Friday, November 15, 2013

I can't write about my Mom.

Proverbs 31:26-31 "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness... Many woman do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive , and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. 

I write a lot about my dad. A lot of my poems and stories for college classes were about him and a lot of my blogs are about him. He is cool and can build or fix anything and he rides those Lance Armstrong ( is that still a good way to explain it?) kind of bikes and is really fast and he's a super good runner which is something I wish I was. Basically, I think my dad is awesome, and just something about the fact that he is my Dad makes him easy to write about. All those times I needed a subject for my stories and it ended up being my dad... Just another way he quietly saved the day.

But I have a mom too. And she, too, is awesome. So now that I am in grad school and trying to be the kind of teacher my mom has been for a long time, I find myself wondering why I don't write more about her. I think of all the times I've tried to, I've started to, but have never succeeded. Why? Why can't I write about my mom?

Dads, my Dad, is a hero. He steps in and saves the day. If something is broken, be it my heart in high school or college, my bike, my sink, whatever, Dad can handle it. Once, my German Shepherd got her foot stuck in a metal bar. She cried and cried, but when my Dad got to her, she stopped crying. She knew he was going to rescue her. It's just the Dadness in him. It's easy to write about because it's dramatic and life changing.

My mom is not a hero. What I mean by that, is my mom doesn't save the day. Instead, she carries on the day. If my car broke down somewhere, I wouldn't call my mom first, but when I can't decide between blue or black, when I need a second opinion, when my feelings are hurt or I'm defeated or discouraged, when I'm excited and happy and things are great, when I'm not sure what something means or how it works, or when I need to know how to be a better wife, friend, sister, or woman of The Lord, my mom has those answers.

My mom counsels me. She explains things to me. She teaches me. She prays for me, cares for me, and brings me soup and apple juice when I am sick. And the reason I can't write about her is because she is me. When I don't know what to do or say or think, it's my mom that shows me. Without her, I wouldn't be exactly who I am. And if you're thinking, "Well what happens when your mom isn't around anymore? Could you live without her?" The answer is no. I couldn't live without my mother because she is in the way I think and act and the decisions I make. She is in the way I cook and decorate and write. My mother is in the way I dress and speak and look and in my fine hair, and even in the way I don't care for laundry and crave a good love story or book.

So I can't write about her. I can't create a story about my mother because everything I write, everything I create, is about my mother, even when the subject is my Dad or anything else it might be. I am my mother. And what a wonderful, miraculous thing to be. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's okay.

It's okay if....
Your hardest decision is whether to bake the cookies or just eat the dough.
You go home from work and immediately put on the same athletic shorts and t-shirt that you put on immediately after work yesterday. and the day before.
You paint a third coat of nail cover up the second coat that has started chipping away.

It's okay if...
You need to yell at the vacuum for not picking up dirt off the hardwood floors.
You go to the gas station for a Diet Coke and leave with a Diet Coke... and two donuts.
You play the same CD over and over and over because it soothes your soul and makes you smile.

It's okay if...
You leave the clean clothes in the dryer because taking them out means they have to be folded.
You eat chips and left over cheesecake for a snack. or dinner. or breakfast. (or all of the above.)
Every shirt you buy happens to be the really flowing, loose, cover-your-thighs kind.

It's okay if...
You need a break during cleaning to check Instagram, or take another bite of cheesecake.
You eat Wingstop at least once a week because it's so delicious and drinks are included in the "Wings for Two," so it makes you feel like you're getting a great deal.
You leave the dishes in the sink, the dirty towels on the floor and spend the night on the couch.

And it's okay if...
You sacrifice eyeliner or blow-dried hair for that extra hour of sleep in the morning.
You don't count calories at that lunch place that has really incredible chips and queso.
You care way too much whether or not your bangs fall just perfectly to the side.

YOU are incredible. And sometimes, you have to remind yourself that life really is OKAY. : )

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Two months of marriage

I have been married for 2 months and 2 weeks. It is crazy how fast time flies.

Here is what I've learned during these glorious two months:

There is a lot of laundry. If you think you wear a lot of laundry, wait until you're doing laundry for two. And I thought I had a lot of clothes...

There is a lot of dust. Everywhere. Night stands, side tables, china cabinets, dressers. It's all over the place. Maybe I never paid attention before, but it sure seems like marries brings dust.

Cooking dinner takes time. A LOT of time. To prepare a real, delicious, homemade meal takes hours. Not kidding.

Chores are still chores. Cleaning the bathroom does not get better just because it's your lovey's bathroom. And clearing the table and doing the dishes are not more fun because your sweetie tells you how great everything looks. It still stinks and is gross.

