Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stranger in the Mirror

Y'all, it's Sarah Beth.

I think. (All I know is that my license does not say "Courtney" on it).

Sorry it's been a while since we've posted. Courtney has been awesome and busy and saving babies' lives and stuff.

I've been doing various things (including plugging away at my novel. We'll see what comes of it.)

One of the things I did today was cut all my hair off and dye it blonde (but it looks strawberry blonde in the pics). Because I'm totally vain and annoying, here are two pictures for you:

Mug shot! 

Y'all. I am such a dork. But look! No hair.


What's sad is that I have a million other things that I could be doing and normal people update this stuff on their facebooks. But not me. No, because I am not normal.

In other words, summer is here and despite the fact that I'm no friend of heat, the fireflies have arrived. As have thunderstorms.

Walking down Main Street in our one-stoplight town last night was ethereal. The air was cooler but sticky. The air clung to your skin, thick and wet and you could almost feel it swishing in your mouth and squishing in your lungs as you breathed. In the distance, lightning flickered in storms receding. In the tall grass, the yellow light of fireflies winked magic in the night. The leaves whispered in the faint, warm breeze that was taking the thunderstorm farther away. The wet pavement squished beneath my sneakers.

And out there in the air at night in summer made me feel like I did when I was a kid. It was as if the world whispered of times gone by, of days and nights when all there was was the air and fireflies and the breathing in and out of summer grass. It reminded me that sometimes you just need to stop and remember that the world isn't bills and fear and responsibility. Even when we grow up, we can still look around and see the fairytale. Magic is latent in life. Sometimes all we have to do is call it forward.

Sometimes all it takes is to wander to feel found.

Friday, May 30, 2014

{Five Minute Friday} Nothing

Every Friday, over at LisaJoBaker.com, she posts a prompt. The idea is to write for five minutes, unscripted, unedited, real. Then post it. Then, on Twitter and on her blog, all participants gather together and share what we wrote. We encourage each other.

Today's post was admittedly a little dark for me. I've just been weighed down in my life lately by all of the hurt in the world. There's a lot. This isn't necessarily addressed to anyone in particular, but rather a conglomerate of what I feel when people dear to me are hurting. Sorry if it's a little dark for a Friday morning. This is just what's on my heart.

{Start}

There is nothing that I can do for you.

Feeling helpless often frustrates us to no end. What can I do to ease your suffering, your pain, erase past hurts and heal raw wounds? What can I say, what can I do?

Often it feels like nothing.

My hands are empty and usually the best that I can do is offer a hug, a heart aching in sympathy with yours, heavy beats thudding in empathy, feeling your pain.

Is that enough? Is my fellow hurting alongside your suffering helping you at all?

I suppose that the Christian in me says that I can bring our brokenness to God, that I can ask Him to prop you up and hold you but I feel as if there ought to be more that I can do.

But how can hands reach across hundreds of miles when bank accounts scrape bottom?

Meals help but they are only Band-aids; they fill the body but not the soul. They don't assauge the pains that you're going through; they don't fill the gaping hole left by loved ones lost, by innocence lost or memories and what can I do but offer you my empty hands and my empty heart and try to love you in my imperfect way?

What can I do when I myself am teetering on the edge, when my heart is already so full of all the pain that is in the world?

You come to me with your hurts and your pains, all of you, with your loneliness and your past and I am powerless to offer anything more than empathy, than a heart aching with you and all the hurt in the world.

But what, ultimately, can I do to help you?

Nothing.

{Stop}

Have a good weekend.

Carry on,
 
        {SarahBeth}

Friday, May 23, 2014

Opening a door-just open it!



It seems like there is so much buzz on blogs, in classrooms, in conversation, and in the news about the way people desire to be treated.

There is intense debate concerning gender roles - should doors be opened and seats given up? Should a certain race dominate a workforce or educational category?

People cry out to be treated with respect regardless of the color of their skin, their religion, and other differences and beliefs that often seem to separate us as individuals.

Honestly, this ongoing controversy becomes wearisome to me. In the pursuit of “equal” treatment I find that the searching group from whatever perspective often becomes abrasive to the opposing side, disrupting unity, and even disrespecting those in opposition - and doesn't this destroy the original mission?

I find that most people desire to be treated with respect and to courtesy and at the end of the day be understood.

Instead of focusing on whether or not a door “should” be opened for a woman or whether or not a certain race seems to dominate a career field or workforce, perhaps we should focus more on respecting and serving others around us - regardless of the external factors - because they are a person.

Perhaps less emphasis in our spheres of influence and our culture should be placed on analyzing other’s external appearances and more on their circumstances.

For me, this can be hard and can involve overriding “natural," instinctive behavior.

