Monday, February 28, 2011

How Substantial Are Your Buns?

Kitchen Burgerphoto © 2011 Ron Dollete | more info (via: Wylio)

I love me a messy sandwich. The more self-conscious I feel about having food all over my face, the more I think, "You know, I could use a bib right now," the more drippy goodness that's left on the plate, the more that's something that I'm going to enjoy. No doubt it's why one of my favorite places to eat ever is Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh (Seriously, if you're ever in the area, go there. You will not be disappointed.).

I like messy sandwiches because most of the time it indicates that there are a lot of flavors on it. Lots of different veggies. Interesting sauces. Maybe some kind of fried goodness. It isn't usually pretty, but oh my. Bring on the flava-flav.

Anyway, while talking to Rich about how much I like messy burgers, I was careful to say that what makes a messy burger acceptable to me was that the bun holds up. We've probably all had a sandwich where the bread or roll holding it all together was far too flimsy for what it was trying to support. It just couldn't handle all that was being asked of it. So instead of just having stuff drip out of your sandwich, the whole thing just falls apart. That kind of messy is not so pleasant. A sloppy, soggy bun is not the most appetizing thing in the world. A solid, substantial bun can let a sandwich be messy while keeping it from turning disgusting.


I started thinking about that regarding relationships I have. I sometimes want things to be neater than they are. I don't want people to see all of those potentially gross things about me that might leave them thinking that I'm not good enough to be their friend. Stuff that might be off-putting or just downright frightening. 

But what I have also discovered is that the more solid the relationship, the more substantial the foundation we're on, the messier I'm allowed to be. The more secure the friendship, the more I feel like I can be honest without worrying that the whole thing will fall apart. 

And when we can be more honest with one another, we bring a whole new depth of flavor to the relationship. We get beyond what we expect into some interesting and just plain cool places. It's not always what we expect and it doesn't always look very attractive, but that deeper knowing can bring far more joy.

I thank you all for being some "substantial buns" here on the blog. I've got some posts that have been sitting in drafts for a while (and at least one that's sitting in the draft section of my brain), waiting to be published, but they're pretty messy. I think this community can handle it and I promise not to drip all over your clothes. And hopefully we can all enjoy a deeper flavor.

Who are some substantial buns in your life?
 

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

My weekly round-up of good stuff I've read on the world-wide intertubez. Shared here so you can partake of all of the bloggy goodness!
  • I was deeply moved by Nance Marie's submission to the blog carnival on Tuesday. Simple and beautiful.
  • Even though I just posted a Serious Wednesday from Jon Acuff, you absolutely MUST read his piece from this week. If you've ever been told that you're arrogant for using your gifts, this is for you.
  • And in that same vein, please check out Tony Alicea's fantastic post where he discusses dreams as idols. Both of these gentlemen really added another layer of healing to some old wounds of mine. 
  • Shane Claiborne wrote a wonderful piece over at the Huffington Post about some of the spending cuts that are being made. Be sure to watch the video by Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's).
  • My friend Kristin wrote a piece that helped me feel a little bit less crazy about writing about my interfaith marriage. I really appreciated this piece.
  • Shawn Smucker is looking for some gay friends. But not in a "some of my best friends are gay" kind of way. A really thought-provoking post about why we tend to be friends with people just like us. 
  • Jamie Wright guest posted for Tripp Crosby this week. And seriously? Her post was phenomenal. Make sure you take a minute to read about Speedo Guy.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Show me your best stuff - I'm always on the prowl for a new blog to read!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Not Alone Book


Back in September of last year, I wrote a piece about my struggle with depression. It was mostly just a one-off, "I feel like garbage, let me whine to you," kind of thing. But the response touched my heart. And what I saw, in comments on my blog, Facebook, Twitter & email, was that people dealing with depression often feel isolated and they have a desire to know that they are not alone. This response was what encouraged me to start the Not Alone series. 

I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the posts that have been submitted to me by so many amazing people. It blew me away to see folks week after week share their stories about depression. Something that is often buried and ignored has been addressed by 12 different people here so far. I am deeply encouraged by those who have shared.

And because of that, I am thrilled (THRILLED!) to be able to share with you that I will be partnering with Civitas Press to turn the Not Alone series into a book this fall! 

