5 Things I Learned During My Spring Break In Nebraska

This Spring Break I took a week long road trip with my mom and my son from here in San Antonio, TX all the way to the teeny tiny town of West Point, Nebraska to visit with some of our extended family. Even though this was a leisure trip there were some teachable moments. Other than the limits of a 4 year old riding in a car, I did learn a thing or two about a thing or two.

1. Boys Don’t Have Long Hair

Gender stereotypes are not only biased towards girls. Apparently once you pass Austin, TX all boys are expected to have nicely groomed crew cuts that are June Cleaver approved.

 

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Matthias James, my long-haired love

I kid you not, every state north of TX someone assumed that Matthias was a girl just because of his hair, which is barely shoulder length (I’m guessing his full eyelashes didn’t help his case much either).

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On our first day in West Point I was hauling a truck carrying, dirt covered, skin kneed boy home from the park (how stereotypically male, right?) and someone asked if “she” was exhausted from dance class. Sometimes you just have to laugh.

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2. Ice Machines

You will regret not going trigger happy on hotel ice machines. As a kid, my dad would compete out of state in power-lifting meets pretty frequently and my sister and I liked to tag along. Our on the road traditions were Gatorade and all the hotel ice we could muster. On this trip I passed the ice machines on the way to our hotel room (at both hotels we stayed at) with that look of longing in my eyes, but I didn’t take advantage of their frozen magic. I won’t be making that mistake again.

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3. All The Freebies

You will go klepto on all things complimentary. If you think you won’t, you are only fooling yourself. In fact, you will end up using double extra hotel shampoo, conditioner, and soap to try and make yourself believe that you won’t go Gollum on the cute little toiletries. I have been home for over a week and I am still using the adorable paper coffee cups that were in our room. Awww.

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4. Hugs & Kisses & Pie {Oh My!}

On a more serious note, this trip did teach me some real life lessons. My grandfather passed away this past Christmas Eve unexpectedly in a work related accident. I was not able to come up for the funeral and hadn’t really gotten closure (not that you really can when you lose someone you love). But one of the things that my Grandma kept saying when we were spending time together remembering my Grandpa was how she would give anything for just one more hug, one more kiss.

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When my Grandpa would leave for work, hugs and kisses were their morning departure ritual. On the morning of the accident she said that he was going to leave for work and then came back in the house because he forgot something. There was a moment where he looked back before he left where my Grandmother recalls and just wishes she could go back and get that one last kiss.

On my visit I found out that my Grandma is a bit of a stockpiler as far as couponing and groceries go. It’s a small town so you have to get the deals when they are hot. In her pantry sat a can of apricot pie filling. She said that she bought it with Grandpa in mind since apricot was right up there with rhubarb as his favorites.

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She never did get to make him that pie.
We ate the pie in his memory.

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The lesson here is that you need to hug and kiss the one you love at every opportunity and when in doubt, eat dessert first and often (and you can’t go wrong with pie).

5. The “Good Old Days” Are Overrated

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Everyone likes to reminisce and think back to the “good old days” at least every once in a while. Especially in a relationship when things start to get stagnant sometimes we get tempted to compare ourselves to other couples and resign to the “grass is greener” mentality.

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The grass is greenest where it is watered. -Robert Fulghum

It’s undeniable that my grandma married an exceptional man. Even so, no one is perfect, no relationship is either. In our visit she was talking about how it was actually their more recent years before his passing that were their best years.

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People always want to glorify what once was and revel in memories past, but all my Grandma wanted was more of the present.

Live Free.
Live for today and don’t look back.
Love and hold nothing back.

♥ MM

Daughters of Eve, You Get To Be Free!

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I usually share this graphic at Christmastime (which you can buy here) however, I found it appropriate today as we reflect on the present reality of our Risen Lord. Here we see Eve being comforted by Mary (preggo with Jesus). This is such a powerful image. I especially love the fact that Mary is crushing the serpent with her feet.

Here stands Eve.

Naked.

Feeling the sting of shame,
the costly burden of the fall.
Where sin is the chain and patriarchy is the ball.

Enter Mary.

Consolation.

Whose womb did contain,
the answer to sin, the cure for pain.
Baby boy, born to die.
Setting us free was His Holy design.

Today there are plenty of “daughters of Eve” downtrodden even in the wake of the resurrection. Jesus lived a life of radical humility. He challenged the status quo and went against the cultural grain. His life was spent on the least of these, the ones that the world loves to hate. Lifting the lowly from the mire and the muck is what He is famous for. His death broke the curse of sin and death which includes the curse of patriarchy over women.

It is so fitting that the first commissioning of the Risen Lord was to the women at the tomb to “Go and Tell”. How sad is it that our modern church culture would stifle those who he called. Even in 2016 there is work to be done that Jesus already paved a way for and obstacles to overcome that were already won by the victory of the Cross.

