Let’s Be the Grace Givers

Gina Butz faith, personal Leave a Comment

Let's be the grace givers - thoughts on giving ourselves and others permission to let go

I have become known among the soccer parents as the Mom Who Febreezes Her Child.

I let this information slip during a tournament weekend, when another mom lamented that she would have to wash her daughter’s uniform overnight. I informed her that I would do no such thing – Febreeze to the rescue! I have taught my children this trick so well that I don’t have to say anything. That night, sure enough, our daughter’s uniform lay neatly on her floor, soaking in a layer of Febreeze.

You could say this is me being lazy, but I say it’s permission to let ourselves off the hook. Life’s too short and there’s so much that’s more important than my child having a clean, fresh smelling uniform she’s only going to re-stink the next day.

I didn’t use to live this way. There was a time I would have cared about how that uniform looked and smelled. If I didn’t wash it, I certainly wouldn’t have admitted to Febreezing it. But at some point I realized there’s a great deal of freedom and joy to be found in letting go of appearances and bringing out the dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. And I don’t know about you, but freedom and joy are so much more appealing than exhaustion and anxiety over what others think.

I’m happy to give this permission to others. Not only does it give them grace, but it reminds me that I am better off living in grace too. Sure, maybe they’re secretly judging me, but that’s ok. I’m living shame free over here. Try it – it’s great! Grace is something I need more and more in my own life, and I find great joy in being able to give that grace to others.

We need grace so much, but we don’t speak it out.

I want to be the kind of person who sees where I need grace, where others need grace, and gives it lavishly. Let’s be the grace givers. Start with yourself, and see how it spills over. Let’s be known as the ones who give ourselves and others permission to let go of that which is, in the end, not significant, so we can pour our energy and our hearts into what is worth our lives.

 

Related:

Just Show Up

The Soul Needs Gentleness 

In Case of Emergency, Remember This

Gina Butz Uncategorized 2 Comments

In Case of Emergency, Remember This: telling ourselves the truth in times of doubt and fear

It’s good to have an emergency plan.

Like if you are afraid you might be chased by gators. This was the thinking my friend Laura and I had while walking the Orlando Wetland Park earlier this spring. Our plan constantly evolved according to available assistance (“Ok, so here we’d climb that shelter.” As though we could seriously climb a shelter) and probably would not have helped us at all, but it gave us comfort. (note: do NOT run in a zig zag pattern. That’s a myth, and a pretty silly one).

My husband’s a planner too. This spring he’s had a sign on his desk that says, “In case of emergency, read this.” It’s a list to remind himself why he is leading certain change, the reasons why it’s good. It helps him push through when people are pushing back.

It got me thinking. Emergency plans are good for more than just escaping gators.

I’ve sensed in this sabbatical how quickly my mind can travel to fearful places. Doubts creep in. My faith wavers. I get discouraged and want to give up. I’m ready to climb the shelter (even though I probably can’t climb the shelter). I’m looking for a way to run.

Friends, this is not how I want to live.

So I’ve been mentally making “in case of emergency” lists in my mind:

In case you begin to worry, remember: He loves you. He is wise, He is powerful, He is good. He’s got this.

In case you fail, remember: this is all temporal. Your value hasn’t changed. Just keep being faithful. He’s got you.

In case your kids go to the other side of the world on a mission trip, remember: He loves them more than you do. He is with them. He’s got them.

And on it goes.

We need our go to truths for the times when we need to talk ourselves off the ledges, or we are tempted to run from our circumstances. We need them to combat the stories we’re making up in our heads, to lift our eyes off the things of the world and back onto Him.

In case of emergency, remember truth. Hold on to grace. Breathe peace. Soak in His presence.When life takes us into deeper woods, there’s no need to panic. There’s a way out of this wilderness, but it takes a minute to stop and orient ourselves. He knows the way out. Remember what He would say and let that be your guide. 

 

Related:

When You Just Have to Do One Day at a Time 

Living a Better Story 

 

I Don’t Need Rescuing (Except I Do)

Gina Butz faith, life lessons 2 Comments

I don't need rescuing (except I do) thoughts on trusting that God is our Rescuer

There are people in the world who like to be the rescuers of others. There are others who look for someone to rescue them. And there are people like me, who think, “I don’t need rescuing, thank you very much.”

Except I do. I very much do.

I try, though. Oh, how I try.

I try to hold it together. I try to keep up the appearance of competence. I have mastered self-sufficiency and ignoring my needs and emotions for the sake of keeping it going. I can deceive myself into thinking that rescuing is for someone else, the ones who can’t quite manage it on their own, who don’t have their stuff together. I’m like a soldier on the battlefield who tries valiantly to press on despite repeated arrows, “Tis but a flesh wound,” and won’t ask for help.