Civitas Press is committed to community projects. Right now Civitas is finishing up work on the first project, called "The Practice of Love." I have been working with Jonathan Brink over the past few months and we are really excited about working on creating this place where our shared story combines to create community. It makes me ridiculously happy to think that the stories from these amazing contributors are going to be able to reach further than this blog. 

If you've been considering writing for the Not Alone series, I would love it if you would take a look at the project document on the Civitas website. Jonathan and I want to make this as easy for everyone as possible and we believe this document should accomplish that. If you don't have a story, I would appreciate it if you would consider sharing this with your friends who have experienced depression and may want to be a part of this project.

And finally, I want to thank this community so much for your support of both me and the authors who have shared their stories here. There's no book without you because there's no blog without you. And the reason this project matters so much to me is because you have shown me that I'm not alone and that has allowed us to extend that to so many more. You guys are awesome. For realsies.

Okay, so head over here and get to the sharing!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Ugly Bride

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Lovephoto © 2009 epSos .de | more info (via: Wylio)

As a performer in a wedding band and as an adult (I don't like to admit that, but the fact that one of my progeny turns 13 in 3 months proves that it must be so), I have attended a number of weddings over the years. And in all of these weddings do you know what I've never seen?

An ugly bride.

They just don't exist. 

I've thought about what it is that makes every bride so gorgeous, even if she's not a conventional beauty most days and there are probably a couple of reasons. Regardless of how extravagant or simple the ceremony, the bride is probably wearing something a little different than what she generally wears and that has a tendency to make someone appear more radiant. Most brides smile a whole lot and a smile always brings an element of beauty to anyone. But there's something that I think outshines either of those reasons.

She's loved. And she knows it. 

Knowing that you're loved does wonders for anyone. There's a certain intangible quality that beams out from someone who knows that they're loved and loves in return. There's simply no masking it -- it's undeniable.

Of course, now that I think about it, there may be one ugly bride. The Church.

If you're a part of the Christian Church, you probably have ideas on what might make us not so attractive. Legalism. Judgment. Hypocrisy. And those (along with innumerable other faults) are probably part of the deal.

But I think what it really boils down to us that most of us don't know that we're loved. We say it, but we don't  know it. We think that it's something that we have to earn or something that we don't deserve and as a result, we don't experience that transforming love. And as a result of THAT, we're not transformed. So we're the Bride of Christ, but we're not a particularly beautiful bride.

That said, I believe we can change. I believe we can know and reflect the love of God. Maybe we just need to own some of these passages a little bit more.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV)

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8, NIV)

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

How can you make the Bride of Christ a bit more beautiful today? And what is your favorite passage that makes you KNOW that you're loved?

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's Your Value?

Worthlessphoto © 2010 bixentro | more info (via: Wylio)
So I've only participated in the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival a couple of times, but there is a huge list of words that have been selected well in advance which generally gives each writer time to gather their thoughts and write something ahead of time.

This week's word is "sacrifice" and an empty draft with that as the title has been sitting in my folders mocking me for two weeks now. I'm not sure what it is about this word that has tripped me up so much, but nevertheless, every time I've sat down to write, I've ended up deleting everything that comes out. 

So in a last ditch effort to find something, I went to dictionary.com and typed in sacrifice. And one definition jumped out at me:

a loss incurred in selling something below its value
I think I might do this.

Not so much with merchandise. We have a tendency in our home to use stuff until it's pretty much over. There aren't a lot of items around here that we could sell below value. It was either never very valuable to begin with or any value has been lost because it's been through the rigors of six people using it. 

But I do sell myself short sometimes. 

When I don't follow through with projects, it's generally because I have little confidence in my ability to actually make a difference. I worry that it won't live up to expectations of others. I see people who are more talented, more articulate, more beautiful, more successful and base my worth strictly in relation to what I imagine theirs must be. And in so doing, I sacrifice my own value at the alter of comparison.

This should not be.

I love what God says to the people of Israel in Isaiah:
"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you." (Isaiah 43:1-4, The Message)
God made a sacrifice of his Son so I don't have to sacrifice myself. My value isn't based on others. It's not based on me. It's based on a God who would sell the whole world for me. If He thinks I'm worth that, perhaps I can begin to see that in myself.

