Tuesday, December 20, 2011

God Provides!

Despite my best efforts to “detox” Christmas this year in the hope to best keep my sanity as a full time working pregnant mother of a toddler, I felt myself allow the not-so-great-side of the holiday (the stress part) take hold of my head and heart yesterday.

Visions of sugar plums, the baking, and the seemingly endless errands, swirled in my head.

With so much to do, and only so many hours in the day, I began to see this week as exactly what I was trying to avoid: a to-do list of every category piling up and spilling over in a heap of exhaustion.

Just as I was trying to gain my footing peering over the edge of Christmas present, my brain burst into a cry of a prayer,

“Lord, I know this is not what you intended the holiday season to be. This week is not about preparing brownies and Christmas cards and getting stamps and trips to Target and bank balances. This week is about you bringing Love’s Pure Light to the Earth on the greatest birthday in all of history.

Lord, please help me feel less stressed. I just feel like I cannot do this all on my own.”

Just then, as clear as day, the Lord dropped a bomb of clarity and, let’s face it; a giant “DUH!!!!” in my head.


The Lord gently whispered, “Kaitlin, you have a husband…”

I DO! I DO! I thought.

Not only do I have a husband, BUT I have a husband who WORKS at Target.

He would ALREADY be there lots this week.

I got home from the bank and handed my husband a list with the cash from various grandparents and relatives who blessed us with cash for some gifts for our son and the other miscellaneous items that needed to be bought.

I said, “I’m going to make this a lot easier for me, here you go!”

He took the list and the money and said, “No problem,” and went back to playing his video game.

Just like that.

No further logistics needed.

I am so thankful that God has seen into my eternity and has already given me EVERYTHING I need to not only survive this life, but to enjoy the fullness of His presence.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

Amen, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Psalm 23:4 (and for some reason also about Kanye)

One of the most commonly referred to and well-known phrases in the Bible is Psalm 23:4.

This Psalm even made it into a very popular Kanye West song (not sure how the Psalm feels about that...).

Psalm 23:4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…

I think this Psalm is saying two things that are equally important.

#1. We, as Christians, are walking through the valley.

Daily. Some valleys more ominous and deep than others.

However, we are not LEFT in the valley. We are not STRANDED or STUCK in the valley.

We will make it to the other side. We are merely walking through.

#2. We, as Christians, are walking through the valley (man that looks like #1).

God isn’t hovering us ABOVE the valley, or taking us AROUND the valley.

He’s taking us right smack dab in the middle and through the valley.

That’s about as inspirational/deep as I can get today.

Being nine weeks pregnant with a toddler…whew!

Other people should add their thoughts so I don’t have to. Thanks.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

But, isn't Heaven Going to be Boring?

Confession time. Sometimes heaven doesn’t sound that great to me.

Sometimes, I think about all the Biblical interpretations of heaven and selfishly internalize it (I’m sure with Satan’s help) as the doll drums complete with endless classic church hymns, endless rosaries, and fluffy white cloud sitting.

Forever.

Like, seriously, FOREVER. And ever. (ugh)

Heaven is our rightful place as Christians where all we do is worship the Lord.

Or is it?

I do not think the message is all we do is worship the Lord.

I think the message is rather; IN all we do worship the Lord.

In other words, maybe, just maybe, here on Earth we cannot scrapbook or snowboard or play football or get a pedicure AND simultaneously perfectly worship God.

But maybe, in heaven we can! Maybe heaven is a lot more like Earth than we think, just without The World.

No inner competitive spirit to make your scrapbook “better” than others.

No newest and latest snowboard to lust after each season.

No bad sportsmanship or dishonest team players.

No over-sexualized exterior beauty standards to live up to.

Maybe we fill our “heavenly day” with those activities in their purist of forms, with God in hand, in fellowship with other Christians, in shouts of praise for The Father.

In worship. Forever.

Like, seriously, FOREVER. And ever. Amen!


I read an extremely inspiring post about a wife and mother who tries to do just that.

Even when she is doing her laundry for her children.

As she folds each piece of clothing she says a small prayer about the person who will wear that piece of clothing.

Isn't that incredibly freeing to see forms of worship in not just the obvious, but the conspicuous as well?

Of course, I believe there is also a Lord’s Eternal Gospel Choir of Classic Hymns & plenty of fluffy white clouds for eternity’s best fluffy white cloud sitting.

I, for one, will be scrapbooking human kind.

I know it will take a while, but, I've got time.

What are some of your favorite daily activities here on Earth?

What parts of those activities are godly and which parts are worldly?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Standing-Up God

One of my favorite worship songs is “How He Loves” by David Crowder.



Amazing song.

However, the opening line always left me perplexed.

The song begins with the words:

He is jealous from me

Wait...What?

Why on Earth would God be “jealous?” And what does that even mean?

Isn’t being “jealous” a bad thing?


Confused, I turned to someone with much more Biblical foundation than I, my pastor Bill Giovanetti.

Being the technological and social savvy guy he is, I posted my puzzlement on his facebook page.

He answered, appropriately, with a Bible quote:

"For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14, NKJV). It refers to God's intense desire that you respond to Him, and His righteous anger when you'd rather turn your attention to other gods (money, comfort, power, sex, etc).

Huh.

For some reason I KNEW (like you KNOW the Pythagorean theorem, but you don’t really care) that God wanted me to know Him and wanted me to love Him first and above all Gods. I mean, it’s the first commandment. It’s like RIGHT THERE, BAM.

What I didn’t think about was that God would actually be JEALOUS of my time spent “idolizing” television, money, etc.

I thought he would be disappointed, sure.

But, He’s a God with LOTS of things to do.

I didn’t think He could possibly care THAT much about me watching a few TLC episodes instead of opening my Bible.

He has bigger fish to fry than that – surely!

However, that is what you get when you receive a relationship with the Creator of the Universe: a relationship!

God isn’t just there to turn to when you need someone to turn to.

He is ALWAYS there, and when you don’t show up for coffee, he gets bummed out! Jealous, even.

So, the next time that you stand-up God, realize that you have a relationship with someone that is NOT indifferent about that date.

When it comes to you He can't just "take you or leave you." He SEEKS you.

He deeply cares about the time He spends with you.

And jealous of the things that you do instead.

Do you have a date with God today? Show up!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

The F-Word According to Kaitlin

Maybe it’s because I am a writer-at-heart.

Or, maybe it’s because my mother was a journalism major.

Maybe it was collegiate and high school debate career.

Whatever it was, words mean something to me.

Like, really mean something to me.


It drives me (inwardly) insane when people don’t mean what they say (or say what they mean).

So, call me crazy, but there are words that actually drive me mad.


With some words, simply their mere existence infuriates me.


Above all words in the entire English language there is one word that literally makes my skin crawl: freethinker.


*shiver*

That word is the worst! It aggravates me on so many philosophical levels all at once.

I completely reject the idea that you are either religious/spiritual OR a freethinker; that the two characteristics are mutually exclusive.

This rhetoric completely reiterates and demonstrates society’s current heinous and criminal mental and theoretical understanding of spirituality.

Bluntly, people are categorized in terms of mental capability/capacity as either…

1) religious/spiritual OR
2) smart/worldly/open-minded/intelligent


I think this train of thought is completely destructive, especially to young minds.

It was the first day of my Philosophy of Religion class at my state university.

I was a junior.

The teacher stood up smugly and asked a simple question followed by a call to action: “Who of you is a Christian? Please stand.”

A few stood; some more proudly than others.

I remained seated; not sure of where this was going.

The teacher continued, “Those of you standing have obviously closed minds and are much more vulnerable and accepting to religious dogma. It will be very hard for any of you to earn much higher than a standard “C’ in my class as your thought processes have been trained to be merely average.”

Ouch.

I maintain that being a Christian and being a “free thinker” is NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

This is, unfortunately, a stance that our society takes as a whole, especially the academic world.

It is ONE STANCE amongst many others.

Allowing yourself to be open to the seemingly, by scientific standards, impossible world by believing in God, is another way to define yourself as a free thinker.

Also, no one TOLD me to or DEMANDED that I believe in God.

I was not coerced by any form of authority other than the authority placed by Jesus Christ upon my heart.

