June 2, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner & the reason I'm embarrassed to call myself a Christian

I think it's safe to say I don't need to preface this post with who Caitlyn Jenner is. If you haven't heard by now, you're probably living under a rock. And if you're living under a rock, you're probably not reading my blog.

The number of Facebook posts on the topic is too high to be quantifiable. Every single news outlet now has their own version of the same story. Every Jenner/Kardashian family member has been quoted. And Caitlyn actually broke the record for gaining 1 million Twitter followers in such a short amount of time. To state the obvious; people are talking. In fact, she might be the one in that family with an actual shot at "breaking the internet".

As I've watched the commentary going on around me though, a single (terrifying) reality has hit me over, and over, and over again. I am absolutely ashamed to be Christian right now. Our instructions have been communicated. Our code of conduct has long since been established. And yet, for His will being so crystal clear, we seem to be utterly incapable of conducting ourselves in the way we have been commanded.

"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.   6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person," (Col. 4:5-6).

This doesn't mean you have to agree with someone's choices. You don't have to choose their same lifestyle. You don't have to buckle under society's pressure to change your opinion, nor would I ever encourage anyone to do that. What you, we, do have to do though, is step down from the pedestal if we're ever going to successfully call people to Christ. What we do have to do is love our neighbors, and our enemies. Most importantly, what we have to do is start casting the same judgment inside the church as we do outside it. We need, no we have, to stop focusing on the belief that we are righteous because others are not.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." And He also spoke a parable to them: "A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?"

There is of course a caveat to this. I am not telling you not to judge with a righteous intent, for that we have been called to do. I am, however, encouraging you to not be blind. To not lead others into a pit. To not pass up the opportunity to minister to others because you're too busy walking around with your own false sense of righteousness.


March 16, 2015

The most beautiful kind

I was driving the other day when a word popped into my head. As a chronic over thinker, this isn't an uncommon scenario. Still yet, this one reverberated in my head a considerable amount more than I'm used to.

You see, by most accounts, the word itself was pretty unassuming. 6 letters. Three syllables. No. big. deal. 

Except that I found this one word. These six letters. These 3 syllables, to be the very definition of myself. The very definition I will give my daughter when she asks about her home. They're the very definition of everyone facing struggles right now. The definition of our society. The definition of my  friends, my family members, my colleagues. The definition of my neighbor, of your neighbor. The definition of you. 

This word symbolizes something so incredible. We, as a people, symbolize something so incredible. Much like the conventional definition of the word, we are made of a wide variety of materials. Materials that in our case come from circumstances, experiences, and maybe even a little bit of fate. We're made from trial and error. From pre-planning and of spur of the moment decisions. We're strengthened by hard work, and softened by love and passion. We're defined by our own perfectly imperfect flaws and wonderfully unique differences. 

Most fascinatingly though, while we are made of mostly broken pieces we remain very much unbroken as a whole.
 
You and I. We, are mosaics, and the most beautiful kind I could imagine. 

The terrifying and the utterly astounding.

When I sat down to write the letter to my daughter's father, I couldn't help to also think about the man I'll end up spending forever with. I thought about just how blessed I'll be to find a man to accept not only me, but my daughter as well. I thought about how many things I want to tell him. I thought about how many things I needed him to know about me before he made that decision, so I decided to write him a letter too...

My dearest man, mi rey, mon amour,
I'm not sure there are eloquent enough words or coherent enough thoughts to properly express my feelings. Our relationship will be full of spontaneous, crazy, passionate, half thought out, but full of good intent moments, so we might as well begin it that way, too.
 
I need you to know that I wasn't the girl that dreamed of a fairytale wedding. I wasn't the girl that ever believed in the happily ever after. No, I was the little girl that knew the reality of broken marriages. I was the little girl that knew very early on that a happy marriage took a whole lot more than just love. 
I need you to know though that even with my experiences, I'm not broken. I do not need a fixer. In fact, I do not need a man at all. I need you to know that if I have chosen to spend my time with you, it is because I want to. 
I need you to know that I have a daughter, and she has a father. I need you to know that I will always love him as her father, but that it is a separate love that could never compete with the love I know I will feel for you. 
I need you to know that if we have children together, or if you have one of your own already, they're all the same in my eyes. My love is unwavering for each and every single one. 
I need you to know that while I am a mother, first, it isn't my only identity. 
I need you to know that I might not be a 10 (or even a 5) when I wake up in the mornings, but I promise for us I won't stop taking care of myself. 
I need you to know that I cry. A lot. When I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm angry. When I read, when I watch movies, when I listen to music. I feel everything, deeply. 
I need you to know that even when I cry, I'm okay. Sometimes a girl just needs to cry. Let me. We'll laugh about it afterwards. 
I need you to know that we're going to argue sometimes. I need you to know that I'm going to take 5 minutes to calm down before I can talk about it. I need you to know that my nose flares when I get really angry, so you'll have fair warning before I reach my boiling point. 
I need you to know that I'm a hopeless romantic. Despite this, I need you to know that I don't expect you to live up to an unrealistic fairytale version of romance, I just need you to try your best. 
Most importantly, I need you to know, we're in this together. The good. The bad. The funny. The sad. The ugly. The desperate. The terrifying. The utterly astounding. It's all for us to share. 
It's all for us to share, forever
-A

