When a Friend is Trapped

Dear Readers,
Consider your life.

I can’t use enough words to say how important our lives are. You are more than a job. You are more than your latest or last relationship.

 

I had a shaking experience with a friend. We recently meet up, though we live in different towns, and have for years. I know his life isn’t what I’d hope for him, and despite my husband & I offering him a place to live at anytime…he remains where he’s been.

“What makes you happy?” I asked. “Not entertained, but happy…joyful.”  My question was met with silence. If possible black silence. My heart cracked. I understood the non-answer.
“You don’t do anything that makes you happy anymore, do you?” I asked, and humbly he confirmed.

He went on to tell my husband and I that he doesn’t think about “these things”. Simple questions that are deep. What difference do you want to make? What makes you happy/joyful? If money wasn’t an issue, what would you want to do or be?

My husband and I explore this questions all the time, so that we can assess the steps we take in life.  Money isn’t the goal, it’s the necessity on the way to goal. We try not to offer too much of our thoughts, ambitions, and life to such a minut factor. It’s not everything.

 

Don’t be trapped.

When I moved out of parents and into the shaky land of adulthood,  one of my first purchases for my new apartment was two huge maps. One of my country, one of the world. I hung them on my wall, and I’ve looked at them frequently thought the years. I still look and I still think the world I know is small. There is so much more beyond me yet.

If I’m happy with my small world, that okay. If I’m unhappy I remember that I could choose change at anytime. Get up, move, learn, experience, move again. No problem.

Money maybe a factor, but only one. Determination is another factor. Friends and influences could be another factor. Don’t let this things pigeonhole you. It could always change. You have choices. You have options.
In our meeting up, my friend brought his newest girlfriend. They seemed to speak of their city as the representation of our state. (A pathetic representation that would be too.) I’ve been around most of the state, intentionally learning and experiencing different things, so that I could legitimately know that state. We all make broad sweeping statements, but I’d just like to be able to back mine up if possible. It’s a wonderful state. I love a lot about it; despise a little about it, and I have learn to adore many of its quirks.

When I mentioned that perhaps they don’t leave their own city much (which I’ve seen to be true with many people) the girlfriend tried to say they don’t have much money for that.  Money has never stopped our friend before. He’d been an adventurer. Finding rides with friends, and friends of friends. Exploring whatever places he got a opportunity for. Maybe it wasn’t much, and yet …it was.

A while after talking with her, I realized she probably imaged traveling as a vacation. Hotels, eating out, spending money on attractions. We haven’t often done that.

 

GO and BE.
I believe every city has its own personality. And I suppose small towns do as well. A region can definitely have a particular culture to it. It’s amazing to see the stunning differences with crossing of a boarder, whether geographically mapped or not. You don’t have to spend tourist-y money to learn this.  Being there, driving through, walking around, sleeping, eating, talking with people, watching people …all of these normal day to day things reveal the full experience.

Often my husband and I camp when it’s warm enough. It’s cheap and it tells a lot about region. Some place have been amazingly beautiful and calming, others were rough and more unwelcoming as a whole.

 

Ironically, at the end of the day, this isn’t about traveling or visiting places. It’s about living life, knowing there’s more out there when you need an “out there” to adventure into. Sometimes we live our lives in such a small space that we miss our whole lives.

Survival mood can only work for so long, before it stops feeling like life. Before hopes stops flowing in. I don’t want to see that happen. Sometimes, I have to watch it happen. I can’t force anyone to get help, to try something different, to adventure beyond the unhappy state that they’ve known for so long.  Sometimes I can only proclaim that “other” exist.

 

We continue to pray.  We continue to hope, while we have hope. We continue to remind people the think, seek, pray, progress.  Sometimes the unpaved road leads to home.

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Hope for Today

I’m getting older today, which is kind of awesome. I mean when your story is about overcoming and becoming, then getting older is awesome. If your story is about existing and hoping for the glory of someday, then it’s hard… it’s especially hard. Living can be draining where stagnancy resides.

