When You Just Have to Do One Day at a Time

Gina Butz faith, personal Leave a Comment

I wake up in the morning with the world weighing down on me. There is so much to do and goals to accomplish, dreams to make happen and lives to shape. There’s a future world cup player to develop and a hopeful rocket scientist to challenge. Before that they need to somehow get to college and learn how to be independent and how to drive (Lord, have mercy) and get jobs. There are hearts to be molded and relationships to strengthen before they go, and that’s just in the house.

Out there is a husband trying his very best to do what God has called him to do and it’s hard and discouraging right now. So there’s a foxhole to hunker down in together while we’re doing all the heart molding and relationship strengthening and independence building and future shaping. And in the foxhole there’s cheerleading and listening and believing and praying that has to happen more than it ever has, and I love it, but it’s a battle.

And out there is a world of injustices I want to right and hearts that need awakening and messes I want to sit with others in. There are books and blog posts to be written and speeches to give. There is coaching and leading and creating and loving to do.

It’s all good and necessary and I love it all more than life which is why I want to see it done well so very much.

But as I walk this morning and lift my weary eyes to God, inquiring what to do about this heavy weight, He reminds me that I am only called to do today. My energy needs to cover what is in this sunrise to sunset. He will direct it and sustain it and give me what I need for it.

He sees the future them and the foxhole us and the world of needs and He’s got it all covered. So I take all that energy I thought needed to cover the next 10 years, and I know that it is the portion He has given me for this. Not all it takes for all that I can see in the future – just enough of what I need for this day.

My soul breathes a sigh of relief and the weight lifts because it was never mine to carry. It is His. He’s got this. He’s got us. I just have to do today.

Related:

Just Enough Light

The Battle Belongs to Him 

Get Quiet Enough to Listen

Free to Be Me: Guest Post on Mudroom

Gina Butz Uncategorized 1 Comment

Version 2

I deeply desire to be an authentic person. I want to be someone others see as real, and who invites others to be their real selves too. Too often, though, my authenticity looks like what Don Miller describes in Scary Close, “I’m the kind of person who wants to present my most honest, authentic self to the world—so I hide backstage and rehearse honest and authentic lines until the curtain opens.”

This week, I have the great privilege of guest posting on Mudroom, “a place for the stories emerging in the midst of our mess.” The paragraph above is an excerpt from my post. Read it in full here! 

And if you’re new to my blog, welcome! I’d love for you to see every post, so enter your email address to get them and leave a comment to introduce yourself. I’m glad you’ve come.

Seeing Further on Issues of Race

Gina Butz culture, life lessons, personal 24 Comments

So, I’m white. I’m the kind of white where people make jokes about how blinded they are when my skin shows. Hilarious, really. Keep those jokes coming cause they never get old.

I grew up in a white, affluent town. I know there was one black kid in my elementary school, maybe more. There were a few Asians – two of them were my closest friends. As far as I could see, they weren’t treated any differently than me. As far as I could see.

The problem is, I couldn’t see very far. Racism was something that happened somewhere else, but it didn’t touch me there. I assumed that because I wasn’t racist, I wasn’t part of the problem.

At our ministry conference this summer, we talked a lot about what it means to be together as the body of Christ. One of the barriers to that is the lack of diversity among our staff; we’re not reflective of the population at large. We spent time bringing this issue out in the open, asking hard questions, hearing stories – not for the sake of being diverse, but because it is what we are called to do in Christ. We are a better reflection of who He is when we are together.

I walked away from the conference with the realization that I need to see further. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve gathered:

First, it doesn’t serve anyone to say, “I don’t see color.” I understand the sentiment behind this because for a long time I said the same myself. But I think of my Asian friends and how often they are asked where they are from, or are told how good their English is (though they were born in America). I think of my black friends, who get pulled over for driving in nice neighborhoods and asked what they’re doing there. I think of the people who shared their heartbreaking stories this summer of not being seen because they are in the minority, of imbalances of power and opportunity due to the color of someone’s skin. I need to know these stories, and enter in to the heartache of them. I must see what other people experience.

