So… I saw Bad Moms, and I laughed.

In case you don’t have any clue what movie I am talking about, here is a promo shot:

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First, I’d like to admit right out of the gate I didn’t walk into this movie with naive expectations.  The trailers gave a pretty good indication that there would be some inappropriate humor.  Second, I am not planning on giving away any spoilers.  There were definitely some parts I thought the movie could have lived without, not only for the story line but even in the presentation.  Sometimes it could go too far.  Third, there were some parts of this that were REALLY unrealistic when you are talking about any group of moms.  Lastly, there were also a LOT of truths.

Overall, I laughed and I laughed hard.  At one point I laughed so hard (as I was taking a sip from my straw) that I pushed air through the straw, which caused a small tidal wave in my cup, and that resulted in my drink landing in my eyes.  Which just caused a whole other fit of laughter for myself and those sitting around me.  I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt.  Yet, there were some moments that I nodded in solidarity.  There were moments that were uncomfortable.  And, yes… as I said before totally unnecessary.

What I want to write about (and I’m up for conversation too) is WHY a movie like this not only resonated with moms but was drawing us in like moths to a flame.

My first thought is probably the most obvious, there is an enormous amount of pressure on moms to be it all, do it all, and do so perfectly.  Whether it is the perfect birthday party, bento box lunches, or simply making it to every school and sport activity… we feel the pressure.  We notice so much of what is around us, like the mom who has the perfect hair and make up in the parent pick up line… when we were struggling to get out of the house with a bra under our pajama shirt.  We see the kids with the perfectly styled hair, accessories, and sparkling white sneakers…. and we just spent the last 40 minutes looking for eyeglasses or a belt.  Other moms dropping their kids off early, and we are 10 minutes late because we had to go back home and pick up the flute that was left behind… or because our darling child took 15 minutes to brush her teeth.

How do these moms do it?  We cast shade in their direction, but really we are asking ourselves… why can’t I do it?

I think there are a number of moms who have run the scenario through their head of just saying no.  No to the requests by the husband, kids, school, coaches, etc.  An opportunity to just walk away from the pressure and enjoy life again.  To make the choice of not being the perfect mom anymore, and instead be the bad mom.

This brings me to my second thought, as you watch the trailers you see a group of women having fun. We are not talking bunko party fundraiser fun, but the kind of fun we had as teenagers  and young single adults.  The fun we had when we didn’t care what others thought, where it was ok to be silly, and there was an expected freedom in the general knowledge we were going to make mistakes and bad choices.  It takes us back to a time when we didn’t have to be an adult, and could just let loose and be free.

With motherhood came some sort of unwritten code of conduct, that we couldn’t be silly anymore.  We began to take everything too seriously, including ourselves.  Let’s face it, books and the advice of television “experts” reinforced this.  Reminding us over and over again that it was time to grow up, put away childish things, and get our heads out of the clouds.  As we did this, many of us sent fun sailing away for good.  We stopped smiling, we stopped laughing, and we stopped being silly.

The movie Bad Moms called out to that free spirit inside of us, that desperately wanted to laugh… and laugh hard.  So, it pulls out all the stops.  The women let loose in a way we couldn’t, and we live vicariously through them.  They say the things that roll through our minds & do the things we secretly wished we could.  (Ok, maybe not all of the things they say and do, but you get the point).

I also believe this appeals to Christian women so deeply because of the bar that is set for our expected behavior.  If other moms are feeling the pressure to be perfect in their every day life, Christian moms understand the additional expectations put on the Christian mom.  To have perfect children that love Jesus, quote the bible, volunteer with the elderly, and gladly donate all their birthday money to the missions fund.  To be women who are serious about the study of the Lord, leading small groups, inviting women over to mentor and pray together, to dress in simple clothes, and be ever diligent in our choices of entertainment.  There is a pressure that all of our time should be so seriously focused on Christ, that we can’t let loose and laugh until our sides hurt.

Confession… I saw the movie on opening night.  It’s taken me almost a month to admit I saw it, because frankly… I expected to be judged for it.  I was worried about what my church friends, my readers that look to me for wisdom, the women or leaders who are reading through my blog trying to decide if I would be the right speaker for their next women’s event… what would these people think of me?

I learned something from the movie though… my eyes were opened to how long it had been since I had laughed so much and so hard.  I realized how seriously I take myself and made the decision not to.  I embraced that silliness is okay and even healthy for my kids to see.  I made the decision that I wanted to laugh more, but with those whom I am the closest to… not a theater full of strangers.  I want that girl posse who has my back, in the most biblical way possible… and who will be silly with me.  Women who know how to laugh, smile, and stop trying to be something that is impossible to attain… perfect.