Think of a person that causes your posture to instantly improve, your words to be thought of more closely, and your focus narrowed more to their presence and less on the buzz of your cell phone and the list of the things you want to accomplish before the day is over.

I find that it's often second nature for me to respond to certain individuals who hold something I respond to, someone close to me or something that signifies a certain career or shared belief. But when I really get to the heart of it, I have respect for others because they are people.

I desire to show interest, courtesy, and respect to all others as this second nature response.

Older person, younger person, a person who seems prestigious, a person who doesn't seem to have much clout, a person who might have differing views, it doesn't matter who - just open the door.

Friday, April 25, 2014

{Five Minute Friday} Friend

This is to the forever friends and the coffee shop friends. This is for the ones who gave me a place to land as I roamed through your lives.


 This is to the ones who stayed up with me all hours of the night.


This is to the ones who loved me.


This is the ones who opened up their hearts and homes to me.

This is to the ones who talked with me about Jesus, doubts, fears, and insecurities, with that raw vulnerability that few give.

This is to the ones who don't talk regularly anymore.

This is to the ones who came up with codes and wrote letters to be deciphered.

This is to the ones who saw a lonely heart and gave love and a place to land.

Thank you.

Thank you to all who were my friend, for brief times or long times, for ones who are just beginning, I see and remember those kindnesses. The ones who listen. The ones who share. The ones who come to me with their problems.

Friends double joy. They take some of the pain. They cry with you over chocolate and aching feet and aching hearts.

This is the love song to the friends.

The ones that have faded in my rear view mirror, but remain close to my heart.

To the ones who pursued even over distance, time, and space.

Friends are irreplaceable and vital to a full human existence. They see you, they welcome you, they help you when you are alone and you maybe just need someone to talk with.

Being a friend is one of the greatest callings and best investments we can make in our lives.

Because in being a friend, you invest that most precious of commodities: time.

You see a person, and you give them your irreplaceable, limited time. Even just an hour. It's a gift. And it's precious.

So to all those who have given me that gift, that open clock, those moments shared, I thank you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

{Monday Morsels} Spring Peanut Butter & Strawberry Smoothie

Spring is here!

Hopefully to stay.

If you're like me, warmer weather makes you want cooler, lighter food. Smoothies are awesome - I normally eat one for breakfast or lunch.

So what about a healthy, sweet springtime smoothie? Strawberries are (maybe?) in season so this probably tastes best with fresh strawberries. But frozen strawberries work as well (if you use frozen, you can use less ice cubes).

1/2 c strawberries
3 T peanut butter
1 banana
1 Tbs honey
pinch of salt
1/4 c milk/water
3 or 4 ice cubes.

Blend 'er up! ;)

Monday, March 31, 2014

{Monday Morsels} A Circle of Quiet and Squishy Kid Lit

"If it's not good enough for adults, it's not good enough for children. If a book that is going to be marketed for children does not interest me, a grownup, then I am dishonoring the children for whom the book is intended, and I am dishonoring books. And words.” 

Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

I've been reading a Circle of Quiet and I am in awe. This is a book to be read three, four times with a pen and a notebook because though small, it is packed tight with lovely insights and a unique view of the world. 

From Amazon.com.
This book has a permanent place
on my bedside now.

Madeleine gets me. She loves word and clearly is adept at weaving that singular magic of writers where she can string words and letters and phrases together and sends then straight to your soul. It's beautiful. 

But this particular quote got me thinking about the sad state of children't literature these days. A lot of the books out there are, to be quite honest, squishy. Simplistic. 

A great novel should be a great novel regardless of how it is marketed. 

For example, some of my all-time favorite novels are young adult or children's: The Outsiders, Ferdinand the Bull, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Tale of Despereux, Because of Winn Dixie, Leah's Pony, Thank You, Mr. Falker, to name a few. 

And that is because these authors sunk deep and wrote good or even great stories and beckoned their readers up instead of writing down to the perceived level of their young readers. 

Just a little thought for your Monday evening. 


What are your favorite children's stories? 

Friday, March 28, 2014

{Five Minute Friday} Mighty

Zephaniah 3: 17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV)

I limp into this Friday weary. My hands are weak and my body aches and my soul yearns for rest.

The words won't come in any of my projects. I dig deep but the well is dry.

And that is when I realize that in all my busy, in all my running, I didn't let myself lean into His arms. Again. I failed to drink deep the Water of Life, and instead took little sips and then kept running. Sips won't slake your thirst.

The verse from Zachariah was one I had never read before. It was assigned as part of a Bible Study I'm doing and it hit me hard.

I drank deep from this verse because it's what I needed to hear. That I have a Mighty Warrior who will save me when I am not mighty. A Lion of Judah that roared into my life and rescued me from sin.

