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Author Archives: Rebeca Seitz

About Rebeca Seitz

A story industry executive, Seitz is President and CEO of the non-profits BelieversTrust and SON Studios. Her opinions are her own, not that of her employer. Seitz is also an award-winning novelist and biographer. She is a regular presenter at publishing trade shows and writers conferences regarding the mainstream, commercially-viable entertainment created by Christians.

Language, people!

“Evil.”

“Liar.”

“Ugly.”

“Stupid.”

“Moron.”

“Terrorist.”

“Traitor.”

That’s a small sampling of the descriptive words I’ve seen used by people who describe themselves as Jesus-loving folks. When did it become okay to be so mean? To be clear, I’m aware that there’s always been meanness – I’m asking when did it become socially acceptable? Specifically, when did it become acceptable for Christians?

Does the anonymity of a screen really give us the right to go there?

Y’all, Jesus loves Barack Obama. He died for Barack Obama. And Hilary Clinton. And Bernie Sanders. And Donald Trump. Just what do you think God thinks of us – of me, of you – when we speak of people He loves as if they are evil themselves? Unworthy? Do you feel high and holy when you feel hate for these people? When you feel better than them? Smarter than them? Somehow more sanctified or more loved by God than them?

You aren’t.

God doesn’t love you more than He loves Barack Obama.

Yeah, Obama is making some decisions that are hurtful and harmful to people – decisions like creating an atmosphere easily taken advantage of by sexual predators. Please note I’m not saying people whose brains don’t jive with the physical reality of their bodies are predators. I’m saying a predator will pretend to be one of those people and can achieve his/her hurtful aim because of the situation created by Obama’s public school bathroom decree.  And Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target is in the same boat, sure.

But God loves Barack Obama. And Barack Obama has said, more than once, that He is a Christian. So has Hilary Clinton. I don’t know if Brian Cornell has, but…

…maybe we can start with just loving the people who say they love Jesus and are His followers. Maybe if we decided to act like we love people – the way our God loves them – we could be known for the ONLY thing the Bible says we are to be known for: how we love each other. (John 13:34-35)

Please sit in that truth, y’all. Please. The Bible gives us ONE THING to be known for in the world: how we love other people who say they love Him, too. “Love one another,” was said BY JESUS to John as a COMMANDMENT.

…(34) A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. (35) By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Now, I know a lot of us are motivated by love when we moan and groan about the bathroom thing. We love people, we see a very real opportunity for people to be harmed, and we want to do something about it. At least, I do. I’m a sex abuse survivor. You bet your balloons I’m fired up about that situation. The very idea that my precious little boy or girl could be harmed by a predator taking advantage of an opportunity created – well, my heart speeds up and I get all mad just considering it.

But Barack Obama isn’t trying to hurt people. Target is not trying to hurt people. The irony is that they’re trying to NOT hurt people – the people whose brains don’t agree with their physical bodies. Can we acknowledge that? Can we recognize that someone whose actions we vehemently disagree with can still be motivated from a good place?

Because, when we do that – when we act like the loving people we are supposed to be – then an opportunity for discussion blooms. Hackles lower. No one is “evil” or “stupid” or whatever. Everyone comes in the room wanting the best thing, the kindest thing, for everybody.

That’s how we roll, y’all. Those of us who love Jesus, anyway. That’s how we roll. We see someone as worthy of us dying for. Every someone. Someones named Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump or Brian Cornell. And we say, “Okay, look, I think I may understand what you’re trying to do here. Let’s see if we can come up with a way to do that, but not cause the unintended consequence of giving predators opportunities to take advantage…”

Because the checker on the frontlines at Target is probably a Jesus-lover, too. (There are millions of us, so chances are pretty good.) Or maybe the checker knows nothing of Jesus other than His folks are boycotting Target. And she is just trying to make enough money to buy groceries and enough kibble for the little Yorkie back at the apartment. Or he’s just scraping together enough to take a girl out on a date this weekend and not have the car run out of gas in the process. THOSE are the unintended consequences of your decision to boycott. You hurt them. And surely nobody involved in that boycott signed it because they want to hurt people. They signed it because they’re scared people in bathrooms will get hurt.

We’re all trying to do something good – how about we stand on that common ground, be kind to each other, and figure out a way to achieve both ends?

How about we see people as God does – worthy of dying for – and speak to them and about them from that place?