All of those parts of the movie that I thought were unnecessary, they don’t have to be part of my life.  But the good stuff… I welcome it.  We are all GOOD MOMS despite our imperfections and the times we muck things up… because we are LOVING MOMS.  In the end that is what matters.  The Lord didn’t call us to a life of misery, but of fulfillment and joy as mothers… and laughter.  So much laughter.

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Healer & Redeemer – Guest Post

Recently, I was invited as a Guest Contributor to another blog, Virtuous Bella.  This is a new blog for our young single women, and I am honored to share in that community.

healer

Head on over, take a peek, and share this resource with the single ladies in your life.  May you be blessed by the contributions by your sisters in Christ.

 

Conditions, Conditions, Conditions

MBA

Something that has always rubbed me the wrong way are conditional agreements.  I’m not talking about contracts where each side is negotiating their terms.  What I am talking about are those moments when you ask someone for a favor, and they respond with “only if you will….”.   Or, even better, when someone approaches you to do a kind deed and then slips in the terms.  I just don’t like it.

I think it is because I don’t operate that way.  If you ask for a favor, I am going to say yes or no… but my answer is not going to be dependent on what you can do for me.  If I do a favor for you, it is because I want to help not because I want something out of it.

If you do me a favor, I only want you to do it if you want to.  It’s a heart issue, I suppose.  I was always taught to give without expectation of return, even if what I was giving was my time.  As an adult I learned to give money instead of loaning it.  I also learned how to value my time better so that I didn’t say yes to everything and burn myself out.  It also meant I learned how to accept no as an answer without getting upset.

I’ve also learned over the years I don’t like conditions in other aspects of relationships.  I don’t want to be your friend, if the conditions are that I must agree with everything you say and do.  I don’t want to be your friend if I have to change who I am in order for us to keep the peace.

I just hate conditions.  I also think that is the absolute beauty in God’s gift of salvation, and His love for His children.  God did give us conditions.  The Ten Commandments and The Great Commission, for example.  However, what the Old Testament Reveals to us is that as much as man tries, he is virtually incapable of following them.  He knew this, and still loved us anyway.  He knew this was an impossibility for us, and gave us His son to bear our iniquities.

This is not an excuse that allows us to continue to live in the flesh, in spite of His conditions.  It is an assurance that even though we can’t, His love doesn’t waiver.  Our salvation doesn’t balance the line of conditions, fluctuating based on our ability to walk that line.  Our salvation hung on a cross.

How Does This Scripture Apply to Me? – WRONG QUESTION

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Early in my Christian walk, I read the bible to understand what Christianity was about.  I saw it as a collection of stories & history that explained how we (gentiles) came to believe in God, who Jesus was & why the crucifixion was needed, and to understand what awaits us in the future.  In time, as I would mature in my walk, I would begin to see that this was more than just a collection of information that justified or explained my faith.  It was the true Word of God, it had an enormous amount of value.  The scriptures are filled with stories of people, just like me, who failed miserably but that God could and would redeem.  It became a book of Hope for the weary, Faith for those who love Him, and Promises of an eternal heavenly future.

Under the teaching of some very respected bible teachers, study authors, and church leaders… I began to read the scriptures differently.  I was taught to read the scriptures and ask “How does this apply to my life?”. Now, in some cases of scripture, that is a really easy question to answer.  The Proverbs are full of wisdom that can be applied to every day life.   But there would be times, when I would read a passage of scripture, that I was left scratching my head.  It just didn’t seem to apply.  I wasn’t like the person in the story, the situations I was dealing with in life were different than the point of the story.  I just couldn’t figure out how it applied to me, at all.  In those cases, I would cast it aside for the time being.  My reasoning was that it just didn’t apply at that moment.  But, I figured God revealed it to me because at one point it will.  I will recall reading it, and at that point in the future, I will know where I can return to find the wisdom and encouragement I need.

I am certain many of you who are reading this, are shaking your head in agreement.  But, what if I told you … we are totally wrong.  What if I said that is not the right question to be asking?  Hold on to your hats, if you are, because I am about to rock your socks.

I had an opportunity to attend an amazing conference that would forever change how I viewed the Bible.  I have never looked at a passage of scripture the same.  I study the Bible in an entirely different way.  It came from a group of very well known teachers, that a new question was posed.

You see, the scriptures are not about you and I.   The Bible is the collective story about God’s ultimate plan of redemption.

The Old Testament serves as a witness, or testimony, to how fallen God’s people are.  God gave us everything, perfect and in union with Him.  Man’s choice to go against God’s wills happened in the very beginning… when Eve and then Adam, took a bite of that forbidden fruit.  As the Old Testament unfolds, we illustration after illustration of a repetitive cycle of sin and redemption.

God sets rules.

Man breaks or can’t keep rules.

Man should be punished.

God ultimately saves them from themselves.