But today is a choice.   Today could be the day we choose life.

There’s this tricky mindset that has crept into Chrsitianity that seems like partial truth. It’s this idea that if once upon time you had an encounter with God then that should set you good for a life time. And I suppose it would work if our god was fairy tale story. If encountering God was like finding Nariana, then I suppose it’d be ok if once upon a time we were okay.

But for some of us… Life doesn’t work like that. For some of us today will be very important.

And it’s not that today is important because something huge and successful, that isn’t necessarily going to happen, but what will happen is choices. Today is important because I can choose to be happy about getting older today, and not fret of other days I might have lost along the way.  Today might be important because today I remember suffering… as a memory and not as my current dilemma.   Today might be important because I hope to do even better than I am today.   Maybe today is important because I am not scared of today.

Today is definitely important because I choose to remember those who may not understand how important today has been. They might be existing, failing, sorrowing, struggling. They may not know that I send them my prayers and love, because today I have enough to share. …and that’s pretty important too.

I haven’t always loved life itself, let alone my life, but today maybe I can do that. Maybe today I’ll share what love I have in my heart in hopes that it can patch up a loss of love in someone else’s heart, because I know how that feels too.

Today is victorious, because I remember pain and I don’t let it hurt me today. The only pain I feel today is knowing others still struggle with their pain, their choices, their waning hope for something better. But that pain doesn’t defeat me, it drives me to continue to hope, to continue to overcome, to continue to be and become.

Freedom is calling me today, and I want to answer. I want to take a plus one or plus 90o and one with me.

Today I will let a friend, a loved one call me beautiful without shunning the compliment. Because today a I grow older gracefully, courageously. Just for today, I can handle that.

A Modern Woman’s Struggle with Beautiful

I struggle with beautiful.

Sometimes I have a very strong concept of what it means, and I get it. I’m strong. I’m ready. Other times, the interconnectedness of beauty and strength lay me to waste. I am nothing. I have to be strong if I want to beautiful, there is no other choice. This balance is not easily maintained in all stages of life, yet it has been my best solution this far.  What are the options? What is healthy in pertaining to beauty in modern day women?

We must be strong. There is not a second option. Sharing the load is a nice conceptual sentiment with the interlocking of relationships, but some weights are not evenly distributed and it is useless to argue the utopia of other theoretical paradoxes. What happens in the quiet isolating moments of a modern woman who is not strong? Utter ruins? Silent ruins? A cracked foundation? A disappointment? Another wound, another scar? The questions of is it worth getting back up again? The questions of how many more times can I do this? The questions of how long will it continue to be this way? The questions of strength.

Does my value lie in what I can be, and not that which I actual am, in those moments that I am not enough? Do I hope that past value is sufficent to cover a day or a night or era of lacking strength? All I am worth today is who I am, but does it add up at the end of any given day? What is the value of a modern day woman that allows her to feel beautiful even in the midst of weaning strength?

In an age that does not love mysteries, except that they should be solved, corrected, or fixed …in such an age as this, what is the value of the complexity of a woman?

When I work on my body, good results cannot come fast enough. When I long to include others, my desire for true friendship consumingly stands before me. When I hope in this path I’m walking, I am ever-presently aware of my responsibilities and foolishness. My failures and short comings are ever before me like natives and locals of my thought-life, and they never foreigners or tourists in my mind. Agony is present with honest reality. Suffering keeps company with hope. Guilty accompanies bravery. Fear shadows truth.
I am never alone. …but my strength isn’t always sufficient to host this company. My beautiful character can be frazzled, and frazzled is not beautiful.

If I am not strong what value do I have? If I am frazzled what beauty do I have?

