehow each time we check in on them, I see love. Yes, love, always love. One day, our children will remember their Daddy, just as I remember mine each Father’s Day. One day they’ll remember “Buddy” and “Girlie.” They’ll remember bowling and Noodles and Company and putt-putt. They’ll remember shows and movies. They’ll remember Pirate Anna and ET. They’ll remember Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs mine train, digging holes and sand castles on the beach, and Yogi Bear campgrounds. They’ll remember being tossed high into the air and splashing into the pool. They’ll remember hugs and kisses, fist-bumps and high fives. They’ll remember “I love you sweet girl,” and “I love you little buddy.” Yes, they’ll remember your love. Always your love. Happy Father’s Day to the two most important men in my...

Speak

Speak

How can the violation of a woman’s mind, body, and soul result in a 6 month sentence for her rapist? How can 3 felony convictions ultimately result in only 3 months of time served?   What message does this lenient sentence send to young boys, teens, and men about the sacredness of a woman’s ability to have complete control and power over her body and what happens to her body?   While we can’t directly impact the judicial system with our religious teachings, we can impact the way in which we teach men and women to see one another in our churches.   We need to remove the privileged teachings of any theology which advocates male authority over women. Why are more believers not speaking out against teachings which instruct women to position themselves beneath men in the home, church, marriage, and beyond? While the specific case of the Stanford rapist isn’t directly related to religious teachings, we, as believers, have to examine what we are doing to contribute to the culture of privilege which allows for the continued abuse of women nationally and globally. We have to examine the consequences of doctrines which give men authority over women but fail to include a “how to” guide for using said authority appropriately.   We should be advocating for teachings which honor a woman’s freedom in Christ, which empower her gifts, which put her on equal grounds of authority in her home, marriage, and church.    When I think about teaching my daughter to “submit” to male authority, a pit forms in my stomach because I know men are human, fallible beings. I know there is not a single verse or scripture which assures me of a man’s ability to not abuse his power while there are many which warn against the possibility of abuse occurring because God knows the dangers of power and privilege in the hands of imperfect people.   When I think about teaching my son to assert his authority as a man, an even bigger pit forms in my stomach because I am terrified of how wrong that message could unfold in his life.   When I read the words of the woman victimized, my heart hurts for her. I feel moved to add my voice to the many thousands of voices crying out against this injustice.   “Show men how to respect women…” she writes.   Yes let’s do that. Church, let’s show men how to respect women by doing away with patriarchal hierarchy which invites abuse and privilege.    Let’s teach boys and men it’s not about the hem-line but the heart.   Let’s teach boys and men to see girls and women as someone’s daughter, mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother, and because she’s a creation of God, she is part of his family, as well. Let’s teach men respect for women by teaching them about the women in the Bible! Let’s teach them about Jael from Judges and Abigail in 1 Samuel and Ruth and Esther and Deborah and Mary and Martha and Hagar and Dorcas and the dozens of women whose stories go untold from the pulpits and classrooms of our children.   “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”   Church, let’s give women their voices back. Let’s invite women to every decision making table in our churches. Let’s show women their voices matter. When we set women free to teach and lead and serve in every arena of church, we are sending the message to the world that women’s voices matter.   “The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”   Teaching privilege and entitlement of any kind is dangerous. Racial privilege, social privilege, and gender privilege are all slippery-slopes that we do not want to perpetuate in the Church with messages about male-headship, husband pastors, and spiritual leaders.   We need to do away with archaic cultural models of power and lean in to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Teachings which assure all believers of our complete freedom in Christ. Teachings which honor women. Teachings which call for us to do unto others. Teachings which direct us to love one another as Christ loves us.   “And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought...