And this Mighty Warrior also is gentle. He has rescued me and now He loves me with a love that I cannot fathom, a love that is so far beyond my grasp that I have no choice but to fling myself before His feet.

That verse is highlighted in bright pink ink in my Bible, so it will reach out and grab me. So that it will pull me in and whisper that assurance.

Weak? You have a Mighty Warrior who rescued you from sin and fear.

Lonely? His great love has washed away His rebuke.

Desperate? He rejoices over you with singing! You are His prize, His treasure, His Bride.

(Stop 5 minutes, but I'll keep on because I need this)

When you feel like you have run dry, like you are weary and alone, trudging along, know that you have been Saved by the King, that you are His Bride.

Because nothing can separate you from this love that He sings over you. Nothing can rip you from His hands, even though it may feel like you've been left in the dust.

Maybe you feel like you've missed the boat, missed your calling, He can still use you. He still sees you and treasures you.

He sees you crying alone on your couch.

He sees you frustrated surrounded by laundry.

He sees you in that job you labor at and never get recognition, yet you still show up faithfully.

He sees you tired mama with your exhaustion and who-knows-what caked shirt that you just washed.

He sees you when you feel like you're stuck.

He sees you weary and ready to throw in the towel.

He sees you fumble through every moment of your life journey, not even sure what the next step will be and praying for light for the future.

He sees you struggling to maintain relationships and live 1 Corinthians 13 in the Church and how hard it is to be gracious and to be Christ when you're being stung at every turn.

He sees you, He's rescued you, and He is singing His love song over you.

Because all that pain? All that struggle and journey? All that uncertainty?

Yeah, He's already got that. He's already conquered the grave, and sin and death, and when you've conquered those, there's nothing left to conquer. He's given you eternal life and you can have a taste of it here and now if you just hand it all over to Him.


Rest, sister. Rest in His love and give it all to Him - He's already taken it anyway. He's got it taken care of; all you have to do is to let go. Let go and listen to that love song for you that your Mighty Warrior who saved you is singing right now.

Monday, March 24, 2014

{Monday Morsels} Sarah's Epic Quest for Fashion

Hey. It's me. Sarah. (I won't indict poor Courtney in this post because she will be mortified I am sure) (she's probably doing something awesome or productive).

SO my post is a bit of rambling gambit of nonsense because I am just tired and overwhelmed but we haven't posted in a month of Sundays (whatever that means).

Hello! We're alive. 

And recently both Courtney and I have been talking about revamping our wardrobes and developing a personal style. While we might do a serious post on this in the future, this post is mostly just a rant. 

Because what is with clothes these days!? Or is it just me? 

I've been on a quest to look cute. If you're bored and have nothing better to do on a Monday night, please, join me for what my typical Epic Journey to Fashion looks like. 

Warning: It will probably make you feel better about yourself. 

I see an adorable outfit somewhere (Probably on Pinterest. Stupid Pinterest). 

This makes me look down at the stains on the boobular region of some campaign T-shirt I've had since I was 16 (or a cute shirt someone bought for me that lasted like 37 hours with no stains) and the fat jeans I'm stuck in since my body randomly decided to change shapes post-baby. Also, note food stains from the baby ok, from me AND the baby. 

A decision falls into my lap: I need an update. Inspiration blossoms. At this point, I giddily tango to my closet, riding on the winds of my inspiration to be cute. 

But first, I fortify myself with some kind of substance. Normally coffee. Or tea. Or if I'm feeling the need to be skinny, water. 

And then I turn to my nemesis: my current wardrobe. 

My clothes hang limp and dull in the dark. They mock me from the drawers and the box labeled "Clothes That Don't Fit" (i.e., maternity and pre-pregnancy, angrily stuffed into the same box). 

I fly through my options, noting what works, what I need to just let go already, and write down what I need to bridge the gap to Beautiful & Cute University in Sophistication Towne.  (The 'e' makes it fancy, y'all)

Before I head out, I survey the bones of my savage rampage and squelch panic. It's not time to panic yet. I'm going to go out and get some staples to freshen up my options. 

So then I head to the discount store because I just can't justify spending too much on clothes. They're just clothes. Right?

But then I see all the options and I long for a paper bag to breathe into rapidly and also a personal shopper and a tree that grows money. A woman can dream. 

So then I whirl through the clothes, eliminating options with a practiced eye (no to that color, what does that even cover?, heck no to the fabric, sequins are out, lace is itchy, etc), and gather the few options that remain into my arms like a sheaf of wheat. 

Then I face the dressing room. The lady kinda hands me the number of my options (thank GOD there are no bathing suits. That's a fight for another day). 

