Consider it an invitation…

I love Jesus.

I am pretty ok with that, and I hope that you are too. If you aren’t, just know I am ok with that too. My loving Jesus isn’t about you at all, it is about me. It’s about my heart, my life, my choices, my journey, and a lot of other large and small things which add up to equal my faith.

I cautiously consider myself a Christian. I say cautiously because, honestly, at least in America (and some perceptions of American Christianity) the name has gained a bit of a rough reputation.

My pastor spent Sunday morning talking about Detroit. This looked a little like a history lesson. It involved political bits, heart bits, hard truths and a bunch of other uncomfortable and completely relevant things which together equalled a pretty amazing talk. He challenged us to be honest with ourselves about the walls we build. Initially the topic came up because Detroit was once known to have a dividing wall. I guess pieces of this wall still exist. This wall was raised to literally divide the African-Americans and the Whites. Though the wall isn’t technically much of a thing anymore, Detroit is still ranked as the most segregated city in America. I live in the metro part of this amazing city and I have to say this announcement shocked me. Our church alone, (granted, it’s a pretty huge church) likely has multiple people from most nations, in attendance. Our neighborhood actually has a dozen flag poles sporting flags from 12 different nations because we are such a diverse little community. Then again, this is the metro area, and not Detroit itself.

He illustrated his point by having several people from different countries approach the front of the church. They looked at each other, chatted some, laughed a little and then affirmed “there are no more walls between us.” I’ll admit it- it was emotional and I totally teared up. After this, he had fans of rivaling college teams do the same thing. It was funny and laughs were had, but when he sobered and asked us what walls we put up, I was challenged. I am pretty accepting. I don’t shy away from anyone really. I love meeting people and things that are different don’t scare me. Since that service, I’ve thought a lot about this. There are off-putting things, about me, which likely cause others to put up a wall between us. Despite losing 130 lbs, I am still overweight. I have a lazy eye. I was separated from my husband for 6 months (an issue that many fellow Christians we know can’t seem to get past.) in fact, here is a list of things which have caused people I’ve known to distance themselves from me…

I voted for Hillary.

I have a diverse taste of music.

I don’t support people who discriminate against ANYONE and using their religion as an excuse.

I worked as a film critic for years.

I drink.

As a photographer I have done many boudoir sessions.

I am an adoptive parent.

I struggled with infertility.

I am pro-choice and hate abortion.

I was sexually abused.

I hate porn and believe it decomposes a person’s ability to have healthy self image/relationships/etc.

I am a feminist.

I believe in marriage.

I support equality.

I do not believe men and women are equal. I am different from my husband and my brother. I am not better, but different. I don’t want to be like them.

I do believe men and women should have equal rights, DO HAVE equal worth and value.

I love Jesus.

I will never “shove Jesus down your throat” or preach at you.

I am a person and so each of these things make up a piece of my story… Each of these things has a story and reason for it’s position in my life.

I will not bother/hurt/offend me if your stories are different and your beliefs do not match mine.

 

If you know me, you know that I am a party planner. Best of all are dinner parties. LOVE THEM. Upon moving back to Michigan in 2013, my party opportunities are limited, and this makes me a little sad. After that sermon though, I got to imagining a dinner party. What if we had a lovely homosexual couple over for dinner. What if, in addition to them, we had an African-American couple, a middle eastern couple and a few other diverse additions? Other than the likely fact that we would have some really interesting and unpredictable conversation, what would we have?

A dinner party.

That is literally it. It would not be an experiment. It would not be a meeting. It would not be anything other than a group of people getting together to share a meal and converse. Obviously we would all have SOMETHING in common, or the dinner party wouldn’t exist in the first place. (hence the interesting and unpredictable conversation)

I really wish this dinner party were happening. Do you know why? Because I am seriously lonely and want to host a lovely little dinner party. (That’s the only reason actually. Maybe you should come for dinner…)

When it comes to a different race, or a different class, or a different religion, I am unruffled. None of these things will hinder me from approaching someone, or befriending them, or responding to them if they approach me. The one thing that may honestly hinder me is the fact that I am a total introvert and often have much better intentions than follow through, and I get a little insecure. While I want to approach someone, those things I first mentioned (overweight, lazy eye, etc.) become the wall I throw up to save my ass from someone else’s rejection.