+++++++++++

Do you sell yourself short? How do you see your true value?

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This is a part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You can read more posts about sacrifice and submit your own here


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Living or Dying?

In church last week, I was sitting with Rich & Misty before the service started. There's always music playing during that time and one of the songs was "Live Like We're Dying" by Kris Allen. We were talking about the song and got to talking about the message a bit.



Now, I really like the idea of living fearlessly. A lot. We spend a lot of time living cautious, careful lives and as a result, we miss out on a lot of opportunities to form relationships, to pursue dreams, to extend grace. So in one sense, I totally get behind the message of the song. 

But I don't think I like the title. 

One of my favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption (and it's another reason why Stephen King will reign supreme in my heart, even though the short story isn't nearly as powerful as the movie - still pretty amazing). I love the whole idea of freedom (physical, emotional, spiritual) and this movie just deals that up in spades. 

My favorite line in the movie is said by Andy Dufresne and then repeated by Red, "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'."

There's something about that sentiment that resonates much more closely to my heart. That we have a choice between living and dying.

I think the reason I don't want to live like I'm dying is because that seems to have this ulterior motive. I'm only making these choices because I have a limited amount of time available. I'm only being nice because I'm trying to make good before I'm judged. Not that any of those are necessarily bad things, but I just wonder if there are better reasons to do things.

To play with my kids just because they asked me to and they're pretty fun to hang out with.

To talk to my husband because I love hearing what's on his mind and finding out all of the new ways that he can amaze me.

To grab tiramisu with a friend because we love the way it looks and tastes.

To make music because it's fun and it feeds my soul.

To write because it might make someone look at an issue in a way they hadn't considered before.

To live like I'm living.

+++++++++++

How can you "get busy livin'" today?

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

This is my weekly round-up of awesome blog posts as determined by me. Please read through these and see if you agree. 
  • Joy wrote a stunning piece about learning to accept herself. If you've doubted that God made you the way you are, read this.
  • Rachel Held Evans touched a nerve with this post about pastor honesty. The post itself is lovely, but take some time to read through the comments, because that's where it gets really interesting. 
  • Tony J. Alicea wrote out his testimony. Probably the best thing I read on Valentine's Day.
  • Bryan Allain posted about how his financial investment in Dream Year has helped him drown out the bad voices. Some interesting food for thought here.
  • Jon Acuff's Serious Wednesday piece really grabbed me this week. Along the same lines as Bryan's piece, he reminds us that when we embark on a new adventure, we don't have to do it alone.
  • And I saw the cake that I'm totally ordering for Jason's graduation party over on Cakewrecks. See if you can spot it.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Link up to what you've been reading or writing so we can all enjoy it!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Filthy Hugs

This week has been one of those weird "oh yeah, I'm married to an atheist" weeks. Like most people, knowing that my spouse is going through an emotional down-time (physical exhaustion = emotional exhaustion) causes me to downplay my lesser issues. But also like most people, I find that stuff won't stay buried for long and on Wednesday, my issues bubbled up and turned into a rough day. It was nothing major, but there was a moment of missing some of what Jason and I had done in the past when we shared a faith.

Protestersphoto © 2010 WisPolitics.com | more info (via: Wylio)


When I got over this (thanks to a wonderful discussion with my hubby and the prayers of some amazing friends), I started thinking about what it is that I want. Obviously things are different now that we're in an interfaith marriage, and I have to think about how my feelings about Jason's beliefs affect him. Because at this point, my hopes for things to go back to the way they were before have an impact on him. It's not just about me.

This is something that we all need to deal with at some point. We all have someone in our lives who, in whatever way, isn't quite what we had imagined. Sometimes it can be something that is undeniably negative like an addiction or a perpetually bad attitude. Sometimes it can be something that is annoying but mostly benign like the inability to put socks on correctly or a knack for leaving every. single. cabinet. door open in the kitchen (yeah, that one is me. Watch your head if you come for a visit.).

But sometimes...well, sometimes it's not quite so clear cut. What about things that feel very negative to one person, but not at all to the other? An untreated mental illness. A gay child. An unbelieving spouse.

So how do we hope for something different than what is and still maintain a respect for the person? How do we deal with people hoping that we'll be different than what we are and still keeping relationships? 