I'm pretty sure dressing rooms are designed to make women look so horrifying that we're so desperate to cover up that we'll buy everything we try on. It's something about the lighting and the angle of the mirror (and some other kind of wizardry) that accentuates everything that's wrong. A little cellulite? In the dressing room, you're basically a lump of adipose. A few freckles and moles? The dressing room mirror makes you look like some deformed witch. Wider thighs? Whoah nelly! You're gonna need a demolition team just to get out of here.

I do my best to ignore the monster in the mirror and try on clothes, muttering that I will look cute, I will find something. 

The dressing room is also some kind of time and space vortex. 

You can go in on a Tuesday and leave on a Friday. Between eliminating what you like and trying a thousand variations of "Hm. Maybe another size/color/cut/price/designer," you emerge blinking like Rip Van Winkle. 

If I make it through the rigors of the actual dressing room and actually emerge with a conquest, I cling to that sucker like it's the Holy Grail. 

And usually stain it by the time I get home. Or the baby pukes on it. Or it looks worse in the Real Mirrors I have at home. 

And do you know what? This all gets infinitely harder once you have kids. Since the baby, it's been even harder. 

Heck. If I'm a mom, I might as well embrace the mom jeans a la Saturday Night Live.**

From http://www.babble.com/celebrity/watch-snl-mom-jeans-commercial-parody-video-women-of-snl-special/
I mean, I'm a mom, right?
Watch the video in the link.
Hilarious.


**Life Partner: Do not fear, I won't actually succumb to mom jeans!! I'll still look hawt for you - I just might only wear muumuus but that's at least all flowy right? Mystery is the new sexy. xoxo

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sacred Moments

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

This undiscovered gem is tucked away in the Bible after Jesus was born. The shepherds came and worshiped. Everyone was talking about what had happened, about the angels and star and the baby born in a stable.

But Mary, the one who had actually been a key player in these events, the one who probably had the most to say, kept them in her heart. 

In an age where our whole lives seem to be splayed open for the world to see, I wonder if there is more that we should keep sacred. 

It's not to say that we cannot share parts of our lives on social media. Or that we cannot share joy. But often I will read something on social media about a relationship that I wonder if it should have ever been posted. I find myself wanting to close the door to their inner lives; ask them to close the blinds. 

There are sacred moments in life. Times with husband or children or family. Meaningful conversations with friends. Do we really want to invite the world at large to peer into our most sacred moments, our most intimate conversations and hearts? 

Personally, I do not. In the past, I have been guilty of over-sharing intimate details that, while perhaps not embarrassing or gross, still ought to have constituted as private. 

It's one thing to share a beautiful, sacred moment with friends in person, and quite another to upload it to your social media outlet of choice, thereby handing anyone with an internet connection the keys to your soul.

This picture from the National Geographic photo galleries (Photo taken by David Doublet) reminds me of what it feels like to put your opinions online - surrounded by a school of barracuda.

Restraint may not be for you. You may be completely comfortable with sharing your life online. But this flinging wide the doors of my heart for all to see is an area of life in which I have been convicted. While I want to be more honest with people, I also want to strengthen my filter. There are some things that are meant to stay between the people who were there. 

Related to this is the phenomenon that we don't seem to be able to process information anymore. We'll spit a question or observation into the world wide web and chatter back and forth. But how often do we consider it in our minds? 

We have lost the discipline of pondering, I think.

We think in soundbytes or statuses or tweets. How often do we turn over an issue in our own minds or hearts? How often do we seek out one or two people to discuss a matter with at a time, at length, as opposed to opening up a world wide forum?

In person, it's easier to be on the fence about an issue; to weigh it in our minds and consider angles and implications. But it seems that online, we've got to passionately put a stake in the ground. We have to draw a line on every issue. Everything turns into a battle because for the first time in the history of the world, anyone in the world can and does voice their noisy opinions. At a point, this ceases to become a sharing of opinions and crosses the line into becoming cacophony.

Connection is not bad. It is an incredible thing that we are able to connect instantly with people across the globe and it has, overall, opened up the discussion to opinions and thoughts previously unavailable to us. It has widened the conversation. It allows us to connect with loved ones in ways previously unfathomable. I should say that this is overall a good thing. 

But where is the balance? At what point are we bowing down the god of information and research? We have information like at our fingertips like never before.

I'm arguing that this is not as good as some people think.

Because we have become more like conduits for information, rather than consumers and digesters. The quantity and quality of online information can be overwhelming and unhealthy. We jump from one article to the next, always seeking more. More information. More research. More opinions. More tips. More tricks. More articles. But when do we ever pause to consider what we've learned? When was the last time you considered and applied something that you read online?