They thank God, renew promise to follow his rule.

They do for a while.

Then the cycle repeats itself… again and again…. and again.

Because man continually repeats this cycle, atonement has to be made for these sins.  The Gospels of the New Testament deliver to us a Savior, who will be the final lamb sacrificed for sins of a stiff necked people.  The New Testament continues, with the Good News spreading to new areas, the real life experiences believers faced, and leads us to the end… when Christ comes back for His church.

The Bible from start to finish, isn’t about you… or me… it is about Jesus Christ, our Savior.  The question we should be asking, first and foremost, when we study scripture is:

How does this passage reveal Jesus Christ to me?

Does it reveal the promise of his coming, his birth?

Does it parallel his life to death, on earth?

Does it reveal the need & promise of his sacrifice?

Does it reflect the call He puts on those who follow him?

Does it establish his person-hood, his divinity, his character, his love, his compassion, his mercy, his grace, his obedience… his example?

The Bible was written about Jesus Christ, for you. For you to see that you are not alone in your failures, that just like others in the scriptures you can be redeemed.  But that comes by first KNOWING HIM, and you will get to know Him best when you look for Him in God’s word, before you look for yourself.

I am not suggesting we don’t ever ask how it applies to our life, if that were the case there would be no need for the wisdom scriptures.  I am suggesting that before we can understand the wisdom & themes of scripture (as they apply to us), we have to understand the ONE whom the wisdom originates.  We have to understand how these pieces of scripture, stories and history relate reveal Jesus, first.

I understand that for a good portion of my readers, this a “DUH” moment.  Either because you already know it, or you are simply trying to figure out how you missed it.. it should be a given.  It is very easy for human beings to get so wrapped up in themselves or the situation they are seeking guidance through the scriptures for, that they forget to start with Jesus.

This past summer, I had an opportunity to do an in depth study of the book of Nehemiah.  It was conducted by a panel of biblical scholars; who worked independently on their assigned sections of Nehemiah, while making sure they stood in agreement as team under the Word of the scriptures.

On the surface, you could easily pull out some very “me centered” themes.

* It’s a story about a man who chose to make a difference in his community.

* It’s a story about a man who brings his community back together, back to God.

* It’s a historical point of time, regarding the city of Jerusalem.

* It’s a story about what we can accomplish, when we work together, for the glory of God.

On their own, none of these things are bad.  However, they do not truly reveal the point of the book of Nehemiah.  They don’t get to the heart of the story.  They don’t get to Jesus.

If you really take time to look through the scripture in Nehemiah, you will find that is parallels the ministry & purpose of Jesus.

The city is in ruin, the people are far from God.

Nehemiah leaves his comfortable position, with the king to go to the city & restore it.

While Nehemiah is present, restoration begins.

Nehemiah sets the example & standard.

Nehemiah returns to the king, leaving the people to continue on their own.

The people fail miserably in his absence.

Nehemiah must return.

When you look at the book of Nehemiah, with intention of revealing Jesus… it’s right there, plain as day.  You just have to get yourself out of the way to see it.  This is why, we must come to the scripture first, seeking to reveal Jesus.  It’s not about us, it’s about Him.  Always has been, always will be.

I challenge you to start looking for Jesus, when you study the word.  You will find him. 

In the next installment, we will address what the second question you should be asking is.

BOOK REVIEW: REFORMED MEANS MISSIONAL By Samuel T Logan Jr.

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I received a copy of this book at a Christian Writers Workshop, as part of a conference I attended.   Before I get into the review, I need to preface that I read this book stand alone.   I knew nothing of it, or it’s author, or that it was an expansion on the WRF Statement of Faith section on “Mission and Evangelism”.    Therefore, some bits of information (that were assumed the reader would be recognize) went right over my head.  I am not familiar with the World Reformed Fellowship organization or their Statement of Faith,   However, that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t a worthy read.  There are some great bits of information I gleaned from it, so I wouldn’t count it as a loss.  Quite the contrary, it has inspired me to look into the WRF more.   Anything, in my opinion, that stirs up the desire to read further is a victory.  Fortunately, the internet helped me fill in some of those gaps.

In Regards to the Author:  Samuel T Logan, Jr.

Technically Samuel T Logan, Jr. is listed as the editor of the book.  There is no “author” as it is a compilation of various authors, scripture and WRF related information into a singular book.  I can’t entirely give him credit as the author, and to be honest, a good portion of the bits I underlined can be contributed to other authors.  However, Mr. Logan does a great job of binding this information together, transitioning from thought to thought and using his own knowledge and writing skills to fill in the gaps.  There are some thoughts or statements that stood out to me, that are entirely his own.  One must go into reading this book understanding, though, that this is a compilation of thought vs. one man’s perspective.