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Why A Kiss Is Enough

A young loving couple hugging and kissing on the beach at sunset. Two lovers, man and woman barefoot near the water. Summer in love

With the release of my latest novella, SECOND GLANCE, some folks have noticed that I don’t tend to let my characters go too far (if at all) past kissing. Then they read my blog (especially that Morning Sex post) and decide I must be a prude. While that makes me laugh hysterically (and my husband gets a GIANT kick out of it), I’ve decided to reveal the reason behind my choice and explain here why kissing is such a big deal to me (and, by extension, my characters).

I am a sex abuse survivor. Doesn’t make me special – at least a quarter of the women in this country can (sadly) say the same thing. My husband and I were married for seven years before I voluntarily, spontaneously initiated a kiss between us.

Our son was five, our daughter nearly two. Over a year earlier, I’d seen our precious littles playing in the living room floor and been surprised by the thought, “They’re depending on me to teach them how to live. They need me to be healthy.” I knew I wasn’t healthy, mentally and spiritually, regarding physical love but I’d gotten by and had no intention of upsetting the applecart until that breathless moment when I understood that these little beings didn’t need to be affected by my past.

They were free of it.

And I wondered if I could be, too.

So, I embarked on a journey to deal with “the shit” as my husband and I came to call it. I apologize for the vulgarity. If ever there is a time to use a vulgar word as a descriptor, my past experience seemed to be it.

Fast forward nearly two excruciating/exhilarating years later, and I found myself walking through our breakfast room right through the space in which I’d stood contemplating my children’s need for a healthy mom. As I glanced across the room and into the kitchen at my husband, a strange feeling overwhelmed me. I couldn’t puzzle it out at first. I knew part of it to be love. I was feeling love for that man. But it took me several seconds to realize I had a God’s honest desire to kiss him because I loved him. I’d never had that!

I’d been standing there staring at him as I puzzled this out, which drew his attention. He turned his face toward me. “What?” he asked.

I walked over to him, tilted my face up to his, stood on my tiptoes, and kissed him. I’ll hold to decorum and just say here that we’ve been married nearly 12 years and we both remember that kiss.

Kissing is the most emotionally intimate of all physical acts. It is the hardest to ignore when it’s happening (trust me, I know) – much harder to divorce your brain from than sex. A kiss allows another human being into the space of your life from which you speak – and speaking is how everything came to be in the first place. Your mouth is both powerful and vulnerable, giving and receiving, all at the same time. A kiss says a million feelings and thoughts without uttering a spoken word.

I’ve kissed wrong. I’ve kissed right.

Done as it was intended by the Creator, kissing is powerful. It is definitely powerful enough for my characters to convey the depth of emotion and story needed to sweep a reader off her feet.

You know what I don’t find powerful? When two characters who met five milliseconds ago kiss for the first time and somehow that’s an immediate assumption that sex is wanted/needed/necessary/wise. With all the sex on tv and in films and books, I think the shock factor for writers today lies in revealing a kiss for what it genuinely was meant to be, and is.

Having worked very hard and finally come into the experiential knowledge of the power of kissing. I wish we writers could start giving the act its proper due.

So, I do.

 

 
12 Comments

Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Sex and Self-Righteousness at the Superbowl

There is great wisdom in accepting that we are made in the image of a God who created with words. He spoke, things happened. We do that, too. We speak, things happen. We alter mindsets, outcomes, personalities, and people when we open our mouths and let words come out.

If you’re a parent, you know the power your words have over the formation of your child. If I tell my child he is unkind, unworthy, a failure, and ugly then he will believe these things about himself. The words I spoke over him become his truth and he feeds that into the world. But I also have the power to call him creative, strong, kind, gentle, and loyal – and watch as those become the bedrock of his identity and are poured out into the world.

So, when I consider what 118 million people had chanted over them by a beloved American celebrity – I cringe. I fear the outcome of individuals waking up this morning and humming these lyrics as they go about their work. This wasn’t a small concert somewhere. Not something that a tiny portion of the nation did or did not elect to hear. This was performed at the largest sports event in the nation, a part of the fabric of the culture here. Do you know the lyrics of the Beyonce song “Formation” that she performed last night? Here’s a sampling [warning: foul language]:

courtesy HollywoodLife.com

courtesy HollywoodLife.com

Oh yeah baby, oh yeah I, ohhhhh, oh yes I like that
I did not come to play with you hoes
I came to slay, bitch
I like cornbreads and collard greens, bitch
Oh yes, you best to believe it