This phenomenon has contributed to a good deal of over-thinking and even anxiety in my life. And yes, this may just be me. But I have a suspicion that if more people stopped and thought about it, they might realize that they too have suffered ill effects from this overstimulated race to consume more facts.

Facts are dead and bare. They are naked. Without context, facts are useless. Without wisdom, knowledge is dangerous and empty. 

Perhaps before we pose a question to the world, we ought to consider and digest it ourselves before spouting off an answer and shooting from the hip.



{Will you join me in pausing and considering sacred moments truly sacred? Will you join me in seeking context and wisdom and not just empty facts?}

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Killing Passive Aggression


I remember taking a quiz in one of my college classes that was to determine if our personality types were more A, B, or C. The examples our professor gave to explain these types related to how they deal with conflict.

She gave the example of a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend making plans with you and showing up hours late.

When the late friend finally showed up to pick the type-A person up-this type would blow up and likely say some harsh words to the friend- and then be done with the conflict and not think about it again. I think of this as geyser-like coping. They explode-and then return to a normal state and move on with their lives.

In contrast-it was explained that type-B personality types would likely react differently. One of these individuals would have probably looked at their watch and turned on a movie until the person arrived. When their friend came they would just leave with them and not be angry- maybe they’d ask what held the person up, but they would also move on with their life. I think of this as highway drive-coping. You see something obstructing the road and you move a little so as not to hit it. You’re delayed by traffic and instead of losing your cool you crank up the music and roll down the windows.

---I recall listening to these explanations and seeing that while both personality types handled life issues differently, they seemed to have adapted and have some resolve in the conflict. I looked down at my quiz and noticed that I ranked as a C type personality.

I remember my professor saying something along the lines of, “And now the C type personality. You are all the ones most likely to die of a heart attack.”
Ouch. Really? That’s just great. I did a mental survey; I don’t like anger-I think yelling is highly unproductive. I saw myself as more non-confrontational, like the B personality type-not saying something harsh to a person who hurt me----but the professor went on.

It was described that this type is the one who when the late friend knocks on the door and apologizes for being late-this person will be cool and hard. If asked if everything is alright, they’d abruptly say, “Fine” and then not be as open and “normal” with their friend the whole rest of the night. This person, weeks down the road, would be in the midst of an argument with this friend and all of a sudden bring up “that time 2 weeks ago when you were hours late to pick me up” along with a myriad of other frustrations they had harbored. I think of this as somatic coping. The heart attack statistic made sense. I’ve been that person to file something away, think I was doing something right by not expressing frustration-but yet thinking about it and then bringing my concerns up at a much later date.

This- is passive aggression. This is when you’re around a person who has hurt you and you don't act "violently" against them-but are not as expressive or kind-not “normal” around them. This is when you see a person who hurt you and your heart actually pounds in your chest at seeing them. This is that thought that occurs in your mind as the person reaches out to you and you think over and over through previous hurts you’ve felt through interactions with them.

Unfortunately, I’ve lived it, felt it, and thought it. I finally have identified the behavior for what it is and I’m working to eliminate it from my life. Some issues with being passive aggressive:

1. It’s nasty.

You’ve probably experience someone being sickeningly “nice” to you. You couldn’t pin anything wrong about their behavior but you can sense there is something-whether it be hurt, anger-something behind the way they act towards you. Maybe it’s that it’s not genuine behavior that makes it so nasty. This behavior often prompts those close to us to attempt to “beg” out of us what is wrong.

I think one of the most frustrating things to experience in a relationship or interaction with someone else is fakeness and insincerity. It’s unattractive and unappealing behavior.

 2. It hurts others.

SO much of the way we act affects those around us and passive aggression can hurt deeply those we come in contact with.

That moment when harsh words are thrown out to someone super close to you-because inside your thoughts, your heart, and even your body are consumed with the burden of a situation.

That time when you drive unsafely and endanger yourself and others as you try to understand a situation in your mind.

Additionally, I hurt when I see my family and friends hurting. I feel like holding on to passive aggression takes some happiness away from those we love.

3. It hurts you.

Passive aggression can have somatic outcomes. For some the whole mind/body/soul connection seems very close. When your heart and mind are hurting, one’s literal heart can seem to react with pounding and irregular beating. It can actually be scary.
The Mayo Clinic Staff write about some of the benefits to letting go of such aggression,
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
    Healthier relationships
    Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
    Less anxiety, stress and hostility
    Lower blood pressure
    Fewer symptoms of depression
    Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse”

By allowing passive aggression to permeate our lives we are perhaps trying to find a remedy to a hurt, trying to control pain, and perhaps seeking restitution for the hurt we have experienced. By holding in this pain we might be trying to cause less destruction-we’re not screaming, yelling, or hitting-but the destruction caused by this behavior can hurt so deeply physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
4. It doesn’t accomplish anything. 
As described in the beginning example, the person who acts with passive aggression is often storing up hurt and pain. Eventually it seems to come out verbally, after the person has been cold and distant and caused more hurt to themselves and others for a period of time.