It doesn’t serve anyone to say that because I have lived in another country where I was a minority somehow I understand what it feels like to BE a minority. I spent 13 years in that position, and never did I feel I was treated poorly because of my skin color. If anything, I was envied. And if I did live in a place where I was hated because of my skin, I would have the power to leave. That’s a choice so many cannot make. It’s not about being the majority or minority culture, but about what culture dominates. Being white brings privilege. I must see my privilege.

It doesn’t serve anyone to say, “If you just stay on the right side of the law,” or “if you just work hard and make the most of your opportunities,” you’ll do well. I’m seeing more and more that people can do everything right, but if you have the wrong color skin you can be sitting in a Bible study at church and be killed. It is hard to admit that we have a system that is biased toward the white majority; even harder to admit that I benefit from that system. I may do what I can to treat people equally, but I am still sitting in a position of dominance in a system that keeps others subordinate. I must see what that gives me that others do not have.

I think racism grieves the heart of God, because all of us are created to be a reflection of His glory. We are all image bearers, every last one of us. He sees it all. I want to see what He sees.

I would love to say that I am not a part of the problem, but the phrase that keeps running through my head is, “Silence is not neutrality.” Silence is complicity. I can opt out of this conversation, but so many cannot. I need to opt in because God wants us together. I need to see further.

So I’m making some choices about how I will do that. I will choose to keep posting about issues of race, even though already I have discovered that many white people don’t want to talk about it. I have a list of books to read to educate myself on issues of race (I welcome suggestions!). I am starting to brush up on my Spanish (how do people hold several languages in their heads at once?) so that I can more fully engage with the large population of people in Central Florida who speak it. I want to engage more with people of other ethnicities and to hear their stories. I hope to be a learner. I hope to be someone who listens well, is humble, is apologetic. I want to do it because I believe that what God says is true – we are better together.

 

For a great reflection on this topic, please read this:

When You Realize You Are Privileged

Keep On Loving

Gina Butz faith, life lessons Leave a Comment

sunset-hands-love-woman (1)I am not one for espousing my political views on my blog. Truth be told, in part it is because I am afraid – I don’t like arguments. It’s also because I think most of the inflammatory topics discussed on the internet are painted too black and white, and are better left for discussion by rational beings in personal contact, rather than bold statements thrown out by faceless people. But today I feel compelled to say something.

I’ve seen about a thousand articles in response to last week’s decision regarding gay marriage. I’ve read some of them. I had no desire to add to the mix. But in my heart, as someone who does believe that gay marriage isn’t something God designed, I have been unsettled. Unsettled because I don’t know how best to respond. It feels sometimes like there are two camps: outrage or acceptance. I don’t believe God wants us to pitch our tents in either.

As I prayed about this issue last week, I asked God how He would like me to respond, and this is what I believe He said,

“Keep doing what I’ve always called you to do: love. Love people well. Move toward them with grace and compassion and truth and respect. Keep believing that I am God and I deeply love people and want them to know that, regardless of how they live. Know that I am not dependent on governments to accomplish my purposes. I never have been. There are plenty of places where governments and societies are against Me, against you. I still work there, because I still love there, and I will not stop. In fact, it is often in those hard places that I am most glorified. So you keep believing that my love is good and that people need to hear about it. Nothing changes.”

At least that’s how I heard it. So I will do it: keep on loving.

Hope in a Broken World

Gina Butz emotions, faith, grief 1 Comment

A friend’s father loses his battle with cancer. News of an impending divorce. The unexpected death of a young man. Abusive words spoken and then rationalized as biblical. One after another, over the span of a week.

Broken.

IMG_2624We live in a broken world.

I desperately don’t want it to be. I want to have a world where fathers don’t die so young, and people keep loving one another, and children stay with us and people bless and don’t curse. I want families intact and relationships strong. I want safe, trusted, constant, faithful.

