When willing…

On Fridays Kate, over at Five Minute Friday, hosts a fun writing prompt and link up. Over the summer I’ve been so busy, that I haven’t been great about joining in, but I’m back to day. (ready and… Willing! ha!)

Basically, we free write for five minutes, using the prompt… And here, I go-

Last night my husband and I were driving home when we nearly hit a dog. Reluctantly, at my insistence, my husband pulled the car over and I jumped out. The beautiful, and obviously very brave, German Shepherd came straight to me. He was so sweet, and also traveling with an adorable Pit Bull friend. They were both so loving, and one had a limp. They’d come running from the parking lot of an animal hospital, so my first thought was that this was all somehow connected.

There were people to call, weren’t there?

Hours later, as it turns out, there were not.

Thanks to a trusting stranger, we met in the dead of night, we followed a (cold) digital trail and eventually found the owner. Success! (despite a frustrated and tired husband, who easily could have just gone home without stopping, and was pretty determined that these sweet boys living their best lives, in our back seat, would not be sleeping over.)

This morning, my husband was putting gas in his car on the way to work, (something we were going to do last night, just before I decided to play Snow White, and rescue all of the animals) when a woman frantically approached him begging for money, for gas, because she was stranded. We seldom carry cash, so he decided instead to put $10 worth of fuel, in her car. Once their interaction was done, he witnessed her hit up several other people for cigarettes and cash, before he drove off to work, feeling like a fool.

Sometimes stepping up is hard, and ALWAYS stepping up will require sacrifice. Whether it’s money, time or a missed opportunity, something will be lost in exchange for the effort. In the end, it doesn’t matter if they were deserving. (the dogs were! The dogs were so sweet and I wanted to keep them forever, but I wanted to keep my husband more!) What matters is that we were willing to do it at all…

the b word…

There are fewer, (non-vulgar) words that cause such angst and division among women like the “B word”.

Not THAT one… Bikini.

Half of women love them and can’t wait for sunshine and waves to don theirs. Some women, (fictitious, maybe?) solidify their bathing suit/bikini shopping as a true summer milestone adventure. The other half of us, don’t. Trying bathing suits on can be super depressing, but when you add in the idea of a bikini…

And it is an even harder thing because, though sometimes we women really feed our insecurities by the negative and mean things we are so certain the world around us is saying- when it comes to swimwear people do have opinions. Strong opinions…

Have you ever encountered one of those overly concerned types, who are so worried about your health/heart/lifespan/__________ that they just feel they must discuss your weight (or someone else’s) ? Maybe you are one of those people, feeling validated in your certainty that a person is overweight because they make terrible choices, are lazy, and you magically have just the right words to turn this all around for them? If this feels familiar, please enunciate the following words as you read them:

You do not know what you are talking about and need to zip it. Period. (if you’re like me, and you aren’t one of those “joy spreaders”, then soak in those words too, except replace YOU with THEY.) Why should you do this? Because it is true.

I’m not going to dive into statistics because we are all capable of googling and finding our own fact based research, but a few fun facts:

  • a seemingly fit, size four woman is absolutely capable of having raging cholesterol issues and developing type 2 diabetes.
  • If being overweight, (let’s all stop referring to people as FAT. no one IS fat, they have fat. We all HAVE FAT, and if you don’t, then rush to the doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. Also, if you are a woman, read the book Why Women Need Fat, because it is both scientific and enlightening…) were an immediate death sentence, there wouldn’t be so many people who are overweight. Why? There would be a lot more funerals.
  • There are genetics, environmental conditions, hormones, stresses, economic issues and several other factors that play into what a person weighs.
  • It is ignorant to assume someone sits around watching soap operas and eating twinkies.

Ok, I’m stepping off of my soapbox, because none of that is the point. What is the point? you may ask.

Let’s stop looking at other people through the lens of what we imagine (or know) their BMI is. Let’s stop looking at other people through the lens of our discomfort over their skin color, size, disabilities, sexuality, gender, etc.

Behind all of those things that we allow to cloud our vision exists a person. A lung breathing, heart beating human being with their own stories, their own triumphs and their overwhelming struggles. Let’s start seeing the people. Size does not matter, color does not matter.

Let’s just love. Let’s act in love. Let’s move, and think and see love.

Love.

In this weeks episode (39) of the Collective Podcast, Myself, Maggie, Jennie and Marion are chatting about why the Disney Princesses may not be so bad, we’re talking bikinis, self love, accepting things about ourselves that we don’t love and what exactly Body Positivity is… It’s a great chat and we hope you’ll join us!

The Convenience…

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Hello and happy Friday! (How is it that it feels like it might always be a new Friday, and yet January has lasted an eternity? Perplexing…) I am so glad you’re here! I am partnering once again with the gang over at Five Minute Friday. (new to the idea? Kate gives a prompt and we have FIVE MINUTES to free write about it, publish and share with you. :) )

~

As I observe the world, through this lens of social media and the internet, I find myself heavy by the reactive nature we have adopted.

