Trust In Women

I was accused of being a feminist recently. I use the word “accused” because the tone, flow of conversation, and comment landed in the middle of a disagreement. It went something like “of course you would think that way, you are a feminist.”

Um. Huh?

The comment caught me off guard, because generally speaking within Christian culture and circles, feminism and the celebration of all things lady warrior are usually half-frowned upon. Half-frowned, not fully, because there is a wrestling between women being free to grow, and do, and lead groups, and know their worth, and know they are set apart, and all the lingo we put on flyers for women’s conferences BUT when these women are so inclined or “called” to be on the teams that are making decisions, and making moves, and looking down the barrel at tough calls, and asking for more responsibility, and asking for a seat at the round table and asking questions and challenging paychecks and challenging leadership, and CHALLENGING anything. Well.

Feminist. Save us Jesus.

During this past election, that hands-down unearthed the crazy in all of us, I remember hearing a critique about Hillary that said “it isn’t safe for our country to be lead by a woman, they are too emotional to make decisions.”

“They” are too emotional to make decisions. Oh my. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Right now, in your life, their are no fewer than five women who spend THEIR ENTIRE DAY making decisions. From a working woman to a momma running the show in her home, to every woman in between, WE are making small and large decisions, unimportant and critical decisions, decisions that change the course of the day, and decisions that change the course of our lives and our household’s lives. Sound decision-making isn’t a super-power given to the male gender. Come on.

I’m not a fan of when people end a thought with I can’t. But I CAN’T.

Really, what I want is someone to just have the guts to say in these circles what we already know those in the big boy chairs think – women, and our emotional nature, can’t be trusted. Just say it. Because we can feel it. Our emotional intelligence is clued in and it is not a defect, or a flaw in our creation; it is what makes us qualified to sit at your table.

More importantly, we are not bound to Eve or her slip in judgement. One could make an argument for Adam’s deflection of responsibility as a weakness in leadership, so stop holding that story over our heads. “It was the woman’s fault.” Friends, that punch-line is old and tired. It’s lost it’s luster, if it every had any. Are we done being mocked by that story?

If we truly are free and new creations in Jesus, then let us be free. And new. Like it says we are.

We can trust in women. We can. Scripture is over-flowing with women who God trusted. Women who were charged with tasks that put their lives in danger and one whose obedience freed a nation. Women who took pause before over-reacting and causing a bigger mess. (Abigail, I love you.) Women who boldly believed in their own healing and their children’s healing and pursued Christ even as outcasts, their faith moving mountains. Women who weren’t stopped by their sin or shame or limitations or past or cultural confines. Women who sat at the feet of a Messiah, learning with the men, traveling with (and some scholars say funding) Jesus’s crusade.

Women who were trusted with two of the most beautiful, important and sensitive pieces of information. HE IS COMING. HE IS RISEN.

We can trust in women. Sisters, this is for you too. YOU CAN TRUST IN WOMEN. I suspect that for generations we have suppressed things that we have felt burning inside of us in an attempt to stay within the lines of church culture and obedience. All that stuffing down caused the God-given goodness inside of us to be manipulated and turned around into comparison and jealousy and gossip and folly and general disdain for one another. If I can’t-she can’t thinking. Nasty thinking. This thinking keeps us all in confinement. Instead, we should celebrate and love and cheer and chant “SHE CAN AND I CAN-SHE WILL AND I WILL”

As far as our emotional charge, well you can trust in that also. That pulsating charge is what makes women show up with casseroles in crisis and on random Saturday mornings. That charge is what makes women understand the difference between their children’s cries. That charge is what makes women keen givers of empathy and understanding. That charge is what holds friendships together for 20 years. That charge gathers people at dinner tables. That charge settles disgruntled employees and tense conversations. That charge is what ignites women to lead with servant hearts. That charge is comforting, calming and beautiful.

Sometimes that charge can get super-sized and things can tilt, but if you give her a minute, or space to reset, she will. She can. She does.

This emotional charge isn’t saved and created for women. It is the emotional soul that makes humans divinely interesting, and it is the wide open road to connection and relationship and love but also loneliness and pain and suffering. It is the heavenly substance that makes us FEEL. It is probably the founding father of the casserole. It is what makes us look at the sky with wonder and curiosity. It is the essence of being alive. For me, it is the place the Spirit resides. I can trust in this.

As far as feminism goes, well I am FOR WOMEN. That shouldn’t be a shock. This is reasonable, and decent, which means I am for my feminist friends. Male and female. I am also FOR MEN. Because goodness I am tired of the gender-divide and labeling up in these church walls and church pews. There is no US and THEM. We have better things to be doing. WE should be actively looking for the thing inside of our people that makes them come alive, THEIR GOD-GIVEN FINESSE and stand on the side-lines with posters and water and encouragement, and hope that says YOU CAN AND YOU SHOULD AND YOU WILL.

So yeah, of course I think this way.

trust in women.

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Friends, the same urgency and fervency that the idea to write about my childhood hit me, it also left me. I learned from Elizabeth Gilbert that ideas do not stay forever, so perhaps it wasn’t the right time to write that story, we will see. Thanks for being here. You are always welcome.

Prelude.

Before we go an further, I have to say good-bye to the lies and belief systems that were created in my two worlds, that held this narrative captive in my mind instead of letting it settle on written page for fear of what others would think. I have hand-written this letter, but it is import to add these words to the chronicles given this letter was my own permission slip to write, to speak, to open myself, love myself, and to allow you to peak in.

