Whoever you are, and whatever the lie: let it all go. 

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At Least I Have Each Other…

I am a study in contradtictions.

Looking at me in my wild and frequently uncombed curls, and with my penchant for flowing flowery dresses and flats, you’d be quite reasonable to assume that I am She of the Flower Power Fraternity. Sorority even. You’d expect me to play a lute (guitars are so ‘of the Man, you know?) and sing warbling ditties composed on the spot in honor of the sun, and of gardens everywhere and of the blessing of a woman’s womb. And you’d only be half of a raging idiot for assuming thus. Because I do love me some flowers, and I do sing. I enjoy spontaneous serenades of all sorts. Motherhood is my absolute favourite thing about myself and love is the best thing ever.

However.

Rest assured that I will also nail all flawed arguments to the wall, have zero tolerance for poor grammar, and do not get me started on the wars I have started because of the rampant inefficiency I face daily. I have lists for my lists of lists. I have never met a label I didn’t love- nay, NEED. I plan parties months in advance and I had my wedding organized and ready for execution in less than 2 weeks.

Yeah. I’m that girl AND I’m that other girl too.

And that’s okay. We don’t need to be just any one side of ourselves.

I have long subdued sides of my self to better fit the mold of Art Girl or of Business Girl. But all along, I was just me. Sometimes artsy and sometime hard-assed. It’s been the biggest relief ever to me to find that it’s ok to be all the me’s that live in this skin. God has a purpose for every last one of us (and I’m just talking about myselves here…but you too, no doubt) and it’s time I see what that plan looks like.

I promised myself 2012 would be about being my best self, and about shaking off all those voices that say “listen, anyone who just saw you beat down the donut lady over ill-proportioned sprinkle techniques will LAUGH to hear you say you’re a Christian.” And while yes, they may laugh (and tremble)….it’s not about them. It’s not even about me, whichever fantastic mess I am that day. It’s about showcasing how God can use me. Even me. All of me. All of me’s. Flowers, Flip Flops, Flow charts and all.

Dear Jude: joy of my life

Dear Jude, my light and my joy, how you delight me, entertain me, educate me and challenge me to be the very best version of myself. I love how looking up at me for reassurance is all you need to get through booster shots without a single tear. I love how you made it through a terrible cold so bravely, curling up against me at 3am as if all you ever needed was my hug to make it all okay. I love how even when your fever was high, you’d work up a sleepy smile just for me. Your absolute faith in my ability to Be There, and the way that’s all you need to be okay energizes me through sleepless nights of tears and prayers for you. If only you knew, my love, how a corner of my heart lit up the day you were born and grows brighter each day

Public Service Announcement (aka “I violently decline your FB Petitions”)

Dear People Of the World:

Celebrities are people too. Just people. Humans who have talent that paired with opportunity to launch them across the airwaves. Humans. And yes, some of their adorers may take appreciation all the way to extreme, creepy and/or dangerous, but not all admirers are ridiculous. And it has always bothered me, the way we seem to think of them as public property, flying into outrage at things they do to protect themselves from our prying, digging deep no matter how far they run. It’s so wrong. These are PEOPLE, people. NOT property! But I digress and now I repeat: Not all admirers are bad.

Some of us are just people who have invested time and emotion in following their careers, the talent they have to offer, the possibility of dreams they represent, the escape hatch they brought us in dark times…there are a million reasons we love the ones we love. This does not make any of us idiots for mourning their loss.

I’d like to think my life touches more people than I really know of; that when I die, people will remember things that even I have forgotten; that my mark stretched beyond the boundaries of my immediate social circles. Don’t we all want to matter more than we could even imagine?

So permit mourning fans the freedom to cry or bemoan the loss of our famous ‘friends’, and the dignity to grieve for a fellow human life cut short. And for the love of pizza and pie, do NOT send me any pics, posters or group petitions lambasting people for “crying over one when millions die”. Refrain from doing so PARTICULARLY if you’re not doing anything whatsoever for said millions. Short of my private tears (and public blogs) actually smacking resources out of your hands that would have otherwise been used to go forth and save the armies of Wounded, Hungry and Otherwise Forlorn & Destitute, I’d really rather you leave me entirely alone.  