Through my own internal struggle and longing I came to know the incredible Creator of our beautiful world.

I am intelligent. I have come to know Jesus through “free thinking.”

I reject the idea that I am inferior intellectually, less worldly, less classy, close-minded, judgmental, egotistic, narcissistic, or any of the other horrible things that the word “freethinker” insinuates about Christians and Christianity.

Hi, I’m Kaitlin. I am both a Christian and super-duper smart. Deal with it.




Friday, August 26, 2011

This is the Day

Today you can read my blog post featured on this incredible site:



I am so excited to be featured as a guest writer today.

:)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Go to Bed Angry. Humph!




Go to Bed Angry.

I have sometimes found myself by evening sunk into my living room couch like a mussel clings to a rock.

Lounging there silent and stuck; overwhelmed and pinned by the crashing waves of the world rushing and washing over me.

My mind races at what seems a thousand miles an hour.

The pit of my stomach grows with a deep and painful heaviness.

The tears begin to well in my eyes.

The swirling uproar of rebellion rampages upon my constant inner battle for peace.

Far from my morning devotions and since trampled by never ending cleaning, bottles, career, traffic, diapers, dinner, worries, unmet needs, and not-any-closer goals.

It is in these moments that terrible thoughts come to surface.

Satan spies me in my vulnerable weakness and offers malicious, yet in the moment welcomed, whispers that swell my pride and satisfy my thirst for blame.

Given an inch, The Enemy momentarily takes his mile in my heart.

The Enemy uses this time to urge me towards action.

He hands me swords and weapons; loading up my heart, gearing me for battle.

A petty fight with my husband. A sip of drink I do not need nor want.

The Enemy beckons me, at the very least, to continue lingering in my current state feeling crushed by the weight and, for the moment, feeling paralyzed.

Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.

This is when I stand up. I turn the television off. I put my phone down.

And I go to bed.


Not out of depression; but to shut this inner battle down with a prayer and with intolerance.

I have become intolerant of the dwelling and the wasting of time on this temporary feeling.

This too shall pass.

As someone who has always had a “quick draw” in life, this has been my best defense.

In the morning, I feel nothing resembling the weight of the looming evening.

I am refreshed and ready to start the day again, with silent inner laughter about myself just a few hours ago.


In the morning there is an abundance of clarity and peace and Truth.

No matter how I feel, the Lord stays the same.

For me, going to bed angry, is about allowing God to tackle my emotions instead of me trying to make myself feel better or happier.

It’s about saying to God, “I feel low right now, but I trust that, as You promised, You are bigger than all this. I don’t need to DO anything. I am going to get some sleep. Lord, I give this to You.”

I always, ALWAYS, feel right as rain in the morning.

Not because I say so; because HE said so.

For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Ps 30.4-5)





Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net




Friday, August 19, 2011

Exciting News!

Exciting news for all my dedicated fans!!

One week from today, I will be featured as a guest poster on my absolute favorite site : www.incourage.me



Stay tuned for my featured post on Friday, August 28th 2011.

Feeling so incredibly blessed.

Marriage: War Path to One Path



One of the most important Bible verses to me is Matthew 19:6.

Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. (NLT)

It is so important to both my husband and me that “M 19:6” is permanently etched on the inner band of my wedding ring, and on his watch (his wedding ring is unable to be etched).

This verse really has two parts.

The first being, “they are no longer two but one.”

Isn’t THAT the truth? Good God Almighty!

Everything I do affects my husband. Everything. From the mood that I start my day, to what I cook for dinner, to what kind of toothpaste I buy for the household.

Through marriage our lives are completely, 100%, woven together. Forever.

I tell you what; my husband and I had definitely hit a bump in the road about four months back.

We were about a year and a half into our marriage. The honeymoon phase had completely faded, especially after dealing with the blessings and struggles of our first child.

I have come to realize that a big part of our struggle was that between my career, my writing ambitions, our new son, understanding parenting, his job, and his nursing school we were trying to live as two different “ones” under the same roof.

This is simply not the structure that God has built for marriage.

We as husband and wife are to live as ONE. One goal. One path. One story.

We as husband and wife are not built merely to support each others path as if we were some sort of roommate.

We as husband and wife are called to have a higher relationship; to have but ONE path.

This gets really hard.

We were trying to pluck up the other person and place them on our own individual path.

But Chase didn’t fit on my path. And I didn’t fit on his.

That’s when, through prayer and, albeit painful, discussion, we started to mold OUR PATH.

Our path is without many of the comfortable surrounding of our childhood and past, as we have left our parents, our childhood, and our “BUT-I-WANT-ITS” in the dust.

Ever since we have stepped onto our path, things have been so much smoother.

We are much less thrashed and intimidated by the day-to-day stuff.

We know what works for us. Together. As one.

Not what works for Kaitlin. Not what works for Chase.

What works for CHASEKATILIN = our new identity in marriage.


And as hard as the compromises are, they are getting easier and easier.

And it sure beats the alternative.

The marriage of two separate paths is always clamoring a colliding din.

Two different melodies and structures and visions and goals all jumbled together in a daily battle of me vs. you.

The battle was never intended to be Kaitlin vs. Chase.

The battle is Kaitlin & Chase vs. The World.


Or, to be even more uplifting.

Kaitlin & Chase & Jesus > The World.

With Jesus on our side, the battle has been one and we are truly unstoppable.

Isn’t that Good News?


What can you do today to start merging your paths with the one for whom you are called to be indistinguishable from?


(I’ll be continuing this post to tackle the second part of Matthew 16:9…stay tuned!)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie Moments: Sister Act (1992)





Remember that early 1990’s movie Sister Act?

How could you not?
A casino lounge singer turned traditional Roman Catholic nun due to the Witness Protection Program whom ultimately brings passion to the church through her worldly and “hip” songs.

Instant awesome-ness.

The best part about Sister Act was the scene where Whoopie Goldberg’s character, Sister Mary Clarence, brings down the house with an awesome rendition of “Hail, Holy Queen.”

I get chills just reliving the moment in my dad’s old t-shirt and socks when I first witnessed it (I was, like, 7 when it came out). My dad and I used to watch that song on repeat (I think he just liked the excuse to turn up the volume really loud on his back-then cutting edge surround sound).

Sister Mary Clarence continues to teach the convent’s gospel singers twists on modern songs such as changing Mary Wells’ “My Guy” to “My God.”

It’s pure 90’s-tastic (a good thing).

Well, being a born music-lover, and a later Jesus-lover, over the years I have listened to songs I’ve listened to a million times, but in my head changed the lyrics to become songs of worship and prayer.

Although my husband argues that Kanye West’s “Amazing” would be better sung by Jesus, the following is my personal favorite that I have “Sister Act-erized.”

Martina McBride – My Baby Loves Me

turned …

Martina McBride – My God Loves Me

Don’t need no issue of Vogue magazine

Don’t need to dress like no beauty queen

High heels or sneakers; He don’t give a darn (‘cause God doesn’t cuss)

My God loves me just the way that I am

My God loves me just the way that I am

He never tells me I’m not good enough

Just gives me unconditional love

He loves me tender and He loves me mad

He loves me silly and He loves me sad

He thinks I’m pretty, He thinks I’m smart

He likes my nerve and He loves my heart

He’s always sayin’ He’s my biggest fan

My God loves me just the way that I am

What song can you “Sister Act-erize?”


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nerd Alert: Screwtape Letters




One book I think everyone should read is C.S. Lewis’ (yes, the Chronicals of Narnia guy) 1942 book, The Screwtape Letters.

This book is the collection of letters from an expert, “uncle” demon teaching his newly trained “nephew” demon the ins and outs of destroying humans on Earth.

It is incredibly and absolutely gripping and terrifying at the same time.

Here is a collection of quotes that I hope will inspire you to read the book. (It’s seriously probably 30-50 pages).

Just like in war, and we are in a daily spiritual war, knowing the enemies tactics is crucial to victory.

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

In other words, if you don’t think that devils exist, you are making it really easy to mess with you.

If you obsess over the spiritual realm, you are making it really easy to mess with you.

There’s a reason God keeps the spiritual realm just out of our grasp.

The safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.


Sudden turnings or milestones might tempt the human into redemption. This is something “the demons” do not want.

Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches… The search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil.

The Bible is The Bible is The Bible. And most of your Bible reading should be done just you and God. You don’t need a church to bring you to God. YOU bring YOU to God.

Consider too what undesirable deaths occur in wartime. Men are killed in places where they knew they might be killed and to which they go, if they are at all of the Enemy's party, prepared. How much better for us if all humans died in costly nursing homes amid doctors who lie, nurses who lie, friends who lie, as we have trained them, promising life to the dying, encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence, and even, if our workers know their job, withholding all suggestion of a priest lest it should betray to the sick man his true condition! And how disastrous for us is the continual remembrance of death which war enforces. One of our best weapons, contented worldliness, is rendered useless. In wartime not even a human can believe that he is going to live forever.

This is a scary thought. This says that when death is in the forefront of our consciousness, we are more likely to prepare for this death in seeking Christ. The lie that life is more desirable at all costs keeps us focused on THIS life (even in poor quality) instead of the next.

That’s it for now. I doubt many people made it this far. This dense reading is only super exciting to very few people.

Anyways, again, knowing the tactics of the enemy will improve your success and victory.

The victory, of course, has been one when you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life.

Satan ain’t got NOTHIN’ on that.


However, he can sure make your life miserable on Earth.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When to Lead & When to Follow




As often the case with my job, I met the coolest elderly guy today.

Bound to a wheelchair for now he was a former (and current) ballroom dancing enthusiast and expert.

Through our chitchat / assessment he told me that, in dancing, as long as the message of leadership is conveyed well enough to the man (the leader) the dance goes smoothly.

If the dance is not lead correctly, it will not work.

True dance, in his mind, is not choreography, but a spontaneous and passionate lead and follow. Give and take.

It is one of the few activities that it is actually beneficial to have not two equal partners, but truly one leader and one follower.

The conversation had me thinking about when in life you should lead, and when in life you should follow.

It had me thinking about my inner dance of leading and following; the constant push and pull of the world on my heart and on my head.

I think the answer is simple. Lead yourself. Follow God.

Lead Yourself.

You do not want to be a follower to your emotions (of which many times are nothing but lies). You want to be a leader of your emotions. You want to intentionally and actively make the decisions that you make each moment of each day. You want to lead your consciousness away from what is hurtful and towards what is good.

Deliberately. Calculatedly. Decisively.

Do not be led by television, inner dialogues of distress and temptation, hurtful comments made by others, insensitive remarks, lustful comparisons, jealousy and moments of anger, revenge and pride.

Follow God.

This is where the self meets the ultimate dance instructor.

By bending in with each twirl and step, and truly allowing yourself to follow, you can rest assure that your dance will be harmoniously in tune and step with the music that you cannot hear.

By allowing the dance to unravel around you and within you, instead of stiffening to your own two left-feet, your dance will melodiously become a dance of Truth.

So today, instead of marching alone, allow God to pick you up and twirl you.

(Yes, even if you're a dude. Cause it's actually pretty fun. And it's just metaphorical, so it's not that lame.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kaitlin. Analyzing Life's Nonexistant Problems. One milisecond at a Time.

I think if I had to pick one word to describe me, and one word only, it would be analytical.

Not in an awesome-intelligent way (I wish), but in an all-consuming-bordering-on-psychosis way.

I am constantly, and I mean constantly, analyzing my complete surrounding to the minute detail.

Everything I do, and I mean EVERYTHING, I break down to the tiniest detail of how I perceive that detail, and how others perceive that detail.

And, most of the time, my “analysis” is pure insanity/nonsense.

Example.

I have a really cool ring, that fits snugly on my thumb (my fingers are little), that my sister gave me.

It is a simple sliver band that reads: Love, Hope, Faith evenly spaced around its circumference.

I am almost obsessed with the fact that it turns slightly around my finger throughout the day, and as an event happens, I will glance at that ring to see if the word most directly visible to me corresponds with the event taking place.

And then, if it does, I spiral into a spiritual frenzy along the lines of that I have a magical ring.

If it doesn’t I obsess over the “meaning” of this (obviously) fateful occurrence.

(I told you I was freaking crazy.)

This is just one example of my mindfully busybody life.

I am constantly using the world around me to explain and justify my thoughts, feelings, desires, and mental rants.

I am an expert, nay a champion, of rationalization.

The Butterfly Effect is no doubt my favorite movie.

It’s actually amazing that I am even able to get through my day.

People who know me well have seen the times where I get too sucked up into Kaitlin rationalization. I panic.

It will seem like I made a rash decision, or I am just being a big baby about a situation.

In reality, my brain has totally destroyed a simple decision and I just cannot move forward.

This, of course, spirals me into another series of questioning about my NON-decision being a decision and how THAT is affecting me/the others around me.

People sometimes see me as “Black and White” and that always shocks me.

You see, I am SO in the gray, that I appear to everyone else above my sea of whirpooling thoughts “All or Nothing,” “Black and White.”

I read something yesterday that I think really applies to the way I live my life.

I hope I can use it to move forward, as most of my analytical processes involve how OTHERS will perceive this action, these words, this outfit, these ideas.

When I was 20, I was upset over the way people thought of me.
When I was 40, I didn’t care what people thought of me.
When I was 60, I realized that people were never thinking of me.


This is so simple and wonderfully peaceful.

God welcomes us to live a life where we are impressing HIM and no one else.

We see this as some enormous, almost impossible feat.

To live as if we are only gaining His acceptance.

How could we do that? Don’t we have bosses, and husbands, and friends, and pastors, and people-who-we-think-are-better-than-us to impress?

It is, obviously, the Devil who plays this as insurmountable.

When, in reality, people are a lot less noticing of you. Like, a lot less.

And if they do notice you, they are judging you maybe, maybe 1/3 of the time you think they are.

Maybe it is easier than I thought to ignore the judgments, the would-be judgments, the looks and the gossip. Maybe most of it isn’t even really there at all.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lessons from Family: Aunt Sue

This is a continued edition of the things I have learned from my incredible family that God has given me. I have been so blessed with so many different kinds of role models.

The following are a couple of lessons I have learned from my mom’s eldest sister, my Aunt Sue.

Aunt Sue’s whole being is the definition of the nicest person ever.

Her joy comes purely from the grace that Jesus has shown her, and it SHOWS.

As long as I’ve known her at least, her little light has shined.

#1 Be Someone’s #1 Fan

My Aunt Sue is without a doubt my biggest fan here on Earth.

Every time I talk to her, have ever talked to her, she is simply my cheerleader.

It’s incredible.

I remember lots of conversations with her that I feel like I am not special or even a very good person. She never saw me as anything less than the light I am.

Spending time with her makes me happy, and makes me want to be someone’s #1 fan. Someone who is always supportive. Someone who is always caring and just thinks the world of that person.

Everyone needs a #1 fan.

Who can you be a #1 fan of today and offer blind and nonjudgmental encouragement?


#2 Joy of Worship

My Aunt was driving me one summer to visit my cousin at his college. I had put in a mix CD that I had burned for the trip. One song came on and she made the remark that she enjoyed it! I asked her if she had ever heard of Josh Turner, to which she replied that she mostly listened to worship music in the car and that’s really where she listened to the majority of her music.

My fifteen-year-old brain was astounded. “JUST worship music?!??!” I thought.

My aunt continued to explain, “I figure, if I’m going to sing I might as well be singing to the Lord.”

That has always stuck with me, and I only have started to understand how incredible that concept is.

It applies to SO many things!

If I’m going to be singing, I might as well be singing to the Lord.

If I’m going to be working, I might as well be working for the Lord.

If I’m going to be washing dishes, I might as well be washing dishes for the Lord.


That was one of the first examples of VOLUNTARY, NON OBLIGATORY worship I had seen displayed personally.

She wasn’t trying to prove anything. She wasn’t trying to get God to bless her.

She just genuinely found more joy in worshiping God than listening to country music.

Period. Simple as that!


What are you already doing today that you can do for the Lord?

I love you Aunt Sue!!! Thanks for being my perpetual biggest fan! 

Home





Home is such an interesting concept.

It’s one of those concepts that begin clear as day, then get quite muddled, and then, presumably, back to "clear as day."

I find myself asking myself basically this simple question, “Am I home?”