Painting your nails becomes less of a priority, but not less of a desire. I still always yearn for a beautiful, glossy manicure, but sometimes (most of the time) there are better (or just other) things to do than paint those phalanges.

Sharing your bed is still not easy. I mean, don't get me wrong I love having the man beside me at night, but that doesn't mean I don't wish I could stretch out diagonally with the entire comforter wrapped around me without harming someone else.

Coordinating schedules is difficult. I used to think how wonderful all the things we had planned would be once we were a we and would do them all together, but I forgot that he has an entire family with birthdays and holidays, too, and that his work schedule is not exactly like mine and that he has things he wants to do, too... and that getting my hair done is not his greatest wish for the weekend. Things like that are important... very important... to  remember.

Bills must be paid. Not that I forget to pay my bills, but living at home with Momma and Daddy and paying my cellphone bill, gas, and car note then spending every single penny left over is not the recipe for a successful marriage. And sometimes, it is painful to mail in that mortgage check... especially when Jessica Simpson has just come out with a new pair of wedges.

Anyway, I could go on. I'm sure he has a list of things he's learned too. But, at the end of the day, here's what I've really learned in my two months of marriage:

How completely and fully God allows us to love another person is overwhelming... every single day I look at him. And not in a cheesy way. In a way that stops any thought I have at the time and makes me question how something so incredible could also be so real.

How difficult and amazing sharing life with another person can be. There are so many things that I cannot understand about the way Andrew's mind works or about why he makes the decisions he make, and sometimes those things I can't understand make living with him hard or frustrating, but it's also amazing... the way two people can combine their entire lives and make it work so well. It's like we've been welded together and somehow all of our different abilities and thoughts and processes sync together and make a beautiful creation. Every time we conquer a conversation peacefully that normally would bring about an argument, or every time one of us gives in to the other (even though it might be the hardest thing to do) and we are able to move on, it astounds me. How much we can grow and change.

How fun normal life can be. We don't have to be on vacation or out at a fun place or with a lot of people or even at dinner. We can be at home, on the couch, and it's the best place in the world to be. There is no one else I'd rather hang out with or talk to or get advice from. Marriage is the ultimate friendship.

How much our families impact who we are. I have always been a firm believer that people are a product of their environment, but I never realized how much like our families we are, until I got married. Everything Andrew does or thinks is somehow, even if just an inkling, reflected through his parents and the relationship they have together and with him. Sometimes he'll tell me I sound like my mom, act like my mom, think like my Dad, and more and more, things I see in Andrew every day, I'll see in his mom or Dad when we're with them, and everything seems to make a little more sense. I never really listened when friends would say, "Your marrying his Dad. He'll act the same," or "Look at the parents. That's what you'll get," and although this is not the complete truth in every situation, it is definitely so true in so many ways. (Fortunately, I got lucky in this department)

There are so many other things that I've learned about marriage. About being selfless and encouraging and supportive; so many things I'm learning about biblical submission and being a Godly wife. There are so many things God is teaching me about my ministry that is my husband and my marriage, and just about life in general, but the most important thing I've learned about marriage is how sacred and fragile and valuable a Godly, loving, faithful marriage is, and the daily challenge that comes with trying to love better and grow stronger in every situation life gives us.

This I have already learned though, how merciful and gracious God is, to bless my life so immensely in a way that is so undeserved.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DO NOT be jealous.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

Today, I was scanning Facebook like an addict, and I saw a lovely gal's post. This sweet girl bragged all about her manly, loving husband, and then at the bottom she wrote, "Girls, be jealous."

So, I know this girl doesn't literally want all other girls without a manly, loving husband to "be jealous" of her, and I know every time a girl uses this phrase (which unfortunately is quite often) they don't mean it in a literal way, but the thing is... a lot of us really do get jealous of this stuff and wonder why we don't have what these other girls have.

And we should not. We should not ever get jealous of anything anyone else has. Never. Ever.

One of my most favorite things C.S. Lewis wrote is this:

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking."

Sometimes, I get really jealous of the girl who lost 30 pounds or got ANOTHER new car, or the girl who buys all her clothes at boutiques and can eat a cheeseburger without thinking about it, or whose hair curls perfectly every day. Sometimes, I get jealous of clear skin and big white teeth or perfect highlights. It's simply human nature to want what other have, to envy their success, but the last thing we should feel about other people is jealous.

I often have to remind myself that everyone struggles. Everyone has issues, and most things are NOT as they seem. I have to remind myself of all the incredible things in my life, how God has brought me so far and filled my days with purpose and meaning. I have to remind myself that the sweet girl with a wonderful husband is so blessed to have him, but not more blessed than the single girl with an incredible ministry or job or family; not more blessed than you with your imperfections and your struggles and your crazy, messy, beautiful life.