No, I do not want to join your group. And although I’d love to see you change the name to something more appropriate, say…. The Sofa Sanctimonious League, it still would not change how I feel about your preposterous juxtapositions between one grief and another, with no participation from you in either. 

So thank you, dear Facebook and your frightening propensity for spawning these Like-hungry groups, but no. I decline. I will not sign your petition or join your group. I will not sign today, I will not sign tomorrow. I will not give you likes. You can’t have them to borrow. I will not like you, not one bit and if I tell the truth- I’ve been thinking quite a lot of deleting all of you.  

So if you don’t mind…hand me a tissue or get out of my way.

PS: If you’re so inclined there are so many, many organizations who desperately need your help. I strongly encourage you to do something more than a LOLCat image mashup to really HELP someone. Anyone. Google ‘help the poor’ and run wild among the options.

All About the Lurrrrve ♥

Ah, Valentine’s Day, thou shining day of Lurve! How must it feel, knowing that not everybody loves thee.

As someone who attended an all-girls school, a university with a much larger female cohort than male, then taught at a girl’s school and currently work in an office with more ladies than men, boy have I heard the female perspectives on this day. Wide and wild goes the gamut. I also work in advertising, so the whole commercial gimmick side is certainly not one foreign to me. Matter of fact, I have definitely been a part of campaigns designed to pull you into pity purchases, don’t-leave-me purchases, please-marry-me purchases and “I’m all alone, so come here you big box of chocolates, you” stuff as well. But I’m also a wife and the mom of a ridiculously busybody little 1 year old. And I’m here to tell you that despite my psychological and commercial foray into the backstages of V-Day land, I subscribe to Valentine’s Day. Yeah. You heard me.

 I. Believe. In. Valentine’s. Day.

I want the flowers, the card, the calls, the sweet texts, the giggling flirting, the extra special love energy, dinner- the works! You can keep the chocolates and I will NOT wear Red. But to absolutely everything else ascribed unto this holy day of love, I verily say unto thee: yes please.

But whyyyyy? I hear some of my friends wailing to themselves. It’s not just because I’m a hopeless romantic (though I am). It’s not just because I subscribe strongly to chick flick magic (I totally do). It’s not just because I’ve always been obsessed with flowers (and I mean ALWAYS). It’s because I find that many of us as couples, as parents, as workaholics, (and I’m one of everything above) do not actually prioritize each other and the concentrated effort it takes to make a relationship really work and keep its sparkle. For some, we’d settle for a half hearted glow. Some of us would even take just an occasional shimmer.

Marriage is work. I subscribe heavily to a theory made popular by Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, which touches on how long it takes to truly master a thing. And that number my friends is 10,000 hours. Ten. Thousand. Hours. Granted it’s not really like with Marriage you can cram in them hrs, cash it in for a certificate and go make crazy Microsoft or Apple money. No. But what you CAN do with those hours is gain a marriage that is confident enough to breeze through fat days, bald days, gassy days ,etc. You can find a marriage flexible enough to bend around and through toughies like unemployment, financial worries, children worries and even infidelity (tough one, I know, but it IS possible). It’s about developing the kind of marriage strong enough to make it, to get you gasping across the great Til Death Do Us Part line, still sure that you made the right decision that fateful [insert your wedding date here]. And that’s a big deal in the world of climbing divorce rates right across the boards of race, religion and income brackets.