As a modern day woman, I could consider the titles that give long-lasting worth, and consider them. I am a sister, an aunt, a wife, a daughter, a friend. But if I choose not to be a mother do I lose points from the worth of being a woman? If I reap disdain as a daughter and a sister, have I decreased my value in this role? If I am pushy as a wife or a friend, then do I represent that despised thing of what a woman ought not be and therein devalue myself and my role? If I am honest with myself, is my outer being depreciated in value at my current age, and therein a wasteful representation of the beauty of a woman?  Can any of my roles add up to being more than a disappointment if my strength lacks for a day or for a moment? Is beauty alive still in the tar pit bog of imperfection and disappointment?

These are the things we cannot ask aloud, lest someone else should feel uncomforted by these thoughts. Our strength, fortitude, and even quiet desperation are the only recognized packaging of beauty.

For those who have a moment of friendlessness, isolation, or self-contempt… I know. I get it. I hurt too.

I can’t always solve a problem in time. I don’t always pick up the signals. I can’t always forget or shrug it off. Wounds acclimate and there isn’t always healing. Sometimes the infection of inadequacy spreads. These all feel like failures. I feel frazzled. My steadiness weans. My need for shelter is meet with contempt for my lack of loveliness and I too am turned away in my weakness and I must learn to care for myself when I have no strength to do so. …because I am a modern woman this has been and will be my fate in many of times.

If I was softer, gentler, kinder, more girly …I would still suffer these fates. But I am strong, rough edged, determined, and at time brutish …and I still suffer these fates. I am a modern day woman with an age-old struggle. I struggle to find my own beauty. I struggle to find it where I found it yesterday. I struggle to know where it will be tomorrow. I struggle to congeal myself within it today.

When I am weak, I am plain and lowly at best. When I suffer, cringe to smile. When I hurt I find no comfort, no value, no super human strength… I just hurt. I am a woman in a modern age, that has not changed as much as it publicizes itself to have changed. I struggle to feel beautiful if I am not strong enough. This is my only worth. There is no second option.

My beauty, my success is I know it’s not just me. I am one face, a name, an honest moment in the history of everyday women. Women whom I love, because I know …I get it… I hurt too. I struggle with beautiful.

Love Languages in a World of Profanities

If you’ve had any long exposure to the church system, there’s a chance you’ve heard an excessive improper use of the 1 Corinthians chapter 13, known as the Love Chapter. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 there are character descriptions of love, but often it’s used a the chapter in the Bible that defines love. Personally I think there is a difference between a character description and the actually definition of a person, place, or thing…in this case Love.

If I saw to you my husband is a handsome, funny, nerdy, intelligent, sometime creepy, and strong man then you have a very brief character listing of my husband. If I posted a picture with no description, then you’d make your own assumptions about what kind of person he might be. However if you meet him, depending on the day & company his with, you might have a completely different idea of what kind of person he might be. Experiential definitions are super important.

If we read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and say “this is what love is” it’d really be hard to put into practice in all the applications of life, or even to sift through different moments of our life and say “ah ha! there’s love!” because it’s only a brief character list. There’s more to love than the quick sentiments shared in 1 Corinthians 13.
However, this one particular chapter is important, because how many times do we lose sense of what love truly is in our world & culture around us? Love becomes to vaguely used we forgot what the core characteristics of love actually are. Moreover, sometimes “love” becomes a foreign word and we don’t know what it means anymore.

There’s beautiful older song by Avett Brothers called “I and Love and You”  which talks about how the three word of (or the combination there of) “I” and “Love” and “You” have become difficult to voice. Sometimes I think that’s an anthem that many of us can relate to, and can agree with. Sometimes words or phrase like, “I love you” have depreciation value set in so deep that the words are useless. Other times these words are so hard to use because we hold them so sacredly that there is no matching it.

Sometimes the most beautiful phrase get lost in our perception of the world around us. Other times, it’s stolen from us.