Dear Old Thought Patterns, Lies, and Systems,

I have to say good-bye to you. Today is the day I regain my identity, uniqueness in character, and drop the lies of my past. Goodbye to the feelings of inadequacy and hello to knowing I am ENOUGH. Goodbye to performing, to earning the love of those around me, to the fear that I would never FIT IN. I, today, say hello to rest, to loving myself, to understanding that people love me just because they do, not because I made them. Goodbye to caring about what other’s think, goodbye TO EXPLAINING MYSELF and APOLOGIZING FOR WHO I AM. Hello to knowing God intended for me to be exactly as I am. No. More. Apologizing. No. More. Explaining. Goodbye to believing I am not enough and sometimes too much. Goodbye to the lie that I don’t or never will “FIT” into Christianity. I do FIT. Perfectly, in the skin God gave me, in my skin. I do fit. Hello to actually believing that. Goodbye to the sadness and guilt over strained and tough moments with my parents. Hello to loving and honest relationships with them that continue to grow. Goodbye to the untrue messages I picked up about God, and I welcome a new relationship with Him, one that I feel safe and loved in. Goodbye to negative self-talk, to shame responses, to holding my head low, to my racism, to earning admiration through deed and accomplishment, to the never-ending chase of the next high. Hello to the high coming from within.

Goodbye to being afraid to speak, of being quiet, of cowering and hiding. HELLO TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. HELLO TO WRITING UNHINGED AND ROWDY. Hello to knowing the message inside of me is GOOD. Hello to writing for myself. Goodbye to believing I am programmed from creation damned, rotten, wretched, and a screw-up. Hello to believing, and knowing, I am created in the image of a good, good father, which means there is good inside of me, from creation. I am not wired to mess-up. I am wired for love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Goodbye to teaching my children out of fear. Hello to teaching out of love.

Goodbye to thinking Josh will fill my void of happiness. Goodbye to the marriage I dream about. Goodbye to expectation and bitterness. Hello to letting him be exactly who he is. Goodbye to thinking Josh deserves a better, more spiritual, quieter wife. Goodbye to believing I broke our marriage. Hello to forgiveness, to healing and to HOPE. Hello to our marriage being a healthy version of what it is. Hello to knowing I am exactly who he needs.  Goodbye to blocking love. Goodbye to being closed off to other people, and new relationships. Hello to letting people know me.

Goodbye to you, Captain Morgan. Goodbye to being afraid to feel the low hum of anxiety, to ignoring sadness, of pretending pain doesn’t exist. Goodbye my old friend, goodbye to you helping me numb and not feel. Hello to feeling IT ALL. Hello to feeling all there is to feel and understanding it is a gift to be aware of what is going on inside. Hello to understanding that my emotions are invitations from myself to take care of myself, especially on the low days. Hello to knowing my tears are information watchtowers and messengers.

Goodbye to the thinking I suck as a mother and hello to creating a different and healthy way to be a mother. Hello to believing I am a WONDERFUL mother. Hello to three boys being raised by a mother who is giving them her very best shot. Hello to knowing they love me.

Goodbye, to all of it. Goodbye. I am laying you down. Hello to inhaling and exhaling, to filling my lungs full with air, and to knowing that I AM OKAY. Hello to breathing. Hello to being alive.

-Chele

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Hello! Have you ever wanted to write yourself a goodbye letter? This letter came at the end of an intense, 12 week course called the Ultimate Journey. I would recommend this class to EVERYONE. All people. If you are interested check out the link below to fill out a registration form. I will contact you when our next session starts!

http://www.houseofhopecr.org/classes/

Registration form under the tab labeled Ultimate Journey Phase 1-Ongoing.

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When You Are The Other Girl

Hey sister. Let’s get this one thing out of the way. I need you to lock this truth deep down in your heart. Tuck this one in tight. Put it in the spot you return to when you need to remind yourself that you are okay, magnificent in fact. Here it is-

YOU ARE NO-ONE’S ‘OTHER’.

I can vaguely remember the butterflies that flipped and flopped in my stomach riding in his car. He a senior, I a sophomore, everything about him was exciting. It was also equally terrifying. I had no idea how to BE around a boy. My nerves reminded me of the awkwardness of my body, and my know-how. I knew nothing. As many young crushes do, we drove up and down the strip of my hometown. Up and down, and with each pass of the red-light that marked the spot to turn around, I felt more comfortable. Sometime in that car ride he reached over to hold my hand and I knew it then; I knew I HAD ARRIVED.

The trouble with my arrival was that this boy of excitement and mystery had an on-again, off-again girlfriend. They were more on than off, but this night, I was the girl. I WAS ON. For like five minutes.

So began my first role call as “the other girl.” I knew when he and she were having problems, because I would get a phone call. I had been waiting for the phone call, waiting for her to exit stage left and my lines to begin. Waiting for the seat I sat in on those drives up and down the strip to once again be mine. Waiting to catch his gaze in the hallway at school. Waiting for him to choose me as the leading role. Waiting. Always waiting. That was one of the first times I remember letting a guy define my lovability. Even though I didn’t know I was giving him that power. It wouldn’t be the last.

He was such a good guy. That is the problem sometimes with the guys. Some really are good guys. He graduated, and moved on, and the years to follow I had two other significant relationships before meeting my husband.

In between those relationships, I took the belief that I was loved when (enter name) loved me. I believed that my value, my worth, my happiness was directly linked to the tenacity and certainty in which those guys wanted and loved me. I positioned myself in ways to win their affections over other girls. Girls who were just like me. Girls that I hated. Girls that in another situation, would probably be my good friends. Girls, like me. During those days I figured out how to start pretending to be what someone wanted me to be in order to win their love. And when I didn’t succeed, my identity would fall apart. Crisis after crisis. Again and again. I was loosely held together by lies and make-believe, so my constant unraveling was par for the course.

And then, there was my husband. I was not the ‘other’ girl for him, but one of many girls trying to lock-him up. I followed suit however with my old patterns. Be what he wants. Compete. Out perform the other girls. Get what you want.

It worked. So I thought. Until during our first year of marriage, when he knew with clarity that the girl he dated was not the chic he married. For the past 10 years, we have been undoing the damage of those early days.