Recently I had the opportunity to get to know a small group of women. One of the women I shallowly pegged immediately as a little stuck up and clearly she had it all together. She was thin and honestly, gorgeous. As time progressed though, it became surprisingly obvious that this beautiful woman and I had far more in common that anyone else in the group. Ironically the fat girl with the lazy eye and the drop dead gorgeous and in shape woman became friends. Is that how she saw me? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I threw up a wall with my initial assessment, and what I assumed would be hers… Thankfully that wall became a gate and now it is gone completely. My point is, when pastor Bob challenged us to find our walls and why we build them, this friend instantly popped in my head. I could have missed out on so much because I jumped to conclusions. I don’t do that as a habit, but I don’t want to do it ever. I want to be better, with others and with myself.

I want to have dinner party after dinner party where my table is filled with people who contribute to great conversation, people who enjoy food and maybe an occasional game or glass of wine. Beyond that, while I don’t want to be blind to their differences, I do want to understand and appreciate them for the unique people they are. (whoever they will be)

 

 

This is the view of my imagination, this Monday morning, which isn’t a terrible thing.

Yesterday was my beautiful little sisters birthday, and this made me homesick. I had a lovely talk with her on the phone, and concluded that quiet Sunday afternoons are made better by long distance phone calls and iced tea. (Regarding this iced tea, I guess this is mostly applicable when it is pretty summer-hot, which is has been.) I packed a teeny-tiny amount after our phone call. Knightley is still not feeling himself and so I opted our of an afternoon out with Chw & Gen. Instead I comforted my sweet heartbreaker of a puppy, (iow: Prayed, pet, used essential oils, cried, etc.) and finished up season 5 of Orange.

Perhaps I should admit that Sunday held a bit of a heartbreaking element to it. Between my story’s emotional scenes and my poor Mr. Knightley, I was a mess of tears and sadness. (My grandma always called All My Children her story. It was so comically cute but I love it and now that I am forty-one, and a grandmother, I am thinking of adopting the saying.)

Monday morning has approached me in a much better place than last Monday found me. Hallelujah! Our apartment is well on its way to being packed, I’ve had good doses of Vitamin D this weekend and today is my double star day at Starbucks! All in all, things are feeling a bit chipper. My to-do list for last week was mostly accomplished, (I.E: I rocked it and am a total badass) and this week’s list is already moving closer to being a succession of crossed out and checked off items. Do I wish I was sitting on that beach imaged above? Sure I do. If I play my cards right I can at least spend a few hours, this week, writing from my favorite coffee shop. Not today though. Today is for errands, a double dose of packing and a wee bit of a craft project with Gen. Oh yeah, and waxing… Today we are waxing our beautiful faces.

hoping that, as the day progresses, some normal bits of my sweet Knightley begin to emerge. It’s only been a week since he’s been down with this strange little illness, but I’m really missing the fella.

Also, I totally have a novel I need to finish reading, so my summer reading won’t be a complete bust.