But underneath this lie is not strength. It’s fear.

It’s a fear that if I call for help, no one’s coming. It’s a fear grounded in those lies of too much and not enough. It’s a fear that there is no one who cares enough to offer their strength, no one stronger willing to step in. I fight for myself because I fear no one will fight for me.

I’m partway through a much-needed sabbatical, and in the first few days, as my soul slowed down, this is the fear that rose to the surface. It is the source of much of my anxiety and restlessness, my need to control my world. As I have turned it over and over, examining its root, I am seeing it for the lie that it is.lighthouse light darkness beacon

Because there is Someone coming for me. There is One whose strength is always greater, who longs to rescue, who calls me to be the child I am and rest in Him. I am being reminded that when I feel weak, helpless, and incompetent, I can step off the battlefield and just receive; no need to press on because He can take care of it, can take care of me.

He is calling me to deeper, dependent prayer, as I recognize those moments when I am tempted to take back the weight of the world on my shoulders. He is calling me to the images in scripture of our God who is our strong tower, our rock of refuge, our Savior, letting them speak grace into my tired places. I am so grateful for this fear to come to light, so that God can speak His words of life and truth to replace it.

“Because she loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name. She will call upon me, and I will answer her. I will be with her in trouble. I will deliver her and honor her. With long life will I satisfy her and show her my salvation.”  – Psalm 91:14-16

 

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Related:

Get Quiet Enough to Listen

The Battle Belongs to Him 

 

What No One Told Me About Parenting Teens

Gina Butz family 5 Comments

what no one told me about parenting teens

Since we have two teenagers in the house, I’ve realized there are pieces of information about what this parenting teens gig entails that no one told me.

I suspect this is because the ones who know are too busy trying to manage it themselves, those who are past it have forgotten, or maybe people have tried to tell me but I just didn’t listen. All viable options. Regardless, here is what I’m learning no one told me:

It’s tiring. Really, really tiring. Suddenly we’re managing a thousand details of who needs to be where and when and what that means about how we’re going to eat and sleep and see each other. They no longer go to bed at 8 pm and in fact choose the hours between 8 and 10 to broach deep, emotional topics. Not my prime time, unfortunately.

It’s emotional. Really, it seems to require a counseling degree which I, unfortunately, do not have. Teens have emotions – lots of them – and it’s a constant balance of affirming those emotions and not letting them take us for a wild ride. Boy, I hope we’re somewhere in the middle.

Suddenly it all matters.When they were little and we wondered whether or not our five year old should play soccer or dance, it wasn’t that tough a decision. Now, it’s, “Should my child try to get into this development program that might lead her to that professional career she wants?” and “Where should our son go to college?” The stakes just got higher, people.

It can be lonely. I don’t think I’ve found it this difficult to connect with friends since our kids were toddlers and I was tied to nap schedules. This might be a side effect of moving to a new place (hence losing the friends I’d made during the “let’s get the kids together so we can hang out” stage) but I find that coordinating time with friends in between work and practice schedules and just life is like finding a four leaf clover. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my car. Audiobooks are my new best friend.

I love seeing who they are becoming. It’s the coolest and scariest thing to see your kids be partly a reflection of you and your husband, and partly their own unique person. I am both proud and a little nervous that our kids have inherited my snarky humor. It’s a dangerous trait! They are us and they are not, and it’s a joy to be part of them learning to own their faith, their ideas, their dreams. They’re like our little padawans.

I don’t want it to end. Oh yes, I heard from everyone that this would go by quickly. I heard, “the days are long but the years are fast.” I heard it, and I believed it, but I always imagined a sense of completion, of anticipation of the time when I would have my time back. I didn’t know how much I would not want this season to be done. I suggested to our son that he attend college nearby and live with us forever. He replied, “I could, but then I might not become a contributing member of society.” Ok, you win, you can go.

It’s been a surprising, exhausting, stretching journey so far, and we’re not done yet (thank goodness, cause I think I’m just hitting my stride). For those heading in to this chapter – hang on, friends, it’s a great ride.

 

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Related:

Promises to My Children

I Am Not My Child’s Savior

What I Want More Than Your Happiness

Gina Butz faith, kids 6 Comments

what I want more than your happiness - thoughts on parenting toward character in our kids “It’s not fair.”

It’s a favorite phrase from an unmentioned child in our family. It’s true. Life is so often not fair. I wish I could make it fair for you. Mostly because then I would be super awesome mommy in your eyes, and it’s always tempting to vie for super awesome mommy status.

But then I remember that I’m not just about your happiness. I want more for you than that.

More than always wanting life to be fair for you, I want you to know how to handle unjust situations with grace and joy.