But we live in a broken world.

So I take this reality to God and say, “What do I do? How do I pray? How do I live in this?”

And He reminds me that he promises to be close to the brokenhearted and to heal them and bind them up. He tells me that He weeps with us and endures with us and walks the hard roads with us, that His compassion is endless and overflowing and His mercy starts all over again every morning. He tells me to trust in this.

So I say, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Come into our brokenness. Come and be all that you promised to be so we have a solid place to stand in it.

We live in brokenness but we are not without hope.

My hope is not that the world will stop being broken, but that we will meet the lover of broken hearts in the midst of it. We will experience Him healing and binding us, bringing beauty from ashes, redeeming the darkness. We will cling to the hope that one day there will be no more brokenness, and every tear will be wiped away. All will be right.

So we keep walking through the brokenness, not in defeat but in hope. Hope in the one who is close to the brokenhearted.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”  Psalm 43:5

 

related:

Finding God

Hard 

Get Quiet Enough to Listen

Gina Butz faith, personal Leave a Comment

The-quieter-you-become-the-more-you-can-hear.

photo from lifehack.org

Years ago, a speaker named Dave shared a story that has stuck with me. He and his friend, Pete, had jobs with a logging company, the details of which are fuzzy to me, but it involved getting logs into a stream. On occasion, for fun, they would ride the logs down the stream for a bit. One beautiful lazy day, they lingered on the logs a bit too long and realized they had come into rough waters. So rough, in fact, that they weren’t confident they could get to shore. Dave asked Pete what he was going to do. Pete, having been a swimmer in college, decided to try for shore. Dave could see that, even with his skill, it was a struggle. He thought, “What am I going to do? I can’t swim that well!” Meanwhile, the water became faster and more turbulent.

Pete ran along shore, encouraging Dave to try to swim. Seeing the danger ahead, Dave made a break for it and began paddling as hard as he could for shore. Despite swimming frantically, he was getting nowhere. Pete continued to run alongside, shouting at him, though the words were lost in the sounds of  frenetic splashing and raging water.

Finally, Dave decided to give up. He could see the rapids ahead. He was a goner. Why fight it? So he went limp. At that moment, he could finally hear Pete’s voice. Pete was shouting, “Stand up, Dave! Stand up!”

So Dave stood up and walked to shore.

Whenever I recall this story, I see myself. I see how I frantically try to work to get life in order, to get to solid ground, when all the while it is right there underneath me, if I would only rest in it. God, for some reason, chooses to speak to us in what Elijah experienced as the “gentle whisper.” We can’t hear it when we are scrambling on our own.

This past month, everywhere I look I am reminded that I am someone who tries to overcome the uncertainties of life by grabbing them by the horns and wrestling them to the ground with all my strength. I fight to keep control over situations that are so beyond me, (the spiritual lives of our children, for example) as though if I just try harder I can conquer them. The result is a tense, overworked, overwhelmed soul who fails at being god.

It’s time I went limp.

Anne Lamott says it well, “It helps to resign as the controller of your fate. All that energy we expend keeping things running right is not what keeps things running right.”

God calls me to resign as god, because I’m not good at it. He calls me to let go of my frantic ways and trust. Trust that He is my solid rock, my peace, my salvation, my guide. He will keep things running right. I just need to get quiet enough to hear Him.

 

“In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

 

 

 

Learning to Respect My Limits

Gina Butz life lessons, personal 2 Comments

Limits. I hate them. I push them. I want to believe I am a superwoman who has no limits. And then every once in awhile (more frequently in recent years) God pulls me aside and reminds me that I do in fact have limits, and that they are good. I should respect them.