But the thing about this 10,000 hour theory is not that it’s just 10,000 hours; it’s that it’s 10,000 of dedicated, deliberate practice that does it. That means that me simply waking up in the same general vicinity, and falling asleep in the environs of my husband does not actually contribute to this time count. It can’t be passive. It must be focused, active participation in this joint venture called marriage in order to really ‘count’ as I try to become my very best Wife self (and mother, sure, but this is about the wife part). And yes- marriage is more than lovey-dovey-ness. Surely the hours we put into raising the kids and finding the mortgage payments, and enduring Those Neighbours and That Friend and splitting chores- surviving life in tandem, essentially- do absolutely count towards our marriage. But you still need some zoom-zoom-zoom. We need the love, the romance, the reminder of the heady early days. We need to stay in touch so that as we change, we continue to recognize each other. We need to be able to adjust and adapt our needs, our demands, the way we support each other, etc in accordance with where the tides of life and change take us. I want to always be in love with the husband beside me, and not the version of him that I remember from 3 or so years ago when I last checked in emotionally; I want to be able to support him in the way he needs at any given time. I mean, my 50 year old self will need very different things from husband than my 30 year old self and I’d love to imagine that it won’t be a total shock out of clear blue sky for him, as a result of us actively and deliberately staying abreast of each other.

And so if a portion of my 10,000 hours (and I mean the theory of mastering a thing, not literal time tracking- I suck at numbers. And time management.) has to come from the romance department, I then begin examining the year. There’s my birthday. His birthday. Our anniversary. And then any other day not circled on the calendar is a bonus. Let’s be honest…how many of us commit to painstakingly carving out the time from our jobs, kids and house to be a couple? And the time we do snatch…is it enough to count towards a deliberate move to LOVING our partner?

For me, the honest answer is “not too easily”, certainly not without conscious effort and practice. On the list of priorities it would be easy to admit that falling asleep holding hands might be about the most I can consistently commit to without actively trying to re-prioritize everything in my head. But having accepted this challenge to not be a passive spouse, I delight in any opportunity to bust out my girlie giggles and sparkly lipgloss; to send a dirty text or feel giddy butterflies at the thought of extra special Us Time. We will continue to create those occasions “just because it’s Tuesday”. Or Friday. Or whatever. But in the meantime, why the heck wouldn’t I seize a ready-made Day of Love?!? I’m seizing it, I tell you! It doesn’t always have to be a big splashy hoopla, and it’s not because I feel ordered to, by some great Cosmic/Corporate mandate. It’s because it’s a Day of LOVE, people- and you know who’s in love? ME. It’s a match made in Heaven!

So Hallmark, Cupid, Ferrero Rocher, Actual Saint Named Valentino Who Saved Young Love…whoever you are that created this day, put in on the international calendar and gave me another reason to remember the romance: THANK YOU. I salute you.

As far as I’m concerned I’m putting in my 10,000 hours one Monday, Thursday, Anniversary, Birthday and Valentine’s Day at a time. 

A Love Letter. And A Prayer.

It is a mom’s right to defend her child against things she deems dangerous, this much I absolutely support. But are we really doing the very best by our children when we fill them with fear or hate of anything we personally do not agree with? Please read that carefully: fear. Hate. As Christians, we absolutely cannot agree with everything, we can’t seek the popular vote and the comfortable discourse to avoid tension. Sorry… awkward moments and a touch of unpopularity are kinda built into the whole contract. But I maintain that there absolutely has to be a way to teach our children about life, choices, sex, drugs, rock n roll and all the rest that does not necessitate enraged, outraged protests and vicious finger pointing.

I am a Christian and a Mom. I will always seek to instruct my children in the ways of Jesus. Not ‘good living’ or ‘being a good person’, but Jesus Christ. But until I do find some verse that displays Him screaming judgment in the streets at anyone other than the Pharisees (hypocrites using the church as cover for their own nefarious agendas, btw) I’ll be hard pressed to adopt that as my own approach. These hateful adjectives we ascribe to our fellow humans… they cannot all be justified or justifiable. I have already been pretty strongly judged by some of my fellow Christians about my ‘hippie’ mentality, and I’m constantly trying to understand God’s heart, and His plans for my life and the things I’ve learned along the way, and the perspectives I’ve gained. Perhaps I’m too tolerant. Perhaps. That’s between me and God, and it’s a conversation we have daily. But the answer cannot go straight to intolerance, can it? Nor do I need to sit and judge too harshly those who are the raging intolerants, the bigots, the name callers and the pious (or did I already just do that?) I understand that some of these behaviours are born out of deep wounds and damage. And intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance. I’m simply saying this: We NEED to find a better way to have these conversations with our children. They not only learn from WHAT we say, but also HOW we say it; not only from WHAT we do, but also WHY we do it. So let’s not dress our hatreds, our confusions, our ignorance up in Sunday clothes and arrogantly call it God. Let’s not point at anything different and automatically call it “Devil”.  

