More Super Minnies Please!

The image above features my unbelievably adorable niece, Zoey, playing what used to be one of her favorite alter-egos: “Super Minnie”. As soon as she got into character, Zoey knew that she had just taken some sips of “Mike’s Magic Stuff” and instantly became even more confident than she already is (scary thought, I know).

Natural segue: I’ve been thinking a lot recently about women.

Now, I know that sounds odd, but it’s not what you think. What I mean is that I’ve been thinking a lot about the silencing/smothering of women’s voices in our world. I’ve known that there are cultures in the world that literally don’t let their women speak in certain places, but a couple weeks ago I realized that America really isn’t much different.

Just because we let our women speak wherever they want, doesn’t mean we listen to them. And if we aren’t listening to them, then what are we non-verbally saying? Here’s a hint: maybe we still view women as lesser than.

Now, for my reader that gets really pissy about feminism and women’s rights and blah and blah and blah, bear with me. My hope isn’t for this to be some stock post about civil rights and gender equality. My hope is to verbalize the heart of the issue at hand. My hope is for women to feel like their thoughts and voices matter, because they do. A lot.


I grew up around some incredibly strong women. Was it always a healthy kind of strong? Maybe not, but nonetheless they knew their voice mattered.

My mom, for instance, got married young and had my sister. Then she left that husband because he refused to even be seen with them in public upon a multitude of other reasons that really just stemmed from the fact that he didn’t care about the girls in his life. Then my mom went back to school to get her degree. Life in Austin, Texas isn’t really necessarily easy when you’re trying to be a college student (nursing school for a while and then education) at the University of Texas, raising a daughter, working to pay the bills, and still somehow managing to have friends outside of all of those things.

For the first seven years of my sister’s life, this was my mom’s reality. And she doesn’t hate the world or think God is against her because of her circumstances. She just knew that if she didn’t fight for herself and my sister, then there might not be somebody who will.

So this is the strength around which I grew up. Once I was done growing up when I turned sixteen (it’s a joke, calm down), I had two more women put into my life that are strong. These are two of my best friends and their husbands were the first guys to ever mentor me in any shape or form. These women teach what it is to stand confidently in who we are made to be. I learned that while the enemy is going to heap shame and insecurity and fear into our souls, that we already have victory claimed for us and that is the rock on which we stand. And their husbands continue to teach me that both husband and wife can and should be strong. Both should stand confidently in who they are made to be. These men are not passive, they actively pursue, engage, and lead their families while supporting and hearing their wives.

I vividly remember a Sunday after church during tear down when I saw one of these women folding and stacking chairs while her husband and I were on stage tearing down instruments and I told him, “Hey, tell her the guys will get it. She don’t have to tear down.” And my friend looks at me and says, “I’ll never tell her to not serve.” And that was the moment that my view of women really changed. I realized at that point the benevolent sexism in which I had functioned my entire life. And it had to stop.

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*here’s an old pic of the five of us plus ¾ of the kids that exist

Benevolent sexism is the idea that you don’t need to talk down to/about a woman to be sexist or prejudiced against her. It’s the idea that asks “Why?” about your motives behind giving up your seat for a woman or opening a door for a woman or offering to take the heavier box to give her the lighter box when you’re helping her move in. For many of us, we just like to serve other people. We would probably do the same for our boys. But for many of us we do this because we view women as weaker/more feeble/in need of our assistance. It’s time to start asking ourselves honest questions.

So where is all this coming from?

Sarah and I were chatting the other day about what it means for me to be on her team. Earlier in the day she was explaining to me a situation in which she was hurt by something that one of her friends had said/different unhealthy patterns of the friendship- so I started asking questions (like I always do…) to figure out the root issue. And while I do understand that I came off as not being a good listener but just wanting to fix the problem; I really wanted to get the ball rolling past the surface level feelings and get to the deep seated feelings.

In the conversation, we both figured out that for me to be on her team is so much more than me simply agreeing with and fighting for her. Me being on her team means me fighting for her to think and fight for herself. If I’m the one always fighting for her, then I’m essentially the biggest inhibitor of her being strong. (ex. it’s as though she were trying to get physically stronger and I went with her to the gym and picked up every single weight for her. I simply want to be the spotter. Me picking up all the weight all the time isn’t going to make her any stronger.) And I think we should all be strong. I think we were all made to be strong. So that is the end to which I am going to fight.