February 28, 2015

An open letter to my daughter's father

We go back a long way, H. We've had some great times, a lot of great times actually, and we've had our fair share of rough times. We've both said and done things we'd never want our sweet girl to know about. I've made mistakes. You've made mistakes. We've regrettably both acted in ways that have negatively impacted our daughter. 
That is, luckily, in the past now though, and this letter isn't a reminder of that. This letter serves as a thank you for the present and a promise for the future. 
So thank you. Sincerely.
Thank you first and foremost for creating her, in love, with me. If you weren't her daddy, she wouldn't be the sweet girl we're blessed with calling our daughter. 
Thank you for wiping her butt. Thank you for tucking her into bed. Thank you for singing and dancing. Thank you for reading and playing. Thank you making her your princess, always. 
& I promise. Genuinely.
I promise to never speak ill of you to her, or in front of her. 
I promise to make sure my family and friends do the same. 
I promise I will always be your coparent, and never your baby mama. 
I promise to, gracefully, accept that fact that one day, you will give her a stepmother. I promise that I will try to trust your judgement on the woman you pick for that role. & I promise that I will help Everleigh to love the new lady in your life, by loving her myself first. 
I promise that you will always be her daddy, and I promise that when I choose the man for me, I will do so with her wellbeing in mind.
I promise to call you for backup when she isn't listening, and I promise to use your name as a threat when she isn't behaving. 
I promise to have your back when she doesn't like your answer, and comes to me for a different one. 
I promise that I will try to let you have your turn as the cool parent.. Eventually.
promise that I will teach her to act like a lady, and I promise to let you attempt to teach her to play sports. 
I promise to buy her dresses and sparky sandals, and I promise to let you buy her basketball shorts and matching J's.
Most importantly of all though, I promise to model love and respect for you as my daughter's father, so that she will know how to love and respect you as well. 
Gratefully yours, 
A

February 21, 2015

Arms wide open

There are a million ways to love a person. 
A million more to be a friend. 
People do it with grand gestures and expensive gifts. With eloquent words and acts of affection. 

My favorite way of loving and being loved though, is showing up. 

Showing up means last minute lunch dates with words of encouragement. Showing up means dinner dates with laughter and tears. It means driving an hour for grown up sleepovers just to catch up. It means stopping at 3 stores to find the right ice cream when words alone aren't enough. 
Showing up means forgiving. 
Showing up means forgetting. 
It means afternoon emails for no reason. 
Showing up means a well timed compliment. It means sincere apologies.  Simply stated though, it means being there, consistently. 
Physically and emotionally. 
Through good and bad. 
And unapologetically loving the crap out of every single person you encounter without expect a single thing in return.

Try it. Show up. Celebrate someone else's life. Someone else's accomplishments. Show up with a balloon. A bouquet of flowers. Reach out, arms wide open and spread love every chance you get. ❤️

January 27, 2015

150%

"I either eat too much or starve myself. Sleep for 14 hours or have insomniac nights. Fall in love very hard or hate passionately. I don't know what gray is. I never did."

If there was a single quote that perfectly described me, that right there would be the one. I truly don't know what that middle ground is. I've always chosen to do everything 150%, or not do it at all.
Naturally, when it comes to loving people, the same rule applies.
It was a trait I used to apologize for too, like the abundance of love I wanted to give was somehow a burden to the people I wanted to give it to. If I'm being honest here though, most of the time it probably was.

I say this because the love I was giving wasn't a selfless love. It was a desperate love.
It was me giving 100%,  and settling being excited for 10% back, love.
It was love that I paid a price a for. Love I bought with a pair of Jordan's and expensive lingerie.
It was love that no matter how much I spent trying to buy it, I still felt cheap.

