Tag Archives: Church

Middle school and life…what is learning anyway?

I had my first school parent coffee in Texas.

Yep, that’s right. I did it. I checked in, showed my license, put on my name tag and entered the scariest place of all…the middle school lunch room.

lunch room

I have to say it has gotten much better.  It’s still not easy but I’m okay. I can enter without the panic of, “Who will I sit with?”

Being new to town and the school and the state and well…just NEW in that way that feels sort of confusing but also funny because there is no way you can hide it.  I mean, I walked in and started wandering around and a teacher asked me, “Are you lost?” and I thought about answering, “Honey, you don’t know the half of it.” Literally, just getting to the school was a major feat.  Needing to know where the lunch room is is way beyond.  I just can’t.

So, it’s obvious.

Thank God I ran into someone I did know right away. By saying I know her, I mean I met her once and I thought it was her so I approached and thank God she recognized me and we started chatting.  I guess maybe the lunch room hasn’t changed that much.  We still look for someone to sit with. I’ve just become much braver.  And wiser. And more comfortable in my skin. Which takes a lot of years of walking into the lunchroom, board room, dorm room, new job, new neighborhood…you get my point.

The Principal started talking and I realized that this school, this experience,  this whole Texas thing…is different.  He said he started in education in 1953. I was doing the math in my head and he clarified…that’s when he started FIRST GRADE.  And he said, He’s “loved education ever since”.  His title is Dr. so I know he’s gone to a lot of schooling but I couldn’t give a hoot. (Don’t I sound southern already?)  I was more interested in what he said about the CULTURE and how important it is to him.  He talked about when he was a principal before and he was widowed and he suffered so much and he just couldn’t do it anymore so he retired.  He said he couldn’t “run the race” anymore.

He said he was blessed to find a wonderful woman who is his wife now and she brought him back, reminded him of how much he loved being in education and he came out of retirement.  He said school is important and he loves it but he loves his wife and family more.  That school and learning and accomplishing and all that we do here in this building is really, really important but not as important as your family.

He assured us that even though the school is new and the technology doesn’t work yet and there is confusion and the busses are late…the teachers love our kids and are trying their best and working really hard.  He asked for our patience and asked if we could please encourage and support the teachers.  He reminded us that we are all in this together.

There was a mom that shared her daughter was not allowed to go to the bathroom because she didn’t have a “pass” so she had an accident.  He was mortified and so sorry.  He launched into this whole thing.

He said there are 2 camps. “Rules and Regs” and ‘Culture”.  He said he’s not much of a rules and reg guy but he knows they are necessary.  He’s more into relationships and getting people what they need and OFFERING GRACE.  

Of course, this made me cry. Me too! I wanted to shout! Me too! Amen! 

There were moms there of course who kept pressing about bathroom passes and the busses and complaining about homework.  I was having an out of body experience.  I was watching and listening and I wanted to shout!! Did you hear him?!?! We are offering GRACE.  It’s about GRACE!!  All are doing their best!!

Now don’t get me wrong, parents have every right to ask all of those questions and all of the administrators there were lovely and accommodating and trying their best to help everyone.

It just reminded me of how we get sometimes about God and Religion.  We put all the rules and regulations in.  We start keeping score.  We demand. We perform. We measure.  We get so tired we can’t “run the race” anymore.  We forget that we are in this together.  We get so worried about people having a “pass” that we don’t see they are about to have an accident right in front of us.  We don’t recognize the suffering.  We make them jump through hoops.  We abandon. We criticize. We humiliate. This is love? This is Christian living?

But then Jesus comes in and goes, “Hey, guess what? I’m not much of a rules and reg guy.  I’m here to offer grace.”  He assures us that he loves us and he’s for us and he cares about our CULTURE.  He sets us FREE. To go to the bathroom or whatever.  He says, “You don’t need a pass…I AM THE PASS!!!”  You are all good.

Okay so at the end of an hour of people questioning, complaining, etc…a woman stood up.  She stood up and said, “I want to thank you.  For coming in here and talking about CULTURE and GRACE and for making it a priority to make this a GOOD, KIND place that offers understanding and support and encouragement.” Actually, I have no idea what else she said. But she was tracking with what I was feeling and a lot of other people in the room.  I couldn’t even hear her.

I was crying Holy Spirit tears and shaking my head and saying “Amen!”

Because honestly, he’s a principal but he’s also a missionary.  Right here. In Texas. In the Middle school lunchroom.

It was a lunch room.

But it felt more like Church.


©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved




Generation X,Y,Z…Baby Boomers, Millennials…Where do you fall?

I’ve been wondering…where do I fit in?

Here’s the breakdown:

1927-1945  Silent Generation or Traditionalists

1946-1964 Baby Boomers

1965-1983  Generation X or Busters

1984-2002 – Gen Y or the Millennials

2003-Current Gen Z or the Digital Generation

I am in Generation X.  I also have three kids who are Millennials. We are all wondering where we fit in but I don’t know if this chart helps.

I happen to think we are more alike than different.

Regardless of when we were born, there are some things that never change.

I think you can be smart and successful and happy if you know a lot of stuff about the “now”.  If you are tech savvy and post cool pictures on Instagram and know how to work a crowd you will probably have a lot of friends and be really cool.  I think you can rock the world with your perfect abs and your reality show and your million followers on Twitter.  I think you can create a life for yourself that is “of this generation” and you can be “happy”.

But I don’t want to just be “happy”.  I don’t want my kids to just be “happy”.  “Happy” is temporary and shallow.  I want to swim in the deep end.