The geyser type-A personality can scare me. Eruptions of anger from others have caused much hurt and pain.
Additionally, the laissez-fair style of coping of the type B personality isn’t realistic for me. I feel, I sense, and love people in my life so much that I do want to resolve conflict and hurt.  

The good news?

There is freedom.

What completely changed my outlook on how I deal with others is the way I’ve been forgiven. The good news in this situation is the good news that has changed and is changing my life.

From Ephesians 1,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”

God forgiving me, loving me, and lavishing His grace on me changes the way I see the hurt and pain I experience from what others do.

I am guilty of much and yet, God has shown me what true love is through Jesus Christ. I see what love really is based on what I have seen from Him; forgiveness from the sin in my life from a perfect God to a selfish, imperfect human.

 This love compels me to face passive aggression.

I love that the Bible gives practical advice about resolving conflict. From Matthew 18,
“15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
As one who tends to shy away from confrontation, I have seen great results from going to someone and talking with them about the way I feel about a situation. Using words like,
“ I don’t know what you meant, but I felt ______ when _____  happened or when you said ____” 
Sometimes miscommunication has occurred and I took something in a way it wasn’t meant to be communicated-and sometimes a person meant what they said and we have an opportunity to talk about it.
Sometimes by dealing with an issue, a change happens in the relationship; sometimes 2 people become closer and sometimes they become farther apart. This can be painful; however, as situations tend to come out eventually, I find that even if pain is to be experienced in a conflict it is better to face it-rather than creating destruction with passive aggression. 
For those of us who struggle with being passive aggressive, this change in dealing with life is not always easy. I often find myself proactively thinking about not acting passively aggressive and loving others.
Let us remember, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

As for me, I’m working on loving and letting go.
photo credit: nehasingh7 via photopin cc

Friday, February 7, 2014

Why You Don't Need A List of Things to Do Before You Get Married

Photo Credit Craig Thoburn Photography


 Back and forth it goes.

The internet battle between the Single Years Are the Best: Live Your Life campaign and the Young Marriage: Your Soulmate Is Just Around the River Bend pushers.

{Full disclosure: I married young. I was 21 years old and my husband was 19}.

But here's the thing: Your life doesn't end at the altar. It doesn't begin there, either.

While there does need to be a certain maturity before one makes the decision to pledge one's life to another human being {also, you should probably have mastered basic living skills like budgeting, cooking, and doing laundry....}, there are not external milestones or goals you have to hit before getting hitched.

Our lives ought to be awesome no matter our relationship status. As Christians, we are to honor Christ all the time.

It seems that while the our culture tends to eschew marriage altogether, Christians are plunging to the other extreme and idolize marriage as THE goal for young people.

Marriage doesn't complete you as a person - it can compliment you, but it does not complete you.

Christ completes you. Or He should. It's a life-long journey.

See, marriage is awesome - when it's the right thing for you.

What I'd like to see is young people doing is being awesome things regardless of what their relationship status is. 

It's not hard to do.

Promise.

I see so many single young woman lusting after "The Big Day" and planning ultimate dream weddings. Our culture tells us that it's the biggest day of your life. It's the day the girl gets to be a Princess. Emphasis is placed on The Day.

But the silence on the importance of choosing your mate or what happens after the honeymoon is deafening.

I propose that we stop acting like we either have to be awesome before marriage because it all stops when you walk down that aisle or that our lives don't start till we find That Person.

You want to find that person? Be yourself. Don't focus on finding that person - focus on being the best you you can be. Have fun. Laugh. Dare. Have adventures. Be awesome.

Then when you find that person, be Awesome Squared.

Here's the deal: As Christians, we are to die to ourselves every day. Now, being married means that you to die to yourself extra because you have a whole other person you are to honor and that is part of marriage.

And don't even get me started on the laying-low of motherhood. You die to yourself every time you change yet another shirt and stumble through the dark to feed hungry cries.

But again: being a mother doesn't mean you stop doing amazing things. Sure, the awesome things might change for a season.

But isn't all of life ebb and flow?

So I can't stay up till 3 a.m. every night - let alone run into the grocery store quickly.

But life's adventures are perhaps not found in some distant land or vista or degrees acquired but in the learning to find adventure and mystery and wonder right where you are.

Life is full of it if you just open your eyes.

And so I humbly challenge myself and everyone to stop comparing your life to others, stop thinking 'I have to really live before x happens' or 'Once y happens, then I can really live' or even 'better live now before this happens.'