I sat down to write about this recently, and realized I already had about a year ago, on my friend Dayle’s blog (see what I mean about God reminding me over and over?). So here is what He continues to teach me:

Our dog Scout begins her daily exercise like her tail’s on fire. We’ve resorted to biking her – walking is just not her pace. Still, she runs so fast out of the gate that she can pull us. I watch her and think, “That can’t be comfortable. She’s choking herself.” Yet many times, toward the end of the ride, I am the one having to urge her along. I can only bike so slowly before falling over, after all. If only she had paced herself.unnamed-1

I’m just like her though. I am not a respecter of my own limits. Physical, mental, emotional – I push them all. I have a lot of passion and ambition, and those are good things, except when they lead me to strain at the leash and pull in directions God isn’t leading me. And the natural consequence? I run out of steam.

If only Scout knew that I know how far we are going every day. Then she might trust my pace. If we’re taking the short route, it’s fine for her to run faster, but we’re usually taking the long back road and it’s not for sprinting.

If only I would trust that God knows where He’s taking me. He knows how far we’re going. He knows the limits He has given me and wants me to live within them. He knows that if only I kept His pace the journey would be so much more pleasant for both of us. If only I would take the time each day to listen to what He has for me, and agree that it is good, and it is enough, and that the tasks that won’t get done will be the path for another day.

Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” I need Him to show me step by step, moment by moment where the boundaries are for me, and I need to walk humbly and obediently in them, trusting that the good shepherd knows me and knows my way.

What about you. Are you keeping pace with Him?

Hopes for My Daughter On Turning 13

Gina Butz kids 8 Comments

Megan 5x7Ok, you finally made it. 13. I have to confess, it’s felt like you’re a teenager for awhile now. You have your emotional ups and downs, and you’re mature beyond your years. That’s my polite way of saying sometimes, girl, you’re a handful. But, I am quick to remind myself that you are far from the terror I was at 13. I wish that on no one.

But whatever handful you are, it’s what you are supposed to be. This is a tough time, and I’m going to tell you that it’s going to get rockier before it gets better. Being a teenager is turbulent. I remember.

I hope it goes well for you. I hope so much. I hope that you navigate these years with confidence, not in yourself, but in who God has made you to be. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. I know you doubt that sometimes, when you look at the widow’s peak you wish I hadn’t given you, or your drive for perfection that frustrates you. But trust me – it’s ALL good. I hope you never let someone else’s words or looks cause you to doubt that truth.

I hope, as you grow and mature, you never lose your childlikeness. It’s different than being childish. Childlike means you stay open, humble, willing to learn, ok with the fact that you’re not there yet, willing to let others help you in your weak places. Jesus IMG_9452said the kingdom belongs to those people.

I hope, as you grow, that you are gentle with yourself. You’re going to make mistakes. You won’t know what you’re doing. You will have ups and downs and disappointments and regrets, but it’s all part of the process. This is how we learn, so I hope you can smile at the fumbles and say, “Now I know!” and move on with compassion and grace.

I hope you value yourself in relationships. I hope you continue to choose to spend time with people who build you up, who love you as you are, and with whom you can stand your ground. I hope you always believe that you are worth pursuing. I hope you never think you have to change to make yourself likable or attractive to anyone.

I hope you know how normal all this is. I know some days you’ll feel like you could conquer the world, and other days you’ll be shaking in your boots. Sometimes you’ll think I’m the smartest, best mom ever, and other days you’ll think I’m a idiot. Your IMG_1077emotions will run wild at times and cause you to think and do things that surprise you. I hope you take it all in stride. (I hope I do too!)

I hope you keep following your dreams. They are good dreams. I hope they become clearer and more tangible, but at the same time, I hope they never take the place of God in your heart. I hope you can hold them open to Him and trust that He will do with them what is best for you.

I hope you cling to Jesus. If there is anything I hope for you, it is this. I hope that as you grow, you see more and more how desperately you need Him, and how He is more than sufficient for everything you need. I hope you love Him with everything you have. I hope you taste and see that He is so very good. I hope this relationship guides you and brings you joy.

I hope in Him for you, kiddo. He has great plans for you. Welcome to 13. IMG_5679

 

Related:

Promises to My Children

The Soul Needs

Gina Butz faith, word of the year 2 Comments

My husband traveled 4 out of the first six weeks of this year. I’ve built up some pretty strong “traveling husband” muscles over the years, but I have to admit it wore me down. I felt needy.