I see it, I want it
I stunt, yeah, little hornet
I dream it, I work hard
I grind ‘til I own it
I twirl all my haters
Albino alligators
El Camino with the ceiling low
Sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off, I go off
I go hard, I go hard
Get what’s mine, take what’s mine
I’m a star, I’m a star
Cause I slay, slay
I slay, hey, I slay, okay
I slay, okay, all day, okay
I slay, okay, I slay okay
We gon’ slay, slay
Gon’ slay, okay
We slay, okay
I slay, okay
I slay, okay
Okay, okay, I slay, okay
Okay, okay, okay, okay
Okay, okay, ladies now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination
Slay trick, or you get eliminated

Verse 1:

When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
When he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay
If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay
Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay

Cosmopolitan called this “the most perfect song since the Paleozoic Era…”

This is how we, as women, use incredible gifts like music and television? This is how we better the world? This is how we use the equal voice we have? By singing about sex and what we do to reward a man if he’s good at it? By encouraging people to, Get what’s mine, take what’s mine?

“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you…”(Mark 6:29-31)

There is no power in selfishness.

No joy in being stingy.

No strength in taking.

No actualization of the mature self is found in demand.

Your best self doesn’t take; it gives.

Thankfully, the halftime show ended with Coldplay’s “Fix You” with slightly adjusted lyrics.

We gonna get it, get it together right now
We gonna get it, get it together somehow

The crowd held up signs that read, “Believe in love.”

“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…” (I Cor. 13:4-5)

I wonder if Beyonce read those cards in the crowd? Did she feel a twinge – even a tiny one – that she’d just spewed self-righteous ugliness all over a crowd now encouraging millions to focus on the opposite of her diatribe? Did anyone at CBS pause and wonder if maybe this wasn’t the highest use of their ability to reach millions?

 

 
11 Comments

Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Industry Reflections

 

Living Out Loud, Defined (LOLv1)

“I’m not like you. I don’t live out loud.”

The woman before me kept talking, but the rest of her words floated over my head. “Live out loud?” Me? Um, no. I’m an introvert. [small smile to you other introverts here) I may have learned how to “turn it on” for public events, but I go home from those exhausted and in need of non-people, no-talking time to recover.

I lose my mind if I don’t have at least some alone time every day. By that I mean I get agitated, fidgety, exasperated, easily angered, and feel as if the world is caving in too close to breathe easily or think fully. My mind tries to shut down, to stop the inflow of experience.

It’s kind of like going underwater in a swimming pool. I can glide through the cool environment, feel the water slide over and around me, hear the dull thud of someone jumping in, see the blurry edges of pale legs all around, watch the sunshine play on the surface above, kick into the deep to retrieve the pennies or dive sticks, put my hands down for a handstand, twirl my arms for a somersault, and revel in the sensation created by each…but the whole time, I also acknowledge my chest getting tighter and tighter as I do not give it the oxygen it craves.

At some point, I have to surface and gulp the life-giving air up there.

My hubs and kiddos know this about me. If we go out – to one of their basketball games, to a birthday party, to an event – or have a lot of people over, they know that afterward Mom will retreat to her bedroom and crave quiet. I need to let all the communication and sensory experience settle. I must sort and sift the tidbits, casting aside what has no further use and pondering and testing the rest for wisdom and lesson. I participate in the events, talking and laughing and letting the experience flood in (swimming), but it doesn’t mean I am energized by it or need it to feel alive/useful/worthy/genuine.

Interestingly, my son is this way as well. He’ll say, “Mom, I need some non-people time,” and go off to his room to lie on his bed and stare at the ceiling a while. I’m grateful to know exactly what he’s saying and feeling.

So, having the “living out loud” concept applied to me struck a wrong chord. I’d always known that phrase to be interchangeable with “life of the party” and “social butterfly.” Words for those mysterious people who breathe underwater.

Now, though, I think I know what the speaker meant behind those words. And I plan to spend a lot of my foreseeable writing here on the topic.

The speaker was a woman who is very dutiful to authority. She does what is expected of her, even when she does not want to and does not appear to get particular fulfillment out of it. For her, to fulfill expectations is its own end. There is worth in living out the life others mapped out for her, in doing as she should.

And that might very well feel like she is only living on the inside, quietly.  By day, she is what she ‘should” be. In her mind, where no one else can know, she is her real self.
When she declared that I live out loud, I think she meant, “You do what you believe you were created to do, you pursue the becoming of what you were created to become.”

I think ultimately she meant:

Girl makes the graceful throw at sunset“You live with abandon.”