This Resurrection Sunday, let’s agree with Jesus that we ALL get to live free.

♥ MM

The One About Coming Out as Egalitarian

When I think about “coming out” as an Egalitarian I think about Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

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“It came without ribbons.

It came without tags.

It came without packages, boxes or bags.”

There were no bells. There were no whistles. I did not shout to the rooftops the praises of my righteously indignant people.  Much to my chagrin a booming light did not descend from heaven in Morgan Freeman-esque fashion to affirm my newfound revelation. Just a sober “Yes.” A deep breath of apprehensive relief, nervous hope — knowing I could never go back to being complacent about full gender equality. I would never be the same.

A year ago my world completely turned upside down and none was the wiser. I saw everyone around me going about their lives as if nothing happened. If you have ever read a spectacular work of fiction that has changed the core of your being then you get where I am coming from.

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Even though everything inside of me was newly liberated and screaming a love song, I felt at a loss toward the world around me. Even though embracing egalitarianism was not as great a leap for me growing up in the Assemblies of God as it was for some of my ex-complementarian friends, I had a moment of clarity, like seeing with brand new eyes.

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Unbeknownst to me at the time, my egalitarian journey actually started a long time ago. For me it was on a summer morning in 2002. I was having a candid conversation with a friend at the Summer discipleship program at my church. Even at 13 I knew something was not quite right with how us teenage girls were indoctrinated to view “our place” as women.

How is it that during the fancy-free Summer that two bubbly girls can talk optimistically about our futures in ministry just short of approaching the elephant in the room? I never realized the thinking aloud musings of a 13 year old girl would come to a halt at the mention of the taboo title of “pastor”.

Like the scratching of a needle on vinyl, the raising of my friend’s eyebrow followed up by “Don’t you mean pastor’s wife?” was the moment the scales fell from my eyes and I was heartbroken, seeing for the first time that gender would even be an issue among Christians (of all people).

That was the first time I really gave a second thought to gender being of any importance in the church. Sure, there were small sign posts along the way that brought to my attention that this issue was not the side issue that many make it out to be, but it wasn’t until I was engaged to my husband, Angel that I really started seeking out the scriptures on this matter.

Growing up AG I never questioned a woman’s authority in the church because I was surrounded by women in leadership positions. I did, however, begin to realize that I had subconsciously went along with some complementarian ideas on gender roles inside the home that I now see were the launching pads of abusive situations that I had found myself in years earlier. Furthermore, the self-concept that I had through the lens of these complementarian ideas led me to believe very false things about myself as a woman. I used to think I was broken because I didn’t fit that dainty, docile mold.

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I can’t imagine the brokenness my life would be in if I didn’t challenge these false beliefs on gender. Falling into egalitarianism was like drifting into a whirlwind romance that caught me completely by surprise. Probably because being centered as an egalitarian Christian is to fall into the arms of Jesus, agreeing with Him that you are who He says you are.

I only wish I was brave enough to make my case public when I was in the glow of my “aha” moment with Jesus. My personal theme for 2016 is to Live Free. My hope is that anyone reading this that feels the weight of bondage from the chains of complementarianism and gender stereotypes would break free and cling to who Jesus says you are.

♥ MM

Some great places to start are:

Christians for Biblical Equality

The Junia Project

I found this this link especially helpful.

Marg’s Blog

www.jorymicah.com

I Was a Cookie Cutter Conservative or, The Trouble with Looking Outside of Your Christian Bubble

On this Super Tuesday tensions were high as 13 more states rushed to the polls to make their vote heard for the 2016 race to the white house. Today I have been reflecting on my past political self living inside of the Christian bubble in hopes that my Christian brothers and sisters do not make some of the same mistakes or judgements I have made — all in the name of Jesus, of course.

Hello.
My name is Amanda and I am a recovering conservative.

Let me explain what I mean. If you now or have ever considered yourself a part of the Evangelical Christian community or tradition there are probably very specific images that come to mind when you hear the words “conservative”, “right-wing”, “republican”. And they probably make you feel warm and happy inside.

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Now close your eyes and think about the words “progressive”, “left-wing”, “democrat”. As someone deeply immersed into evangelicalism in the bible belt, a very different picture probably comes to mind, complete with flames and pitchforks.

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It’s true.

I suppose that you could say that it goes both ways on either side, but I just want to tell my story. Growing up in the church even at a very young age, when it comes to politics there are really only two issues that will be consistent pulpit fodder: abortion and the “sanctity” of marriage. At each stage of my evangelical experience the “pro-life” cause resonated deeply with me and reverberated from the core of my being. I was devoted. From holding Rock for Life signs on the side of the highway at 9 years old to being deeply invested in my local Bound 4 Life chapter at 19, all the way through college I was known as “that pro-life girl.”