I once heard a pastor say that you can't embrace someone while holding them at arm's length. It seems like a pretty simple idea, but it's one that has stuck with me through the years. When I start to think about things like this -- people that I want to change because they're not what I expect them to be -- I wonder if I'm embracing them or if I'm holding them at a distance. And ultimately, what I find is that if I refuse to accept them just as they are, if I love them less because they don't conform to my view of what is good, I'm keeping them at arm's length. 

Intimacy is hard. When we give someone a hug, whatever is clinging to them might get on us. Dirt, grime, stink, crud -- it's all fair game. If we're truly close to someone, we run the risk of what's wrong with them becoming our problem. At arm's length we're safer. We're cleaner.

But when we choose safety, we often miss out.

On protection.

On warmth.

On closeness.

On life lived together.

+++++++

Do you think there's a way to respectfully hope for something different from someone in your life? Are you okay with a "hug" even if they never change?

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Never Alone, Never Unloved

Depression is a big, complicated mess that is different for everyone. I don't know how it affects others, so all I can do is tell you how it affected me.


I think that I was -- to some degree -- depressed as far back as my sophomore year of high school, but it was never "bad" enough for me to do anything about it. I used to think about suicide, not in a "I'm going to do it this weekend" sort of way, but with a slightly unhealthy academic interest. I remember wondering what the headmaster of my school would tell people. I remember wondering whether anyone would say that they saw it coming. But this morbidity passed and it didn't resurface until four years later, during college.

It started slowly. I stayed in my apartment more, and I wrote less.  I've always loved to watch television (my collection of TV on DVD borders on obsessive), but my TV watching habits became exactly that -- a habit. I didn't find joy in it anymore. I spent most of my time in my bed, curled under the covers. I ate less frequently, talked less frequently, snapped at my roommates more and more. I didn't sleep more -- I actually think I slept less. And I started crying, constantly, at the littlest things. It was like PMS, except 24 hours a day for a week straight.

Never Alone // Hebrews 13:5photo © 2008 Demi-Brooke | more info (via: Wylio)
And then it would stop, and I'd be fine. I'd write a scene of my play and I'd go on an adventure and I'd think that the crying wasn't a big deal, because if I was depressed, wouldn't I feel sad ALL the time? Wouldn't I think about suicide ALL the time? So I didn't do anything. I didn't go to a doctor or talk to my roommates or call my mom, because I was ashamed.  Because everyone gets sad, don't they? And life is hard, isn't it? And whenever I tried to explain how I felt, it seemed like I was making a mountain out of a molehill -- that I was whining about nothing.

But the bad days were getting really, really bad. There were moments when I couldn't remember what "happy" felt like; moments where I thought that this was it, this was life, and there was no way to get better because this was just who I was. But one day, I just had enough.  I had been silent -- pissy-silent, which is how I get when I'm angry and I don't want to talk about it -- for days with my roommate and best friend. Suddenly I felt a weight on my heart, telling me to tell her how I was feeling. So I went to her and I started crying (of course) and for a brief instant I saw this look on her face, this look that seemed to say "this again?" And I told her I thought I was depressed and that I wanted to talk to someone about anti-depressants.

And she hugged me, and held my hand, and we went down to our school's counseling center (located conveniently in our dorm's building) and made an appointment.

And that was the beginning. I started going to see a wonderful, wonderful counselor, who gave me what I needed all along: confirmation that what I was feeling wasn't normal. She gave it a name (depression) and that was enough for me to start looking for a way to feel better. After wrestling with my parent's insurance, (which many mental health professionals don't take) I found a general practitioner who put me on some meds. I know many people don't agree with taking medication for depression, and that is entirely your right, but I honestly feel that I needed those little blue and grey pills to help pull me out of the black hole I was in.

And it did.  I have good days and bad days, but my good days significantly outweigh the bad and my bad days aren't nearly as awful as they once were. I'm no longer on my medication, which is a personal triumph for me, but I still have to be aware of my moods and I'm constantly on the look-out for warning signs that another depressive episode is beginning.

Saying that my episode was hard is a huge understatement. It was the largest period of suffering in my otherwise blessed life. In a weird way, however, I wouldn't trade it in for the world. My episode taught me a lot about trust and dependence -- on my family, on my friends and on God.