Your childhood home is your “clear as day” home.

It’s the one you don’t even realize doesn’t keep up with the Joneses. It’s the one you don’t even question. It’s yours. Inherently. Absolutley. Indisputably.

When you have a rough day, you walk through the doorframe and you are instantly at peace. As you sink further and further into the cushions the day begins to completely shed its hold on you. Until eventually, with your mother’s hug, it’s gone.

After you spread your wings and leave, usually your childhood home is still the one you refer to as home. You tell your girlfriends you are headed “home” after the soccer game and head to your dorm, but you don’t mean you are going Home.

Home becomes something you visit at Thanksgiving or Christmas, or for a wedding or another special occasion.

You feel comfortable where you are, but you feel the world’s sting linger long after you walk through the doorframe and even after hours of sitting on your donated free couch that you still don’t really claim as yours. Everything within your walls you put into the classification of: temporary.

Even the ground that your walls rest upon. This city, these restaurants, this job.

People say that “home” becomes no longer a place.

That it becomes a wildly exciting mixture of yourself and others that you love dearly.


I can’t say that my roots are set quite yet. But I know that they stretch deep into my marriage and my son. As the years go by and those roots take deeper hold onto my heart and my being I am sure to find that entering a doorframe and seeing my “temporary furniture” will more and more relax me and bring me peace.

I was worried when we moved from our townhouse to our new house that Braylon, my son, would struggle to sleep having moved. He didn’t even flinch.

Maybe he has this whole “home” thing down better than I do.

He knows that “home” is Mom & Dad (& Moose & Maverick (our cats)).

He doesn’t see our furniture as temporary or foreign.

We are his “clear as day” home.

But all the houses and homes on Earth will always be temporary and foreign.

Maybe I don’t feel so “at home” anymore because I am really not at home.

Maybe I feel like I don’t belong here because no one belongs here.

2 Corinthians 5:8
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

And maybe, I am supposed to see all my furniture as temporary because I am accumulating other furniture.

Matthew 6:20.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Adieu.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You Lie




“You Lie” is an awesome new song by The Band Perry, one of my new FAVORITE bands.

For some reason though, this song struck a different cord in my heart yesterday.

The words “Prince of Lies” popped into my head; which got me thinking two things.

#1) Isn’t it cool how Satan is never the KING of anything? He’s always the PRINCE of Darkness, the PRINCE of lies, etc. Satan is never the KING of anything, because we have another King.

#2) The lyrics, “it just comes way too natural to you, the way you lie” really resonated with me. Satan is a SUPER duper good liar. He is the ultimate natural liar.

I started thinking about the lies that annoying serpent has put on my heart lately…

You cannot be happy following God’s plan for you. God’s plan is boring and all you’re going to do is sit around and pray. That’s not fun! Some Father he is, says he wants the best for you…then why aren’t you happy??

The song changed then to Miranda Lambert “Heart Like Mine” and the truth was poured out.

‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine
And I bet we’d get along just fine
He could calm a storm and heal the blind
And I bet he’d understand a heart like mine


How TRUE! If God can seriously perform MIRACLES on the least deserving, and most complicated of issues, SURELY he can understand a frustrated newlywed first time mommy.

So, I say, SHHH you slithering serpent! You will not steal away the happiness that has been laid before me by the one we call KING (you lowly Prince). And, furthermore, you’re the worst kind of Prince. You’re not like a prowling furry singing prince who someday will be king like Simba. You will NEVER be King. MUAHAHAHAHAH.

SO BUTT OUT.

Thanks, the team of which the victory has been won

And there ain’t a single darn thing you can do about it.





P.S. Thanks Becca for the CD!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Changing of the Tides

A Life Free to Change as the Tides

Why is it that in some of our deepest struggles come our deepest wisdom?

It’s unfortunate that we live such a busy life that it takes the forfeit of our comfortable reality, oftentimes only to be dropped into a reality of pain, for true growth and enlightenment to occur.

I hate using the word enlightenment.

Whenever I think of “enlightenment” I think of that guy who sat meditating for like two years on a hill somewhere and finally reached “nirvana.” Who was that again? Confucius?

“Enlightenment” in that sense of the word is an achievable overwhelming wave of “life truth” that takes hold on your body, mind, and self-perceived reality.

I’m not sure I quite think that is possible in the human experience; at least without the help of several hallucinogens and psychedelics.

I do believe in deep and life altering frames of mind.

These mini-enlightenments forever change the way a person looks at their life.

A couple questions.

Can you have a TRUE altered frame of mind, without a change of action?

In other words, if your point of view, or ideas about a certain life event or process change so drastically as to mirror something close to an enlightenment, shouldn’t the way you live your life reflect that?

I would argue; not always.

In theory, we as humans would be free to change the way we live our life based on the ideas and lessons that we learn and revolutionize within our self.

However, we, at least on Earth, answer to a higher power: society.

Consider the daughter who, upon her father’s death, receives a revelation that she was no longer living to earn her father’s approval. She starts to realize all the decisions she has made her whole life that have stemmed from this mindset. She further realizes that, if her mindset had been different, and she had been working to impress herself only, she would have lived differently.

But then she perpetuates her life, still in the mindset of the daughter aching for acceptance.

Perplexing.

What good is learning if you do not change? What good is growth without action?

Why learn better ways, if we are to merely be flung back into society’s perceptions of our purpose here?

Some could say that society’s dictations of our limits are an insult to the human mind.

Society, in general, sees risk and change as incalculable. Incalculable events, society says, are bad.

Ergo, pursuing any great life change or alteration, is bad.

So basically, we are learning all this revolutionary information about ourselves, about our passions, about our purpose, and yet we are destined to dwell in the calculable. The predictable. The forseen. The inevitable.

What freedom would come from a life allowed to move and change as often as the ocean’s tides and as beautiful as a fleeting butterfly.

Yet we stay. Yet we perpetuate. Yet we detriment.

If people wouldn’t hold so steadfast to one notion of the world and one perception of the world; how free our experience here!

If pride and shame and guilt held no weight on us; what would our life TRULY look like?

Would it look like the blind following of societal rules and restraints?

Or would it look like the fullest embrace of what is set before us?

Someone told me recently that, sometimes, we put God in a box. That we limit His love to us to what society perceives as acceptable. When, in reality, that’s man’s love.

Man says you are worth what you bring to society. Man says you are worthy of love in certain parameters.

Isn’t the whole point of a TRULY all-loving God to relinquish completely man’s hold on our hearts?

I have a lot to learn about God. I have a lot to learn about life. I have a lot to learn about myself.

I can only hope that with every shed of people’s perception of my soul and being, it will bring me closer to the true path that is laid before me for my life.

Only in the shedding of the limits set before myself can I achieve my whole and true self.

Becoming she who wishes to impress and challenge herself, instead of feeding off the acceptance of others, is who I both desire and deserve to be.

A Life Without Butterflies




Mourning the Butterflies.

I’ve decided that romanticism is stupid. It’s just not fair.

We experience several levels of romantic bliss throughout our lives and the notion that it is, by scientific fact, short-lived is just annoying.

We as women, crave this romantic energy more than our male counterparts, for sure. Otherwise, I think we’d be getting a lot more picnics in the park and a lot more roses.

What I don’t understand is, WHY, evolutionarily, Biblically, whatever, WHY create something so awesome, just to take it away from us?

Most scientists and psychologists agree that romantic love is truly temporary. Some go as far as to actually put time limits on the human body’s capacity to feel a certain way prolonged over time (statistically). In other words, most studies show, that you reach a point and you’re done. Maxed out.

Others, the unarguably most pessimistic of the bunch (philosophers call them existentialists), say that romantic love doesn’t even exist, but is merely a formulated experience of your nervous system and neurons reacting to evolutionarily derived lust.

Then, there’s “first love” romantic love. The kind felt by only a young lady or man. That is almost inherently impossible to replicate as you will never be in that pure state of mind again.

The idea I most appreciate is the idea of romanticism vs. connection. In experiences where the romantic side of a relationship has ended, there is undoubtedly to survive, “a connection.”

This “connection” is supposed to be a step higher than romantic love in a way. It’s supposed to be ultimate connection and understanding and forgiveness.