So here is the thing, beautiful girl, you are no one’s ‘other’ girl. If you are pining away waiting for a text or phone call so you can breathe and know you are okay, stop waiting. If you are pulling out your psycho, (cause every girl can dig it up) to be seen or noticed by a guy who isn’t feeling it, stop trying. If he is a smooth talking, woman loving, romeo-rico-suave-bruno-mars-sweet talking piece of something else that is talking up and whispering in the ears of a group of girls, step yourself out of the group. If you are strictly the ‘other’ girl, the side piece, the back-up plan, and all the other degrading and repulsive names for that role, YOU-YOU PICK ANOTHER NAME FOR YOURSELF.

Here are a few to choose from to get you started. Mighty. Talented. Eccentric. Funny. SMART. BEAUTIFUL. WANTED. LOVED. OKAY. CONFIDENT. SEEN. VALUABLE.

You are not someone’s other choice. You make your own choices. You love yourself. You value yourself. You create your own happiness. You know your worth. You re-write the story-line that girls have been chained in for centuries, the story that we matter when someone says we matter. That we are as good as those who choose us.

YOU, AMAZING GIRL, ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. Let that sink in.

When you get a hold of this, and know this, the love you want will find you. You will be irresistible. You will give other people permission to be free in their skin. You will no longer be waiting to be found, you will be expectant and excited to love from a place of already being found.

And that seat, in his car, well, it stays open.

And your marriage, one day, starts from a place of honesty.

And you know, you have always been, good enough.

You are love. You are good enough. You are enough.

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Bored.

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I have two days to go. Only two. A governing body of professionals in our school district have decided that 14 whole days is required to celebrate Christmas. Actually, I don’t know who makes that call.  Someone who is mad at me, I presume.

Boredom hovers over our home. I wonder how it was possible to birth the thirstiest, and boredest, children on the planet. Maybe the two go hand in hand, the boreder they get, the thirstier they get. The fog is thick, making imaginative play, creative thinking or reading of any kind impossible.  I conclude that my children can no longer see the words on the page through the boredom.  The only thing left to do is sit as close to me as possible, and stare. Even the dog. She is bored. And staring.

My arsenal is bare. I have suggested all I know to keep us busy, thriving and going these past two weeks. Even TV is old news. Nothing left to do but sit, and stare, and hold on. The boredom creates a shaky, anxious feeling inside me. We can all feel it.

I remember reading an article somewhere that talked about boredom being good for kids. That it actually makes them smarter. I decide I love that article. That even though they are staring at me, and sighing loudly, they are actually turning into little geniuses. This thought moves me safely back to the illusion that I have it all together. Lying to myself about this gives me something to do.

Finding something to do. That, I know, is actually what is making me feel shaky. It’s me. Not the kids. I am bored. I feel uncomfortable in silence. Unsafe when stationary. So we go, and do, and push so I can pass the hours until bedtime. As if time wasn’t moving fast enough, I partner with it to move the day along quicker. My eight year old’s face is changing. The early years are falling off, he just looks..older. His life has flown by. Back to panic. Back to shaky. Moms know time is flying, and yet, it isn’t moving at all. I don’t understand this dance, and why it makes me feel like I can’t miss a second of their young lives. Even though I need to. Even though I have to.

There is a post-it note tucked away in my journal. “Courtney, you don’t have to be ever-present.” It was written after another tearful conversation with a friend. A male friend. Casually, he said “I think moms get present and ever-present mixed up. Being a present mother doesn’t mean being an ever-present mother.” The words dropped in my heart like an anchor. I go back to the post-it frequently, a written permission slip to myself to walk away and let boredom set in. Not only for my kids, but for myself, because THIS IS IT. I DON’T HAVE TO BE EVER-PRESENT.

This opportunity to be the mother of three young boys needs to be exactly what motherhood was that day. Each day different, but routinely familiar to the day before.  Each day asking for do-overs and high-fives. Each day feeling joy and sadness. Anticipation and boredom. Each day walking away from ever-present parenting, to ever-present awarness of what I need emotionally and physically, so I CAN BE a present parent. What WE need. Each day being what it is, nothing more or less.

I smile thinking of all the days I have had with the boys, and of the ones coming. They catalog themselves in my memory. The memories steady the shaky energy. I know that they are okay, and that I am okay, and that I am actually a really good mom. Even though I am bored today. Even though motherhood seems like busy work. So it will be. So it is. But I still have no idea what to do with the dog.

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In The Pie.

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Three years ago I felt an unshakeable urge to gather Thanksgiving groceries for families who may need them. Urges don’t come with money, resources or need. So I tossed the idea on FB to see if anyone else felt a push to help. They did. 20 something total strangers put together a feast for three families. As the holiday approached the past two years, I did the same. I put a call on FB and many answered back.

A few nights ago a friend of ours who suggested a lady and her family this year pulled me aside to tell me a story. He gives her rides, and had recently chatted with her during a ride to one of her doctor’s appointments. With tearful eyes he told me what the food donation meant to her. She and her mother have had a strained relationship since her father died, and had not spoken to each other in over a year. With one of the pies in hand, and a decent amount of courage, she went to visit her mother and share the dessert. Since then, they had spent time together every day.

If you have read my blog before, you know I am a big fan of Jesus. So when I feel “an urge” I almost always know who is urging me. It’s God.

This is were I am going with all this. In my personal life things are changing, people are changing, ideas are being looked at closer, conversations are starting. I have noticed this ugly, nasty fear surfacing in my close and extended Christian community when others no longer conform, believe as they do, ask questions, or share when they are “wrestling” with their faith, as we are clearly asked to do in scripture. Fear that leads to panic, gossip, assumptions, and hurtful words. A fear that marches us right up to an I KNOW IT ALL AND YOU KNOW NOTHING OR WHAT YOU KNOW IS WRONG soap box. The fear brushes the box off and allows us to make complete fools of ourselves. All of this causing me to call a hard time out and step back and step out.

Last night another status on FB propagating this mess of using Christ in a decisive way, dug in deep, reminding me of why I was taking an intentional break from daily FB checking.  On my drive to my Advent study I began to cry. Mostly grieve. So I prayed, or talked it out aloud, knowing what God was saying and moving in me.

