family

Raising Girls In A World Where They Are Less Than Human

I have two daughters. 

They are little spark plugs of utter joy and complete chaos. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They remind me to view the world through child-like wonder. They remind me that I am not what I do, but who I am. They teach me what selfless love actually looks like…everyday…day after day…early morning after early morning…nasty crap diaper after nasty crap diaper. They make me realize how much I have to learn about parenting and our place in the world. 

Most every night from the moment they were born, I have quietly held them in my arms or rested my hand on their back while they sleep and prayed for them. 

I pray for their continued breath. I pray for their development as little, unique human beings. I pray the Spirit of God to fill them and empower them. I pray the Lord’s Prayer over them. I pray for them to be protected from evil. I pray for them to love those who aren’t often loved. I pray for them to live confidently into who they have been created to be, free from the pressure of imposed reputation and expectation. 

I pray for their past, present and future. 

In learning to love these little girls, I began to ask more and more questions about the place of women in the world, in the Church and in everyday life. So many realities that I could have ignored in the past (not that I should have!) are now front and center as I think of my babies becoming little girls who become women apart of a diverse global village. 

IMG_7749As in most things (parenting, theology, the Church, hospitality, etc), my wife, Janny, is about two years ahead me in asking these hard questions about the place of women in the world. Watching her study, teach and advocate on issues pertaining to the flourishing of women, I have been convicted, challenged and inspired.

Evaluating my own complicity and ignorance led me to realize that for a guy who advocates so strongly for the value of a global kingdom worldview, I am radically narrow in who I consider authorities in my life. In other words, most scholars, thinkers and practicioners I have studied are white males. No offense to my white male friends (thankfully I dodged that label with my Scandinavian heritage…I’m technically a “pale male.”), but I needed to spend a lot more time learning from the life, teachings and perspectives of women around the world. As a father of two girls, a husband and global citizen seeking the shalom of God in and among all of humanity, I have no choice.

So, this year I have committed to intentionally learning from women (authors, teachers, neighbors, etc.) any chance I get. In fact, The Global Immersion Project Learning Lab I’ll be leading to Israel/Palestine this Fall will solely focus on the role of women peacemakers in the Holy Land.

As I began to crack the surface and open my eyes to the plight of women world-wide, I quickly discovered that many scholars, faith leaders and advocates would consider the treatment of women as the leading injustice in the world. From rural villages in the majority world to urban centers of the West, when there is dysfunction, brokenness and abuse, it most often falls on women.  

The dysfunction, brokenness and abuse isn’t reserved to far off villages or traditions, it extends to our doorstep. From systemic poverty to sex trafficking to employment prejudice to disempowerment and shame within the Church.  

RoseBdayParalleling my learnings, my little girls continue to grow, develop and form their view of the world, God and humanity each and every day. Our youngest, Rosie, recently turned one and we invited our close friends, neighbors and family to celebrate and bless her young life. 

Our community surrounding us, I rested my hands on her sweet little head and prayed this blessing over her life:

Rosie you are so full of life, wonder and innocence. I bless you to live fully into the unique woman God has created you to be. I bless you to be one who is not only empowered, but one who empowers. I bless you with the gift of walking with a community that daily stumbles toward Jesus and participates with him in healing a broken world.  

In a world where women are often demeaned, discredited, abused, oppressed and treated as less that human, I bless you with the courage to be one who reassigns dignity to those who have lost it. I bless you to be a voice for the voiceless. I bless you to have an eye for injustice and move boldly toward it with the practices that make for peace. 

Rosie, my sweet daughter, I pray that you will lead the way in teaching me, us and the whole world what it means to live into who you were created to be while giving yourself to the flourishing of others. 

RESOURCES:

Here are a few resources that I have read/watched recently that have been especially impactful. 

Jesus Feminist -- Rather than offering cynical critique, Sarah Bessey simply invites us to full life in Jesus. The most hopeful, constructive and compelling book I’ve read in years. 

Half the Church -- Helpful theological reflection on the role of women in the Church past and present. Further, a good introduction into the plight of women world wide and the opportunity for the Church to be mobilized as an instrument of peace.  

Half the Sky -- This documentary offers first hand exposure to the global inequality of women. It is so jarring, it makes the film hard to watch. Which is why it’s so important we are exposed to it. 

 

Welcoming Rosie with a Community Blessing

When a new child is born into our community, we have a tradition of taking time to pray blessings over the new life as a way to acknowledge their sacred role not only in the life of our family, but in the life of the community we have entrusted ourselves to.  This is not a new tradition we came up with, but one that stretches back to early parts of our faith tradition.  It is a time to acknowledge that as members of the family of God, Janny and I don’t raise little Rosie on our own, but alongside a community of people who are commited to follow Jesus together.  Having been part of a community like this for a few years, we have found it to be one of the most important gifts we can give to our children.  