That beach would be absolutely perfect for that too…

Celebrating “friends”, poking and narcism, oh my…

Ten years ago, on Tuesday, marked my decade long relationship with Facebook. It was my son, Lucas, who originally urged me to sign up. I was on Myspace and pretty happily connected with my friends and little writing community that way. I signed up, unsure of how it even worked. I mean, seriously, why did I want to poke someone? I mentioned it to a then-good friend and she confided that she was friends with Jessica Simpson, a couple of country singers and a few other random celebrities. Hearing this actually made Facebook a little worse for me. I wasn’t stupid, and I had spent more than a handful of years working within that industry. None of those people were connected to my friend, not even by social media. I have always hated superficial and fake things, and from the beginning Facebook struck me as such. It wasn’t too long though, until friends turned me on to annoying games that I lost hours in. I got caught up in the seven stages of facebooking, after a while. The incessant status updates that no one should EVER do. I shared photos of every little venture away from the house, I made. I checked in at restaurants, shopping, the library… I don’t anymore. Now, I allow myself one hour a week to catch up on people’s news, and that’s it. When I mentioned this, recently, to a friend, she was amazed. How could I do it? She was jealous. I explained to her that the ONLY “friends” I had on the social media site were people I genuinely had relationships with/interactions with/and an interest in having relationships and interactions with. If you’re my Facebook friend I either really respect and admire you, love you a lot, or have a real life, interactive relationship with you. (Most friends make up two or all three of those descriptions. I do not collect people.) Just because went to school together, worked together, grocery shopped at Kroger at the same time or both enjoy Method cleaners does not mean we need to be connected via: Facebook. Also, I explained, the people I have real, interactive relationships with know that I am not really on Facebook regularly and when they have news to share- they send it via a letter/card/email/text/call/vox/marco polo/coffee date/etc.

When I was 31 I apparently joined Facebook. Ironically then too was a time of transition, in my life. If memory serves me correctly however, I handled it much more like a champ than now. (No, I do not credit Facebook for this) Over the past 10 years though, so much has happened. Relationships were built, healed, shattered, splintered. I moved back to the one place I’ve never loved. My mother had a series of small strokes which changed her life, and by extension, mine. My mother had breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. I became ill and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I nearly died from a serious case of pneumonia. I have made it through the HARDEST years of my life, as a daughter, as a wife and especially as a mother. I have not made it through unscathed and I struggle with some resentments and issues resulting from such things. I have had a small, but successful photography business which completely transformed my love of photography into something I no longer loved. I have traveled throughout California, watched fireworks from a hilltop cemetery, jumped on the Twilight bandwagon, came to my senses and jumped off. I have camped on the Oregon coast, learned how to do dozens of new things, delved deeply into paper crafting and then reluctantly climbed out of that. I spent a week along the coasts and ports of Washington state, road tripped throughout New England, spent part of the Christmas season in New York City. I have been a cleaner, trained to be an Esthetician (which was a long dream of mine), worked in retail, worked in marketing, both renovated a beautiful home and been homeless. I have had the distinct honor of witnessing marriages I am so proud of, met beautiful babies I adore. I have been there when two of the most precious babies in the world to me, have been born. I have had anxiety ridden, ICU bed side days, sleepless nights and dawning moments where miracles and answers to prayers happened. I have seen my faith weaken, grow and embarrassingly numb in the in-betweens. My two older kids have both married and become parents. My son enlisted, has deployed and I see him far more seldom than I ever imagined I could live with. I attended the memorial service of a girl who died far too young, and far too tragically, whom I loved a deeply embedded amount. I have lost 130 pounds, gained twenty, screamed, cried, cursed, shouted, sobbed and at times wished I were dead. I have contemplated, prayed, praised, laughed, embraced, nurtured, comforted and had to come to terms with so many things. I have heartbreakingly buried two beloved dogs, and gone through the deaths of several family members. Ten years ago I had so much hope in my motherhood, my daughterhood, my marriage, my writerhood, my life. Today, at 41, I can no longer find much of that.

Again, Facebook is not responsible for any of those things, but it certainly is a scrapbook for most of them. It is a record of a decade spent living, most of the good and enough of the bad. It is the place where friends of my husband attempted to tarnish my reputation, further poison him against me and drive a wedge deep into our marriage that will likely never be repaired. It is the place where people resort to sharing their big news, leaving their own parents and children to be heartbroken that they had to learn it from Facebook. When it is said and done, aside from the chronicling of our moments, I have to question if it does more bad than good, consistently.