It’s this. WE ARE MISSING THE WHOLE THING. God is in the pies. HE IS IN THE PIES. He is in all of the small things that we overlook arguing who is and isn’t going to Heaven. While we continue mouthing, and assuming and fearing for people’s condition after death, He is busy restoring a daughter and mother who haven’t spoken in a year over a pie. As we pray for revival, or healing of our land, or hearts to change, He sends in the most unassuming, unusual suspects to do his work. Those who aren’t busy with who gets in and who doesn’t. He is already answering those prayers. We just aren’t looking in the right places.

I cried even more thinking of how unsuspected and radical it was that He sent Jesus as a baby FIRST. The prophecies could have read differently, that Jesus would be a man that just showed up to start this huge, loud campaign of change. And yet, He sends an infant who lives a life that is underwhelming, upsetting and questioned by many.

Friends, God is urging us to do big and little things. Urging us to actually practice the fruit of the spirit which is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, long suffering, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23) Urging us to SHOW PEOPLE His character, instead of argue over His character. Urging us to gather our people, Christian or not, to do healing things.

If you want to know what’s going on with me, I will tell you. I don’t care what church you attend, how you worship, what you wear, what denomination you feel is best or how you pray. If you tell me you are a Christian, then I am looking for Christ in you. He is pretty easy to spot. I will be looking for love. And since He came for the imperfect He shows up the brightest in the honest and imperfect. I am with you. You are who I want to follow this man with. It’s a beautiful thing that we get to do such amazing work. And if you tell me you aren’t Christian, I am still with you. I hope you see Jesus in me, and my life anyway. One pie at a time. One conversation at at time. One person at a time. One family at a time. One story at a time.

Don’t miss this. Don’t miss Him. Immanuel. God with us. Right now. Let’s get to work. Shout-out to the group that was able to give this Thanksgiving season! We are the stones that are tossed into everyday things to ripple it with kindness!

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Merry Christmas to you amazing readers. So much love. You are welcome here always.

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When Your Wife Needs To Go….Let Her Go

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Husbands, Spouses, Daddies..this one is for you.

I’ve got a favor to ask, a petition, a battle cry, on behalf of the lady in your life. This is me, sitting with you, looking you in the eye and calmly getting to the point, because hallelujah I know you don’t want details, you want the big picture in one simple point.

So-here it is. If, and more commonly, WHEN, your wife or the one you love needs to go, then you gotta let her go.

Where you ask? It could be anywhere really. Target. The front seat of her car. Down the street. A coffee shop. A weekend getaway with the girls. It doesn’t matter, the location always has the same purpose…to GET OUT OF DODGE.

Now, this next stuff is important.  The above was getting to the point. The following is why the point is needed so hang in there with me. If that lady of yours is herding smallish people all day, or if she works and comes home to herd until the night, then when she looks at you and says “babe, I need a break”- then those are your cue words. You are now cued in to the oncoming of her crazy-she is letting you in-asking for help-this is your chance.

It is in this moment, this balance, that you have to encourage or at the very least agree that a break is needed. This is a vulnerable place. A testy place. If your face reads resentment, if your words fly off handles and walls, then she will retreat inward, or volcano outward, with you in the line of fire.

And this is why. Your wife, the one you loved or love, she changes. The woman that met you at the end of an aisle will change as you walk back down the aisle together. No longer single that woman, now a wife. A new role. A new skin. And so the change comes; homemaker, career chaser and holder, and maybe the one that rocks the insides, mother. All that change.

In all this you have probably thought your wife was loosing it. Emotional. Sensitive. Irrational. Cold. You were right. Sorry for that, because we can be nuts and you have to deal with it. Our crazy can run deep and true. But often it is found in all of the change and all of the new skins. So we try to remember who we were before, and try to wiggle and fit into who we are now, and try and shape who we want to become.

If your woman is a momma, well, all of this gets mixed up. Because momma can move itself to the top, and all of the other ‘hers’ will fall to the side. She will feel that. And so, will probably ask you for a break. Without the kids. Let her go without the kids. For the love, without the KIDS! (I just raised my voice at you, apologies)

Mommas need to know who they are without their children. This is healthy and good, because one day they will be women without their children. One day they will be women who no longer ask permission to be away from their kids, but ask permission to be with their kids. One day their house will shift quietly, the rooms will be empty and they will be holding their momma skin in their hands trying to understand how it fits again. How will they, we, know if we don’t see who we are away from them in the littlish years? How could we transition from someone always needing us to only you wanting us? How can all this stretching and changing not rattle even the most sane of mothers?

With your help, that’s how. See, I told you this was very important. With you letting us go…when we need to go.

This time-out, this place of solidarity, this weekend with her friends, this conference she has asked to go to or this trip home to see her family, it will allow her brain the opportunity to gather all of the ‘hers’, look at them, breathe, and regroup. It is a precious, holy even, time for her.

Careful, however, to use your “let” purely and honestly, not as leverage or a wager. This is not a one for one, this is a one for her. Back to the crazy feelings-she will know, feel, when guilt is tied to your “let”. If she takes your guilt with her, she won’t get down to the work, or the relaxing, that needs to be done.  Plus, she will be fighting the guilt she will take along anyway.

While she is away you will survive! Yes you will! And it may be hard. And you may (should) call your mother for help. Or a friend. And she will have slaved away before leaving to make it as easy as possible for you and yet still…it could be a disaster. Really your goal is to keep everyone alive. You can do this. All of this is ok…because you love her. Or you did at one time. And when she comes back, that is what she will feel. Loved. Unless, of course, you are dramatic about how bad it sucked. At this point, it is also beneficial to only give information that she needs. Having been away, she will surprise you with what she can handle. She will love you more.

So, that’s it. You really do matter. We know you work hard. We know you love the kids. Some days we even know, or remember, that you love us. You are appreciated. Still, when your woman has got to go….then let her go. Want her to go.

And ladies-if you get the opportunity…..no looking back! YOU GOTTA GO!