In Regards to the Book:  Reformed Means Missional

The book is broken down into two parts, the first is “laying the foundation”.   To understand what it means to follow Jesus into the world, our mission, we need to understand the WHY.  But even before you get into the first chapter, the Forward and Introduction are important reads.  In a nutshell the book helps us understand what it means to be missional, a look into the WRF ‘s stance on it, what a missional church will look like, and hitting The Book to understand what Romans has to say about missions.  One of my favorite portions of the first section took a look at the question “What does a Christian look like?”.  Readers, the way the book handles this question alone makes it worth reading.

In the second section of the book, Logan moves us beyond the WHY and into practical application.  Instead of it being a general step by step guide however, the subsequent chapters are devoted to very specific topics of global importance.  Such as violence toward women, poverty, child sexual abuse, etc.  This portion is where we get to see the other authors shine.  Each handling one topic, and handling it well.  This makes the second portion of the book a great reference guide for the future when you need guidance on one of these topics.  Instead of sifting through pages upon pages looking for a paragraph, you can narrow the field to the chapter of the book.  These are important chapters that cover the challenges facing the church today on a global stage and cultural platform without neglecting that these are also issues that can be found in our own backyards.  I am also pleased that these subjects were covered in a very straight forward, yet gentle way.

Highlights from the Text:

“It is not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world; rather God has a church for his mission in the world.  Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission – God’s mission.”    Christopher J.H. Wright, Foreward to “Reformed Means Missional” by Samuel T. Logan, Jr.

“When we ask what makes a person a Christian, we are asking about what a person seeks first.”  Reformed Means Missional by Samuel T Logan, Jr.

“I learned the love of God bent down, way into the muck, and mire of this world, into the darkest corners running with rats.  “He was despised… he was pierced… he was crushed… He was opressed, and he was aflicted. I saw that his love led him to become like us so that we might actually become something like him.”  Diane Langberg from Reformed Means Missional by Samuel T Logan, Jr.

Reformed Means Missional

Samuel T Logan, Jr.

New Growth Press

ISBN 13:978-1-938267-75-8

IN THE WORLD

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My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.
John 17:15

There was a time in my early adulthood, I had to walk away from my friends. All of them. They were not good influences on me. When I had made some decisions in my life to change the path I was going down, they were not supportive. I knew at that time in my life, this was not working. I had to walk away. I had to surround myself with those who would lift me up, encourage me & help me stay on the straight and narrow.

In time, I would begin to surround myself with Christians who shared the same convictions. I would grow stronger in my faith. At first it was all very serious, bible studies, church fellowship. We were not having “fun” in the same sense as I did before. I can’t deny that I missed having fun with my friends. Eventually, I found myself within a group of Christian women who were having FUN. We were laughing until the tears started flowing, we were dancing the night away, celebrating holidays with each other. Creating memories & filling that void in the “FUN” department that I had been longing for.

As I was putting myself back out in the world, I started making non-Christian friends too. We would have a good time together as well. But, admittedly I kept them separate. Let’s face it, they didn’t always use the best language and would sometimes have pretty liberal views on politics, religion and life in general. After several years, I decided I was going to have a small gathering of my friends. I had invited one of my non-Christian friends to attend. Unfortunately at the last minute, she had to cancel. But she said something I will never forget… “Gena, I am so disappointed that I couldn’t come and meet the rest of your friends. I adore you, and you are such a great person…I am sure your other friends are too. I wish I could have met them. If they are anything like you, I bet they are lovely.” She was wanting to surround herself with more people like me. What made me different than any of her other friends or acquaintances? Christ.

She saw me as a Christian woman, who cared about people, was a dedicated wife and mother, but she also saw that I was fun to be around. She heard me, when I spoke about my failures and imperfections. She heard me, when I talked about striving to do and be better. Every conversation wasn’t a deep theological debate. I wasn’t trying to spend every waking moment of our friendship trying to convert her. I was simply being a good friend, who loved her, cared about her, and was there for her. As a natural part of our friendship… God entered the picture. If she was going to get to know me, it wasn’t something that could be avoided. The more she go to know me, the more she desired to know more people that were like me.

God doesn’t want us to surround ourselves with only other Christians. If we do that, we can’t reach those who do not know Him. We have no influence on the world. We are not light in the darkness. However, we don’t walk out into the world without His protection. We wear the Armor of God. We understand His love for us, and His desires for us to follow His word. We pray for His protection. We stand firm in our convictions. It is His spirit within us, that draws others to us. We are just the vessel.

A challenge my husband presented me with was to each day pray to God asking Him to make me a vessel in the course of my day.  Asking Him to give me the right words, at the right moment.  Sometimes we have a once in a life time opportunity to reach a person, other times it is slow through the course of building a relationship.

*Written for the TC3 Women’s Ministry Devotion Blog