Honestly, I have a pretty hate/hate opinion of the website. I do not keep it on my phone. I only keep it at all, because I am connected with my son & daughter-in-law on there and don’t want to miss something that doesn’t really bridge the thousands of miles otherwise. I keep it because, as a writer, it is a powerful tool and since I do freelance work for PR companies, on occasion, it is a necessary evil. This week, however, I am feeling grateful for the mark of this decade together. Good or bad, Facebook was there for me through ten big years and that isn’t something to take for granted… And if we are friends on there, thank you for that. For me, that is a real thing…

The deep mundane…

Last week I received a lovely direct message on Instagram from a fellow writer. We had crossed paths over the social media platform and she had been led to come follow my blog. Her message was heartfelt and encouraged me to write, within this space, more. Honestly, when I read her words I nodded and thought I couldn’t agree more. And yet…

And yet, another week went by of parenthood and exhaustive defiance. Another week of ridiculous traffic, appointments, stocking the fridge, preparing meals, folding laundry, friendship, etc. What would I write about? How I disliked folding laundry that sat overnight in the dryer? How it is flip-flop season and I am in desperate need of a pedicure. How graduation and an open house are approaching at rocket speed and not fast enough, all rolled into one. How I am packing to move out of this temporary apartment and I am beyond tired of transition and moving. How my puppy is the most stubborn potty trainer and how, with Fibro, I am as consistent as I can be but that every moment of every day feels like I simply am not doing good enough at anything. None of these things are blog worthy, dwell worthy, or really worth any thing at all. They are what they are. Some days are better than others. Some days full on blow, while others are exceptional. This is life for each of us, with our own details.

Writing, (something I haven’t been doing much of, beyond the occasional freelance piece) requires deeper than that. If my eyes are trained to see the mundane, the details, the nows and the this minutes, I am unable to plunge. And so, for a blog post you’ll get surface level stuff, unless I resort to the fake. Truthfully, I can’t take either of those options and so, best intentions cast aside for another day, this space remained silent.

Part of my problem, I’ll admit, is that I haven’t had a designated writing space. As I type this very collection of words, I am writing from my bed- my least favorite place to write. I do not have a dining table, as of right now, my bar to bar stool ratio is too much for my little t-rex arms to comfortable type and my living room is cluttered with boxes and mess. Every week I declare that I will take one to two days and go to the local coffee-house to spend a few hours writing from there. In theory, this is great. In reality I have an adult child who makes this idea hard, coupled with a stubborn and needy puppy- and so… So I tell myself a routine can be established later. (Later: tomorrow, next week, next month, next year) and I cope the best I can through the seconds turned to minutes, which link together, arms tight and unforgiving.

This morning I woke up, having survived the various elements of the three-day weekend, motivated. My to-do list was ready. I threw my collection of frozen and fresh fruit into the blender, along with some spinach and various additives to make my breakfast smoothie healthy and filling. By the time I got the blend point, however, parenting frustrations had already occurred (actually about half had carried over from the days of the last few months, hurtful and unyielding) and so when the first sip of my smoothie tasted like a cross between toilet cleaner and a thin mint cookie, I had to take pause. What was going on here? Why wasn’t I writing? Why didn’t I just sit down and do it? Why wasn’t I looking beyond the surface, beneath the BS and in between the lines? Why wasn’t I transparently sharing whatever came to mind? Why was I continuing to sip a smoothie which sort of burned my taste buds and reminded me of my short stint as a professional cleaner in a small hospital?

So many questions, (the “smoothie” is almost gone, by the way, in case you were curious. I’m thinking the Tumeric is where I went wrong- though that it has the power to transform EVERYTHING to such wickedness is a terrifying thought.) with no real answers. So I sit here, feet slightly numb at this elevated position. Stubborn puppy is crated for a two-hour stint of further attempts with project potty train. My stomach is currently unsure of how to digest the new market cleanser I seem to have whipped up, (All natural!) and my laundry sits folded beside me, begging to be put away. Today I will walk the dogs, take some photos of swans, pack a few boxes, list things on Ebay, drive Gen to work and return an insane amount of books to the library. This week I will wrap gifts and put a few last-minute details together for my mom’s 70th birthday, further progress on my daughter A’s birthday and Gen’s graduation open house. This week I will also, hopefully, know exactly where we are moving to. Let’s put it this way, I care a little- Mostly though, I am just excited to get out of this transition. It has been a year of transition. (and over paying for a dump, but that’s a whole other issue.)