That’s fine and dandy…and when ultimately achieved, SUPER amazing.

The kind of love that God feels for us as his children and the kind of love we feel for our dearest loved ones like parents and children.

However, what about the butterflies?

Are those just evolutionary temporary feelings to merely procreate and continue the species?

That’s stupid.

I’ll figure this out in the long run.

Maybe someday I will reach that point of unconditional love and I’ll know why the heck everyone is saying it is the superior emotion and connection.

But right now I am totally mourning the butterflies.

Being super honest right now, the idea, to me is super depressing.

For what is a life without butterflies?

“Some people are settling down, some people are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.”
- Carrie Bradshaw/ Sarah Jessica Parker




IMAGE: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8078381@N03/3430652074/
PAREERICA; FLICKR USERNAME

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why My Dad is Cooler Than Your Dad / Happy Father's Day 2011

I have yet to write about the lessons my father has etched onto my heart and mind because, well, there are so many that I get overwhelmed with the task and then just say, “Forget it!”

So, please keep in mind that these are just a very, very select few of the lessons from David Thomas Allen Ferrick to his eldest daughter.

Lesson #1: Parenthood is less about quantity of time and more about quality of time

Yes, kids need parents to be around to make sure they get their lunch packed and hair brushed every day. Yes, parenthood is about consistency and “continuity of care.” (health care talk coming out!)

My father was not around a whole bunch when I was younger due to extraneous circumstances that don’t need to be discussed here.

However, the QUALITY of the time I spent with him was untouchable. His ability to impact (and continue to impact) my life heavily in the (relatively)short times I am with him.

This gives me great peace when I leave my house Monday through Friday and leave my son behind. I know that my relationship with my son is more about how we spend time together than how much we spend time together.

Lesson #2: Do what you love and the money will follow


My father has always been ambitious (understatement of the century), but his ambition has seldom been monetarily driven. Having said that, my father makes good money. Great money. However, it’s because he’s great at what he does. And he is great at what he does because he loves what he does. Ergo, using basic rules of logic (if a=b and b=c then a=c), love what you do = make it rain.

Lesson #3: Who you are today is not who you were yesterday and is not who you are going to be tomorrow

Simply put: people change. And change is good. Change is growth. Don’t stop growing.

And, by extension…

Lesson #3(a): Grudges are stupid and a waste of time in the long run
Lesson #3(b): Don’t hold onto the past or let past decisions/regrets define your today
Lesson #3(c): Who you are today and who you want to be in the future are NOT inconsistent anomalies

Lesson #4: Do not light a spider on fire that is on a web. This will cause both the web and your palm trees to instantly ignite into flames.

Period.

Lesson #5: Vacations aren’t for relaxing. They are for jamming in as much walking in the heat to see really old buildings (or where buildings used to be) in a 24 hour period as possible.

My dad is simply a busy, constantly engaged guy and he is never un-busy. That’s why in Italy my pre-teen sister and I begrudgingly followed our father and step-mother around sweltering heat and humidity from sun-up to sun-down in too many ancient cities. Then, it was 60% awesome and 40% what could only be interpreted as manual labor.

Now I realize that it was 100% awesome and I can only hope that I can take my kids on my very own Bataan Death March in Rome while telling them that they’ll appreciate me for it someday.

Lesson #6: You don’t need more than one small carry-on suitcase and one backpack to travel anywhere, for any period of time.

Waiting for luggage is for heathens and the lazy.

Lesson #7: You can get out of a speeding ticket and illegal u-turn charges by paying your seven-year old to act like she’s really sick
And by extension…

Lesson #7(a): Waiting in traffic is for heathens and the lazy.

Lesson #8: My dad loves me the best.
And by extension…

Lesson #8(a): Being an excellent parent requires making each child feel like they’re loved the most, when in fact, you’re all tied.

Lesson #9: Don’t be a mindless consumer / victim of the marketing world.

We were in a grocery store. I can’t remember how old I was, but I remember I was sitting in the cart front, so I couldn’t have been older than five years old.

I was complaining going down the frozen food aisle that I wanted a TV dinner.

He must have gotten annoyed, but instead of just telling me to be quiet or to stop whining he just stopped the cart and pulled out a TV dinner.

He pointed to the cartoon penguin on the front of the box smiling and waving to my cute five-year-old self.

“THAT,” he said, “is why you want this TV dinner. Does the food really look delicious? It looks gross. The people who make these TV dinners put mediocre food into a package and slap a cartoon on the front and all of a sudden I am a bad father for not giving my child a dinner that comes in a cardboard box.”

I remember getting really quiet and really digesting (no pun intended) what he had said. He was right! I never looked at Happy Meals the same.

And I will always appreciate that my dad, regardless of my age, never stooped to cliché parent-isms of “because I said so” or “I’m the parent and you’re the child.” He just spoke the truth. And it worked.

Lesson #10 (just because 10 is a good number for a list): “Everyone just wants to go home and have dinner with their families.”


Just after September 11th happened I, like many of my young peers, became instantly globally aware of the eminent dangers that were looming constantly over our nation and our lives. It scared the heck out of me! My dad just sat me down and said calmly and honestly (he always spoke 100% honestly), “Yes, Kaitlin there are a lot of people in this world who wish to do a lot of harm. But, I always think that at the end of the day everyone just wants to go home and have dinner with their families.”

I don’t know quite why, but that gave me such peace that night. The conversation has certainly stuck with me.

My dad always had the ability to talk me down off a mental cliff.

My father ALWAYS appreciates my opinion, listens to my rants/raves, honors my decisions, and treats me like an adult. When we disagree it is more about how to derive at a practical solution instead of a battle of right vs. wrong. He listens to me. He has never judged me. I am never afraid to tell him anything or talk to him about anything.

In conclusion, my dad is cooler than your dad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bubbles




Everyone loves the 2007 romantic comedy “Knocked Up.” I am no exception to this. Great movie.

However, there is one scene that lingers with me longer than the others.

There is a very honest depiction of the contrast of adulthood and childhood in a very short scene at a neighborhood park with father-of-two, Pete, and father-to-be Ben Stone.

Ben Stone: They (Pete’s young daugthers) seem to love bubbles.

Pete: Oh, God. They go (edited) crazy over bubbles!

Ben Stone: They’re really going (edited) crazy.

Pete: I mean, that’s an incredible thing about a child. I mean, what’s so great about bubbles?

Ben Stone: They float. You can pop them. I mean, I get it. I get it.

Pete: I wish I liked anything as much as my kids liked bubbles.

Ben Stone: That’s sad.

Pete: It’s totally sad. Their smiling faces just point out your inability to enjoy anything.


For some reason that scene just really resonates with me.

Now, I am not quite as bored with life as Pete is in the movie, but I really do mourn the loss of my childhood enchantment from time to time.

Remember when Christmas didn’t sneak up on you in a frantic consumer-driven rush?

Remember when testing for sharks in your blow-up pool was a life-saving necessity?

Remember when the Tooth Fairy gave you shiny quarters you felt not just rich but so special to receive a trip from a faraway pixie?

Why don’t we relish the small things? Why aren’t bubbles super cool anymore?

Not only should we enjoy the little things in the eyes of a child for our own happiness, but we are called to do so by God as well.

We are called to have faith like a child. We are called to look at God as a child with the same wonder and joy that a child laughs and frolics with bubbles.

Mark 10:13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

God isn’t saying here that you have to be of a certain age before you accept Jesus or you are condemned. What He is saying here is that in order to fully allow Jesus into your heart it requires pure, unadulterated faith.

This sort of faith is to be compared to humbling your inhibitions back to being of a child-like mind.

To God we are all his children, no matter how old.
There is a very good reason we call him, Father.

I’ll love you forever.
I’ll like you for always.
As long as you’re living, my baby you’ll be.