Our world has done a really great job — from the very beginning, I might add — of treating women as lesser than. Sure it’s no longer like it was when women couldn’t speak up or vote or own anything or do anything worthwhile/fulfilling; however, I think women are about as equal to men as other ethnicities are to White. Hint: not. Just because the prejudice isn’t blatantly negative and sickening doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So, as the great philosopher once said,

I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies that make the babies.

I want so badly for my niece and my (hopeful) future daughter(s) to grow up in a home where their voices are heard and their ideas are pondered. I want to teach them that they were made to be thinkers and that their thoughts matter so much to me. I want for my friends to feel safe speaking their true thoughts around me because they know that my ears will receive their words with all the weight they carry.

Women’s voices carry weight. Women’s thoughts carry weight. So women should speak up more and men should listen more. Every woman and girl has a Super Minnie in them  and I think most of them just don’t realize it. So let me help you realize it right now, please. Don’t wait for someone else to fight for you. Start fighting for yourself NOW, because you. are. worth. fighting for.

And those are all my feelings.

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Here We Go Again

It’s official.

I’m in Bryan/College Station for another year!

This post will hopefully give a nice, quick recap of this past year and give some of my hopes for the year to come in my new position as Youth Director overseeing ministry towards 5th-12th grade students.

 

1. I’m finally beginning to be emotionally healthy.

For the past two semesters our staff has been working through Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero (a pastor in Queens, NY). Basically, EHS is a few dozen counseling sessions in one cohesive book. Scazzero talks a lot about how Christians generally do a really great job at devaluing and disregarding their feelings or emotions and how destructive this pattern is to themselves and all the people around them (family, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc.). We’ve been learning together how to break out of these destructive habits and live in a new way that isn’t slowly deteriorating our souls.

This (along with having a couple really close friends and a fantastic girlfriend) has taught me some things:

  • I am a recovering control addict.
  • I am a recovering self-abuser.
    • I do want to clarify something here. I do not mean self-abuse. I mean that I am so naturally horrible at showing grace to myself when I sin. I get really down on myself and treat my brokenness in the exact opposite way that Jesus did.
  • I am NOT busy.
    • I’m just limited. It’s okay that I can’t regularly do what Jesus did in Mark 1 and heal all the sick people in the town, go spend time with Dad, and then – without sleep – go and continue on with my ministry. And that’s okay.

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*above is a picture of our church staff and wives from our trip to NYC for the Emotionally Healthy conference in May. We’re missing a couple people due to differing flights, but I’m sure you’ll see them eventually 🙂

The actual work portion of my job has been really exciting and growing. I wound up working primarily on building out the worship/production ministry and hammering out a lot of the details for our Sunday operations. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I was afforded this year, because I fully understand that most twenty-two year olds don’t just get to walk into the position I was so graciously given. So I’m thankful for a staff and a church that believed in me to do my job well.

 

2. I now get to do my best to continue building a youth ministry.

To be completely transparent this is really scary to me. It’s really easy for me to buy into everything that the enemy tries to tell me (i.e. – you’re too young, you’re not prepared enough, you’re gonna mess kids up, blah blah blah). It is. It really is easy for me to buy into that. But my friends and my co-workers have pumped so much empowerment into me and have been so affirming that I’m not stronger than the Lord. I totally might ruin everything, but the joy is that somebody still might get saved. The Lord’s gonna do what the Lord wants to do and however he wants to do it and he has invited me to be part of his story here in B/CS for another year and so I absolutely hopped on it.

Much of the way the I follow Jesus is based in my story with Younglife. I won’t go into details on this post; but if you’re interested, then you can read more about it here. But that is the mindset into which I am praying for our leaders buy. See, DC Youth does not primarily exist for students to show up in our youth room at the church. Our role is to engage students and make them feel noticed, known, loved, cared for, and ultimately to fight for them to know who Jesus is and what he did. That’s why we exist as a ministry. I would love for our team to know the names of every student in the schools that we engage; because how many of those students may have never been known before?