P.S. Single mommas..parents..I just respect you-mad respect.

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Hello!!! Thanks for hanging out here for a bit! If you are loving what you are reading, then follow Courtney Misener on FB or on Insta @ cmisener! You are welcome here always!!!

The Hot Chick And Her Bottled Water

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The man and I just got home from a week in Florida. A week. Just the two of us. You can imagine how wonderful it was. It was also a bit awkward just being ALONE with him without our usual distractions. I mean in order for me to get some play around here I have to set up a few episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, hand out snacks, lock doors, etc. Parents you know what I am talking about…good grief..and I actually have no idea where I was going with that but nonetheless the trip was awesome.

The last day, well, we slept through our flight. Just snoozed right through it. So our final day was spent trying to remember that we still loved each other because nothing triggers moody people quite like missing a flight. We found a flight out, at a different airport, on a different airline, ate the cost of two new tickets, and settled in at our gate four hours early. We weren’t missing that second one.

Those next several hours I sat and did one of my favorite things to do. I people watched. Creeper style. Full-staring engaged. I did keep my face gentle and smiled often as to not scare the ones I was silently dissecting and judging. I watched families casually settling in at gates, and families running to catch planes. I watched kids drive their parents crazy and people argue at airline counters. I watched business professionals and snow-birds. Young hands and aged-hands holding each other. Tan-skin leaving and pale-skin arriving. People hugging, people hustling, people laughing, people sleeping, people stressing.

I watched about 20 people decide to eat a piece of delicious, greasy, Sbarro pizza-which made me join them in that horrible decision making. There really is no attractive way to eat pizza. I kept looking for it and we all just look like animals eating it. And while standing in line to buy the pizza I envied over everything the girl in front of me was wearing, her luggage, her beautiful care-free hair; she was buying a water. Of course, just a water. At a pizza joint. But then I remembered she probably looked like an animal eating pizza, so that made me feel better and worse all at the same time. JUST GET A PIECE OF PIZZA! I KNOW YOU ARE HUNGRY! But she probably didn’t want to get that perfect shoulder shawl saucy. I get it.

And so it carried on. Me watching people. (The man was intensely engaged in his work-cause he was supposed to be at work. Missed flight and all.) At one point I remember closing my eyes and putting my head in my hands and thought “God, there are SO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD, and I am supposed to believe that you know, and love them all. All of them. And this is just one corner gate, in one airport, in one spot on the planet. There are so many people HERE. So many people.”

I think-and stay-in my head so long I wonder some days if I will ever get out of the maze. But I thought a lot that morning. And I noticed that people are starkly different. Just different. Our outward differences are obvious-the color of our skin, the shapes of our bodies, the way we sit and walk and carry ourselves. The way we engage our neighbor, and the way we move towards the people we love. Even the way we wash our hands in the bathroom. We just are and do things differently.

I also noticed that we are starkly alike. That all the things we do differently are just details. That the blueprint from the beginning of time hasn’t changed. Our skin is different, but we are covered with skin. Our faces have the same functioning parts, just the details vary. We all (mostly) walk, sit, talk, stand the same way. There are variations to this of course, but the majority are a carbon copy of motor movement. We all also universally feel things. We feel sadness, we feel happiness, we know belonging and we know isolation. We know failure and we know victory. We know when love is real and when it is fake. We know what physical pain feels like and we know what emotional pain feels like. This may be the greatest unifying thread among us all. We can’t escape feeling the world as we experience it. How we handle all of that-well like I said. Details.

We are all people hustling, laughing, sleeping, and stressing.

And it is impossible to look attractive eating pizza.

I felt it sharp-knowing that I separate myself from people. I do it. I choose. I judge. I expect. I see what I want to see and hear what I want to hear. I protect myself. I know this is what we do. I know we, even more than ever, separate ourselves into camps of safe people. To camps of people who will not challenge our beliefs or argue with the safety of our theological perimeters. We buddy up with parents who parent the way we do and soap box on the same soap boxes we carry. We stay safe. The other side requires us to feel too much-to question too much-to love too deep.

The other side requires me to give the chick buying water a break. And recognize that the two of us are, from creation, more alike than different.

I think this is why God can see and love us all. He never intended for the us to be so vastly different, as we are not to him. If you remove all the details, his workmanship looks alike over and over.

I have had people in our circle preach fear. The end times. All that mess that scares people who hear it out of context. I have had many people call me naive for pushing kindness in my posts, for looking past our differences to really LISTEN AND HEAR the person on the other side of an argument or disagreement. I have been accused of watering-down the good word and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Hear me when I say, I know no other way.

love nothing

The Jesus who lives in me years ago took this heart of mine and infused it deeply with a love for the oppressed, the voiceless, the overlooked, the judged, the categorized, the ones our churches invite on marquees but shun with body language outside the church doors. I’ve tried not to rally for these people. I have tried. So many times. But I must. And when I flip the coin and do something like wrongly judge a chick in a line, I feel it. Deeply. If you were to know me 10-15 years ago, then you would know this makes no sense. I wasn’t bubbling over with acceptance and kindness. Then He does stuff like stick me in an airport to remind me of all this.

And if, if the worst comes and my extension of love ends in a way that I am harmed or my family is harmed, then I will stand before Jesus and know I did exactly as he had instructed me to do-as he prompted me to do. I will die teaching my children and preaching kindness, love, love that does not have strings attached, and that we are more alike than different. So we can rest in that. And to fear not-because the God that loves us so well did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I will die preaching the goodness of King Jesus, of his kindness, and of his unrelenting ability to hang in there with us as we feel and experience the nasty, hurtful, crazy stuff of this life.

And now you know. I will not fear God’s creation. The only thing I have left is to perfect trying to love them. All of them. As well as I can, as God leads.

All of this, from missing a flight.

I hope you read this blog and feel encouraged. I’ve said before, it is crazy to me the amount of people who read my writing. This will be what I write about. I hope you stay. I hope you look at a stranger today and notice your similarities. I hope you smile at them. I hope you recall what a wreck you were, or are, before Jesus got a hold of you. I hope you let go of fear. Or at the very least, I hope you think about all this stuff.