I remember in my first session with my therapist she seemed pleased when I was able to tell her how supportive and loving my family and friends are. She was pleased that I had faith and a higher power to devote my life to, because that meant I had the support of a church. One of the most important thing my episode taught me is that even when I was the most unpleasant person to be around, I was never alone and I was never unloved.






Laura is 22 years old.  She grew up in Massachusetts, moved to Chicago for college and is currently splitting her time between Chicago and Los Angeles.  She is graduating from college in May with a degree in Television Writing and Producing.  You can check out her blog at southpawlaura.blogspot.com





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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest Post: Intentionally Injuring Someone With A Champagne Cork

I met Shawn at Rachel Held Evans's blog (at least, I'm pretty sure that's the case). He writes a fantastic blog of his own and completely won me over as a loyal reader when he wrote this post about John 3:16. I am thrilled that he was willing to share his thoughts here. Enjoy!

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A few weeks ago a friend of mine landed a book deal. I think this person is a fantastic writer, a generous person and a kind friend. You'd think that, upon hearing the news, I'd want to pop open a bottle of champagne and celebrate with them.

The truth is, if we had celebrated with a bottle of champagne, I may have aimed the cork at this person's head.

Why? Because of the great writerly companion.

Jealousy.

* * * * *

"If you continue to write, you are probably going to have to deal with (jealousy), because some wonderful, dazzling successes are going to happen for some of the most awful, angry, undeserving writers you know - people who are, in other words, not you" (Anne Lamott, "Bird By Bird")

* * * * *

So what's wrong with feeling jealous? Nothing, at first. But if you let it settle into your heart, it will eat away at your creativity, paralyze your narrative arc, stifle the good voice that gives you wisdom and inspiration and the stuff that everyone enjoys reading.

Plus, if you let jealousy set up camp, you actually end up missing out on stuff - things like comraderie, community and joy.

* * * * *


But sometimes it just doesn't want to go away. Sometimes jealousy clings as persistently as the odor of a diaper in a poorly ventilated room. Here are some things to consider:
  • "stop comparing your insides to other people's outsides" (Anne Lamott)
  • try letting yourself appreciate the positive things about the target of your jealousy
  • "don't try to stop the jealousy and competitiveness...the main thing is not to let it fuel your self-loathing" (Anne Lamott)
  • allow yourself to have a sense of humor about these difficult emotions
  • write about it
* * * * *

My friend Bryan Allain has a wildly popular blog. My other friend Ira Wagler has a book coming out soon, and the pre-orders are through the roof. The list goes on and on, writer friends who are experiencing success in their field. I could very easily let jealousy settle in and wreck our friendship, turn me into a bitter, inward-focused person.

Instead, I enjoy breakfast with Bryan and pick his brain on how to improve my blog. I help spread the word about Ira's book (and let him buy me lunch). I help my writer friends in any way that I can. Their success becomes my success.

And, at least for tonight, jealousy is kept at bay.

++++++++++++++

Thanks for the great thoughts Shawn! You can read more of Shawn's writing at www.shawnsmucker.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter.







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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Celebrating Women

Yesterday I was speaking with a couple of the #coffeeclub ladies on Twitter and Veronica mentioned that next month is Women's History Month and that perhaps some of us should celebrate that on our blogs. Sarah Askins and I were both on board with that, so we hammered out a few details and decided that each Wednesday in March, we would write about a specific topic as related to women. Here is our tentative schedule (as women, we retain the right to change our minds):
  • March 2 -- We will be sharing personal narratives on how we became or are becoming stronger women.
  • March 9 -- We will be discussing views on strong women and/or feminism.
  • March 16 -- We will be writing about feminist parenting. How can we help our sons and daughters (or any young people that we meet, if one is not a parent) have a healthy view toward women.
  • March 23 -- We will be focusing on an influential woman writer. One who has influenced our own writing or our thoughts about writing.
  • March 30 -- We will wrap up the month by talking about ways we can each have a positive effect on women's issues locally and perhaps even globally.
We would love it if you would consider joining us in writing about these topics next month. Each of us will be hosting a linky on our blogs so you can read our posts and you can add your own as well. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow the hashtag #CelebrateWomen to see what else we find that is pertinent to this month. 