I romanticized (which is really just a fancy way of saying "made excuses for") every roadblock I encountered. If the guy claimed he didn't want a relationship, I believed it was because he had walls I needed to knock down. If he said the relationship was over, I thought it was only because he loved me so much it scared him away. If he couldn't stay faithful, I just knew it was because he needed someone to make him a better man, and I was happy to be the girl for the job. I refused to take no for an answer. I refused to let the relationships go. I put myself on the wrong side of desperation more times than I would ever fess up to.

Meanwhile, I blared "Independent Women" and sang every word. I sat around silently judging the recent divorcee with no education, no job experience, and no money of her own, for being so dependent on another person. I made myself so intent on never physically or financially needing a man, that I failed to see I was dependent on one for the most valuable thing. My emotional stability.

I wish I could tell you that after this revelation I found my happily ever. I wish I could tell you that if you're in the same boat all of your suffering will be worth it. I wish I could tell you your prince charming will come riding in, but I don't know that. I wish I could. I wish I did.

What I can tell you though, is that when you don't love yourself, you end up with people that don't love you either. I can tell you that it's pretty easy to know your worth, but just knowing it isn't enough. You have to demand what you're worth and not settle for anything less. I can tell you that even though you will lose some suitors this way, you will gain ones that are worth your time. I can tell you that no matter how scary it is to be alone, nothing is scarier than being in a relationship where you're the only one praying for it to succeed.

Finally, I can tell you that if you're brave enough to say goodbye, life might just be kind enough to reward you with a better hello.

January 21, 2015

Revolving Doors

I’ve heard many quotes about happiness. I’ve seen them turned into beautiful images, too. You know the ones. The photographer had the perfect lighting, the quote is written in expert calligraphy, bright pink peonies are beside the sheet of paper on the Ikea table. It visually appeals to our senses. We pin it, Instagram it, heck, even let it define our outlook on life that day. That day. Because tomorrow there is always a new problem. Hair that won’t cooperate, makeup that never matches any of those popular tutorials, insane traffic on the way to work, nothing but commercials on the radio, and then to top it off there’s a tweet from a high school acquaintance with a screen shot of the “Good morning, Beautiful” text she got from her boyfriend while you’re sitting there with a phone drier than the Sahara. #firstworldproblems
Let me stop right here and tell you where this is headed. SPOILER ALERT. Your happiness CANNOT come from anyone but YOU. It cannot be defined by anyone else’s actions. It cannot revolve around anyone else’s universe, and let me tell you why. That kind of happiness is a revolving door that WILL come back and smack you in the face every.single.time you let it.
I want to focus one of the larger culprit’s in today’s world. L.O.V.E. Because relationships weren’t hard enough already, now we have a worldwide platform that allows us to broadcast the goings on of our significant others and our relationships with them. Not only does it allow that, but it allows us to cherry pick the things we choose to share.
All of a sudden just getting down on one knee with genuine heartfelt words isn’t good enough. Now we need flash mobs. We need a rented out ballpark and the New York Symphony. We need every friend we’ve ever had, flown in to surprise us. It doesn’t start or stop there either. A box of chocolates and a heartfelt card doesn’t cut it for Cupid’s holiday anymore. You can forget those conversation hearts, too. We need 1,000 roses. We need a hotel reservation at the Ritz. We need a private fireworks show and your left pinky toe.
Where does it stop?

Why does our happiness depend so much on making sure that our experiences measure up to people that at the end of the day, don't actually matter.
We are robbing ourselves. Every. Single. Day. You and I are robbing ourselves.

We are stealing our own joy, our own happiness, our own passion and zest for life.
You can make it stop.

There is no greater way to achieve that than celebrating all of life’s victories like we’re a Williams’ sister at one of the Open’s. Small or large, the good things in life are the things we should be focusing on.
The Wonderful World of Pinterest- April 2014 | My So Called Crafty Life

Your hair might need to be dyed. It might be too thin to hold curls. It might be constantly greasy. BUT you have hair.
He might not have told you “Good morning, Beautiful”, BUT he took the trash out last night. He might not have gotten you diamond earrings, but he made sure your child had diapers.
You might have people drive slowly in the left lane all the way to work, BUT you have a job to be driving to. (I’m talking to myself here)
I could go on and on, really I could I’m a natural talker, but the point is we HAVE to start focusing on the positives. They are there. You might not want to see them. It might be easier to play life’s victim sometimes, but they ARE there.
If there is something that changes your outlook on life, even if it is just for today, let is be this:
“Life isn't about having, it's about being. You could surround yourself with all that money can buy, and you'd still be as miserable as a human can be … When you look for happiness in mere objects, they are never enough. Look around. Look within.” - Nick Vujicic