There are times in life when I’ll be listening to new album from a favorite band or I’ll be really into one or two specific songs, and at that time I also happen to meet a person. Now this song reminds me of that person because they happen to come into my life about the same time.  Well an occasion, when that relationship or friendship might go sour, I’d stop listening to those songs or sometimes that band because it so reminds me of that person who’d now brought hurt or shame into my life.  Those beautiful songs become lost to me, at least for a long while if not forever.
We have this same problem with words and phrase, and unfortunately sometimes the most beautiful ones are the ones we lose.

Sometimes the word “love” doesn’t really seem to mean Love anymore. It because nullified. Sometimes the phrase “I love you” starts to mean “I own you” or “you owe me”  or worst things than that. Sometimes the beautiful is stripped of its worthiness and we can’t bear these words anymore.

It’s curious to me, how it seems like more people at a younger age have horrorific words coming out of their mouth on a regular bases and no one shrugs or blushes or flinches in the least, afterall “they’re just being real”  or  “sometimes there’s no other word that really expresses that”. I totally can’t agree. How profanities are rapidly on the rise and words and phrase like “I love you” are declining in meaning… that my friends, is a strange and messed up world to embrace. Instead of embracing it, I’m going to suggest there’s something wrong there. Maybe something is being covered up. Maybe there’s a lot of hurt that happened to nullify the beautiful things, and all we’re left with is the ugly venomous things.

The Bible has this super simple statement, “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks
Unfortunately in world of broken hearts where words are used for manipulation, words become nullified and often we don’t take the time to really consider what we’re saying or implying or what we mean to say. …and too often this continues to add to the hurt.

Thus we find ourselves back at places like 1 Corinthians 13, which remind us of some original characteristic of love. Things we had forgotten. Things we stopped considering. And some things we find aren’t there at all, but we had put them on it because of our bad experiences. At times something like 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us of we’ve been thinking about love under false assumptions. We haven’t actually addressed love in its purest form, and maybe we stopped believing that such a version of love exist. …and somehow, when we don’t see and don’t strive for it, it does stop existing around us.

When we allow our bad experiences to define our words, our phrases, and our expressions then we lose the freedom that comes from understanding the core characteristics of what these things can mean. Phrases like “I love you” can be painful instead of beautiful. If there is ever to be a time where I can listen to those old songs again, or where we can hear the phrase “I love you” again, then we’re going to have to remember the core essences of where the beauty lies more than we remember the hurt that came along with these familiar notes.

If we’re ever going to be in place where we can say “I love you” with more force and power than we say F.U. then we’re going to have to find a way to believe in the power & core of Love more than hate. We’re going to have to be willing to make a change that will remind us of some of the pain that brought us here, because getting stronger hurts a little bit. It pushes us to our limits. But being weak hurts all the time, and we hurt others all the time. Being pushed around by every experience and every sharp word brings our spirits certain death, and out of that overflow we bring forth death into the words from our lips and our experiences towards other. …unless we chose to interrupt this cycle. Unless we chose to seek core truths. Unless we start thinking about what we really mean and what we really intend to do with our lives & our words. Unless we reestablish our core, we will be pushed around by every experience and by every sharp word. Sometimes this happens, but we need to reestablish our footing, and get up and get at it again.

The brief character list in 1 Corinthians 13 won’t be the absolute healing power to redeem love for us, but it will tell us where to find love and what she looks like. From there we have to have a strength to approach Love and be willing to be in an experiential relationship with love. Then somewhere along the line, we might be able to begin to distinguish between our faulty experiences with “love” and that which love truly can be. If we chose to continue to do this regularly we might even find that love has found us, that words have meaning. that profanities are for the weak and hurting. …and we all hurt, but we don’t all have to dwell in our hurts. We can be a people who heal, who grow strong, who break spiraling cycles.

Choice is powerful. Thought is innovative. We can be who we choose to be, if we’re willing to try. Are we willing?