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Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Complicated

photo © 2008 Eric Bartholomew | more info (via: Wylio)
I love to judge people.

I know it’s not nice to say, but it’s totally true. Feeling morally superior to someone might be a cheap thrill, but it’s a thrill nevertheless. I think it’s why I love reality television. My daughter and I love to watch Chopped and pick our favorite chefs and root against people we hate. We’ll form opinions about someone based entirely on a 30 second bio and how they behave during the five minutes we see them cooking in the kitchen. It’s not fair, it's not right and it's certainly not accurate. I could watch way more reality television, but I have to watch myself, as I'm pretty sure the ability to judge strangers every night of the week would just about wipe me out. Like I said, I like judging.


Of course, real life provides me with plenty of opportunities to judge. People act mean to others (or to me). People have an opinion about something that I think is pretty iffy. And don't forget about people who are too judgmental.


Of course, as a Christian, I know that judging isn't really what I'm supposed to be doing. Snippets of Scripture like "judge not lest you be judged" or "remove the plank from your own eye" bounce around in my brain. And I know that Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love one another.


So rather than to judge, I use the go-to Christian phrases that sound like they're about love, but are actually just dressed up judgment. Accountability. Discipleship. Tough love. 


I'll pretend that love is all complicated and twisted and hard to understand.


"Oh, I'm just telling them how wrong they are because I love them. Confronting their sin is the loving thing to do." Then there's usually a story about how it wouldn't be loving to let someone drown or fall off of a cliff or get run over by a train, even if they really wanted to do that.


It's usually pretty predictable.

But what it isn't? Is loving.

I'm not saying those things are bad. Accountability certainly has it's place. Discipline matters. Tough love can be an effective tool.

And do you know what makes those things work? A relationship. When I'm really close to someone, I have probably earned the right to discuss things that might be a bit more difficult.

But truly, in so many cases, that's not what is going on. Instead, I see something that I don't like and I judge. That's it.

Because love isn't really all that complicated.

Yes, loving people can lead to complications, but love itself? It's pretty straight-forward. I know when I'm being loving and when I'm not being loving. In fact, the Bible has given us a handy guide when it comes to determining if what we're doing is loving.

  Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, The Message)

Nothing in that list is easy. Honestly, we're probably going to jack up every single point at one time or another. I've boasted. I've put down. I've been selfish. I've kept score.

But I've loved and I've experienced love. And ultimately, it's just not that complicated.


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

Here are links to some of the awesome things that are going on out in the world this week. Thanks for checking them out. Be sure to drop these writers a note and let them know what you think! (And I'm sorry for the lack of writing this week -- sick & busy do not lend themselves to creative thought for me. Ugh.)
  • Carlos Whittaker made me cry with this post and made me remember just how incredibly important the Not Alone series is and how brave the contributors are. If you haven't read their stories yet, please do.
  • Tamara also made me cry this week with her parable of the black sheep. If you've ever felt like you didn't belong, be sure to read this one.
  • Jamie Wright, in the way only she can, managed to tie a post about dog poop into something really powerful about relationships and helping one another.
  • Elizabeth Esther wrote a couple of good pieces about feminism and princesses this week. I particularly liked this one. As a mom who has kids who are all over the map on gender stereotypes, this was some good food for thought.
  • Jon Acuff did a great piece on grace. Can't get enough of THAT topic, that's for sure!
  • And in happy news, I'm now listed with some amazing blogs over at Faith Blogs. If you're a Christian blogger, be sure to check them out and then give them a follow on Twitter and/or Facebook.
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Share up your links so I can see what I've been missing!

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Post at ShawnSmucker.com

Shawn approached me a few weeks ago about trading guest posts at one another's blogs and I'm truly honored to join his list of guest posters. Be sure to stop by here next Wednesday when he posts for me!

Blank page, blinking cursor.
That’s what writing looks like for me on most days.
In the past, it was a ratty spiral bound notebook, a pretty, flowery journal, a green composition notebook, the back of music theory homework. Anything I could find to get my thoughts down. It didn’t matter if it was private or public, I’ve just always enjoyed writing. I believe that writing has played a part in shaping me into the person that I am today. (Read more)
Thanks for swinging by and checking it out!

