7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 15): The Saturday Edition

Yes, in the interest of full disclosure: this is the Saturday edition of #7QT.  I meant to write this on Friday.  I really did.  I have tabs open in my browser that I have kept open almost all week because I wanted to write something about them on Friday for my 7QT post.  And when I woke up at 12:30am on Saturday and realized that I'd fallen asleep somewhere between 9:00-9:30pm on Friday, my first thought was: "oh no, I missed it... AGAIN!!!"

But then my second thought was: "Wait.  It's still Friday in California..."

So here we are.  Seven Quick Takes Friday-which-is-really-Saturday-but-is-still-Friday-somewhere.

I've heard enough about Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMAs to be sure I didn't actually want to watch it (and warning: it was way past PG-13 so please don't watch it unless you're prepared for some serious depravity (and if you're under 18 and reading this: please ask your parents first!!!), but I'm actually glad I saw it for myself.  You can wax eloquent all you want about how Hannah Montana's gone south (did you even watch that show?  have you seen the attitudes kids developed as a result of thinking that being like Hannah Montana was a good idea?) but from what I saw, Miley's gotten a ridiculously bad rap for that performance.

Let me explain:

First - it was a mash-up.  So Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have 2/3 of the responsibility for what just happened there (as do all of their agents, etc.).  Second - have you seen the music video from Miley's 1/3 of that mash-up?  (DON'T.)  No, seriously, kids - don't.  It's messed up.

But why, dear Society, are we dragging her over the coals for being messed up during a music awards performance when she was already that messed up, and when the people she was performing with were equally messed up?  (They all had a choice: stars, background vocalists, and dancers.  They didn't have to be a part of this.  They chose to participate.)  Miley's performance at the VMAs was far less messed up than the music video to her 1/3 of the mash-up.  Have you listened to the lyrics for that three-song mash-up?  (All three of them?)  What else did you expect?!?!

Miley is just a really famous kid in her early 20's, trying to figure out who she is and what matters in life, and she's been given a really bad script for it.  Instead of bashing her for her choices, why aren't we praying that she'll return to her roots and remember that life's a climb, and not some kind of illicitly sexual performance?  Why, instead of bashing her for being a slut, aren't we praying that this kid who did (at least at one point in her life) believe in God (and maybe still does), would use her position in public society to promote His kingdom instead of her own, or anyone else's?

No, that performance wasn't right.  It was seriously whacked, and there are little girls who idolized Hannah Montana and have grown up along with her who will think that behaving that way as teenagers is what they need to do, to capture the attention of the guys that they like, and there are little boys that have grown up thinking that responding to that kind of behavior is the only way to go - but we need to tell them there's a better way.

Which is why, if you read nothing else about all of the drama concerning Miley Cyrus' performance over the past week, you do need to read this post by Elizabeth Chapin about talking to boys about girls like Miley.  It is absolutely the most well-balanced and thoughtful response I've heard to all the craziness this week.

I have a friend who is wrestling with her femininity and wondering where gender roles speak into that.

Oh, my goodness.  Can I just tell you how much this breaks my heart?!  (And how much I want to buy her a copy of Ruby Slippers?!)

Wake up, Church!!!  Divisions between men and women are supposed to be a thing of the past, and it was Jesus who made it so.  Ladies, listen: you are not less than because you're a woman.  You're His answer to "it's not good for man to be alone."  Girls, did you hear that?!  You make things better.  God didn't think the world was finished without you.  And you image God to the world in ways that men never could.  So quit thinking that your femininity is a curse.  It isn't.  You make things better, simply by being who you are.

Thank you.

And keep on keeping on.  Continue to "be who you are..." - as Dr. Seuss would say.  And men, please: be who you are, too - but please don't ever live that out in ways that restrict the freedoms that Christ has given your sisters.

On a somewhat related note:  ... the following conversation may or may not have happened yesterday:
Me: "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe; she had so many children she didn't know what to do...
A. (after a thoughtful pause) responded: "She should get them all dates.  Then they'll get married and move out and she can have the shoe back to herself again."
Noted: There is nothing at all disturbing about living in a shoe.  The only disturbing prospect about any of this is the overcrowded nature of said shoe...

Here's an alternative solution: all of her children should be cast in roles that will make them potential film stars.  Ben Affleck apparently got his start on The Voyage of the Mimi.  I may not have remembered that Ben Affleck played a starring role, but if I were ever stranded on a desert island?

I totally know how to distill water with string and a piece of plastic.  While tracking whales.  #saywhat?!

That's PBS success, right there.  And look at him now, all Batman and whatnot...

And now it is almost 4:00am CST, which is an hour past Friday night in California...

Which means it is quite past time to say goodnight.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Be Where You Are (it's not failure)

I love the way God sets things like this up.

My friend Faith has a friend who has a "book blog" (Faith, can you link to it below in the comments?  I can't remember the name of the blog at all!), and he reviewed Dan Brennan's book, Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions.  Then my friend Sara, who found Kathy Escobar's blog years ago, sent me a link to one of Kathy's posts about this conference at which she was speaking called Bold Boundaries, which was organized by Dan Brennan.  It was being held half an hour from my house - so I went.  One of the speakers and I became Facebook friends after the conference.  And this week, she posted a link to a post by a guy named Preston entitled "when God allows us to say when."  Which was exactly what I needed to hear this week, tho I didn't know it at the time.

Preston's post (which is definitely worth your time) is at its heart about seasons, and being okay with the fact that there is a time and a season for everything.  Being okay with the fact that not all questions have easy answers, that healing isn't as simple as we would wish, and that some things just take time.