 

3. In order to do all of this, I have again been given the opportunity to raise support.

This past year, I watched the Lord do crazy things by raising my entire salary. He was so faithful in the little things (like finances) and in the big things (like seeing some of my friends know and walk with Jesus for the first time in their lives). So I’m neither offended that I have to support raise again, nor am I scared to support raise again.

My salary for the next year is 50% fundraised and 50% provided by Declaration. What this means is that unless I have a group of people around me that buy in to my vision and/or the vision of Declaration Church, I do not get to work for DC full-time.

As of right now, I currently need $5,000 more in order to meet my goal. (That is $416.67/month if you’d like to think about it that way). If this is something in which you’d like to partner with me (or at least hear more about), I’d love to talk more about it with you.

I’ve attached a link at the bottom of this post that takes you to a page with more information and where you can give if you feel so inclined! Don’t feel pressured, but do know that I would absolutely love to have you on my team going forward.

 

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*above is a picture of my friend Alex and myself after he got baptized at the end of our New Mexico hiking trip with some other guys from Declaration. In December he had never heard of Jesus. By April, he was saved. By May, he was baptized.

 

In short, the Lord is continuing to blow up the cities of Bryan and College Station. It’s truly an exciting honor to get to stay for at least another year and befriend (hopefully hundreds of) middle and high schoolers and tell them why the matter so much to me.

If you’d like to hear more about what I’m doing or more about Declaration Church, please don’t hesitate to ask! My email is heyden@declarationchurch.net and I’d love to answer any question that I can. The following link goes to a page that has more information about my Residency Program.

https://www.declarationchurch.net/Heyden.aspx

When in Bryan (Month Seven)

I have to make a plan. If I can make a plan, I won’t be afraid.

I’ve been reading a lot lately. My goal for reading this year is to read 25 books of all varieties. I’m currently sitting at 4 completed; but I should be done with two more before May (hopefully). The quote above comes from one of the books that I’m currently reading.  This quote is essentially the summation of what I’ve learned about myself since my last blog post. Hopefully this post isn’t too candid; but what is a blog if it’s not honest, right?


I’m a total control freak.

As a matter of fact, I learned that it got so bad in January that I chose circumstantial control over people that loved me and wanted to fight for me. Who does that?

 

The past month or so for me has been a lot of failing and a lot of learning; just like your twenties are supposed to be, I’ve heard! So here is an incomprehensive list of the things I’ve learned in the past 50 (or so) days:

  1. I am smart; but I do not know everything. (see, @mom, I can finally admit it!)
  2. The way I do things is fantastic…for me…a lot of the time; but it’s actually way healthier for people to have their own ways of doing certain things than for people to do things like I do them.
  3. People have different life goals than me that influence their actions. (i.e. – My goal is generally to get in-and-out of the grocery store as quick as humanly possible and so I know where the things are that I need and I don’t get anything else. But someone else might have the goal to get everything they need or will need soon and they don’t want to miss anything, so they are not in any big hurry. AND BOTH WAYS ARE PERFECTLY FANTASTIC; they’re just different. And different isn’t just good; different is healthy.)
  4. Thankfulness is essential. And people should know that you’re thankful for them.
  5. I am not in control. I never have been in control. The Lord does his thing in spite of me most of the time, and for that I am wildly thankful. He sees the big picture that I don’t. He sees the full puzzle; and I’m over in the corner not even able to get past one edge piece (side note: I suck at puzzles in a literal sense AND a metaphorical sense).

 

I’ve gotten to watch grace in action over the past few weeks. There are people that I screwed over because I fought harder for control than I did for them. Yet when I apologized to them for the specific things I did to hurt them, they looked me in the face (or in a letter) and said, “I believe you…I believe in you…and I believe in grace & forgiveness — the kind that gives 2nd & 3rd & 1000s of chances until we can finally stand & proclaim the joy of getting it right.”

 

Grace.

 

I’ve gotten to read the Bible with some new friends of mine, and we talk about grace every time we sit down to read. I get to tell them week-in and week-out that we can’t make sense of grace because our logical minds can’t wrap our heads around the fact that someone could possibly forgive us and gladly move on WITH YOU in pure joy and excitement. Grace doesn’t make sense. If grace made sense, it wouldn’t be amazing. If grace made sense, then it wouldn’t really mean that much that Jesus hanged on a cross taking all of our sins on himself and gave us his righteousness so that we could be sons and daughters of the King of kings and Creator of all things.