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rest and Renewal

Sleepingphoto © 2009 Umberto Salvagnin | more info (via: Wylio)

Yesterday, I thought I was going to die.

No, not really. But I was sick. I don't get sick terribly often (it's usually a once a year thing), so when I do, it usually wipes me out pretty good. Yesterday was definitely that day.

I started feeling bad Sunday night during the Super Bowl. I thought it might be simply due to the Steelers' impending loss, but as the night went on, it was clear that I was just getting sick. I stayed up a bit too late, even though I knew I was sick, because I had to watch the end of the game, clean up a bit, throw in a little laundry that I got behind on because of a long rehearsal with Under Shelter, read a few minutes, and so on. 

Of course yesterday it hit even harder and by the afternoon, that's when the death-thoughts started swirling around. I managed to hold it together until I had fed the children supper, but a little after six, I took some Ibuprofen, cranked up the electric blanket and went to bed. Other than a brief moment of wakefulness at 10:30, I was OUT.

Today, I feel much better. Not 100% by any stretch, but significantly better.

I'm thankful for the prayers of my friends, but I'm also thankful for the rest that I had. I think a big part of me feeling better today is related to 12 hours of sleep.

Being sick is one of those moments when we know that we need to rest. It's easy to forget much of the time. We get doing things that are important. We work, we serve, we go about our days and we neglect taking time to rest. When we don't rest, we don't get renewed. And when we're not renewed, we end up trying to give out of an empty vessel. 

Jesus told us where we can find rest:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
We're all sick in some way. We all need rest. And we can find it in the giver of rest and renewal.

What are things that you do to find rest?

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This is a part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You can read the other submissions and submit your own post here.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Guest Post: I’m not good enough to go to church

Katie contacted me a few weeks ago about guest posting here and I'm so glad she did! Her post today is right in line with what I've been talking about here and in line with my heart. Thanks so much for sharing Katie. If you'd like to guest post here, you can check out the guidelines and shoot me a message!

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I overheard someone say the other day “they are not good enough to come to church” this totally broke my heart.  I wonder if we as Christians have missed something. I feel we have done the world an injustice for ever making anyone think you have to have it "all together" before you come into the doors of a church. Church is a place where we can come as we are, broken and in need of direction. Jesus said he came for the sick, not the well.  Forgive us for EVER coming across better or more “holy.”

The Jesus I serve hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors. He told the people who wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery, “let you who have never sinned throw the first stone.” If Jesus were walking the earth today he would spend time with the homeless man on a park bench or whisper “I love you” to the woman who keeps trying to find love in all the wrong places. 

The Jesus I serve would laugh at how complicated we have made his message. He would simply say “follow me.” You don’t have to have a SINGLE ounce of holiness. In fact he’s kinda famous for transforming people.  None of his disciples were church leaders, they were just regular guys. The person who wrote most of the new testament was out persecuting Christians, until he was transformed. 

When we become Christians our life becomes totally new. You’re not just a “more shiny apple”, you have been transformed into an orange. Our guilt, shame, and filth becomes something he can use to do and accomplish so much more than our own weak sinful selves could do on our own. Forgive us for holding onto that past and judging others just to feel better about ourselves

The church is not a building it is the people. Mostly good hearted people, mostly people that want to live a life as an example of Christ, but we don’t always get it right. If the people of the church have failed you please don't assume the God will fail you too. People make mistakes but the good news is everyone was made perfect and unique by a God that doesn’t make mistakes.  He never sorted people into classes, or social groups. He never said anyone is better than anyone else. He loves people that no one else loves and he loves those that can't even love themselves.

I have experienced the amazing Love of a God that loved me even though I didn't deserve it.  Who am I to keep that love all to myself?



I am not a perfect parent, wife, homemaker or volunteer.  I am real, I am honest, and I get it wrong a lot.  I am here for the ride of life and thankful for every minute.  I love gardening, random home improvement projects of which I often mess up, and writing at Imperfect people.   