Being okay with that can be tough, especially in a world that values productivity, efficiency, success, and knowledge as highly as ours does.

I was on the phone with a friend earlier this week, and he asked me two questions: "Who are you allowing to invest in you?" and "Where have you failed lately, and what are you learning from it?"

Now I've spent enough time reading, studying, and discussing leadership principles over the past 5 years that I know these are good questions.  Having good teachers to listen to, good mentors to turn to for advice and counsel, and good friends who pour their time, love, and faithfulness into your life in ways that you receive it best are important to your personal and spiritual growth.  Learning from failure and not allowing it to cripple you but rather to teach you what not to do next time and to shape your character in positive ways is healthy.  They were great questions.

But I couldn't answer them.  And I felt like I had been measured and found wanting.

As an INFP (or an INFJ - it depends on the day), I need time to think.  Even if I did have good answers to those questions, it would probably take me awhile to formulate clear answers.  Answering them within ten minutes' time with no warning they were coming?  Not something that would go well under most circumstances.

But even after giving it some thought, I still couldn't give clear answers to these questions.  Do I have good teachers, good mentors, and good friends?  Yes!  Do I have a ton of time to invest in utilizing the resources I have right now?  No.  Do I agree that learning from failure is really important and that having the humility to be vulnerable and honest about how I've failed is good for my character?  Yes!  Do I think I'm failing miserably at anything that ought to be teaching me something right now?  No.

And so my emotions and my train of thought took a downward spiral as I wondered, "Am I a failure as a leader because I'm not being intentional right now about investing time in relationships that will help me grow and because I'm not failing majorly (that I know of) at anything?"

And for a very long split-second I thought maybe it was true.  (Can I say that I'm failing at failing?  Does that count?)

But then I remembered Preston's post, and his advice: Sit still.  Breathe. "You can tell God when you are ready for the next thing."  (And you'll probably find out when you do that God has already been working that next thing into your life without you even noticing anyway.)

It's okay to just be where you are.

You couldn't be anywhere else in this exact moment anyway, so worrying about it, fighting it, or wishing it was different won't do any good.  Owning where you actually are, tho - that's actually doing something about it.

It's kind of like how you can't get accurate directions to where you want to be on Apple Maps without letting your iPhone access your current location.  A blue pin on a map is great and everything, but if you don't know how to get there, it's not much more than a pin on a map.  But if you know where you are, you can figure out the best way to get where you need to be.

For me this week, owning where I am so that I can figure out how to get where I want to go next means realizing that, as Ecclesiastes 3 says, there are times and seasons for everything, and that it's completely okay to not have good answers to great leadership questions right now.  It means recognizing that I am learning and growing in other ways right now, and that I do have answers to other questions - questions that are actually pertinent to where I am and what I'm learning.  Questions that actually matter - at least to me.

Maybe those leadership questions matter to someone else right now - but they don't have to matter to me today.  There have been times when they have, and there will be times in the future when they will again.  But for today, this day?  As long as I am listening for His voice and following His directions one step, one moment at a time towards whatever's next, it's okay to be wherever the flashing blue dot on the map finds me in this moment.  I couldn't be anywhere else.

And neither can you.

So, in the words of Dr. Seuss, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."  And don't feel like you need to be something you're not.  Just be where you are, knowing you are dearly loved.

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 14)

ROAD TRIP!  There's something about getting out of my typical environments and just being away that restores my perspective like nothing else.  I only have a couple of days, so I hit the road this afternoon and headed up to the CityFlats hotel.  I love this place.  Environmentally friendly, classy, and fun.  The architecture is artistic, and every room is furnished and painted differently, so each stay is a fairly unique visit.  I'm on the fourth floor this time - slightly smaller room, but super-quiet.  It's the perfect place for a mini-retreat.

My friend Katie told me once that I walk differently when I'm in Michigan.  I don't know if that's actually true - but I noticed it again today: as soon as I crossed the state line, I started grinning.  I've been a lot of beautiful places in my lifetime - but this is definitely still one of my favorites.  And there's something about coming back to a place that feels like home that just makes me feel lighter.  So maybe I do walk differently.

Road trip sidenote: I found myself wondering today what kind of music there will be in heaven.  I hope there will be lots of different kinds.  Station surfing turned up some really great songs today in a number of different genres.

One of the best moments of this day was an absolutely amazing latté.  If you're ever in Holland, MI, be sure to stop in at J.P.'s Coffeehouse.  It's not on their menu anymore, but if you ask for a hot buttered rum, you won't be sorry.

A few years ago I was out for dinner with some friends when I noticed a woman sitting at one of the tables near the windows.  She was alone, and reading, over what looked like an amazing dinner.  I suppose I could have felt sorry for her - but I didn't.  My first thought was: "That's brilliant."  And watching her enjoy herself gave me the freedom to follow in her footsteps.  I had a lovely dinner tonight at a rooftop restaurant with a great book.  It was introvert heaven.  ;)

One of my favorite things to do to unwind is watching odd movies.  Tonight's movie of choice: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  (Said league appears to involve a female Victorian vampire.  I am amused.)  It's a little more violent than I'd anticipated, so I'm not sure I'd recommend it (or let a thirteen year old watch it - what's up with the rating system?!  Sheesh!) - but there are some great quotes.  So far my favorite conversation in this movie is between one of the bad guys and one of the lead characters:  "What are you?!"  "I'm... complicated."  Aren't we all...

Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know that no road trip would be truly complete without at least one fun wildlife encounter.  I call this "Squirrel with Pizza Crepe Unidentified Breaded Object".  I'm pretty sure it was bigger than the squirrel was.  And I'm kind of in awe that neither breaded object nor squirrel fell from the tree...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!