The more I learn about others and myself,

the more the race and pace swirl around me,

the more I see loved ones living but not alive,

the more I watch a decaying world age passionate minds and stop courageous hearts,

the more I think it’s worth spending some time writing about life like that.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Life Lessons, Living Out Loud

 

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Win the Holidays? Really?

WBestBuy_WinTheHolidays_120hen I first saw the ad, I thought I must have misunderstood. Between the kitten being in his nightly Pyscho Cat mode (read: running all over the living room climbing lamps and curtains), the dog barking to go outside (he’s a basset hound mix with the deep bark to show for it), The Hubs banging pots and pans around in the kitchen behind me (thank God he can cook or we’d all starve), Firstborn practicing his trombone upstairs (man, that sound carries) and Darling Daughter watching an iPad at top volume in the chair beside me (headphones, gotta get her some headphones), it’s conceivable that I mistook the gist of the commercial.

“Everybody hush for one minute!” I yelled and pushed the rewind button. Darling Daughter pulled her headphones off to see what caught Mommy’s attention. Hubs paused. Even the kitten and dog calmed down for a second.


“….because when you give tech,” the voiceover intoned, “people won’t just love it, they’ll love you. Win the holidays at Best Buy.”

Oh. Okay. Guess I heard it right the first time.

“They don’t know what Christmas is about,” Darling Daughter said, and put her headphones back on.

“Wow. Talk about crass materialism,” Hubs said. “It’s not even tongue-in-cheek. They mean it.” He went back to food prep.

I shook my head. I may not get all up in arms about whether someone says, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” but this is a bit much. Christmas is NOT about the presents, Best Buy and Aban Commercials. What a sad, isolating concept you’ve put into the world: buying love.

Christmas is about the human birth of One who would perform a selfless act for undeserving people that will stand forever as the Greatest Gift of All. It’s the only Gift that sets us free from selfish traps like materialism and competition to outdo each other.

“. . .but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

That “Christ” is the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. We give gifts to each other as we remember the good gifts that were brought to Him upon His birth, and the best gift He gave the world.

Take a breath, Best Buy. Step out of the rat race, Aban Commercials. I think your soul took a detour a few miles back.

Things aren’t the thing. Why use your precious marketing dollars and broadcast time to promote such a sad concept? Your brand is (was) better than that.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Industry Reflections, Uncategorized

 

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From Beneath the Trees

“I just cannot believe that you’re gone…Rest in peace, my friend.”

I read the posting of an old high school friend to another high school friend’s wall on Facebook last night. Confusion. Alarm. What was she talking about? I frantically clicked over to the friend’s page and began scrolling through condolences and utterings of shock. It took a few minutes before I read the post explaining that a tree had fallen on our friend’s car as she went to pick up her kiddos from school, killing her instantly.

A tree.

Fell.

At the exact moment she came down a two-lane country road.

Falling in the precise way needed to cause immediate, deadly impact.

My mind scrambled. Where was the logic? How could this make sense? It’s one thing for someone to lose their life because they were doing something or being somewhere they shouldn’t have. Then we all nod our heads and think it makes sense and it can’t happen to us because we’ll make wise decisions and avoid that kind of danger.

But this? A tree fell. A RANDOM TREE. Who can prevent that? Outwit it? Prepare for it?

And why her? I live in a town whose main road is Pine Ridge. It’s lined with, you guessed it, pine trees. Giant ones. I’ve marveled at their majesty and rolled down my windows just to listen to them as the wind blows through, to breathe deeply and take their scent into my lungs. I never considered them a threat.

Now, fear lanced through me. With the fervor of a mom whose kiddos have been threatened, I started planning routes to school, work, the grocery store, the hairdresser, and the bookstore that wouldn’t involve Pine Ridge Road. Should I write the city and ask them if the trees could come down? Tell my husband of other, safer, less treed routes?

Within an hour, our high school class rallied together on Facebook, coordinating donations for flowers at the funeral and funds for her children. And then, once it was clear all the details were handled for the logistics of our meager attempts to do something, anything, to combat this incomprehensible tragedy, the postings turned to grief. And then, as if we all realized everything we hadn’t said to her when she was with us, what we hadn’t said to each other in years, these people I haven’t seen for twenty years began reminding each other, “I love you. I miss you. Kiss your babies tonight. We should get together. A reunion.”