We claim (and cling to) offense because it is easy. It is convenient to engage in wars that are not our own, simply because we believe we should. We hold high our position that our voice matters, and have decided everything might just be our business.

Our voices DO matter.

Mine does. Yours does.

They exist to tell our own stories. Through those journeys we are meant to clothe ourselves in an empathy that holds the hands of a stranger and can bridge the gaping distance between souls who are broken and alone.

Our voice was never meant to SCREAM in text at someone who believes, votes or looks differently than we do.

Horrible things happen. We disagree with recent legislation, decisions made and today’s labelling standards. Disagreeing is ok, but as a people we need to start behaving in uncomfortable and INconvenient ways… stop the hate… stop the resentment, the judgement and the attempting to demand in decibels louder than the next, that everyone else get on board and agree with our obscenity. (and let’s be frank- when we behave in such a way, hiding behind the keyboard we type on, it does not matter what our truth based foundation is, the method is nothing but obscenity.)

We were never promised an easy life filled with blessings, sans any problems. We were, however, told to love. In our guts, when we strip away layers of life, we KNOW we are supposed to love. Love is not convenient. It is not a drive-thru behavior. It is real, it may be expensive, but it is vital… Life sustaining.

This is how our voices matter because LOVE is what they were made for.

~

Touch the sky…

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I am going to talk a little bit about worship, but first-  I am pretty in touch with my readers and I am aware that this may turn a few of you off. I hope not. I hope that, in the way you have all been so amazing over the most tumultuous year of my life, you will stick this post out with an open mind. Even if it’s not your thing, please try to understand that I am sharing something personal and not (in any way) trying to preach to you…

Before November 23, of last year, I’d had a lifetime of loving God. That had always been something present and life defining in my adult life. I went through various stages of Christianity. Some of the earlier days looked a lot like the stereotypically shallow version, which seems far more judgmental than loving. I have always (and will continue to be) a work in progress.  I caught on, in my early twenties, to stepping out and thinking for myself rather than following the church current. Due to my history of infertility and sexual abuse, there were a lot of ideas and Christianese sentiments which did not nestle well with the heart I had developed for God. I am not saying a lot of these things don’t work well for others, but in a moment of unabashed frankness I will say that many of those I knew early on who did walk that line are pretty cold people now. It is my personal opinion that being cold and judgmental is not the plan.

Up until the summer of 2015 I really believed I had the God thing figured out. Adoptive parenting, maybe not so much. Being a writer professionally, definitely not. The two things that I was most confident in were my marriage and my faith. If you have been reading here for any amount of time at all, you are well aware that my marriage started to rapidly crumble last fall and fell apart in November.

Rock bottom is sometimes where we need to hit, to grow and be. When I say rock bottom, I want to clarify: when you slam unexpectedly, and life shatteringly hard against the hardest ground imaginable and know in the depths of your being that you cannot pick yourself up. This, for me, was November 23rd. And it looked ugly, and it felt worse. Indescribably worse.

I have, as a Believer in God, never been a fan of Christian music or films. Call me cynical, because that’s really what it was. Prior to my fall, I believed worship music was meant for Sunday service. In that “appropriate” place, I loved me some good worship music. I loved the feeling of getting caught up in praising God. And, at various times in the week, like the good girl I was, I was known to play a worship playlist and spend time with God. Worship music had a time and a place. And then, after months of contemplating suicide, I found myself at my splattered-rock-bottom place and everything I knew and believed was shaken. How does a Godly marriage fall apart? How does a woman who loves Jesus and tries to love others selflessly end up broken and alone? How could I end up in such a place at my age (39)? What could I have done differently? Layers and layers of film were removed from the eyes of my heart. I began to see things as I had never seen them before. Myself. My preconceived notions of what a woman, a wife and a mother should be like. I began to see my motivations in all of their earnestness. It was rough. I did not know how to exist outside of my wifehood and my motherhood, because in those moments I had neither. I had to admit, for the first time, that I was completely incapable of being anything for anyone. This was a hard, hard thing when I had spent my life being that rock for everyone I loved. My rock quality had become slime and I could not allow that mess to stick to others.

Worship is NOT standing in church with others and singing songs. Authentic worship was, I am not kidding, one of the biggest lessons I learned in my climb from my rock bottom hell. It can fit in church singing, at times. It can also be found in the shower, sitting in traffic, shopping, sitting on the beach, listening to music. Worship is NOT singing. Sure, it can be. It can be singing a Christian song, a non-Christian song, your own in-the-moment string of words. It can also come about in meditation, in conversationally talking to God, in writing, in working out, in washing dishes… Worship is stepping outside of self, in gratitude and love (and sometimes various other things) to focus on God. Worship is easily the most personal thing we can do, and debatably one of the most vulnerable. In that way, as a parent, where you can choose whether to think of your huge to-do list while your kids ramble on, or to tune out everything and listen to them. Tuning out everything and focussing on God- THIS is worship. And it took laying there in my metaphorical chalk outline to realize I had never really planted myself in that place. Sure, I’d had snapshots of moments like that. The worship service, Bible study or personal devotion time moments… But to LIVE that way? At the supermarket, at the gym, folding the laundry… This I had never done. Suddenly though, as I processed through these realizations, I knew that I ached to.