Follow Your Heart: Vices & Virtues

Is it too bold for me to stay everyday is not perfect?
Honesty can be bold, but so can a lie. I happen to think there’s something about boldness and strength that cause for people to poke & prod, to test and disrespect for no other reason than the see something that appears odd to them. Maybe this contempt comes from the fact that the boldness of honesty can be mimicked by a lie as well?

I do try to ponder these things. For as much as I try to live honestly before people, from those very same people I am too often (meaning it happens at all), accused of being false or faulty in grievous ways by people I trusted. It’s like a quick character shanking, and they look at me with perfectly normal contentment while I bleed a little. What just happened?

I remember for years and years I had an emotional involved flirty-friendly relationship with this one guy who I thought at some point we’d be dating and maybe even contently married at some time. It would of made a great story or movie someday! But there were definitely problems. He never had the guts to really ask me out or just tell me how he felt one way or another with earthquaking honest. Instead the relationship was maintained through hints and flirts, emotional deep involvement and little teasing affections. It was fun, it was an adventure, and I love adventures.
But it had other problems. Many different times he suggested I was too tough, too boyish, too closed-off, too…whatever, and back then that really hurt. Well, the memory hurts a little knowing how I so deeply felt for him at that time and knowing he treated me in this kind of way. I didn’t understand what I lacked, but I tried everything that I could, still being me but bending to what those suggestions said I should or shouldn’t be.
As I recall, the bending hurt worse, partially because he never loved me anymore for it. Instead there was something else that was wrong. Sometimes I’d continue to change for him, other times I’d get upset at him, but the cycle was on & on for years and years.

There did come a time where I finally I started to understand, it really wasn’t what I was lacking that this guy didn’t like; it was actually something I had a lot of but didn’t realize it: strength. I was too strong for the timid spirit he had. About 7 years into this mess I realize that he didn’t actually Love me. Maybe the idea of what he imagined me to be, he loved, but not actually me.  It was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to close that chapter of my life and start rebuilding myself honestly.
side note: I think it was about 2 months later I meet my husband for the first time.

I learned a hard beautiful lesson from that mess, and for that much I am thankful. The memory itself still contains some pain, but I think what hurts is realizing this isn’t just one story that happened “once upon a time” in the past somewhere. Unfortunately I am still prone to people telling me what’s wrong with me. Even people I trust and love and adore will at times tell me what to do and who to be, and not always to my own benefit; sometimes only for their own sake. Sometimes to make them feel more comfortable with the image they have of what will happen and how things should be. …and that hurts at times. But I am just tough enough to remember this hard lesson and what I’ve learned up to this point, and from there make consider what must be done next.

I also learned it is up to me to know my heart precisely and to follow it.

That’s difficult, you know?
If I do succeed at this, then that’s all the more reason for people to tell me that I don’t listen, I’m just hiding, I’m closed off, I … I lack. I lack something that I can only receive from the wisdom of others.
…And that’s almost true.

I am a big believer in communal life. I am!  But your heart… Your heart isn’t for everyone. Your heart is your personal space. You decide what goes in there and what stays in there. It must be guarded and tended to. It must be refined and renewed. It is the wellspring of life. It must be kept from polluters, which means you must know your own heart and not let anyone else define it for you.

By “heart” I do mean your core-being. Your emotions, your character, your internal spirit, your vices & virtues, these all come from the heart, your core and inner most self.

When you tend to these things, you can begin to live honestly from your core-character. You can know your own heart and follow it to the greatness you’re meant to be. But sometimes… just sometimes, when you’re strong enough to tend to your core and be healthy in the inmost parts, people will be accusatory towards you. Stay.
Stay strong. Stay where you are.
If you fall to pieces, fall right where you are, but don’t move, shift, or reassign yourself because of such attacks. If there’s anything to found or corrected it’ll be right where you are. Don’t move.
Don’t move until you’re strong enough to stand up and start walking again, following your heart again. Stay where you are.