More than you always having great friends, I would love for you to be content with loneliness, and for you to develop compassion for the outsider, because you know what it’s like.

More than you acing every test and paper, I want you to learn how to accept failure without it defining you.

More than school being a breeze, I want you to know the discipline of hard work and time management.

More than you winning every game and tournament, I want you to know grace in defeat, holding your head up high and congratulating the winner with sincerity.

More than you never having your heart broken, I want you to learn that being vulnerable is the the way to live bravely and openly.

At the end of the day, more than your comfort I want your character. {tweet this}  More than your success I want your strength to get back up in the face of a fall.

But I know. I know that you think this is not what super awesome mommy should do. I know, because this is exactly what God is trying to do with me. Character over comfort. Holiness over happiness. It’s tempting for me to doubt His love when my prayers don’t land me in a comfortable, happy place, but instead right smack in the middle of growth.

I forget that giving me challenges instead of ease is proof of His love, not denial. He loves me too much not to make me more like Him.

I can’t aim for super awesome mommy. I need to aim for “do what is good for you even if it’s hard for both of us because I love you more than life” mommy (I need a shorter term for that). I’m aiming there because I know that’s where He’s aiming for both of us too.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

 

Related:

I Am Not My Child’s Savior

When Falling Is Good

Promises to My Children

The Lies of “Too Much” and “Not Enough”

Gina Butz faith, identity 2 Comments

the lies of "too much" and "not enough" and learning that we are enough There are two lies I can live by, flip sides of the same coin.

One lie tells me that I might be too much for other people. I might be too needy, too messy, too emotional, too demanding of the emotional space of others. The lie tells me to live in fear of being “that girl” – the one who asks more than others want to give. It tells me that there’s a limit to how much people want of me.

The other side says maybe I’m not enough. I’m the shirt you see in the store that you like, but not quite enough to try it on, not quite enough to invest in it. It says sure, they like you, but maybe they don’t really like you. Not enough to pursue you. The lie says I might not be fun enough, or interesting enough, or whatever enough of what it would take for them to come closer.

The lies want to keep me in a crazy battle to be less of this and more of that. They cause me to question, to hold back when I should be authentic, to hide parts of me in order to be more acceptable, a constant, “Do you like me now? Do you like me now?” They demand that I find a way to make myself perfectly lovable.

Both lies tell me that the burden is on me to prove myself. It’s on me to earn my spot in peoples’ hearts.

They tell me there is no place to rest.

But the truth sets me free.

“As long as I keep running about asking: ‘Do you love me? Do you really love me?’ I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with ‘ifs.'” (Henri Nouwen, Return of the Prodigal Son)

Yes, those lies are bondage. When they whisper to me, “prove yourself worthy,” I must learn to say back, “It’s already been done.” The truth is, we aren’t meant to measure worth, we are simply called to live it. {tweet this} You are worth the space you take up in this world. You are worth pursuing.

So am I.brene brown quote

If we weren’t, then the God of the universe would not have taken the time to put us here. He would not have come for us. He would not have died in our place. He’s declared us worthy.

Let’s live in the truth of our worth.

Related:

Being Human

Feel Your Worth

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Finding Your Own Voice

Gina Butz kids, life lessons 2 Comments

Helping our kids find their own voice Thank God for those mint green Converse shoes.

Do you know what they mean to me? The fact that you wanted them means you are learning to know your own mind. My girl, who so often fears choices because they might not be “right,” you knew that you wanted those.

And then you wanted to wear them with your dress. Your words were, “it’s just like those movies where the girls aren’t girly girls, so they wear shoes with dresses.”

Yeah, it is. Let’s pull out Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, although probably you’re thinking of something else since those are my movies, not yours. My heart skipped a little just seeing you own who you are.

All your life, this is what I have wanted for you – that you would know yourself and claim it. That you would see that how He has made you is so very, very good. That you would love how He made you a bundle of sweet, heartbreaking empathy and tough, play through the hurt grit. He made you to love puppies and hate pink. He made you sweet and sassy.

I know that in the age you are, you have so much pressure to be what others want you to be in order to fit in. It might just be a pair of Converse (that we scored on a sweet sale), but to me, it’s an answer to prayer, that you would learn to express who you are and know that it is good.

I am so glad that in the midst of all the voices, you are finding your own.

 

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Hopes for My Daughter, On Turning 13 

Promises to My Children

He Makes Me Brave

Gina Butz emotions, faith Leave a Comment

Brave is doing it scared - thoughts on walking into uncomfortable places with faith I recently started a new role in our ministry, and I find myself again in uncomfortable places.

They’re uncomfortable because they are unfamiliar. I’m being introduced to people I don’t know as someone who has something to offer. I don’t know how they will respond to my ideas, my actions, if they want what I have to give.