So, in the midst of all of the trials, errors, and failures of the past couple months, I’ve seen and learned more about who the Lord is and how badly I need the him. So it makes sense now why Paul talked about boasting in his weaknesses; because it is in Paul’s weakness that he gets to experience the raw majesty, power, and authority of the Lord.

It’s in my weakness that I get to experience the raw majesty, power, and authority of the Lord. 


 

In regards to the quote at the very beginning, I’m kinda like the character that said it. We’re both starting to slowly figure out that we don’t plan to be successful; we plan to try and sidestep fear. But to sidestep fear is to be a coward.

Courage isn’t a lack of fear.

Courage is action in the face of fear.

Courage is engaging fear as it comes; not avoiding potential future fear.

I’m learning how to be courageous and not be bound by my fear. I’m still pretty bad at it. But I wouldn’t rather be learning courage around anyone else than those I’m with in life right now.

When In Bryan (Month Five)

Well, it’s been a minute since I made myself sit down and reflect on what life has been lately. Mainly because sitting down and reflecting means processing and processing means time and I’d rather not give myself time out of some pseudo-humble mindset thinking that’s the most selfless and servant-hearted thing to do. It’s funny that I perpetually think this way after so many times of realizing that the most selfish thing I could possibly do is not deal with what’s going on with me and the way I feel and what has been great and what has sucked.

 

Don’t worry, the point of this post isn’t to list out all of those things, just wanted to let you know that’s why I didn’t have a blogpost about December and why this one about January is so late!

 

Some things I learned in December/January:

  1. I can’t change who the Lord says that I am. (see this, this, and this)
  2. People really can care about you. It’s O.K to believe them.
  3. It’s O.K for goodbye’s to be hard. It’s actually really normal. So I shouldn’t act like it’s not hard.
  4. “True peacemakers love God, others, and themselves enough to disrupt false peace.” – EHS
  5. Everyone is different from me. So let them be different. Different is wonderful.

 

I’ve been chronically bad at praying for myself for the past I don’t even know how long. My most consistent prayer in the past couple weeks is for the Lord to teach me 1) to recognize my need and 2) to humble myself and just ask for help (because it’s not like I stand a fighting chance of satisfying my needs anyways, honestly.)

 

So that’s the quick and easy version of where my mind has been the past couple months.

 


 

As for work, my job has been a lot of reading, which I love.

We’ve still been going through “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” as a staff and it, of course, has continually be kicking me in the gut and making me realize that I am not nearly as put together as I would’ve said in August (or December, honestly). So I highly recommend it for anyone. Find some pals, get the book, be honest with each other, and delve up all of the fun things you didn’t even know you were suppressing! It’ll be fun, I promise, you just may have to wait until the end of the book to see how fun it is…

 

The other book I’ve been reading is specifically for “worship” leadership, and it’s called “Doxology & Theology“. I’ve been going through it with a couple of friends and am about to teach through it with some of our band members at church. It does an incredible job of teaching the whys and the hows of worship leadership, and it’s also incredibly readable.

 

My team is still incredible. We’re excited to have Blake back from Sabbatical tomorrow and to finally be a full team again. I couldn’t have asked for a better team and family in this season of life. (The people’s faces that are covered are like so because I am not about to potentially compromise their ability to get into certain countries because they are linked to a church).IMG_5093.JPG

The Devaluation of Life

(an open letter to the upper-middle class white Christian conservative American)

Quit fighting half the battle.

 

Sunday marked forty-four years since America became polarized on yet another front (as if we really needed any help). Now instead of just being polarized racially, culturally, and generationally, America was now polarized on life. And America has remained polarized on life ever since.

Because of this argument of whether the baby’s life or the mother’s life matters more, I believe that very few people are actually pro-life. I think that the vast majority of Americans are pro-choice. I think that the people that are more worried about the baby’s life than the mother’s life are just as guilty of stripping someone’s voice as the opposite side. The devaluation of life is the same whether you fight only for the baby or only for the mom.

On Sunday, we had a guest speaker at church that spoke on the sanctity of human life. One of his big points  was this, “Fight for the voiceless.” But he spent much of the message talking about how pro-mom AND pro-child he and his wife are.