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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stuff I've Been Reading

Here are some of the posts and articles that have caught my eye this week. Click on through and see if anything grabs you!
  • My week started off awesome with Kely Braswell's fantastic post about Jesus and gay bashing
  • Jenn wrote a great piece about the Virtual Village. (And for the record, my answer to her question is a resounding "YES!")
  • KC asks us to lead our kids by example with our dreams. Some thought provoking questions here.
  • Sarah Askins wrote a beautiful poem about writing. Isn't it tasty?
  • Tamara wrote about going back to Bible study and wonders why we focus on apples and trees.
  • I've been listening a little obsessively to Amber Rubarth's solo project Good Mystery this week. Love it.
  • And in honor of the Super Bowl, Jenn at CakeWrecks has some delightful cakes that will definitely get you in the mood to cheer on your favorite team!
What have you read/written/watched/listened to this week that moved you? Please share -- I do love to find new music, movies, blogs! 

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Evening Blog Post

Each month, Elizabeth Esther hosts a blog hop where she asks folks to share their favorite post from the previous month. 

I decided to share the post that I wrote for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival, Stuck in the Mud.

If you'd like to participate, head on over to Elizabeth's blog and add your link. She's a pretty fantastic blogger and a great Twitter friend! And there are a lot of really amazing posts to read through on that list. 

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Interruptions

Window dogs 2photo © 2010 Mike | more info (via: Wylio)
My dogs have been making me a little crazy lately.

Despite living in town, there are a number of deer that roam around our neighborhood at various times. Lately, they've been paying a visit to our yard at all hours and our dogs feel the need to let them know that they see them and if they were allowed out of the house, they would totally be chasing them down.

Now, if these outbursts of dog barking happened at 8 or 9PM, I'd be annoyed, but whatever. That's just more noise in an already noisy house. I can deal with that. But these deer are smart enough to recognize that the neighborhood is relatively quiet around 1AM. And 2AM. And 4AM. (Either they don't care about 3AM or I'm so exhausted at that point, I miss that round.)

I'm finding that interrupted sleep is not particularly restful. Even if I manage to hack together six or seven hours of sleep, I'm still waking up feeling not as perky as I like to feel.

Being interrupted is never fun. If I'm interrupted when I'm speaking, I'll probably lose my train of thought and go off on some tangent that has nothing to do with what I was talking about in the first place. If I'm interrupted when I'm writing, it will usually take me a good while to get back into the flow again. If I'm interrupted when I'm cooking, we're probably having something unintentionally blackened for supper.

Of course, none of these things really matter (well, the kids might beg to differ on the last one, but what do they know, right?).

But sometimes we get interrupted on things that do matter. Or at least, matter to us.

A few years ago, I got interrupted on my love of music. I have loved music forever, and playing in church has been something I've done almost as long as I've been playing the piano. I love playing pretty much any time, but I especially love playing in church. It's where I feel the most at home.

And in the midst of a season where I really felt like God was moving through music I was playing, I was interrupted. Told that it was just performance. My motives were considered suspect, my faith brought into question. 

That interruption kept me from any kind of meaningful playing for a couple of years.

Interruptions are going to happen. We can't stop them. But we can choose how to respond to them. We can choose to let them stop us in our tracks or we can choose to move past them. 
Galatians 6:9 -- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (NIV)
How do you respond to interruptions?

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

His Eye is on the Groundhog

Groundhogphoto © 2008 Urville Djasim | more info (via: Wylio)

Today we celebrate a rodent.

I mean, I guess we kind of do every day that Disney continues to exist, but on Groundhog Day, it's a bit more pronounced. People get all dressed up in top hats and fancy overcoats and read from scrolls and make a big deal about whether or not a groundhog sees his shadow (and for the record, if you're getting your spring forecast from anyone other than Punxsutawney Phil, please know that it is not official at all). It's quite the celebration.

We can talk about tradition or mythology or just a good time, but let's be honest. Once a year we get really excited about a giant rat.

Sometimes I think we get excited about the wrong things.

There are so many things in our lives and the lives of those around us that we can celebrate. Reaching a small goal. Sticking with a commitment. Learning a new skill. Not getting mad at that person who usually makes us mad. We let little successes go by without a notice and forget that it's okay to acknowledge those moments.

Matthew 6:26 -- Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?


If we can celebrate a rodent, we can celebrate you.

What small success do you want to celebrate today?


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