So in the words of Martin Luther, when he was on trial, I say: “Here I stand, God help me. I can do no other.”

Here I am.
Is that too bold?

    I truly am thirsty for you, my God.
In my heart, I am thirsty for you, the Living God.
    When will I see your face?
Day and night my tears are my only food,
    as everyone keeps asking,
    “Where is your God?”

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

Every day, you are kind,
    and at night you give me a song as my prayer to you,
    the Living LORD God.

Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
    “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?

I trust you!
And I will praise you again because you help me,
    and you are my God.

Without the help of the Lord
    it is useless to build a home
    or to guard a city.
It is useless to get up early
and stay up late
    in order to earn a living.
God takes care of his own,
    even while they sleep.

Psalms 42
Psalms 127:1-2

Beauty: Misunderstood

Sometimes it’s nice to be comfortably in the age of adults. Sometimes it’s enough to forget some teenage year struggles and social awkwardness. I think as much as I might have struggled at that time, I also had fun with it. I found reasonable ways to push the perimeters and made my life a questioning statement about the “set rules” of life. …of the good life of good Christian living.

One of my strange joys of my teenage years was to hunt through thrift stores to find odd & old patterns on shirts and dresses that seemingly no one else would want and attempt to wear them. Sorry I didn’t take the time to find these old pictures for today, but I can say that there was plenty of things which my mom said looked like the 1960s that were my favorite.

Confession: At that time this had less to do with my actual love of the retro style and more to do with buffeting the system, even though it was a very tiny protest at that.

Now I’ll also say that the retro style is an acquired taste that really grows on you (in my opinion), and I don’t doubt that I generally love it more today than I did back then. Although I am particular about which retro-styles I like. However, I bring it up not to discuss styles, but actually to talk a little about beauty.

In my teenage years, I had read the saying “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” and another one that says, “Beauty is more than skin deep”   and it’s these kinds of things make me wonder what could be done to test and/or prove this.

For most of my young life I was told that I was pretty or cute or beautiful as a baby and toddler, and I enjoyed the pure attention and admiration. But I remember I wasn’t more than 3rd or 4th grade before these kinds of saying become tainted. Suddenly it wasn’t just a compliment on its own, but now it was a sort of testing of waters. Now when it was said it had something to do with “boyfriends” or “fighting off the boys” or if it was a boy of similar age it was expected that I might compliment him back. But What for?  I didn’t understand this change. Neither did I enjoy this change, because it seemed to make “beauty” ugly and cheap. Now I had to be guarded against even compliments, which were once good things.

What kind of beauty is it that allows one person to look at another person as a object to use for their own gratification? How is that even considered connected to beauty at all? My conclusion was this had nothing to do with me or my beauty, but the distorted vices of the hearts of those who would pay such nullifying compliments. But yet the guardedness and insecurity of such changes would stick with me a long time into my future.

So low and behold, as my teenage years rolled around, I was ready to put to the test these ideas of what was beauty, and how far could someone claim something to be beautiful before it was ugly or undesirable …or just too strange. And thus began my adventures in my own clothing styles.
Imagine a reasonably smart, good humored, young girl wearing multi-colored paisley shirts, embroidered jeans, modesty-conscious, crazy fun hair styles, and not too particularly concerned with any one’s great opinion or stares.  …then we’re getting closer to what I might have been during that time.

Yet not matter how ugly my shirt or crazy retro my dresses or odd my hair might be, I still had compliments …less, yes, but still compliments. I did notice people were general less bold now. Something about my new fashion sense made people a little more aloof, which I was totally ok with, and those who did still mention it just labeled it as my particular style or me being me. But in the end, it’s just clothes and external expressions. How many people noticed my heart? Or my struggles? Or my joy? Or how many noticed when I was usually quiet? Probably less than a few.

That thing which we call beauty, isn’t usually about beauty at all. External changes in clothes, hair, makeup, accessories, or lack there of  in any of these, isn’t really the display of more or less beauty. Maybe it cries out for more or less attention or expression of some happening internally, but not so much beauty.