Almost to a fault. As early as middle school I had friendships sour over political discourse. I was so black and white on issues that I wouldn’t ever entertain a grey area because everything I ever heard from the pulpit was life or death. No need to investigate further. You may as well be on trial for any stance that wasn’t red. Even when I went off to bible college we were told to “vote our conscience” and to “choose life” since it was a conflict of interest to come right out with an endorsement of a party. Teetering on the edge of blue was taboo and I soon found myself go so far as to even question the salvation of friends who were more moderate. It would seem that there was no eternal hope for my friends who were self-proclaimed bleeding heart liberals. When an organization you respect is cheered for mottos like “You can’t be a Democrat AND a Christian”, it’s easy to become a pious ass.

It’s easy to run wild with these two issues when you don’t look outside your comfortable Christian bubble. Before I go on, I do want to be clear on something. Although I no longer consider myself conservative, I hold fast to the idea of personhood and I don’t take that lightly. I believe that ending a viable pregnancy that poses no risk to the mother’s life is unethical. However, pregnancy is unpredictable and we should not be quick to cast judgments when the decision is not (and should not) be ours to make. This is where the distinction needs to be made between pro-choice and pro-abortion because you can be anti-abortion and still be pro-choice. This is where my liberal friends may disagree with me.

In defense of the conservative pro-life movement, I will say this– in my 15 years being involved with multiple anti-abortion organizations and events that I have been a part of, including “sieging” outside of abortion clinics and participating in solidarity events, don’t believe the hype. The media wants to portray these individuals as hateful zealots towards these women. I know it exists out there, but every single person that I know personally who invests their life into this cause would lay their lives down for these women. “It’s not a protest, it’s a prayer meeting.” is the motto of the organization Bound 4 Life, and I think that the distinction between prayer and legislation is where the political right gets it so very wrong. The legislation on abortion is irrelevant when conservatives do nothing to change the outcome of these women, and in fact hinder them from getting the support that they need.

From a Christian perspective, it is absurd to think that legislation will change the actions of the people. Think about it. The same people that say that making guns illegal won’t stop people from using them are campaigning to make abortion illegal in efforts to stop abortions from taking place. And no matter where you stand on same sex marriage, the legislation we try to put into place to protect our herero-normative view of the nuclear family will not change the sexual orientations of LGBT folks. Even God gives us the choice to choose Him. Christians should know more than anyone that a set of laws does not produce change any more now than it did for the children of Israel in the wilderness. Once I started peering outside of my tidy Christian bubble, I started realizing that the way that I perceived “choice” was not only biased, but  significantly flawed.

It was easy for me to be a cookie cutter conservative in my privileged bubble where I didn’t really have to think about issues other then those pertaining to religious focus groups. But then life had to ruin everything. When I became a single parent, suddenly I breached Christian protocol. I had to look outside of my safety net. I became a single parent while I was pregnant, folks. Now, I never entertained the though of abortion, however I began to empathize with the hopelessness that women who found themselves in my shoes must feel. I learned that not all single parents are bottom dwellers of society, leeching off of taxpayers. I was one of them, and I was a full time mom, full time college student, and had a full time job, and it still wasn’t enough. The shame I felt was a result of the same stigma I used to place on people that received government assistance.

Then I had to go fall in love. The trouble with that is that I fell hard for a charming (is there any other kind?) Mexican who happened to be undocumented, so I could no longer ignore my indifference on the despicable, hateful stance on immigration that the right has to offer (not to mention the xenophobia we relish on our fellow humans in the middle east). Falling in love with a man that treated me as an equal and not as a subservient counterpart made me realize how abusive Complementarianism (a pretty word for Patriarchy ) is in the Church and how God’s design was always for equality. Now I was in really deep! How could I ever reconcile this with the inexcusable apathy for equal pay in the workplace that is ignored over and over again by the right?

Just before my son’s Third birthday, he was diagnosed with Autism and I instantly became an ally for the Autistic community. I was soon dismayed to find that the legislation on the right caters to a cure culture that seeks to find a way to “solve the puzzle” instead of trying to accommodate the autistics that are already here and are wondering when they will be valued instead of seen as challenge for science to find the answer to.

What. A. Pickle.

I didn’t rush to declare a new political affiliation after these events ran their course. All I knew was that I could not go along with the agenda of the conservative right with a clear conscience any longer. If that makes me a trouble maker in the eyes of the evangelical community, so be it.

This is not a plea to my conservative friends to change their political allegiance, however I would ask that you try understand that everything is not always as black and white as it seems. I have burned many bridges in the past by being so ruthlessly rigid. It would do us all a bit of good to stop looking so far inward that we forget why we are here in the first place. Whether we like it or not, we need each other. We are better together, warts and all.

♥ MM