Sometimes it's really hard to grasp and even harder to believe, but no matter how down you feel about yourself, no matter how bad things seem to be, there are people worse off than you. There are people struggling just like you. There are people who feel the same way you do. So, you're never alone. You have people where you are, and the best thing, you have a God who has gone before you, who has struggled in this world, and who, for YOU, has overcome this world.

So girls, don't be jealous. Don't be jealous of the girl with the husband or boyfriend or great hair or new car. Don't be jealous of her clothes or her hair or her size 6 self. Be happy for her, and know, that she struggles too. Rejoice in the miraculous creation that you are. Celebrate that, and don't be jealous.

Don't ever be jealous.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fact. You do lose friends.

Today I read a tweet that said, "You don't lose friends. You just find out who your real ones are."

This is so wrong. So wrong, in fact, that is makes me frustrated and now I am writing about it.

There are only two girls from school that I still talk to regularly. And really, I don't even talk to them regularly. I can tell you though, they weren't my only two friends all throughout school. So, if this tweet is true, that means the five girls who carried me through school from third grade to junior year and all the new, wonderful friends I've met since then aren't real friends. What?

Here is the thing about friends: They come and go.

I firmly believe god allows people to be a part of our lives for different reasons and for different lengths of time. I believe some friends come, help us grow and change, and then are gone. Nothing more to it.

I believe some friends become just that because when we are little we like the same crayons or have the same kind of guinea pig, but as time goes and we grow up, things like guinea pigs don't matter anymore and suddenly it's about drinking and curfews and your lives go in totally different directions. And it's hard. It's really hard and there are tears and fights, and you end up not friends anymore at the end of it all. When you're 17 this doesn't really make sense and it sucks, but when you're older, you can see how those friends helped you become who you are, and you remember all the things they helped you get through, and you realize they are some of your truest friends, even if you don't really know them anymore.

I believe there are friends that God saves for us until later in life. New friends that we meet at college or at work; friends who, at 17, we never would have hung out with, but now they share a world of commonalities. They encourage us and walk with us through similar places in life. Friends who are new, fresh, and real, even though they've only been around for a few months.

I believe there are old friends, too. The kind you don't hang out with anymore; the kind you don't really see except at their wedding or on a random grocery run to the Kroger in their neighborhood. But these friends, these are the ones you still call your sisters. These are the friends you still know better than anyone else. These are the ones you can still call in that moment of tears and upset that still know what to say and exactly what you mean when you are talking about your mom or sister or someone from the past. Kind of like life savers. You don't always need them, but they are always there.

So, yes. Girls, you will lose friends. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it doesn't even really matter. But it happens, and it will happen all throughout life. But that doesn't mean they weren't your real friends. It doesn't mean they didn't impact you, change you, help you become who you are. It doesn't mean you can't laugh about memories and remember all those late nights you had together. It just means God's purpose for them in your life was through. And like everything else in life, your friendship changed.

I hope you love your friends. I hope you spend time with them and reach out to them. I hope you use your friendship to encourage them and minister to them. And I hope, when it's all said and done and they are no longer your friend, that you can smile and be thankful for the time you got together, and appreciate their new life and your new friends.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Isaiah 30:18

The Lord longs to be gracious to you; 
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice. 
Blessed are those who wait for him!
Isaiah 30:18

I love this verse. I love that the words "gracious" and "compassion" are used. I love that it describes God's desire for us as a longing. I love that it says he will "rise up." I love that there is an exclamation point at the end of the last sentence. I love how powerful those words and that exclamation point are. Here is what I mean:

In 18 days (ah!) Andrew will become my husband. It is hard to explain, but there is a longing in my heart to be his wife. I have this incredible desire to walk down the aisle towards him, to celebrate this incredible gift, and to begin my life with him. Some days, this longing in me is so strong that I get overwhelmed with joy, nervousness, excitement, and it consumes me. It consumes my thoughts, my To Do lists, my pins on Pinterest, my conversations, everything. In these moments, I have to set everything else aside and remind myself that in only 18 short days I will be his wife. I have to rest in that. 18 days. Two weeks. Three weekends. This is a longing that I've never felt for any other person. It is a longing I know can only come from a relationship that God has placed in my life.

Because of the longing in my hear to become Andrew's wife, when I read Isaiah 30:18, and I read that God longs to be gracious to ME, I have a minuscule picture of the longing in this verse. I picture the way I long to marry Andrew. I picture the way that we only know love because God first loved us. I picture the King of the universe, the Maker of all creation longing for me; longing to show me grace and compassion. He doesn't just want to. He is longing to. What an incredible feeling of assurance and love it is to know that God is longing for me.