I don’t like to feel needy. Needy feels small and weak and helpless, which is scary. It feels vulnerable. What if no one wants to help me? What if they look down on me for my neediness?

Needy gets a bad rap in our world. We glorify people who are strong, self-sufficient, wildly capable, not a “burden.” We are impressed with them. You know who isn’t? God.

I have searched scripture, and never once have I found a verse where God says something to the effect of, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have managed to pull yourself up by your own boot straps and to rely on no one, not even Me! I’m proud of you for not asking anyone to step in and minister to you in your weakness. Enter your rest, you’ve earned it!”

Which is such a bummer, because I’m really good at all of that.

We tend to respond to tough situations by working harder, toughing it up, slogging through, as though God gives us tough circumstances to see how strong we can be. He doesn’t. He wants to bring us to weakness. He wants us to own our neediness.

Neediness doesn’t mean we’ve failed. It means we’re human.

As we look ahead to Easter, what always gets me about Jesus is his humanity. He got tired. Hungry. Lonely. Overwhelmed. He knew need. He knew hard. He calls us to own our humanity as He did.

IMG_7251So I’m learning, in those needy times, to say it out loud. Not to complain about it, but to call it what it is. And to invite others in to walk with me.

I’ve written about a lot of the needs of the soul, but the bottom line that we have to own is that the soul is needy. Period. The end. It looks different on different days, but the fact is: I have a needy soul. It’s how He made us. And the beauty of it is that we can answer each others’ needs with love and grace. This is the gift we have in the fellowship of believers.

Is your soul needy today? Bring it to Jesus. Bring it to others. The soul needs. It’s meant to need. And others are meant to meet it.

“Carry each others’ burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

 

Related:

Embracing Weakness

 

The Extraordinary Childhood of a Third Culture Kid

Gina Butz culture, kids 2 Comments

IMG_1747

Watching the jungle fly by on a train in Thailand

I grew up on a corner lot with a huge backyard across the street from a giant park. The world was our plush, Kentucky bluegrass playground.

Our kids grew up surrounded by concrete. The nearest decent patch of grass was a solid mile away across a busy street.

One day, when they were littles, I lamented this fact to God. I felt like our kids were missing out on a “normal” childhood by being Third Culture Kids (TCKs). His clear response to me was, “Really, Gina? Your kids have ridden elephants in Thailand and climbed the Great Wall. They have been exposed to cultures and languages most people don’t see in their lifetimes. Is this not good enough?”

He made a strong argument.

Our kids never ate Cheerios or played little league or rode in car seats (yeehaw!). I always feared that their strange upbringing would be a source of distancing from friends here in the States. Instead, it seems to have given them some street cred.

IMG_1471Megan jumpinglarge

jumping in the Andaman Sea off the black sand beaches of Langkawi

Lately, our kids and their friends have shared more stories about this sad, grassless childhood with other kids  school which has led to one girl declaring that she wants to be adopted into our family so she can travel with us (perhaps she doesn’t know she could go on her own?). As the stories come out about exotic places they’ve been and lived, the admiration climbs. It led Ethan’s friend and fellow TCK to say to me one day, “I think I’m realizing I have lived a good life.” Yes, yes you have.

In lamenting the fact that I couldn’t give our children a “normal” childhood, in some ways I missed the fact that we were giving them an extraordinary one. No, they don’t exactly know what to do with a backyard, but they can navigate an airport on their own. They can’t tell you how an American baseball game is played but they have road tripped between countries.

Being a Third Culture Kid comes with its gaps in experience, but the experiences they have are so incredibly rich that I wouldn’t trade them. I’m thankful that our kids spent their formative years in other cultures. More than that, I’m so thankful that they consider it a blessing as well.

 

Related:

You Got That Kid Americanized Yet?

A Different Childhood