No! Really live now.

Whoever you are.
Wherever you are.
Now. 

Now is the time to take hold of the life you have been given and make something of it.

{Five Minute Friday} Write

Before I ever learned to type or put pen to paper, I told stories.

My toys were the characters to the stories I wove, sitting up too late. When my mother read to me, the words infused my soul and I drank in everything. And when the lights were off and my mom had left, new stories whirred through my mind and came to life in my dreams.

Since my earliest memory, I can remember being compelled to tell. Falling head over heels in love with words and events and drama and truths wrapped in letters.

There are many ways to tell. Acting. Singing. Painting. Dancing. Filming. But I soon discovered that my favorite way to tell was to write.

And so I wrote. Journal pages worn thin with pencils scribblings of dreams and hopes and tales. Novels and stories and poems composed but almost always hidden away, released to the page but not the world.

Because writing, great writing, bares the soul.

And now the little girl with her stories of bravery and truth and courage is grown up. And I am starting a blog and working on novels that will see the light of day. These words that I love will be released to reach the world, to grab hold of other souls.

Some days it hurts. Some days I want to hide them away in safe little cages, in dusty little files on my computer where the world cannot see.

But whatever comes of the words, whatever bleeds onto the page, I will always write. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

{Monday Morsels} From Momastery: Quit Pointing Your Avocado at Me




You guys!!!

I love the blog Momastery. She is awesome and beautiful and lives out loud. One of her best posts from 2013 is called Quit Pointing Your Avocado At Me.

It's technically about parenting, but it is soooo applicable to everybody.

Because as humans we often feel that other people are making decisions at us.

That needs to stop.

So here's the link. G says it better than I ever could. I'll just add my own hearty Amen!

Friday, January 31, 2014

I am Audacious and Ambitious and That's Okay {Part 1: I think}

Photo taken from Art.com

My mom showed this picture by Tony Stomberg when I was young and said it reminded her of me. Fierce Grace. I have adopted that as what I want to be. I have ever been intense, all-in, guts and glory, no holds barred. The other word I've adopted for my life is Audacious.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary online, here are some definitions for Audacious.
Audacious: 1. intrepidly daring: adventurous 3. marked by originality and verve 
But here's the deal.

Everywhere I turn, "The Church" and Christians have this idea of what godly femininity is. How a woman ought to act - especially a godly woman. Demure. Follow the rules. Being a homemaker is the penultimate calling. All those Christian magazines and homeschool toys had only frilly options for girls. 

But I don't fit that. 

And it used to cause me endless amounts of stress. I tried to fit into the tight stays of what I was told how godly women acted and did and said. But then I'd just bust out and give myself a mud bath and eat grass (actual occurrences). 

The majority of people in Christian circles told me that girls are not naturally ambitious. That link goes to Matt Walsh's post about Stay-At-Home moms not owing the world an explanation. I was cheering him on - at first. SAHMs don't owe the world an explanation. They do deserve more respect. They do have a glorious, hard job.

But then he lost me when he started going on about how other jobs don't matter (what the what?!) and how girls are fooled into not following their 'feminine instincts' and how are girls are not naturally ambitious and how what he claims as "feminine qualities" won't serve you well in any job other than being at home.

No. No, no no!!

This is not necessarily a rebuttal post, but that part made me angry. It was published at the wrong time and felt like a kick while I was down. Because my whole life that's what I've been told. Stay at home, play dolls, go shopping, do girl things. Girls are supposed to do this, not that. Being a stay at home mom is a woman's highest calling and wanting to do things outside the home is Dirty Stinky Feminism and Unnatural and Harmful to your kids. You can't be a good mom if you don't stay home. Staying at home full time should be your greatest ambition.

The problem is that while most girls might be like that, not all of them are. Some of us actually do not possess the natural abilities to be homemakers. While my peers were playing dolls or house and dreaming of being mommies, I was running barefoot in the dirt, pretending to fight and save the world and bleed dramatically into the earth. I was having adventures. I was reading books. When I did play with dolls, they were daring orphans who had to escape evil orphanage masters against all odds.

It's not that there is anything at all wrong with being a stay at home mom or in wanting that or enjoying that. It is an absolutely glorious calling. If that is what fulfills you, I applaud you loudly. My mom homeschooled us and was a stay at home mom and I appreciate that about her. She is amazing.

And more than likely, I will homeschool my kids. But I have to ask: What is so wrong with wanting something outside of that? Why *can't* I juggle some sort of non-housework and raising children? Why do we all have to have the same dreams because we are female?

Because in my first six months at this gig, I have been ever so slowly asphyxiating.