Most of the time during my teenage years, I wouldn’t actually have thought myself beautiful. People say there’s a lot of conflicting messages in the media and in children’s toys & dolls and role models, but I’m not sure those are things to blame. Some where, at very young age, we have the wrong idea of what beauty is and where we see it. I’d heard beauty is more than skin deep and that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but what was the likelihood of discovering such truths in our modern day life?

I think at some point I must have discovered something about beauty which wasn’t so much told to me or explained out loud. At some point I realized what we look like doesn’t have a lot to do with beauty. What we look like has a lot to do with self-image. Beauty, however, is seen when we notice the details of someone’s character or heart or beliefs, or in showing respect to other living beings. Sometimes beauty is discovered when we take on the ugly and learn what it is to be little more lowly but still have joy and pride in life.

I remember looking at a picture of my mom, who rarely truly considers herself beauty, and in this one photo I was looking at she had wrinkles and her glasses weren’t not exactly straight and she had a meek smile. As I consider the photo, I remember thinking how beautiful she was. I thought about how she might look at the imperfections in the photo and not think too much of it, but I remember also being captured with how beautiful she really, really did look. Wrinkles are bound to come. Glasses sometimes don’t sit straight. Smiles sometimes get captured in that halfway position when a photo is taken. …but so what? Certainly such tiny things don’t define beauty.
What my mom may not notice is that she has a perfect diamond shape face that allows her to look great in almost any type of glasses, beautiful innocent brown eyes, thick full rich hair, and Love in heart that is always conveyed no matter what kind of smile. She’s beautiful.

It took me a while to understand beauty for myself, and it’s taken me a little bit beyond that to understand that many people don’t even consider what words actually mean. Often we have our associations with this word or that word, and that’s it. There’s no more defining or consideration or thought. …and that’s a shame.  There’s many consideration-worthy things in this life. There’s many joys to be found, and lessons to be learned. There’s healing to be obtained.
And for me, I know I am here today, so I might as well do something with myself, besides just nodding my head at others opinions. I have some time and I’m still breathing, so maybe I could try something more adventurous. Maybe a long the way I’ll discover things that well help this world make a little more sense to me …or even help someone else.

Today beauty. Tomorrow…?

Don’t Lose Heart

Today I’m using my “warm” winter day to trim up indoor garden plants and water my row cover plants. I’m thankful for a warmer day. My mom asked me about some plants she was keeping in the garage, because they had some pest in them. She told me she hadn’t been caring for them, they’re probably dead, and she’d like to use/keep the pots if they weren’t contaminated with bugs still. I’m not a professional, but I do love gardening and doing what I can, and learning from that so that I can move on and do better next time.

One plant was dry as a bone and had bugs in it still but I noticed it was trying to sprout little new leaf. It was a pathetic sight, and I couldn’t help but have mercy on the plant. It had no nutrients and the bugs were stealing whatever good it might have had, it needed help or expulsion. I choose to attempt to help it. Right now it’s in plant ICU… sorta. It’s being treated with herbs, isolation but sunlight, and moderate watering. Not sure if this will work or not, but it has helped some other (healthier) plants in the past, so it’s a worth an attempt.

There’s just something about those little new shoots on the dead-looking plant that caught my attention and begged for mercy. Begged for a chance to be proven. …Or maybe I saw myself reflected in these circumstances?

I live in generation which has been thrown out in the garage by the religious. Ironically I often read about the days Jesus lived in, and I wonder if his disciples felt the same about their generation? I have heard to many Christian culprits shoot-off their mouth about how failing this generation (my generation) is, and how it’s (basically) our lost. As if it Christianity will just continue to live with or without any particular generation joining in or not. It doesn’t matter because God is so much bigger than us.  …Well, at least bigger than this kind of thinking, that’s for sure!