(Love You Forever, Robert Munsch)


You’re mission: enjoy some bubbles today. Even if it’s a hot bubble bath.

picture from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-oo/2504119100/

Things I've Learned Since I've Become a Mother

Seventeen Things I’ve Learned Since I’ve Become a Mother

1) Four Two-Hour blocks of sleep does NOT equal Eight hours of sleep
2) It’s all about the epidural
3) How much I use not-kid-friendly language
4) How amazing it is to watch a husband become a “daddy”
5) How being a good mom includes making time for mom to be herself
6) How much more you lean on your family becomes when you wouldn’t trust anyone else with your child
7) How amazing it is to watch moms become “grandma” and “nana”
8) Little babies take up BIG space in your bed
9) Sometimes you HAVE to let them cry
10) Sometimes you HAVE to hold them for three hours without moving except for back and forth
11) I’ve learned far too much about the human digestive system
12) How unfathomably and insanely lucky I am to have a partner to go with me through this crazy parenthood thing
13) How I could not do this on my own
14) How I would do this on my own if I had to
15) How much my parents were pretty much "winging" the whole process of raising my sister and I
16) How much my parents love me
17) How much God loves me

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Life Lessons: Heaven, Death & Dying

Lessons in Life: from the Elderly Community
Part 2: Death & Dying

Inevitably, one of the first questions I get asked by someone learning that I am employed in the world of assisted living is, “But isn’t it just so depressing?”

I always blissfully answer, “No! It really isn’t!”

Yes, I get attached, sometimes deeply, to residents and yes, they pass away. Often.

In my three years working between the two buildings I have met and said good-bye to hundreds of residents. Even though I always grieve for the family’s loss, I have never grieved for the resident’s fate.

I have learned so much from being around death & dying, and it is purely inspiring, and incredible. Even supernatural.

Even though I have always been somewhat faithful, I have always been stumped by the pure seemingly insane idea of heaven/afterlife.

When I was young child, I remember grasping the concept of reality and infinity and like many children and teenagers enlightened by the idea felt suffocated. It wasn’t long before a mental claustrophobia set in imagining my lifeless body in a box in the ground. I would stay awake for hours, days, agonizing and scrutinizing the utterly awful and horrific prospect of forever.

Then, as a young adult, my logical brain put death/afterlife into two categories. The first: heaven (or something like it). The second: pure nothingness. Neither idea was terrifying. Sure, one more desirable over the other, but at least I had grasped the second concept of the “forever death” enigma which is the inevitable cease of consciousness. There was some comfort in that.

That was the mindset that I owned upon entering the assisted living world. Of course, before then, I had never known someone personally who had died.

Then, after being around people who were, let’s be honest, closer to the end of the race than the beginning. Weird things started to happen.

Like, no-way-can-be-coincidence type of things.

Below is the lesson I have learned from spending time with those at the finish line.

There is undoubtedly, undeniably, 100%, absolutely, positively, for realsies, a heaven.

I know for a fact there is an afterlife now.

Not once. Not twice.

BUT EVERY SINGLE TIME that someone passes the following happens (I swear):
(Timelines are different for each people. Some people I’ve seen in certain stages longer than others. But the following is still a repeated path I see ALL THE TIME. OF COURSE, all people are different in their journey and this is no way represents every single person on planet Earth, okay?!)

#1) The person acquires a sort of calmness about them.

Some people are in this stage since they’re born. Some residents you can really see weeks to months before they pass an overwhelming calmness take hold of their personality. Sometimes it’s seen in exhaustion. They’ll say things like, “I’m just so tired.” Or people who were always annoyed when people wore slippers to the dining room just don’t care anymore.

In more extreme cases, this is seen as actual excitement to pass on. There was a resident a while back who, when you would ask, “How are you today?” She would jubilantly respond, “Good! Did you hear I’m dying?!” And there would actually be days where she would just shake her head and ask disappointedly, “Why aren’t I dead yet?!” She was genuinely disappointed to not be in heaven!

That amount of faith to me is awesomely inspiring.

It’s incredible.

#2) The person receives visitors.

This is where it gets AWESOME, because these visitors are of the not-of-this-world type. These visitors include angels, family members, and even passed away pets!

There was Clyde (*name changed*) who lived to be 105 at one of my communities. It was all that he could do to make it to the dining room, and at 105 that was quite a feat. He loved sharing meals with the other residents, so, he would come to the dining room at breakfast and stay through dinner!

I remember walking past him through the empty and desolate dining room and he (who almost never spoke) motioned at me to come near. I did.

He raised his voice louder than I had ever heard, as if talking over other people and glancing in the far corner, “Can you shut them up please?"

I responded, “Who, Clyde?” (you never argue with a resident’s reality).

He looked at me like I was insane. “Those d*** fellows playing those instruments and hollerin’!”

I just started laughing in my head!

God had sent his heavenly choir to come and sing him home and he just wanted them to shut up!

Clyde passed the next day.

I’m positive the heavenly choir sounded better in the right atmosphere.

Then there was the resident that played a full on poker tournament with his military troop for an entire week while hospice allowed him to pass painlessly (they would never take his money though that he owed them).

There was the resident who wanted a full shave despite his frail and almost transparent skin because his wife was sneaking in through the window at night. She never liked his five o’ clock shadow. His wife had been dead for decades.

#3 No fear.

I am continually inspired and so thankful for the incredible gift that these residents have given me.
God has answered the prayer that lingered in my seven-year-old-self’s bedroom walls.

Lord, make me unafraid of death.

No longer is death this great unknown and foreign nightmare.

One of my co-workers’ husband passed away this year. He was on life support for months.

She remembers him seeing their old family dog at the foot of his hospital bed ready to jump up on him. He sat up thinking he would shake the sensation. He told her that he witnessed plain as day their dog ready to play and snuggle.

She remembers him saying that his mother, a very Christian woman, always told him that she was going to be the one welcoming him into Heaven. He said he was concerned that the dog was going to jump in front of her!

In the days before my co-worker had made the horrific decision to cease life support for the love of her life, she was explaining to barley lucid man that it would mean that he would pass on. His response was three weak words: “Got to go.”

Death is a hard thing. It’s a time of mourning the loss of the relationship. For those who have lost someone close to them it can be Earth-shattering; especially if the death was unexpected or early.

Please do not take this as me slighting the loss of a loved one.

This is simply me saying from the depths of my heart.

There are greener pastures. For realsies.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Should be Called: Generation Forced Fiscal Responsibility

I am part of a pretty financially confused generation.

Our parents were part of the “live outside of your means” group.

By this I mean barely qualifying for (and still partaking in) hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of credit limits, houses, cars, boats, vacations, etc.

We lived the good life. Especially, since as children, we had zero concept of fiscal responsibility we had even less clue than our parents that we really couldn’t afford this stuff.

Then the Great Recession struck.


Not only were we tossed out into the world in one of the hardest periods in American history to be tossed out into the world (I have friends with Bachelor’s degrees bagging groceries at Trader Joes), but the gap between where we WERE and where we ARE is, I believe, larger than many other generations due to the previously over inflated perception of wealth.
We not only needed to compensate for the gap created naturally by leaving the roost, but also we need to close the gap created by our parents based upon imaginary standards.

But we’re working smarter; not harder! Well, okay we’re working both smarter AND harder!
My generation is the generation sneaking in flasks of generic Save Mart brand gin to the clubs to mix with soda because it’s way cheaper.

My generation is the generation that has never bought lunch every day while at work (extra bonus points if you work somewhere you get a discount or a FREE meal).

My generation is the generation that habitually says “No” to Angel Cards (27.99% interest are you freaking KIDDING me?!) and leasing vehicles and new vehicles altogether.

My generation is renting homes instead of buying homes, because who knows where we’ll be in 2, 5, 10 years. We’re where the job is.

I truly believe that we will be a stronger generation for it.

We not only are working our butts off, but we have never known a time where we COULD live above our means.

We’ve tried. We got denied for that loan. Even with our 700 credit rating.

Yesterday while mall-walking with my son I noticed a fashion hat in hot pink camo that read, “Addicted to a Lifestyle I Can’t Afford” in script on the back.

My guess is that hat will be there for a while. I just don’t think it applies to the demographic.

Unless, of course, one of those I-am-Fifty-but-think-I-am-Twenty mammas get a hold of it.

Stay strong my generation of working super hard for little to no pay, no benefits, no trips to the Cape, or Christmas bonus (if a holiday party at all).

Stay strong my generation of eating in, and carpooling, and night shifts, and community clinics, and making way less than we’re worth.

Our time will come. And we will be so much more prepared for it when it does.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lessons in Life: from the Elderly

For those of you who do not know, I work in the wonderful and exciting world of assisted living.