Strength for being reckless with our (your) kindness and love.

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For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~2 Timothy 1:7~

I have to write this because I know someone will challenge me. I know there are evil people in the world. Terrible, evil, extreme, and downright mean people. I know this. I know there are extremely dangerous places, situations, and again-people. I have the common sense, wisdom, etc not to actively engage or provoke these individuals to do harm to those I love, or myself. What I am talking about above is choosing to let go of our fear of everyone because of the few, or of choosing to classify everyone because of a few. And still, in the very rare event I lose my life or get hurt for opening myself up, so be it. Jesus lost his life over it. Gave it for messed up people. For people who would still be bad. Reckless, crazy behavior. Reckless, crazy love.

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If I Want A Man, Then I’m Gonna Get A Man

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“My name is no, my sign is no, my number is no..you need to let it go” (this song is so catchy. You are welcome for it being stuck in your head)

My children were playing after school on the playground yesterday. It didn’t take long for a game of tag to begin, little ones dodging and lunging around the kid that was ‘it’. My second-born was ‘it’ for awhile. Awhile considering he was the youngest in the bunch and his older brother and his friends were naturally quicker.

Soon he grew tired of the game and walked away to find my youngest son. The dreaded role of ‘it’ was now open. I thought the game would disperse, but just as it was ending someone decided that a little girl who had just joined to play would now commence as the one chasing everyone else. She was noticeably smaller than the boys she was chasing, four or five by my guess, giving it all she could to catch the boys giggling, yelling, and running away from her.

I watched for awhile, then decided to call my oldest over to give him the “let her tag you” speech. His friend came along and I told them there was no way she could catch any of the boys, and to give her reprieve if only for a minute. He listened and said “but mom, she wants to be it.” His friend agreed. “No one wants to be it” I said, to which they both shook their heads and repeated that she indeed wanted to be it, and when she caught one of them THEN they had to be her husband.

“I don’t want to be her husband mom” Beckett said. “Guess what, I’m not dressed for a wedding and she has to ask my permission anyway, so don’t worry you won’t be her husband today.” I said. And off they ran to re-join the game.

I don’t have a daughter, but as I watched I wondered if it really did start that early, the chasing of a man. I watched her run around the huddled up laughing boys. Watched her flail her arms at each one, almost reaching them, almost tagging them. I couldn’t remember if I chased boys at that age. Maybe I did. Maybe that’s what we do as women. Chase things.

The when, then stuck with me though.

‘WHEN she catches us, THEN we have to be her husband.’

That is what we are chasing as women, as anyone I guess, the WHEN, THEN. When I catch the thing I am flailing around trying to catch, then I will make it have value. Then I will have value. 

I thought about my own when, then(S) in my life, thought about why they mattered. Thought about the lies I believe in my when, then(s).

When the kids are all in school, then I can really focus on my mental health and career.

When Josh and I are out of debt, then we can give like I want to.

When Josh and I make more money, then of course we can give like we want to.

When I am older, and more experienced, then I can be a writer.

When I have more time, then I can exercise.

When Josh changes, then I will change. 

When we sale our house, then we can have a competitive down payment on the house I really want. (yeah, so that’s not a lie. I need to sale our current house, come look at it.-you feel me?)

Thought about other when, then(s) that people I love deal with …..

When we have a baby, then our marriage will be okay.

When we get through this or that or whatever then I will love my spouse.

When I find a man, then I will have purpose. Value. Self-respect. I will be fulfilled. Same as for when I find a woman. 

When I loose weight, then I will love my body.

When I get the promotion, or title, then I will be respected.

When we deal with our major family issues, then we will have peace. 

When I stop drinking, then I will start dealing with the reasons why I drink.

When, then, when, then, when, then….

I feel winded.

So I had to check myself. Because what about NOW? Because now I have issues that need to be dealt with. Now I need to wake up and choose my husband. Now I need to – above all things – take care of my mental health. Now I need to focus on my small business. Now I need to write. Now I need to give. Today. Right now. Not when, then.

But I stall. It is scary on the other side of the cliff. Our when, then(s) partner with fear, because ain’t nobody got time to dig in and do the work required on themselves. It is so vulnerable there. And if we are attaching self-worth, respect, ownership, dreams, goals, healing, to the other side of our when, then(s)-then we gotta get to the other side.

Friends, your marriage will not get better when kids come along. Your marriage will get better with tried and true hard work and change. You will not truly love the skin the good Lord gave you when you start eating healthy and exercising if you don’t first love it enough to take care of it now. Your spouse, man, woman, will never fill the void you want them to fill if you first don’t explore the space yourself. No promotion, title, pay raise, or recognition will hold the respect you need if you first don’t understand the importance of respecting yourself as is. Today. You won’t give more when you have more, because you didn’t give little when you had little. And peace…peace in families comes from those who are peacemakers. Not side-line observers.

All this NOW stuff is big heart issue stuff. It’s looking in the mirror stuff. It’s pulling back the rug stuff. It’s white elephant in the room asked to take a bow stuff. Sweet Jesus it is hard, brutal emotional stuff. Uncomfortable stuff.

But I know, after watching that sweet girl chase and chase today, that their is no peace in when, then(s). Only exhaustion and frustration.

NOW-we figure out what we are chasing.


I’m digging in with you, trying to figure out what I am chasing that will satisfy this longing for success and respect. Why is it so important? Why do other people’s opinions matter?

I know to whom I belong , and by whom I am loved. Both here and in Heaven. Why is this not enough?

I hope you ask yourself some questions. I hope you find a safe person to talk to. I hope you stop flailing. I hope you rest your weary legs and stop chasing worth in something or someone.

I am pretty tired myself.

And ladies, “If I want a man, then I’m gonna get a man. But it’s never my priority.” Head down, only running in your lane, not worried about what other people have going on. Check off your bucket list, and know who you are. I promise the man you are looking for will find you when you are looking away. And he will LOVE how much you LOVE and RESPECT yourself. It is so very attractive.