The takeaway that I have from our three-day weekend is this: long weekends have a lot more room for the unexpected. While sleeping in and leisurely brunches are lovely, life still happens and stuff has to get done. I think, when I imagine the looming extra long weekend, I forget that part. Furthermore- date nights are so cathartic, and fun, but also sort of pricy. The new Pirates movie is seriously better than I expected, and late night John Cusack marathons might be a little too wild for this girl, as I slept through most of it. (#41isold #canistillcallmyselfagirlifimold) All in all, life is about balance. Sometimes, for various reasons, a fun adventure really can be a run to Sonic happy hour, an hour away. Sometimes a hard day really can be a result of an overcast sky and you feel sad. We are where we are. Period. I suspect I keep waiting for something else, looking for something a bit more to push me to that point where I can be a real writer. There is no point. This is it. The quest of the writer truly is to find the beauty and story within the mundane pile of laundry and accidentally abrasive smoothie. Message noted, and so I will try my best to do better, sweet Instagram friend.

Red Nose Actually…

There are times when I get so overwhelmed because the state of the world, and the needs of so many people are so huge, that it feels like it is impossible to make a difference, and to help at all. Then I am reminded that our world is made up of people doing what they can, when they can, and differences are made. The reminder of Red Nose Day does that for me. It is a fun, easy and amazing relevant way to make a difference and join with others for a larger impact. Recently quite a few celebrities went out to spread both education and the word, here is a touching video with Julia Roberts, that I’d like to share with you. (Here’s another with Ludacris.) You guys, these are American cities… And it isn’t just Phoenix or Atlanta. I am currently in the Detroit Metro area and this is reality just miles from my home, as well.

As we near the start of summer and think about vacations and time off with families there are others who are not nearly as fortunate to enjoy those luxuries. On May 25th NBC television will air Red Nose Day, a live telecast aimed at ending child poverty. Join me Thursday, along with so many others, in watching the Red Nose Day telecast. Post your selfies and give however you can, whatever you can. If one million people each pledged $1, that would be a million dollars. Well more than a million people will tune in, proving that NO GIFT IS TOO SMALL… (extra incentive, one of my FAVORITE movies, Love Actually, has a mini-reunion sequel airing that night!)

Red Nose Day is unique in that multiple charitable organizations will benefit from the three-hour live program that night. The event is all about coming together, to have fun, and make a difference for kids in need.  The goal is to end child poverty, here in the U.S. and around the world — one nose at a time.

The fundraiser began in 1988 by U.K. director, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and recently started in the U.S. Red Nose Day raised over $36 million in 2016, and over $23 million the previous year, totaling over $60 million in its first two years in the US.

The two charities among many others that will benefit from Red Nose Day are Covenant House and charity: water.  These are just one of many organizations that everyday work tirelessly to make a difference here at home in the U.S. and around the world. What’s staggering with the statistics is that this is happening right here in the U.S.

 

We’ve learned from Red Nose Day charities that:

 

  • 1 out of 5 young people live in poverty.

 

  • Every Year, More Than 2 Million Kids in America Will Face a Period of Homelessness.
  • 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.

It’s heartbreaking with regards to the homeless kids and youth as it puts them in such danger of human traffickers – something I know so many of our churches and organizations fight against.  We have an opportunity to make a difference and keep some of these kids away from the streets.

We hope you will consider taking the time to help those in need and checking out both ministries and finding a way however big or small to support them. We’re called to help those in need and we often forget that although we are fortunate to live in a country that provides us with a lot – there are many children right in front of us who struggle to even get a meal a day. We hope you’ll think about ways you can help our youth and even join in on the fun and put on a Red Nose and post to your social channels with the hashtag: #rednoseday

 

Red Noses are available at all Walgreen locations.  For those wanting to do something fun and get involved, stop by Walgreens and buy a red nose.
We do believe that if we can all raise awareness about this issue – we can all end child poverty one nose at a time!