They’re uncomfortable places because I’m scared. I might fail. I might ask questions that reveal my ignorance. I might get in over my head.

They’re uncomfortable because I don’t always know what to do, because people outside of my family are relying on me for work and that hasn’t happened for a long time.

It all requires me to be braver than I am.

be-brave-quotes-4I have this idea that being brave means having no fear, but I know that’s not true. It means walking into those uncomfortable places despite the fear.

Brave is showing up. Brave is trying, even if you might fail. Brave is offering what you have, whether or not you know it’s what someone wants. Brave is uncomfortable.

I so wish it weren’t. I wish I could jump to the place where I feel like I know what I’m doing, and I am confident that I add value by what I do. But there is no growth without being brave, and there is no brave without discomfort.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do brave on my own. God is the one who calls me to give what I have in uncomfortable places. He makes me brave.

He is the one who goes before me, who sustains me, who catches me when I fall. Because of Him, the uncomfortable places become places where His glory shines, where I become less and He becomes more.

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield; your help has made me great.”  (2 Samuel 22:33-36)

 

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Just Show Up

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Looking for Jesus

Gina Butz faith, word of the year Leave a Comment

looking for Jesus - thoughts on Easter It seems like people have always been looking for Jesus.

The wise men looked for him when they saw his star in the East.

Mary and Joseph spent three days looking for their son in the temple after they realized he wasn’t with them on their journey. (Can you imagine? “I thought he was with you!” “I thought he was with you!”).

John sent disciples to find him, to see if he was who he said. His mother and brothers sought him out. The woman who was bleeding reached out for him. The crowds followed him. The rich young man. The centurion. Zacchias. The ten lepers.

The soldiers, who came to take him to his death.

Three days later, the women who came to his tomb and found it empty.

My word for this year is “Seek,” and God won’t let me get away from it. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Child of weakness, watch and pray. Watching and waiting, looking above. Seek his face continually. Seek and you will find.

I am trying. I know he’s there. But I get caught up in my activities and fall back on my own strength and don’t make space for him in my heart or my thoughts.

And other times, despite what I know, it feels like he just isn’t there. I don’t hear his voice. I don’t see his hand. I don’t know where he is.

I think of the disciples today. Today, tomorrow, Sunday morning. They thought he was gone. They couldn’t follow him anymore. There was no seeking, no finding. Or so they thought.

But when the women came to his tomb and found it empty, this happened:

“While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!

Imagine the disciples’ joy when they finally saw him. He had made the way for them to always be able to seek him, to be with him, to know him. That’s what Easter means – we who seek him will find him. He made it possible.

If we seek Him, we will find Him.

 

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Our Inside Out Moment

Gina Butz emotions, kids, life lessons 2 Comments

Our Inside Out moment - being loved in the hard moments of life It started out rough, but it ended well, that day on the field. In fact, it called to mind a moment from Inside Out.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know there was a pivotal moment that formed one of the main character, Riley’s, core memories. It was the memory of her hockey team gathered around her cheering. What we learned later in the movie is that the moment happened because there were coming to cheer her up after a loss that crushed her. Here’s how it happened for us:

Our daughter’s soccer team played in the first of a series of three weekend tournaments a week ago. In order to progress to the next weekend, her team had to win their group of 4. I wrote the details of their weekend in my previous post. Suffice to say, they didn’t win.

My sweet girl met me after the game and promptly burst into tears. As I hugged her, she cried about how she had played poorly (not true) and how this meant they were out. I tried to remind her that everyone makes mistakes, it was a team effort, they played well, but she was, in a word, inconsolable.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that both her coaches had stopped and turned back, as had her teammates. Soon, one of her FullSizeRender (1)coaches stepped in to take her from me. He pulled her in for a hug and talked quietly to her for the next few minutes, telling her, “It’s good that you are sad. It means you love it, it’s important to you. That makes you play hard.” When he was done, her team gathered around her for a huge group hug.

Meanwhile, one of the girls who plays goalie on her high school team happened to be watching the game because she’d played earlier. When I told her Megan was disappointed with how she’d played, she asked if it would be ok if she talked to her for a minute. After her team dispersed, Sarah stepped in and encouraged Megan as well. FullSizeRender (2)

Watching it all, I was so grateful for the loss.

Sure, it was painful to watch her be sad. We were all disappointed – they’re a good team and could have continued. But in the world of youth sports where there is often so much criticism and pressure on kids, to see our daughter loved so well by her coaches and teammates, was a rare gift.

Sometimes the best memories are formed when someone loves us well in a hard place. I’m so thankful our daughter has one of those because of this team.

 

Related:

What Being a Soccer Mom Teaches Me About Parenting

Promises to My Children