If he doesn’t, run away as fast as you can. Just run. But don’t be the girl who is “it”. You are swatting at emptiness.

Strength to rest and re-evaluate what we are chasing. Strength to identify our when, then(s) that are shutting us down. Strength for it all. Carpe Diem.

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So if you have followed the blog long, you know I am a Christ-follower. Can I tell you something great? There is no when,then with Jesus. It’s a when-right now. When you choose Jesus-he chooses you. Right away. He chooses you. He’s been waiting for you. No when you choose me, then you get your life together, then I choose you. No when you love me, then you stop sinning, then I love you. He is a present lover of you. Sometimes he is too big for me to think about, his love too wide open, his mercy too freely given, his forgiveness too unending. Sometimes He is overwhelming. But even still, He doesn’t put me in a situation that I need to perform to understand how He works. And HE still came for us, for me,-when we were sinners-and ended all the rat racing with his death on the cross. He came for you.

~We love, because HE first loved us.~ I love, because He showed me what love is.

Romans 5:8, 1st John 4:19.

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Above is a nod to Meghan Trainor’s NO-but video not ok for little eyes- Song is groovy though! Plus I found a reason to name this post something goofy…

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Why You Running Your Mouth??

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Awhile ago I had a miscommunication with someone close to me. It was a mis-everything actually. Misunderstanding, miscommunication, misheard, mis-mess-hurt feelings throw down. Good ole’ fashion she said he said. It was brutal. And I hadn’t had a situation like this in years.

This ego of mine, maybe even my pride, drew a line in the sand and rallied the troops. The troops being my stubbornness, sarcasm, sharp tongue and my husband. Step one-get him on my side.

This particular conflict was messing with me because the truth was, the truth is, I wasn’t in the wrong. Like, really. I tend to believe I live in a world that I am never wrong, and often if not always that world of mine implodes. I find that I am wrong, that I can be wrong, that being wrong won’t kill me and that people actually prefer when I admit I am wrong over reigning supreme as the queen of Never Wrongville. Because let’s be honest. Those people are the worst. Just the worst. So, I’ve been working on that.

BUT!!! For once, I really wasn’t in the wrong! I know this because my husband said so! And that man is so full of integrity that I want to punch him frequently because he puts me in my place all the time. This time, he said-“YOU ARE RIGHT. I DON’T KNOW WHERE THIS IS COMING FROM.”

The “this” he was referring to was the hurtful, untrue, obnoxious things that were said to me and about me. They stung. They worked themselves into what I believed about myself. The words found themselves on ears of close friends. Of people who loved me. Of people who knew me.

For a person like myself, a person that tells herself damning things anyway, a person who fights her mind every morning, a person who deep down knows her worth, but has to spend time aligning her mind and heart-words are the scales of life and death. They just are.

Knowing this about me, and knowing the things being said were stone cold lies, I called my mentor. My mentor is different from my therapist. Everyone needs both. To talk words with. Words that are killing you and words that are healing you.

My mentor listened. Listened without asking questions. This is important. He listened and let me finish. At the end, he gave me a scripture to think about. It went like this:

~But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscious, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.~ 1st Peter 3:15-16

So I pondered on the above for a little bit.

This is what I know, and what he was trying to tell me. It doesn’t matter what crap people have heard and are sifting through about you. WHAT MATTERS IS THE WAY YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE. And if you live a life loving and learning from Jesus, and/or a life of kindness and gentleness, then your life will do ALL THE TALKING NEEDED without uttering a word. Your life will put the slander to shame.

I honestly believe this is equally freeing and terrifying. Because this truth could swing either way. Regardless, WHO WE ARE will do all the talking, every time.

He told me to pray about it. He told me to forgive. He told me to shake it off. That was that.

Friends, if you are currently on the receiving end of some bull, if what is being said about you is unfair, untrue, unprovoked or hurtful, I am sorry. It sucks. I will say the same to you. Pray about it. Shake it off. Practice forgiveness. (God knows that is a skill-so practice needed) and live your life so the slander is put to shame.

Friends, if you are currently the one spewing the bull, then stop. Just stop. Even if you feel validated in the spewing. If you have to whisper to say it, don’t say it. If you have to check yourself before saying it, don’t say it. There is no power greater in the universe than harmful and healing words.  We get to choose which ones we use. Choose healing. Choose kindness. Choose life-giving.

There isn’t a truer statement than the picture below. What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally. Yes, and Amen. Preach. Get it. If you are talking trash-it is a reflection on YOU. No one else. Trash-talking is a symptom of something else. A cry to yourself that something is going on. Back to the therapist thing-get one. Dig in and do some hard work and find out why gossiping feeds you. I know-that I know-that outward expressions are reflections of inward happenings. Whatever is going on the inside will find its way out. Good, bad and ugly.

susie.

If you have read this far, I am sure this is old news. We all know this right? We know how damaging words can be. Both saying them and being pelted by them. And yet, we still engage. We still whisper. We still stretch the truth. Why? Well because we are messed up human beings. So messed up. It is much easier to focus on and spread someone else’s crap than our own. Looking at our stuff…yeah that is hard. Looking at it and dealing with it…even harder. Looking at it and admitting where we were wrong, hardest ever. It has to be done.

I’ve stated before that I write these blogs to myself. Lord have mercy I need to check myself. I am growing, I am learning. I can do better.

Strength to speak words that are good, kind and whole today. Strength to live our lives differently so nasty words are put to shame. Strength to notice our blind spots and weaknesses. Strength to shut our mouths. Strength to shake sheez off. I am with you.

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How important is all of this to Jesus? Kinda important. As in very important. This is what the good book has to say about slander and language of it’s kind:

~Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit~ Psalm 34:13

~The power of the tongue is life and death-those who love to talk will eat what it produces~ Proverbs 18:21

The greatest commandment Jesus gives to his followers is to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Hard to love our neighbor when running our mouths. We can do better.