Always Remember…

Always Remember…

My mom got her first email account in 2008. After receiving a few emails, I decided to create a folder for her messages. I named it “mama,” and from that day, I filed any message from her in this folder. Looking back, I had no motivation for doing this. I just did it. Today, I am so thankful I did. This Sunday will be my fourth Mother’s Day without my mom. It will be the fourth Mother’s Day where I will celebrate her in spirit only. It will be the fourth Mother’s Day of longing. Longing to hear her voice. Longing to see her face. Longing to feel her arms wrap me in the type of therapeutic embrace only a mama can provide. It will be the fourth Mother’s Day of missing her. Missing the daily phone calls and emails. Missing the drives home for weekend visits and trips to our shops. Missing her encouragement and support. Missing her loving on the kids. Missing her so much because my life never knew a second without her in it until she was gone. It will be the fourth Mother’s Day of remembering. I’ll remember her smile and her laugh. I’ll remember her delight for her children and grandchildren. I’ll remember the feel of my hand in hers. I’ll remember her presence during every important milestone of my life. I’ll remember a love so pure and so constant that my breath catches to realize I had the privilege of experiencing it for 35 years. It will be the fourth Mother’s Day of Memaw memories. The kids and I will look at pictures and remember. We’ll remember her playing pool balls in the club house with Matthew. We’ll remember her trying to take a nap with Mason only to have Mason touch and name each part of her face…Memaw’s nose, Memaw’s mouth, Memaw’s eyes…over and over. We’ll remember her pulling the both of them around and around in the wagon. We’ll remember her climbing on the playground and pushing them on the swing. We’ll remember Bop and Little Girl. We’ll remember Play-Doh and Old Maid and Dr. Suess. We’ll remember hair dryers after baths and rock-a-by-babies. We’ll remember this little piggy and forehead bumper and twinkle, twinkle little star. We’ll remember prizes and treats and toys. We’ll remember every cuddle and kiss and whispered I love you. It will be the fourth Mother’s Day of opening the “mama” folder and reading her words. Words of love… “Give the babies a kiss and hug for me. Here’s one for my little girl too HUG, HUG, HUG. I love you all so very much.” And her words of faith and wisdom… “Dad is such a loved man by so many people and I think when God is ready to take him it’s because he really needs a wonderful, gracious, generous, kind and loving person to enter his kingdom. He knows how much we love him but God loves him even more.” And her message to her girls… “I love my girls so much, you guys are so thoughtful and caring and have such big hearts. We were blessed when God gave us our girls.” And her don’t forgets… Don’t forget that I love you so much and can’t wait until you come home. Pooh you help me each day, all the calls and talks and just to know you care means so much to me. You’re not here close but always remember I keep you close to my heart each and every day. Love Mama” Yes, Mama, I will always remember. I can never, ever forget.  ...

We Believe…

We Believe…

Since posting a letter I wrote to a local men’s ministry, “Men of Armor,” I have received many requests to post it here, as well. This is my response to an email we received from a local men’s ministry. The last line of their message reads, “Men, please lead the way by registering to attend with your wife…” Good morning. While I appreciate the outreach your ministry is providing, the consistent devaluing of women and our roles in marriage and ministry is sad to me and contradicts the life and teachings of Jesus. (I wrote to you previously about my concern over the use of a ministry which included Mark Driscoll) The last line of an otherwise positive email marginalizes wives and completely ostracizes single moms. Directing husbands to lead by signing up for the seminar for both themselves and their wives implies 1. Wives are not permitted to register for a class without her husband’s covering/permission and 2. Only male lead families need sign up. Our family believes Jesus is the only leader and high priest of the home. We believe women are God’s image bearers. He calls us daughter. We believe women are gifted and equipped to lead in all areas of church life and home life. We do not believe the teachings of male spiritual leaders is biblical as spiritual leader is not a title that appears in the gospels. We believe God is working to free all of the oppressed and marginalized so we may work as the complete body of Christ to share His good news. We believe patriarchal hierarchy ended with the new covenant. We believe we are all free in Christ, and complete freedom can never exist for women in homes and churches when they are taught to follow a man’s leadership instead of the voice of God to which she acquired direct access when the veil was torn. We believe Jesus put women in a position to lead and teach multiple times in the Bible. Jesus, God incarnate, was born to a woman, thus setting her up to disciple others for the rest of her life. Jesus admonished his disciples when they tried to intervene and prevent Mary from doing a good work in His name. Jesus ignored many religious and cultural laws when he spoke directly to the woman at the well, giving her the best witness in all of the Bible by allowing her, a woman, to be the first person to whom he revealed himself as the messiah. Jesus showed grace to the adulterous woman, speaking to her alone and directly. He allowed the hemorrhaging woman to touch His garment, and instead of reprimanding her for not coming to him under the covering of her husband, He heals her. The people to discover the empty tomb were women. The first person Jesus appears to post resurrection…women. God calls for His daughters to be brought to Him, not pushed further away from Him. Elevating men above women who are equal creations of the same God is dangerous. We will not support a ministry that attempts to reconstruct a veil of male authority, thus separating God’s daughters once again from their father. I’m happy to have constructive dialogue with you about this topic. I feel as passionate about the dangers of patriarchal ministries as you feel about the importance of men armoring up. I feel I’m directed by the Holy Spirit to speak out against teachings which place anyone other than Jesus is places of leadership/authority in women’s lives. Humbly His, Carrie...