I trudged up the stairs and fell into bed. Wrestled through the night as falling trees and high school memories collided in my mind. Woke up to the realization that this is how the enemy ruins life for me. He wraps fear and tragedy around beauty, encompassing it so completely that it can barely be seen or felt and so I abandon the beauty inside. He robs me of the joy of a good thing that succumbed to the broken world in which it was placed. He doesn’t let me see the “I love you” and “I miss you” and pulls my mind hard toward the fear that this could happen as easily to anyone else I love, or to me – leaving my babies behind – and that makes loving people a dangerous thing, not a beautiful thing.

But I didn’t die yesterday. Which means I need to live today. Somehow. Even as I fear and try to handle the troubled soul in me. So I got out of bed. Showered. Dressed. Dressed the kiddos. Piled them into the car and backed out of the shelter of the garage. And, as my little girl read a story aloud and my son told me about the basketball practices he’s loving, I drove us right down Pine Ridge Road.

The pine trees still majestically lined the road, drinking in the morning sun and gently waving in the breeze.

And I defiantly chose to acknowledge their beauty from my broken place here, beneath the trees.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Life Lessons, Uncategorized

 

His First Sleep Away Camp: A Mama’s View

Since that moment the ultrasound tech announced, “It’s a boy!” I’ve been committed to raising an incredible man. A man who knows his own mind and chases the One who gave it to him. Who models his heart and self after his Maker’s heart and self. I’m not a mom who keeps the apron strings tightly tied or keeps her chicks close to the nest. I’m raising a leader here. Two of them, actually. He has a little sister.

Andy and his camp counselor

Anderson and his camp counselor

And then came the first sleep-away camp.

Four weeks. Thirty-two days, to be exact.

Jumping in with both feet.

At ten years old, my firstborn eagerly anticipated attending the same sleep-away camp in North Carolina that his father enjoyed for four blissful childhood summers over twenty years ago. Tales of swimming, sliding, hiking, and shooting filled our home, inciting visions in young Anderson’s vivid imagination that could not be denied.

He wanted to go at nine.

I said no.

Not because of the apron strings or umbilical cord, but because he wasn’t ready. Moms know these things.

This year, though, I felt pretty sure he was ready.

Until we arrived at the camp. Oh my goodness, what a place. Running water was the biggest luxury the place could claim. “Cabins” more aptly described as “shacks” or “shanties.” Hanging on to their stilt-leg foundations by a prayer. Gang “showers” with shower-heads that even Lowe’s has the decency to not sell.

My modest boy changes in his bedroom with the door closed. How would he handle showering with eight strangers every day? And then sleeping in a room with five more of them? I eyed the “mattress” of his bottom bunk, fairly certain the bubble mailers I use to send books to clients had more padding.

My son’s face also registered misgivings. My mama heart and mind went into overdrive. Ready? Not ready? I hid on a hill and peered through the trees as he stood with other pale-skinned boys in front of the freezing pond chosen for their swim test. Some jumped in – loud, so loud, covering their panic and fear with voices that hadn’t yet deepened into manhood – while others paced the makeshift deck, casting furtive glances to the water and counselors, gauging if this test really had to be taken right here, right now.

My boy elected to take the test another day, in a pond they promised would be warmer.

I wondered anew. Ready? Not ready? I had the camp leader get him from his cabin and bring him to me. We set off down the gravel path across from the freezing swimming hole. I showed him where I’d spied on him. Asked him if he’d felt scared. (Yes.) Disappointed in himself for not taking the test. (Yes.)

And then I turned and faced him full on.

“You’ve had a taste of this place. You want to do this? You feel ready to do this?”

I watched him fill his lungs, chest expanding – a chest so much wider now than that day they’d placed his 7lb frame in my waiting arms.

He gave one nod. Short. Quick. Hard. “I can do this.”

Mama pride filled my chest and I fought tears. “Yes, you can.”

We walked back to the camp leader and I handed him over with a fast hug and soft, “I love you.”

I drove away thinking of Hannah taking her newly-weaned son, Samuel, to the temple and leaving him to be raised to serve God. How did she do that? What a woman. A real mother.

I sent Anderson his first letter today, along with the bar of soap he forgot in the van. (Did Hannah send Samuel care packages?) I made sure to let him know I’m proud of him. That he doesn’t have to choose between growing up and pleasing me. The two are synonymous. I told him, “My job as your mama is to discern the moments for testing and the moments for resting.”

My boy is on a grand adventure that will come with testing. He’ll come home a little less boy, a little more young man.

And I’ll walk the path a million other moms have walked before me. Raising our baby boys into astounding men. Goodness, it’s not for the faint of heart.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Life Lessons

 

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