You know how I said Christian music hadn’t really been my thing? I LOVE music and have pretty vast taste. If it’s trendy, it’s not usually my taste. And I avoided most Christian music because honestly, the majority of it sounded the same. And then, one morning I am tearfully broken and utterly alone at church (also something new to me, as I had never done the alone-in-church thing*) and we sang this song . The lyrics of this song literally reached inside of my emotional gut and scraped it clean. It was agonizing and healing all rolled into one. Come to find out, it was by Hillsong. Sure, I knew Hillsong. They did Oceans and nearly every American Christian is overly familiar with Oceans and it’s dangerously alluring lyrics. I started listening, and listening, and listening. Praise and Worship music had never been on my music-of-choice radar and suddenly all I wanted, all of the time, was to have Hillsong in my ears. They were the balm my heart was needing as it began to heal. That original song which ripped me apart, to make me better, on that January Sunday morning is called Touch the Sky. It hit me right where I was and gave me the courage to rise and live. In that place I learned what worship would be, for me. I hit the ground, and I found a relationship with God I had never known possible. I am not perfect, I am no better than anyone else. What I am is honest and real. There is no pretense, there is no “putting on a good front” so others remain comfortable and there is no condemnation towards another soul. I’ve had a few Christians whom I respected criticize me for such transparency. I have had more people open up to me, however, (especially through this blog) because I’ve been real.

I know that I’ve talked a fair amount about Hillsong here. I was fortunate to see them twice, this year, and it was life affirming both times. I am now convinced that, if I could have a Hillsong concert, an afternoon on the pacific coast, a girl’s weekend and a night in the city every year, I would be the most well-rounded and peaceful person alive. Since that is not likely to happen, however, I can admit that I am beyond excited for the  film HILLSONG- LET HOPE RISE, releasing this Thursday! Though it wouldn’t be the same, when it’s out on DVD I will be able to watch it every time I need that boost. Also,  I really love this video where Hillsong’s Taya Smith talks about worship… (Also, I TOTALLY dig her retro jacket. #80’s!) Here’s the other reason I really love them… They are authentic. Their lyrics are raw and honest, and their persons are too. Christian or not, that deserves respect in this world.

My Hillsong projects and giveaways have been really personal to me, for the story I’ve shared above. It is on that note that I want to share another! I will be giving away two separate items. One is the soundtrack, and other is a pair of tickets to see HILLSONG- LET HOPE RISE in the theater. To enter to win, simply leave a comment in response to this post OR what worship means to you. (Comments on the Facebook post will also count, alternating in number, with one being here, two there, three here, etc…)

(*during my journey I had a single girlfriend tell me that she was so used to going to church alone that when someone went with her it bothered her. This seemed INSANE to me. I ached for my family and felt their absence screamed loudly at church. Then, the first few Sundays when I went back to church with them beside me I realized I was so distracted. Moral of that story, I guess is, every situation is only ever what we choose to make of it.)

hello June…

June is a pretty special month for me… Not only does it hold several very important birthdays, but it’s the official start of summer and that’s a great thing, right?

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Me-
– An exciting new project that I can’t divulge too many details about, but you know what they say: my excitement is your excitement… {They say that, right?!?!}
– I joined a new summer book club and I am so excited! (Perhaps I should add overuse of the word exciting and any words derived from it. Yikes.) I’m hoping it will be a great experience and connect me with a few new gals in my area!
– I have some fun books between my night stand and my kindle that I’m looking forward to getting in to.
– have coffee/tea/social plans with a new friend.
– I have not done it in ages, but I really want to do a paper craft project, or two, this month.
Family
– End of the year school program.
– sending our youngest off to Jamaica with a youth group team from our church, for a mission trip. {yikes!}
– we are (finally) going through the stuff we have stored in our garage, from our move, that we just don’t have room for.
– celebrating several birthdays of loved ones, even if from afar.
– having a belated Father’s Day since we won’t be able to be together for the calendar scheduled one.
– bike rides, evening walks and active weekends.
– summer movies, trip to the drive in, etc.
 Food
– I’m wanting to try some new, summery recipes in the kitchen.
– Mastering fontina cheese fondue. {Yum!}
– concentrating on more vegetables.
– Grilled dinners complete with deck dining.
– weeknight sun tea, fresh squeezed lemonade, weekend cocktails.
 
Home
– I’m inspired to redo my photo ledges (and this has been an ongoing hope for months) but I can’t quite figure out what I want to do.
– we’ve had tragedy befall our dining room table recently so we will be taking on a creative, yet affordable redo in that area.
– My office has been a mess since our trip to Idaho. When I’m in here, it’s for a quick second or to rush through a work project. I need to organize and clean it.
Love
– We have theater tickets to a Tony winning show that I’m really excited to see!
– We have a couple of other fun, intentional dates on the calendar for the month. Our intentional date challenge has been a really fun one!