This is the proper view of human life: to be pro-mom AND pro-child; because while the baby is voiceless, there is an astounding chance that the mom has never been given a voice either. Is this always true? No. Absolutely not. But instead of shaming women for getting abortions like the Church has generally been really great at for decades, what if we just befriended? What if we helped the woman instead of just telling her she’s wrong and making a project out of her? What if we fought fear with hope?

Is abortion wrong? Yes. Totally. And that’s not really something on which I’m willing to compromise. Also not the point of this blog, sorry.

Have we been engaging the space in a non-helpful way? Mostly.

Mostly we’ve engaged the space with verbiage like “She chose when she decided to have sex! It’s the baby’s turn now!” or “There are consequences for every action and they need to learn responsibility!”

Hate. So much hate. So much ill-will and hopelessness. When pro-baby people say things or think this way, you strip the voice from the woman just like pro-abortion people strip the voice from the child. The voices have equal value and should be taken equally serious.

 

Humble yourself.

Befriend.

Give hope.

We. Need. Hope.

 

When In Bryan (Month Three)

If you know me in any capacity, you know that I love kids. As a matter of fact, kids aged      1½ to about 8 years old may be my favorite demographic of human being on the face of the planet. They teach me so much about living life to the full and having fun and laughing a lot and being an adventurer.

One of the highlights of November was going to watch my pal Jett at his first soccer skills showcase (try saying that 10 times fast…). While it obviously wasn’t the best soccer I had ever seen, it was unbelievably incredible to see how much he lit up when Drew, Marissa, and myself all showed up just to watch him! (It was also incredible to watch his mom play goalie against his dad and hope that he didn’t kick her in the face and also hope that she didn’t beat him up for kicking her in the face).

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There were a few other things that happened in November, as well:

-The Aggies’ football program spontaneously combusted.

-I’ve begun to practice the art of task delegation. Which means I get to actually equip and train people in areas instead of doing jobs myself.

-I turned 22.

-My niece, Zoey (check out the #zoeywatch on Instagram, if you’d like) who is three years old will finally snuggle with me for more than ten seconds.

 

This month has been far lighter than the last couple months and I am so incredible thankful for that. In my last blog, I wrote about how the Lord was growing me in emotional health and that has absolutely continued. But it has been wonderful to live in the kind of freedom that is offered by living in the light. I’m learning how to communicate with my co-workers, friends, and girlfriend better and better. I’m learning that I don’t have to hold in my emotions or how I’m feeling and that it is OK to externally process the good and the bad with my people. However, this month has not been quite as much of a punch in the face as last month was (praise the Lord).

 

The Lord has also been growing me in thankfulness. Maybe it’s just the season, or maybe I’m just growing up, but I wake up most mornings more thankful than the day before. Thankful for my breath, thankful for the ability to move and walk and run and lift things, thankful for people that care, thankful for means of transportation, and ultimately thankful for the fact that Jesus came and took my place, lived a life I had no shot at living and died a death I absolutely deserved. And Jesus did all of this so that I could live with the Father forever? Dang. That thought breeds thankfulness.

 

It’s been a good month and I’m thankful for the breath of fresh-air with which the Lord has gifted me in this season. BRING ON THE HOLIDAYS!

An American Poem of Hope

I woke up this morning and felt like being creative. So I formulated some thoughts on today’s election and decided to put them in a poem. My hope isn’t found in who sits in the White House in January. My hope is in the King of kings that was in full control over Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Caesar, James, and is still in full control over world leaders today. So, my hope gets to be unwavering and I hope that your hope does too.


 

It’s not about you and it’s not about me.

It’s not about the “system” to which we cling.

It’s not about the firsts that are on the brink.

It’s not up to us anyway.

It’s not about the red, about the black, white, or blue.

It’s not about the information we’re fed on the news.

It’s not about the Millennials, Gen X, or Baby Boom.

It’s not about us and it never has been.

We’ve lived for so long thinking we call the shots;

that the elected representatives are the ultimate crux.

We think we are gods and that God should serve us

and keep us so safe and secure how we want.

This illusion of power of which we’re convinced

has never been real, we’re just wrong once again.

We’ve put all our faith in some liars and cheats

and forget that the King’s in control of all things.

The King’s still on His throne and is over all things.