I represent two incredible communities in my town and have the opportunity to spend much of my time with people over 80 years old. Their outlook on life is so incredibly similar to mine and yet so different at the same time.

It’s an amazing reminder that we are all the same and we are all unique.

While perpetually “waiting for some inspiration” to write my next blog I found myself working on some mailers for work and listening to the group of residents come in from an outing. The conversation was as follows:

Resident #1: “It is so chilly today! I hate cold weather!”
Resident #2: “Don’t worry, it’s almost June. It will get warm soon!”
Resident #1: “Oh, I hate warm weather too.”


It just made me smile!

I started thinking about all the many, many things I have learned from my residents and their families.

I have reflected today on two specific lessons that I would like to share with you today.

#1 Don’t complain about your life around elderly people. Trust me, they had it worse.

After I had my son prematurely and he had his hospital stay in the NICU for fifteen days, my heart ached for months. The extreme pain of losing this amazing birth process that I had been dreaming about my whole life was shot to heck. Bed rest was terrible. Leaving the hospital without my baby boy was by far the most heart wrenching experience I have ever been through and I wish it on no one.

Due to necessity, I had returned to work after six weeks, thankful that my baby boy was with my husband and that my job was allowing me to work from home twice a week for the following six months.

Most of the residents had sauntered in and out of my office for the first few days asking about Braylon and myself. I was simply keeping it light and not going into any of the details.

One resident decided to stay and share her experience with me.

Her child had also been born prematurely, but in a time where medicine as exists today was not a reality. The doctor had sent her daughter home simply so that she could die at home and not in a hospital. Children born prematurely in those days simply did not survive, or if they did, it was by miracle alone.

Her tiny baby girl could only drink ½ an ounce at a time (over a two hour period) without choking and extreme respiration. She would stay up around the clock nursing her so she would get enough to eat.

Oh, and by the way, that daughter was daughter #4. And her husband was away at war. And her family lived far away. And she lived in Minnesota. To stay up all day and all night she would fill buckets of snow and sit with her feet in them until her feet hurt so bad she was forced to stay awake due to the pain.

Her baby girl is 45 years old now.

And if THAT isn’t a mother’s love, I don’t know what is!

As flawed an experience of having my baby in the NICU was, in perspective it was a God send. My child had access, regardless of insurance, to some of the best technology, education, care, and medicine in the world. I was able to come and go as I pleased (mostly come) while allowing the caring and beautiful nurses to ensure my baby’s best start possible.

I had my feet in buckets of snow exactly zero times.

It was, by comparison, a dream.

I shut up after that and from then on.

It was a lesson to look at my blessings and not my burdens.

Because I was incredibly blessed with a healthy and beautiful baby boy.


When elderly people say that they walked to school up-hill both ways, most people laugh, but I am not so sure that they are exaggerating.

#2 The Bible is not purely historical document, but it is a living document as well.

Many people are quick to dismiss the Bible as simply a book of rules that worked for some bizarre ancient civilization, and ergo not applicable to the “drastically different” life that we live today.

While I believe not only that the Bible is a living document in the way that it was written (by God to transcend generations), working with the elderly has given me an additional perspective.

Human kind at it's most basic core hasn’t really varied all that much from generation to generation!

In other words, considering the distinctly polar opposite lives that I have lived in comparison to our residents, if THEY and I still have similar core values and hopes and dreams and desires in common, then I do not believe it is a stretch to say that all humans in all times have basically the same core as well. I am not really sure exactly how it all works, and I dare to say I am not meant to know.

But, I do love to reflect on the simple beauty of the promise that that all humankind’s fears and hopes in the truest of forms are simply the result of being uniquely hand crafted by a loving and miraculous God.

“Listen to me... I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you.” Isaiah 46: 3-5

I think this verse is not only talking about “you” as “you,” but “you” as “humankind” as well. He was there in the beginning and He will be with us through all our ages.

So…that pretty much rocks.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Self-Righteous Christians

Self-Righteous Christians

I was driving my (new) usual route from my house to the main part of town. My route, similar to many suburban routes, takes me past many billboards, neon lights, and dancing people spinning arrows dressed in strange costumes (why anyone would want that job is beyond me).

I especially notice (and the marketers smile) signs that you can change, sometimes daily, with little quips or quotes such as “Happy Birthday Honey Bunny love, Big Fred” or “United We Stand” and the like. These signs are usually owned by gas stations, churches, schools, etc.

So here I was driving along, bopping around to Taylor Swift, and listening to Braylon talk to his stuffed elephant and zoning out (the good kind not the unsafe, distracted driver kind).

The sign I noted that morning in particular was from a local Christian church (which will not be named). As I pulled up to the stop sign and looked out my right side I noted the sign today read “NOW OPEN FROM EASTER TO CHRISTMAS.”

My first thought was, “How odd. A church that is closed from Easter to Christmas? Must be those crazy enter in random denomination!”

A few seconds later it hit me.

“Oh my gosh!” I thought. That was actually a (not so clever) sign targeted, quite rudely, at church going folk that only attend church on Easter and Christmas.

I could not believe it.

Not only was that probably the worst way to entice people to church I had ever seen, it was aimed at people who are already Christians!!!

Not only was this church attacking those who didn’t attend church at all, but those who didn’t go to church “enough.”

Ridiculous.

Now, I believe in attending church regularly for many, many reasons including community, specific time for worship and prayer, etc.

But I absolutely, positively, 100% do NOT believe in guilt tripping, humiliating, shaming, or taunting people into attending church regularly (or at all).

It seemed so…self-righteous. And oozing with pride (some of Satan’s favorite chess pieces).

This sign painfully reminded me of one of the most devastating words ever uttered to me.

Back in high school, I had a large eclectic group of friends. Like most teens, whose ideas and passions were just starting to bloom and clash and collide, we enjoyed hours and hours of discussion about literally everything about the world. Inevitably religion (and, in my case, Christianity) would come up.

I remember sitting around a giant round table at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants in town. The kind where you pay $8.00 and eat anything and everything you want.

After all the food had cleared, the religious debate had begun. Out of the twelve around the table, myself and one other (much less out-spoken) Christian were holding down Jesus’ fort. It felt like an ambush.

My best friend in the whole world, completely dead honestly, looked me straight into my eyes and said, “The thing I don’t get about you Christians is when the Judgment Day comes and we all burn in hell and you go to heaven, you guys are going to feel so validated and celebrate that you were right.”

I remember sitting there completely stunned and speechless. My heart sunk into my stomach as if I had been hit with a sledgehammer.

Being an “infant Christian” at the time I had nothing to say. I couldn’t believe that the Good News had been so twisted that THAT was the message and vibe non-Christians were getting from us!

Happy that our fellow men, our friends, are burning in hell, because that’s means we’re right?

Celebrate?

The idea made me literally sick.

Are we so obsessed with being right and with being “better” than other people (and other Christians) that we are forgetting what is at stake here?!
Those without Jesus do NOT deserve to be ridiculed so that you feel better about yourself.

Those without Jesus deserve to be saved. They deserve to have Jesus.

So SHUT UP about why you’re better than them and tell them why Jesus is better than YOU.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why I don't want Good Luck

“Crossing my Fingers”

This morning while sending a marketing progress report to our owner group I found myself erasing the sentence “saying a prayer for a sunny skies” for our afternoon marketing event. I replaced the sentence with “crossing my fingers for sunny skies.”

Why are we so ashamed of even those most innocent of phrases?

Now, mind you, in a professional marketing report to an owner one should be extremely cautious of one’s words.

However, it got me thinking to other every day situations where I could be speaking the truth (without fear of losing my job).

How many times a day do I tell a college, friend, or family member “Crossing my fingers for you!” or “Wish me luck!” when what I really mean is “Sending up a prayer for you!” or “Say a prayer for me!”

I find that this also extends to my occasional spew of talk about karma (which I have no belief in???). What I’m discovering about myself is that if it’s a spiritual belief that is not offensive and generally socially perceived as innocent I would rather take on emulating those beliefs rather than the ones I actually hold? What sense does that make?