Since I am getting married in 18 days, my thoughts have been rather nostalgic lately. I think of all the things my Mom and Dad have done for me to get me where I am. I think of all the times they had my best interest at heart, even when I did not. I think of all the times I was so ungrateful, so unwilling to help them out or do anything for them, yet they helped me and did anything for me that they could; knowing I would not return their kindness. My parents have always gone above and beyond what would be returned by me. In a way, they have risen up countless times over the past 23 years to see me through.

To think about my parents rising up to get me through, knowing what's best for me, is one thing, but t think about God rising up for me, rising up to show me compassion is incredible to say the least. The verse doesn't say that God will meet us in the middle and show compassion. It doesn't say if we come to Him asking he will rise up. It says He will rise up to show us compassion. God does not only long to show us grace, He rises up to show us compassion. In the midst of our own selfishness, when we are not aware of a need for compassion, He rises up to us, unconditionally. Wow.

The final sentence in this verse is ended with an exclamation point. As a writer, I know these marks, overused in text messages, are almost outlawed by writers. Exclamations express such strong emotion and excitement, that there is normally not a need for them in writing. Whenever they are used, the reader knows that sentence is something that should not be taken lightly. There are no words strong enough to express the emotion of that point, so an exclamation is used. How cool is that? There were no words powerful enough to translate the magnitude of this final sentence, so an exclamation is used. Incredible.

I hope this verse moves you. I hope you long for something in your life, so that you can at least sort of, kind of begin to barely understand God's longing for us. I hope you've had to rise up to carry something through that others did not do their part in, so you can sort of see how God rises up for us. I hope that you've felt excitement that is indescribable, so you can understand the strength of that last sentence. I hope this verse overwhelms you. I hope it stirs in you a longing for Christ.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Not calling myself a Busy Bee, but maybe....

I want to write about something so wonderful that it inspires you and turns your day right around, but the truth is, I didn't even know Valentine's Day is next Thursday, and I'm on my second Kitchen Sink cookie and it's only 11 a.m. (I've already had two cups of coffee and I'm working on a Diet Coke now, but we won't even go there.) I haven't done my nails since who knows when, and if you know me, this is a huge deal. I wore one of Andrew's old t-shirts to work today and didn't bother to really fix my hair either, but you should see the center pieces for this wedding. (I'll make a list for those who are interested in purchasing them for their own wedding afterwards.) And the bridesmaids gifts... mmm. Wish I was a bridesmaid in my own wedding. And what about those handmade "thank you" cards. I'm going to buy myself a present just so I can give myself a Thank You card.

 But just so you're not alarmed, I have managed to work out every day this week, and there is only one room left to redo in Andrew's... I mean.. our... house.    I'm not going to mention now that I start Grad School TWO days after we get back from our honeymoon because I can already picture the raised eyebrows on your face. So... maybe I've been a little occupied lately.

I guess it's fair to say I have never been so busy in my life, but at the same time, I've also never been so motivated or inspired.. I am flying high on excitement (and maybe caffeine and some nerves), and I honestly think if I had a baby right now and car was falling on top of it, I'd probably stop it with my bare hands (but seriously, praising the Lord that is not the case, both for the baby's sake and mine. and the car's.). I digress.

For sake of you who might actually read this, I will try now and make a point you can get some use out of. My point is this:

Find something that makes you excited. Find something that gives you this crazy insane energy. Find something that makes you want to be about more than just yourself, and not just something that makes you talk about being more than just yourself... something that really steals your attention and your hard work and your mind and fires you up. (As Christians, this should be Jesus on a daily basis, but I believe God allows us to be fired up for other things so that all of our thankfulness and praise goes back to him.)

Allow another person to occupy your mind and give you butterflies and chills and nervous laughs. Let their energy boost yours and make you dream bigger and plan for crazy far-off things. Don't be afraid to stay busy, to stay learning and growing and working hard. Don't be afraid of losing yourself... it's in these moments of passion that you'll find yourself. Don't be afraid of showing who you really are and doing things you really want and allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable. Don't let pressure from the world stress you out and make you forget all the things you want to do. Don't be afraid to make your mind up about something and then just go and do it. Right then. Without thinking or preparing. If you want something, get it. (Like, for instance. I want a third Kitchen Sink cookie. Don't mind if I do.)

Anyway, maybe this is crazy and I can't justify being I'm nbusy and totally stoked about my wedding and my almost-husband in 22 days by telling you to allow yourself to fill up your schedule with things that excite you and make you feel good, but then again, maybe I can. Actually, I can. And I am.

Be extremely passionate about something and nod sweetly when people tell you that you're in over your head, but don't let them dishearten you or dwindle your excitement. Today is the day. Do it.

Now back to the To Do list...