As one who has a deep interest in God and is part of the Millennial generation, I feel tossed aside. Cast out like the lepers in the Bible and even if I heal up, or like my little plant, put on new healthy shoots, I still can’t seem to prove myself and I’m still taken as infected, pesky, dried up little Millennial.

The good thing is, unlike my little suffering plant or the lepers of the Bible, I can make choices about my freedom, my internal healthy, and about my drawing near to God. And I do.
I don’t wear a pastoral filter when I learn, nor do I use Aristotle-infected Pauline spousal-suppression-system within my marriage. I don’t match my righteousness up against the Pharisees and scribes theologians and Christian authors of my day, because I actually believe the Living Words of God.  …and I believe that they bring freedom because Truth brings freedom.

 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Romans 12:9-10

I found this verse (and this version of this verse) midway through my teenage years. I love it! It’s taken root in my heart and has remained at the core of who I strive to be.

There is something absolutely essential about finding and living (and loving) from our core, the center of who we are. There’s something about not being defined by our circumstances around us or popular worldview we’re born into. There’s something about questioning the ways our forefathers have done and have interrupted things up to this moment, which can be healthy, if done in a non-accusatory manner. We must understand that we have responsibility for ourselves & our actions (and reactions), but also the responsibility of how we will leave this world for the next generation after us. We cannot determine their steps, but we can make choices that provide solid evidence and clear pathways, or we can leave things a mess so that they only have a garbage trail to sift through.

Authenticity is the necessity for persevering anything that might be good.

The honest truth is we all accumulate junk. Junk in our house, emotional garbage from life, theological junk, junk food in our bodies. It’s a very sad and terminal situation if not dealt with properly and quickly. This isn’t the kind of thing or legacy which we want to pass onto the next generation. Again, I am aware they will make their own choices, but we also we be responsible for influence we’ve been entrusted with. And although we cannot change the past of what life has dealt to us, we can sort through these things and find truth, find holism, find healing, and find a way to make a difference around us.
But deep and authentic change comes with finding our core/center and making choices which promote who we want to be and how we want to live from there. Treating surface issues and symptoms won’t bring us to fullness, won’t bring us to maturity, and won’t ultimately change our legacy.

I can’t help but think of how the media is making a frenzy out of racial prejudice, right now in America, and sadly these prejudice aren’t a new modern problem but an age old fight. A distraction for politically minded people to not notice the spiritual battles and old temptation which have befallen our nation with new questionable media coverage. But not just America, old racial prejudices are creeping up all over the world: Russia & Ukraine; France & Jews; Turkey’s Islams, Kurds, and Christians; Saudi Arabia and women.
It’s not that mysterious to me what’s happening. It’s not politics, I can tell you that. It’s something in spiritual places which is picking at this old scabs. We can’t use our forefathers methods in dealing with them, because if they had done the right things, we would not be seeing these age-old prejudices rise again (with vengeance).

We have the chance to make a change, a dramatic change, but it has to start with understanding our center & core of balance. We cannot treat surface issues and symptoms and expect health to be ours for years to come. We must pray. We must check ourselves and ask God to check us and reveal to us what must change within us, for this hour which we find ourselves in. We must have a compassion which has grown out of our own travailing.

Although our forefathers have only brought us to this point where old fights could flare up again, we are not doomed. Certainly God has intentionally raised up (and is raising up) his people for this time. It is not a mistake or coincidence that we find ourselves here today, in this hour, and even with these problems around us. God has made us to be his people for this time. We are not our forefathers. God knows what he is doing and things are not beyond our influence or help just yet. We are here as God-seasonings in this age, and we are not to let anyone else tell us that we are unfit for this time and this work.
God hasn’t lost track of time or who he’s working with. No, this is intentional. We are here, together, for God’s purpose. Let us lift our eyes to hill where our help comes from. We are people of God. We are people of Zion. Welcome home.