There seems to be no room in the church for the outlier females. For the audacious ones. For the loud ones. For the ones that don't fit into neat little boxes and want to do things that only boys are supposed to do.

This is Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings.
This chick is my hero.
I think this picture came from comicvine.com. But really it came from google.

And do you know what? That's ridiculous.

Because I believe in a creative God, a God who painted humanity with every colour and a wide brush. Look at nature. He made snowflakes so that no two are alike. And how many snowflakes have there been since the beginning of time?! And those are just snowflakes. Imagine the thought and creativity He put into people! So what makes Christians come in and say women ought to be like such and such and have ambitions like xyz?

There are certainly Biblical principles that apply. I'm not even saying that women should not submit to husbands (though, there are other places in the Bible that call for everyone to submit to each other just as we are all to submit to God the Father so technically it's not just the gals that are called to submit). Certainly, all Christians - male and female - are to act in mercy and gentleness and self control. 

But the God who made the peaceful quiet of snow also made the raucous glory of a hurricane. 

And all that I'm saying is that maybe women aren't supposed to all fit into this one mold. Maybe we aren't all supposed to act and think and say the same things. Maybe there's not a narrow, approved range of variety, but if we stray from the approved palette, that's bad.

Maybe there's a new way to act, and it's okay. Maybe we can be mamas and not all do it in the same way - and maybe some women aren't called to marry or reproduce at all. 

See, according to the Myers-Briggs personality testing, I am an ENFP. Apparently, only a teensy tiny population fits that type.

My strengths are not conducive to running and maintaining a home.

I'm a creative, an idea-spinner, a dreamer. Details make me break out in hives. Monotony kills me inside.

So what am I to do? I had a spiraling day of self doubt the other day. You can ask anyone who's ever felt this way, there are few things in life as demoralizing as knowing you are not equipped for a job and yet everyone thinking and expecting you to excel at and enjoy it.

I sunk into a pit. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to throw in the towel and cry (okay I did cry).

But the Lord reached into the pit and lifted me up.

The first thing that He told me is that when we are weak, HE is STRONG. He is my strength when I cannot do it. And He will work through me to do what is set before me now and give me the grace and the strength to survive the day to day.

The other thing, though, is that He made me exactly the way I am. He made my brain to function in this way and that's okay. That's part of His plan. And I don't have to be like everyone else and be fulfilled by what everyone is fulfilled by. Maybe He made me to be audacious.

All this to say, I'm inspired. The Breath of Life has breathed fresh life into my heart. I'm starting to research and develop my own style of fulfilling my calling as a mama. This is where I am, and God in his infinite wisdom and humor, made me - the girl who thought she would be the last or the never to be married and raise babies - among the first of my peers to take that plunge. This was not my dream - but it has become a part of my dream.

And He did it knowing how He made me. He did it knowing that it would refine me and teach me. And He will give me the wisdom that I beg for, the grace and knowledge of how to do this and find joy. Whether that means I eventually work outside the home or not. He also gave me a supportive life partner who loves the way I was created and has offered to support me no matter what.

But for now, He has given me peace and grace to co-currently work on other creative pursuits and passions while I'm at home. I'm writing a novel. I'm going to start drawing again. And if that means I get a bit behind on the dishes, so be it.

Because on a grand scale, I do like being home with my son. I look forward to the day when I get to guide him on educational pursuits and help him discover life and I want to be there for him. But I believe moms can do that even if they are not full-time at home. And is it so outrageous and blasphemous that I would desire to pursue other things?

The biggest, most freeing thing is that I do not have to conform to others' expectations of a 'good, Christian' stay at home mom. 

I can find joy in being a mama and I can do it in my own loud, creative, fierce-grace way.

Monday, January 27, 2014

{Monday Morsels} Italian Stir-Fry

Food.

Ah, food. 

It nourishes and it brings people to together. It can be art. It gives life. It facilitates fellowship.

And man, do I love it.

Often, I struggle to make good, nutritious sides. Meat I have no problem with. But often I wonder what to pair it with.

The other day I invented something that turned out amazing.

I call it Italian Stir Fry.

The recipe is below and the amount of veggies is what I used for two people who eat a lot. So adjust for what you need for your family.

Here's the Skinny:
2 carrots, peeled
1/2 pepper (red, green, it's good with anything that's on sale ;))
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic (or the equivalent in minced garlic)
2 tbs butter
2 tsp Italian seasoning

First, you're going melt that butter in a pan on medium high. Fry up the carrots to make them crispy. Then, turn the heat back down to medium and add your peppers. Last, incorporate the onions. Last (so the flavor stands out), add the garlic and the Italian seasoning. Serve hot.

So basically, it's cheap. It's delicious. It's quick. And it's healthy. What, I ask, is not to love?