I want deep down in my bones joy and peace.  I want to be wise.  And to be wise, you have to know about the things that never change.  You must attempt to understand the great mysteries of life.  These are common to all of us.  We all ask questions like: Who is God? Why am I here? How can I make a difference?

I just read this by Rachel Held Evans and it’s SO GOOD.  It’s about the Millennial generation and church.  I’ll give you a minute to check it out.http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/27/why-millennials-are-leaving-the-church/?hpt=hp_c4

My favorite line in the article by Evans is “We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.” YES!  That’s what I’m talking about!  For sure! Let’s talk about Jesus! Let’s talk about Grace! Let’s love one another! Let’s encourage and support and be real! Let’s be authentic! Let’s wrestle with our doubts in community assured by God’s promises that we are still known and loved.

Even though I’m not a millennial, I agree with almost everything she writes.  One of the things I don’t agree with for me personally is the part about “finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions”.  I’m not drawn to that.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been Catholic my whole life and maybe I take it for granted.  The traditions are beautiful but I find myself wanting to scream out, “Is anyone awake??? Did you just hear what he read from Scripture??? THAT IS GOOD NEWS PEOPLE!! Wake up!  DON’T YOU WANNA DANCE?!?!?”

Maybe if you are used to people dancing and praising in church, you get to mid life and look for churches where people are calm and ritualistic.  Since I’ve lived in that world for my entire life, I’m looking for people who want to dance and sing and praise Jesus.  Obviously.  This is why I’m teaching Holy Yoga.

Speaking of Holy Yoga, I had a woman after class one day tell me that she no longer attends church because she really feels that it doesn’t apply to her life.  She is Catholic and she told me that she “doesn’t get anything out of it” but that she loves yoga and feels in communion with God on her mat.  I felt the same way when I discovered Yoga.  I felt that I had come home.  When I was talking to her that night something became very clear to me.  She, like all people in all generations, just wants to feel connected to her source and to her community. I picked up the Bible that I had been reading from and I looked her in the eye and said, “This is the TRUTH.  And Jesus is the Answer. And it has nothing to do with what church you attend. Even if you are frustrated with the church, don’t get frustrated with Jesus.  He is not that.  He is love.  Read His word and He will lead you.”

As Evans says in her article, “Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.”

I picture God and Jesus up there having coffee talking and watching and saying, “What the heck? Do you see what they are doing?  They are separating themselves.  They are making people feel less than.  They are judging and condemning and they are doing it in our name…what happened?”

What did happen?

We forgot our source.  We lost touch with our creator.  We forgot to read HIS BOOK.  He only wrote one.  It’s a love letter and a “how to” guide.

As for “how to”…I don’t know but I keep reading Scripture trying to figure it out.  Besides reading, there are a few things I intend to keep on doing as I continue to seek that connection to source and community.  I intend to pray and love and move my body.

After all, this is GOOD NEWS PEOPLE!

Who wants to dance?


© 2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved




Usher or Bouncer?

blog usher bouncer I read somewhere on the internet (I just cringed as I wrote that – I really can’t remember where I read it – sad but true – so much good stuff and I’m always reading!) a great question.  Here it is.  Are you an Usher or a Bouncer?

I love this. Especially as it applies to Christians and church and community.  To me this question is critical.

Which is it?  Are you an usher or a bouncer?

Do you welcome people in, invite them to sit, shake hands, maybe hug, smile, accept, connect?

Or do you shut people out, condemn, judge, deny, disconnect and hurt?

What are we called to do as Christians?  As humans?

I’m thinking of that song, “Rockstar” by Nickelback. “I’m through with standing in lines to clubs I’ll never get in…” Can you hear it? Aren’t we all.  Who wants to “not get in”?

I love to read about Studio 54 and it’s heyday.  I love the music and the fashion and the celebrities and the craziness.  I’m reminded now of the velvet rope and the bouncers and all of the “pretty people” getting in while others waited for hours to be rejected.

Rejection hurts.  Feeling not enough is the worst feeling – not pretty enough or rich enough or smart enough or good enough.  We’ve all felt this way at one time or another and it hurts.

 Karen Armstrong said this: “Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.” 

Rejection gives me pain. I never want to make anyone feel rejected.

I want to be an usher.

An usher lightens the load for others.  They say, “Welcome, come in, sit down, we’ve saved a spot for you, we were waiting for you,  you are important, we are glad you are here.”

This is how we build community.  This is how we honor Jesus and His message.  He said “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” He didn’t mention anything about the proper outfit or the right partner or the fancy background or the perfect past.

He invites everyone and when they show up in our lives…no matter where we are…we can usher them in.  If not physically into a place, we can usher them into a feeling of acceptance and love with a smile, a connection, a helping hand.  We can see them.  We can welcome them.

With regards to the church unfortunately I have known a lot of bouncers.  It makes me sad to think of this because so many people have been turned away from Jesus because of the “bouncers” at church living under a false notion that they are in charge of who gets in and out.  It’s sad and it’s maddening and frightening and infuriating and pathetic really.

We are called to be Ushers.

I am so grateful for all of the ushers in my life.  The ones who really know Jesus and His message of Love.  The ones who told me and showed me that to live in Christ is to live in Joy.  They welcomed me and showed me a path to generosity and kindness and non-judgment and wholeness and love and Freedom.

We are all invited.  Jesus is saving a place for all of us at His table.  I don’t just mean His table in Heaven but also His “table” here on earth. It’s good to know when we get to the table – no matter the path we took to get there and no matter the shape we are in when we finally accept His invitation and we show up… He will be there with open arms to usher us in.

©2013 Sue Bidstrup  Great Big Yes™  All Rights Reserved.