Much love.

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The Cussing Toddler

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One morning about a month ago Josh and I had a loud, engaging marital debate (fight, we had a fight) about who even knows. I can’t even remember. What I do remember is that in order to get my point across I yelled a word that rhymes with duck. And truck. And luck.

My actual sentence was “WHAT THE (duck, truck, luck..yeah you guessed it.) A-team cuss-word status. I figured in order to get my point across I needed to pull out the big guns. I was also fooled in thinking that our kids were preoccupied with their cereal and cartoons.

With lighting speed those words left my mouth, and our four year old silently registered that sentence in his language catalog. He also decided that those words would be his NEW FAVORITE THING TO SAY. AND SAY. AND SAY.

That night my mother-in-law was visiting and she and my son were sitting on the floor working a puzzle. The pieces weren’t fitting together, so in frustration he said clear as day “WHAT THE (f-word)”. There was a pause,  and as we were waiting to see if any adult would acknowledge his potty mouth, two thoughts went through my head. The first was actually another cuss word. The second, was surprise that he used the phrase correctly.

Liam beep

I smiled at my mother-in-law and raised my hand admitting my guilt. “Me” I said. “It was me. He learned it from me.” We both laughed and later that night Josh and I talked to him about why Mommy should have chosen a different word, and that those words were not words for a four year old, or even for mommies. So I figured, good. Done with that.

Nope. Not done with that. YA’LL WE ARE NOT DONE. This child of mine is on a ROGUE MISSION TO SELL ME OUT any chance he can get. (PS-kids are the worst at throwing us under the bus…punks.)

The following is a list of people who have been told by my four year old that the f-bomb is a bad word, as well as many versions of this word. Am I around when he is dropping this information? NO. As stated above, rogue.

Daddy, Grandma, his uncle, both brothers, two babysitters, his Sunday School teacher, Pre-school teacher, two neighborhood kids, family friends and a handful of monster trucks HAVE ALL BEEN TOLD  by my four year old that the BIG F is a bad word. And he says it plain as day. Why do I know this? Because in giggles and belly laughs they have told me.

And since he has shared this information with his little brother so many times, my three year old is now on board to spread the gospel message that this word is bad. Of course, in order to be a strong communicator one must practice their message often, so that is what my three-year old has been busy doing. Practicing using this new word.

WE ARE NOT DONE. FOR THE LOVE.

Josh and I have a plan, and we will see this through. If it doesn’t work-I may be back asking for parenting advice….but not yet.

This is what I want you to know :: SOMETIMES THINGS HAPPEN IN OUR LIVES THAT SHAKE THE PERCEPTION OUTLINES WE GIVE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE ABOUT US. 

On social media, in relationships, during dinner conversations, in small groups- if you aren’t someone who has been in my inner circle for years or knows me intimately, I am going to drive the information I give you to control what you believe about me.

We all do it. Our manipulation and selectivity of information is exercised many different ways, in order to protect who we want people to think we are. 

And this is who I want you to think I am; I want you to think I am a woman so in love with Jesus,  and her husband. A mother who has fought the good fight with depression and won it, a mother who loves her children and is raising them in a calm home that is free from strife and unrest. A woman placed by God to run a thriving and growing Women’s Ministry who leans not on her own strength, but God’s. I also want you to think I am funny. And pretty. And an amazing writer.

Some of what I want you to think is true. There are, however, large holes in the above story line. For starters, I like to cuss. I said the word like. Because I do. It has become a habit and common in the way I communicate. Many would argue cussing isn’t in the best interest of someone representing Jesus. There are many schools of thought about cuss words qualifying as sin (it would be cool if that conversation did not start here in the comments)-but for me I don’t actually agree with the word being sin, more than the truth that I can communicate my point in a way that may be less offensive-and give people a purer version of the Jesus I claim to be so in love with. ( I am going to stop here on this. The next blog post will open this up more and explain why I have come to this conclusion. Please wait before weighing in until next post)

Right now, this current habit of mine is roaming the street coming out in a blaze of glory through my four year old. And isn’t that just the thing-the stuff we try to hide and engage in secretly, or stuff down, or dismiss as not a big deal, or pawn off , all that stuff always finds away to surface and cling to us like a scarlet letter. All things come to light in the end.

So it’s out. My cussing F-bomb is out. My kids cuss. They heard it at home. If they cuss around you-they heard it at home. No need to wonder.

There is a story in the bible often quoted and used to explain Jesus’s character. There was a woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus to be sentenced. She was brought by the Pharisees who have been compared to the religious community of the time. As the crowd rallied for her to be stoned to death, as was punishment for this act according to old law, Jesus says the famously quoted “he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” The woman’s accusers drop their stones and leave.

Jesus, standing alone with the woman, then asks her “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? to which she replied “No one, sir.”

Let’s sit here a minute. This is the good, rich, beautiful truth of life. YOU ARE YOUR ONLY ACCUSER. Your behavior, actions..all that may call attention to something you are doing. People may raise a brow. Ask questions. Judge unfairly. Cast stones. All of it.  But the holes in the reality you are giving people and the reality you are living will accuse you first. It starts with you. And the accuser’s stone you are holding will be the only one that matters. 

And if we know this about people, we can drop our stones and walk away. For those of us following Jesus, we really are all the woman trying “to go and sin no more.” For those who choose another way-we still drop our stones. The holes in our stories will accuse us as sure as we accuse others. So we have to communicate differently. Maybe without the F-bomb.

If you experience my son’s potty mouth, good for you. Because at the very least you will get a decent laugh in for the day. I hope you also know I am human, make mistakes, and am doing my best to let Jesus mold a truer perception for me to hand out. Maybe even one day I won’t hand stuff out anymore, you will just get what you get. I don’t even know if I will stop cussing. (joking-probably gonna stop because..kids.)

Strength for today friends. Love for all your cussing friends. Love for who you really are.

(Above story found in John 8:1-11)

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