When I tell a friend “Good luck!” about their results and performance at an archery shoot, what am I really saying? I don’t believe in luck. After I shout that self-contradictory nonsensical phrase out into the universe, I always send up a little prayer to God.

What would it really hurt if I just said “I’ll be praying for you!”
Not only would this be more truthful, but it’s far more powerful and helpful!

I pray for people because I believe it works. I ask for prayers because I believe it works.

Bottom line: I am doing a disservice to others (and myself) by wishing them luck (when I could be praying) and asking for luck (when I could be receiving prayer).


And, as a believer in prayer, I should feel comfortable enough to tell others that I have confidence in prayer. Maybe that would increase their confidence and allow them to dust of their “prayer hats.”

So, fellow Christian, next time you are compelled to say “good luck” or “best wishes” or “crossing my fingers” or any other phooey that you just don’t believe in (and you won’t lose your job) go ahead and say what you really mean.

(P.S. This blog (especially that part about “prayer hats” what was that??) could be written far better. I am extremely sniffly and my head hurts and I’m exhausted from moving this weekend in the rain…and God wanted me to write this blog. So I am. But I told him it wouldn’t be pretty. He said that’s okay…write it anyway. So I did.)

Life Lessons from Family: Uncle Borrvs

Have you ever wondered how I got to be so awesome? I was thinking the same thing.

I am “me” because of a million and one amazing combinations of lessons, enlightenments, and experiences. Some of the most prominent of those experiences in my life, luckily, have been learned through my family and close friends. I will spend the next several days, maybe weeks, reflecting on those experiences and how these incredible people of all kinds have shaped my life. I would just encourage you to do the same. Hard truth: you don’t have too many completely original thoughts (if any). Someone at sometime helped get you there.

Don’t let that discourage you! Because chances are, that your inherent awesomeness has in no doubt affected someone else’s life positively! Isn’t that super cool?

Uncle Borrvs

For those of you who know Uncle Borrvs, this would seem like such an odd place to start. For one, my time with him compared to the other people in my life has been very short. For two, he speaks mostly in enigmas and riddles and rants. Yet, I truly believe that he has influenced me in some of the most profound ways.

Lesson #1: Don’t let other people label you. Label yourself.

The most incredibly awesome thing about Uncle Borrvs is that he somehow manages consistently to be different than any other person you’ll ever meet. He falls into ZERO stereotypical categories (think about how hard that is) and just when you think you have him figured out…BAM. You don’t.

Born with the name proper name William, Uncle Borrvs had since changed his name (the rumor I heard was after a cartoon spider he was particularly fond of) and graduated from Georgetown University with a philosophy degree.

Most of my life he wore full black and brown leather suits with vests and long coats no matter what the weather. He didn’t wear a wrist watch, but rather carried a silver pocket watch. His hands were full of large silver rings shaped like dragons, snakes, and swords. Sometimes he adorned a cowboy hat, but he always wore his light brown hair down to his knees. He washed that hair once a year with olive oil.

In other words, if Uncle Borrvs wasn’t blood related, I would definitely question the amount of time (if at all) I would have been permitted to be around him.

Uncle Borrvs didn’t let the world define him. He defined himself. And he is awesome at it.

Lesson #2: Philosophy and logic is an amazing way to make people really mad / Don’t take arguments with others too seriously
Spending time with Uncle Borrvs for me is like spending time with a genius from another planet. He can respectfully and tactfully converse about any topic whatsoever (especially the super controversial ones) and most of the time you are left feeling even more confused about the world than when you started.

I have seen others get so extremely intoxicated with anger and frustration speaking about the simplest of topics with him. Uncle Borrvs always kept his cool and would incredibly intelligently dance around the topic with such ease that the conversation became impervious to any opposition, no matter how ridiculous and asinine his stance.

It was, as a child just learning the ways of intellectual rebellion, absolutely inspiring.

Uncle Borrvs is a very convicted man. But, most of the time, I think, he was really just trying to push buttons. He didn’t really care so much about the arguments at all.

Now, I am definitely a debater for the sheer sake of the debate. I would also contend that Uncle Borrvs also shared in this passion for respectful banter, or even non-respectful banter simply for the sake of the banter. The overwhelming beauty of a carefully selected argument. The irresistible allure of perfectly chosen and laid out logic.

Most other people? Not so much. A lot of people insatiably crave to win arguments. They approach a hot topic of conversation ravenous for a clear successor of the discussion.

Uncle Borrvs’ circular logic and shades of grey colored semantics are utter hell for a black and white traditionalist.

And, quite honestly, that makes it way too much fun for those of us out in the grey.

Thanks to Uncle Borrvs I can sit through any argument whatsoever without getting much flustered at all. Arguments are just that. Arguments! They’re words. That’s all. I guess you could say that part of what I’ve learned from Uncle Borrvs is a glorified version of “sticks and stones.”

No matter how insane Uncle Borrvs might have seemed through his appearance and/or conversation he was always respectful. He is one of the most intelligent men I have ever met and he would never make you feel inferior in any way than he.

He isn’t just a great orator, but also one of the best listeners I have ever met. He taught me to listen to others without judgment. He taught me that everyone has a story and everyone’s ideas are invaluable and should be heard.

He taught me that no one can set their expectations on you for your life.

Set your own expectations. Maybe keep your name though.

Hypocritical Christianity

Did you know that it is impossible for a Christian to be a hypocrite?

One of the biggest complaints I hear from my non-Christian friends about Christians is that they perceive the Christian life to be extremely hypocritical. What we as Christians say and what we as Christians do seem to be so dramatically dissimilar that we come across to the world as, at best, phonies and, at worst, clinically insane.

Why as Christians are we so quick to get into the historical debates about the atrocities of the Crusades, the horrific sexual crimes, polygamy, etc. instead of simply preaching the very thing that makes us “Christian?”

Is it, perhaps, that we don’t know what makes us Christian?

I’ll give you all a hint. It’s Christ.

Christ makes us Christian. More specifically, Jesus Christ’s grace and love and salvation in Him and through Him makes us Christian.

So, what?

Well, if you leave Jesus out of the conversation it’s very easy to spiral into the historical and societal arguments and semantics. What if instead of trying to refute every single atrocity done by his followers (from gossip to the slaughter of innocent lives) we simply preached the Good News?

It is impossible by nature for Christians to be hypocritical because we shouldn’t be trying to be perfect or even good all the time (ergo seeming to fall short when we are not perfect). That’s impossible. That’s why we need Jesus.

We as humans are sinful by nature. We gossip. We lie. We lie to cover up lies. We are basically a big hot mess.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean we don’t sin. Being a Christian means that we sin so much that we need Jesus. If we could live the perfect sinless life and waltz into heaven we wouldn’t need a Savior, a free pass, forgiveness, or salvation. We could do it ourselves!

Now, I believe in being good because the Bible says that if you follow the Bible (be a good person, etc.) it will make your life on Earth much more pleasant. And it will. So, I’m not saying stop being good.

Instead, we need to be more honest about what a Christian life looks like. The reality is that a Christian life looks exactly like a non-Christian life in many ways. We lose our cool at the grocery store when our kids throw a fit, we cuss when we stub our toes (even if it’s just in our head), we feel guilt and shame and loss and pain and hurt and agony.

If we were just to embrace this aspect of being ourselves instead of pretending we are some sort of impervious-to-hurt-and-failure-always-smiley-Ned Flanders type of person maybe people wouldn’t see us as so hypocritical. Just maybe.

And just maybe if we could get past this perceived “barrier to entry” (sorry, past economics classes coming out) into the Kingdom of Heaven we could get to the really good stuff like salvation and grace and hope and love and passion and fellowship.

Christians, don’t be afraid to admit your failures. It’s in these failures that you have been saved and that God has called you by name. Hard truth: your friends do not need another role model (at least not in you). Your friends need to see you as approachable and human (i.e. with faults).

Non-Christians, I would just encourage you to lay down your swords when discussing religion with Christians. I get really flustered because my convictions don’t make sense to you. And I KNOW they don’t make sense to you. And I KNOW I sound like a lunatic. You retained WAY more from history class than I did, have read way more Times Magazines than I have, you finished your college degree, and your parents were friends with Gandhi. If you let me talk more about Jesus and less about me/my beliefs I’ll start to make more sense. I promise.