Yesterday, among neighbors, family and community mates, we were able to have a time of blessing over our newest little gal, Rosie.  With tears filling most of our eyes, prayers of blessing over Rosie were showered out from all corners of the room.  It was indeed, a thin place; a place where heaven and earth are only thinly separated.  Here is the blessing Janny and I prayed over our newest addition:

Today we celebrate Jesus being resurrected as the 1st of new creation. Gods dream for humanity begin to unfold in the gift of new life.

Rosie, you bring new life not only to your parents and sister, but to this whole community. You are a reflection and reminder of the innocence, purity and reliance humanity is to have on Jesus. 

We bless you with not only with family, but with community. We commit to daily offer you the gift of a community of people that are committed to following Jesus together. 

We bless your eyes that you may always look not through the lens of ethnicity, nationality or title, but through the lens of a shared humanity who shares the image of God. When others aren’t viewed in this way, we bless you with the courage to stand up for those experiencing oppression and reassign them their dignity. 

We bless you with the courage to teach us as we commit to be your students. We except and anticipate the ways you will teach us how to better live, love and lead in a way that honors God and neighbor. 

Lastly, we bless you with a committment to stand with you, cry with you and celebrate with you (even through the terrifying years of adolescence). 

It is with much joy and sacredness that we anticipate your future, little Rosie Lillian Huckins.

Amen 

My Child, the Marlboro Man and Interdependence

I was lying next to my daughter Ruby as she drank her milk and started to fade to sleep.  She often hums her favorite songs through the garble of milk, but this night she set aside the milk so she could nail every note of her newly assembled tune.

To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Ruby began singing the nicknames she has created of those who are closest to her…the people she lives life with.  She sang (start humming Twinkle Twinkle to get full effect!), “Nena, Titi, Ani, Sam, Momma, Elmo, Daddy.”  Ok, the truth is out…yes, we watch Elmo.  But, the red puppet aside, little Ruby was falling asleep to the names and images of those that love her and those in whom she loves.  Not only was this adorable, it was profound. 

I’d like to think this song was the 19-month version of evening prayers.  Her very last conscious thoughts of the day turned not to herself, her toys, her dolls…no, they turned to others.  To those we share life with; community mates, family, neighbors. 

What would it look like if we all went to sleep not consumed with prayers for ourselves (or with personal details of life that I so often allow to take over my thoughts), but with prayers for others?  These are the prayers of one radically shaped by community.  Not just a group of people who hang out a lot, but a group of people who are intentionally shaping their lives in the way of Jesus and see life in community as the best way to faithfully live this out. 

True community is wrestling through life’s good and bad…together.  It is carrying each other’s burdens.  It is not just sharing meals, but sharing mission.  It not about building one’s personal kingdom, but about participating in God’s Kingdom. 

Life in community is exchanging the autonomous life of independence for a life of radical interdependence.  First between the great mystery of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and second between ourselves and the community we have entrusted ourselves to.  The Marlboro Man (independence, freedom, self reliance) of our Western culture is a deceptive myth and the anti-thesis of relationships in God’s Kingdom.

From the beginning, all humanity was hardwired for community.  We were designed to find life in communion with God and communion with one another.  We can’t fully understand who we are and who God wants us to be outside of life in community. 

Ruby’s prayer-song was simple and innocent, but I believe it was a window into the divine.  It was a glimpse into the dream God has for his people and through childlike faithfulness I got to get a sneak peak of what that might look like. 

How Getting “Snowed In” Can Save Your Sanity

Thanks to the generosity of a close friend, my family got to get away this week for a much needed few days of downtime up in Big Bear, CA.  We are staying in a sweet little condo with a full kitchen, fireplace and patio.  Janny and I came up for a weekend retreat I was speaking at a couple years ago and really enjoyed it.  While that was a good time, this has been a GREAT time with zero responsibility.

Although, it is only a few hours from San Diego, it might as well be half way around the globe.  Being a product of California coastal communities my whole life, I didn’t really consider the need for chains on this trip.  After all, it is only 3 hours from the always-warm San Diego.  After successfully driving our little Nissan, 1.8 liter hatchback up the 7000 foot mountain, it began to snow…REALLY snow.

Within a few hours of our arrival, we quickly realized we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while.  It snowed for nearly 2 days straight and we were completely snowed in.  There would be no running errands, no eating out, no site seeing, the only option was to simply stay right where we were.  And it…was…brilliant.

There is something sacred about being “stuck” somewhere with those you love most. We live pretty hectic lives.  I’m not proud of that and it is something I struggle to acknowledge and change on a regular basis.  When you’re snowed in, you have no option for chaos.  Janny, Ruby and I simply hung out together all day for two days straight.  We watched movies, read, prayed, ate, walked in the snow and even found a hot tub to sneak into.  It has been exactly what we needed.

Live a hectic life?  Feel a bit disoriented from all the chaos of responsibility?

My advice: GET SNOWED IN. Even if that means you have to pile ice cubes around your front door and car tires.

 

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