Here’s my Plea to Parents: Before we race to the soap boxes and take to the pulpits of our sofas, blogs and tweets; before we fill our children with what may turn out to be our own impassioned but passing processing of things we’re not even sure we understand… can we just take a moment?  To breathe. To pray. To remember that being parents doesn’t mean our own processes are done- we will always be works in progress, and so will our children; that shaping the morality and outlooks of our children is not entirely up to us…we’re never-ending interns on God’s clock. That the best thing we can do for our children is teach them HOW to choose, not to choose for them. And that prayer, not brainwashing, is your best bet for their futures.

It is a tricky world. We’ll screw up more before we’re dead, and God bless ‘em- our kids will screw up too, no matter what we do. We’re humans, and that’s kind of our thing. But it is my motherheart’s dearest wish that I manage to convince my children of my unconditional love, and of God’s unfailing grace so that they never reach the point of feeling unreachable, unworthy and unsalvageable; that they learn there is no name out there that can ever make them anything less than the joy of my heart and of God’s heart. That just as there is no screw up that can separate ANY of us from God’s love, there is none that can separate them from mine. It is my hope that should my children ever (although daily I pray against it) wander from God’s path into strange waters and murky streets, that they be spared from the stones and crippling vitriol of people too wounded or frenzied to see that we’re all the same: people just trying to figure life out and find the Way. I hope Jesus sends angels to remind them in voices louder than accusing mobs and enticing websites, that they’re never too far gone to come back home.

In the meantime, if I’m the angel God uses to reassure some other mother’s child that God loves them in all the impossible fragments of their life at any given moment, then I need to be a voice that’s clear and unshakable and loud in declaring For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

 And that means you, young man or you, young woman. It means you. No matter how far you are from the place you’d like to call home, you’re never far from God or from someone He can use to help convince you of that. If you’re reading this today, know that I skipped a meeting to finish this letter. It’s a love letter you see. A little early for Valentine’s Day, but it’s an open ended offer so it doesn’t matter: know that God sees you and loves you. It doesn’t matter who may have called you what, it doesn’t matter if they were right, or only thought they were. It doesn’t matter if you think they were right, or are afraid they may be. Hear the things the Lord Almighty says to you:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

                                                                         
You can be saved, salvaged, rescued, restored, redeemed, healed, forgiven and loved. Exactly as you are. EXACTLY as you are. If you were a Christian, you know the way back…you took it once. If you never were, or need help remembering it goes like this:


Father I believe you are God, the One True God. I know Jesus died on the cross for my sins and was raised again. Please forgive my sins and come into my heart. Deliver me from my past and guide me on the path You have prepared for me. Amen.

 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

It can be that simple. If you feel like you need to keep talking, go for it. Prayer doesn’t need to be fancy. Or audible. Or even real words. If you mean it, God will hear it.

 You are loved. You are worthwhile. You are valuable. You are a delight.

I apologize on behalf of those who have hurt you,  haven’t take the time to hear your cry for help, didn’t understand what you need, or were stumbling blocks to your progress. I especially apologize if they came in the name of God and told you He didn’t love you. Please forgive and release.

And please don’t ever give up. I may not ever know anyone who reads this blog…or even IF anyone in the whole wide world ever did. But if you read it, know that there’s at least one mom in the world rooting for you and sending a ton of love your way.

Peace.

A Christian group shows up to a Chicago Gay Pride parade holding apologetic signs including “I’m sorry for how the church treated you”. – Imgur

I believe that this is another example of showing Christ’s true heart. It makes me proud to be a Christian, and happy to see another side of us in the media spaces.

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