I Didn’t Choose to Become an Egalitarian

I Didn’t Choose to Become an Egalitarian

I’m happy to have my first published post appear in full at http://juniaproject.com/   “Was it then I became an Egalitarian?  Did falling in love with someone who values and respects the very character traits which fuel others’ perceptions of me as a failed example of Biblical womanhood reaffirm my equal value as a daughter of God?  Did marrying a man who fosters my freedom within our marriage further verify my complete freedom in Christ?” (2 Corinthians 3:17) I Didn’t Choose to Become an Egalitarian...

Just Love

Just Love

Today I’m feeling heartbroken and angry.  Heartbroken that an 11 year old boy is in a hospital bed after attempting to take his own life.  Angry that the cruelty of other children put him there. Why are we still living in a society where differences are scrutinized, demeaned, and punished? Why are we not teaching our children to celebrate, embrace, and value the unique, special beings God has called each of us to be? While most focus on the boy’s affection for a harmless, children’s television show and identify his open loyalty to the program as the fuel for the bullies’ flames, I see a continued societal backlash against a male’s association with anything feminine as the real problem. An 11 year old boy enjoyed “My Little Pony.”  An 11 year old boy, full of energy and life, skipped and danced from place to place.  An 11 year old boy found innocent and harmless joy from a program typically watched by girls.  An 11 year old boy didn’t fit nicely and easily into the stereotypical masculine mold; he didn’t watch the right shows, play the right sports, or walk the right walk, so he became a target. An 11 year old boy chose to take his own life to avoid enduring one more day of torment and ridicule; he chose to hang himself from his bunk bed to escape the verbal arrows aimed directly at his heart. Yes, on the surface, this tragedy seems to be about a television show.  However, the complex layers of discrimination, fear, and hate which lurk beneath the surface of a simple fondness for “My Little Pony” is what we should be focusing on as parents and followers of Christ. How can there be such malice for another human being in a young child’s heart?  Why are we turning our children against others who express themselves in different ways, who walk to the beat of a different drummer?  Why is there still discomfort and unease when young boys express themselves in what is viewed to be a feminine way? Are we doing the right thing when we teach our children to love the sinner and hate the sin?  Are children cognitively capable of separating the sin, which they’ve been taught to hate, from the individual who they feel is living out that sin?  What happens when perceived signs of sexual sin, like homosexuality (for those {this author excluded} who view it as a sinful choice), manifest themselves in children? This is a problem in our society, and it’s a problem in our churches.  There is a negative association with any behavior believed to be indicative of homosexuality.  Love the sinner, hate the sin.  What’s happening is individuals who hate homosexuality come to hate and fear any sign of homosexuality, even if that sign is in a child’s innocent attachment to a cartoon.  Even if that sign is an expression of a child’s innate personality characteristics and mannerisms. Love the sinner, hate the sin.  Is this what millions of people in the country did when they stood behind Phil Robertson as he publicly compared homosexuals to people who have sex with animals?  A man who used his Christian faith and celebrity platform to defend his slanderous statements?  Slanderous statements such as the following about gay people in a video from 2010 : “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred.  They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters.  They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless.  They invent ways of doing evil.” It’s not just reality TV celebrities who are fueling the bully flames.  Pastor Mark Driscoll, lead pastor of one of our nation’s mega churches, posted the following on his Facebook page in 2011, “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?”  Yes the question is appalling.  What’s more appalling is the number of people who responded, who participated, who got in on the fun of tearing others down, all while sending the message once again that it’s ok to bully men who do not fall into the testosterone model of masculinity. If Phil Robertson and Mark Driscoll are the examples of what it means to love the sinner, then the mystery behind bullying in this country has been solved. My Facebook news page erupted with people supporting Phil Robertson and his freedom to make erroneous, hate-filled comments like those above.  610 people responded to Mark Driscoll’s call to jump on the bully bandwagon. 610!! Men and women who defend Phil Robertson and Mark Driscoll should line up and shake hands with the children who bullied an 11 year...

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