Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wendy and Rey: A love story.

"In the flush of love's light, we dare be brave and suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet is it only love which sets us free."

Love is scary. It's portrayed as this big boisterous monster that swoops into your heart unexpectedly and makes you fall head over heels for someone. It's described as the naked child with the bag full of arrows shooting the first person his eyes land on and his stupid arrows can reach.

We grow up with these images of love in magazines, television shows and movies and it all seems so easy and so unbelievable. They make love look so doable but also so unsustainable, it happens all at once and then the movie is over but you don't see what happens next.

What happens when the little quirks that they loved become the small things that they're starting to hate? What happens when their core values don't match? What happens when they get into another argument about the same old thing and their tempers get the best of them? What happens when the magic wears off?

I don't see a lot of movies that portray those things. Films that get to the heart of life and not only show you the bells and whistles but also the thorns and spurs. I didn't learn the ABC's of lasting love from movies but I did learn it from my parents.

It wasn't until recently that I became aware of all of the lessons that I've learned about love from watching my parents choose to love each other everyday of my entire life. My parents have been married for 36 years and I've been lucky enough to be an eye witness for 27 of those lovely years.

If I use my parents as my main example I can tell you that love is so much more than just an hour long movie or a lifetime special. Love is choosing to quit your job and live off of one income to home school seven children and make sure that they have the best education possible. Love is having patience and being intentional about being kind and using thoughtful language even after working long exhausting days.

Love is a choice. Love is choosing, after 36 years, to still go on adventures and to still do the things that made you fall in love in the first place. The real thing, the 'we've been married for 50 years' kind of love, does not just happen with the flick of cupid's wrist. Real love takes work, it takes effort, it requires that you die to yourself and put the well being and needs of that other person before your own and that they do the same for you.

The stories that I see in movies and on TV pale in comparison to the romance, commitment and love that I've seen my whole life in my parent's relationship.

I used to think that I didn't know what love was. I thought that I would be scared when I found it and that being in love meant that I had to lose pieces of myself. None of that is true. I know what love is. I know love because I've been surrounded by it my entire life. I know love because God goes out of his way to saturate me in his daily. I know love.

So whenever I get to that point in my relationship where all of my daily decisions lead me to falling in love, I'll know what to do. I won't run, like I always thought I would but rather I'll continue to make choices that nourish and build our love. I'll embody the patience of my father and the thoughtfulness of my mother and create a life that teaches my children what a real and authentic love story looks like.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Single women, society and social media.

Last week, on December 16th I got the most likes I've ever gotten on a post, 407  to be exact. I changed my status from single to in a relationship and it seemed like everyone I know took notice.

Social media and I have quite the strange relationship. It's one of my favorite things because of the way that it gives me access to my friends and family that are scattered all over the globe as well as to ideas and concepts from people that I may never meet.

I love posting pictures on Instagram and posting blog updates and life updates on Facebook and reading the updates of my friends and family. It's cool to be able to update a bunch of people at once about what's going on, especially when you don't have time to call or text all of them individually. What I don't love is the way that it can be used as an avenue for hate and discord and how it has the ability to give us a false sense of community and connection.

This week I found myself waist deep in some feelings that I didn't really expect to have. This year I've been so excited to post about different things that are going on in my life. In March I got a new job with Goodwill and I've been loving every minute of it. I moved into an adorable little carriage house in a suburb of Denver and started adulting hardcore. I helped plant a church in Denver in September and it's been one of the most enriching and out of my comfort zone experiences of my life so far.

None of that got anywhere close to the attention or likes that Patrick and I's relationship update got and that kind of made me feel a little weird.

I've talked to a few people about this, my dad, Patrick and a few of my coworkers and it's so interesting the value that is put on a female getting into a relationship, getting married or having children. When so many people commented on my relationship status, I was excited but it also made me feel like none of my other accomplishments compared to this one.

Am I reading too much into this? Or is there a real issue with society and the way that we view and value the accomplishments of single women?

I loved being single. I was happy, fulfilled, content and so driven. I didn't start living when I got into a relationship, it has definitely added to my happiness and I hope that it will for years to come but it didn't create it.

I'm not annoyed that so many people reached out when I started dating Patrick, believe me I totally get it, but it did force me to reflect on a few things.

As I write this, I realize that I'm guilty of everything that I'm blogging about. I've called and congratulated friends about engagements and baby announcements and sometimes have only liked or even over looked posts about graduations, or new jobs or life ventures. I haven't always been the feminist and supportive friend that I've hoped to see in the world and for that I feel bad.

So I'm sorry if you're a female and my friend and I haven't congratulated you on all of the milestones that you've reached in life. If I didn't reach out after you bought your own house, finished graduate school, paid off your student loans or did something that was truly amazing I apologize.

You're more than your relationship status, that's apart of your story but it's not your ENTIRE story.

So yes, I am in a relationship. I'm beyond excited about Patrick and the potential that I see in what we have. I'm more than open to talk and share about the relationship and I'm also really excited to talk about everything else going on in my life.

This post isn't meant to condemn anyone. If you reached out to me recently about what's going on in my life, please know that I appreciate you. What this is meant to do is to just be a space where I can be open and authentic about what I'm feeling and how recently in the midst of a really happy moment I found myself feeling strange.

So there you go, those are my thoughts for this week. They're not so pretty this time, a little rough around the edges but they're real and I hope that's good enough.

Until next time! Xoxo.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The freedom of childhood.

When I was a little girl I remember that right before a big storm, when the sky was dark and the flood gates were moments away from opening my mom would present us with a proposition.

She would challenge us to try and run across the yard to the fence and back before the rain started. As silly as it sounds whenever the chance presented itself we would always say yes. Sometimes she would run with us and other times she would stand on the back porch and laugh as we tried to touch the fence and get back to the house.

I used to really miss those days. Days where I was just a kid, waiting to grow up. The days where I would feel so free running through the grass as the sky got dark and the rain got closer. I felt so alive in those moments.

Moments where all we cared about, my siblings and I, was making my mom laugh and reaching the fence and then the house before the rain reached us. Sometimes we were successful and we'd barrel into the house one after another, out of breath but full on joy.

We had less worries back then. We didn't care so much about messing up our clothes or pulling out our phones so that we could put it on snapchat or about feeling or looking stupid. We would just run.

The reason I say that I used to miss those days is because I recently realized that the freedom of being a child does not have to be lost in adulthood. Children are free, in my opinion because they're trusting, they see the best in people and the situations they're placed in. Children don't search for faults but rather search for opportunities to love.

 When I was a kid and my mom told us to run through the grass, right before the craziness of a storm, we didn't stop and ask her what her intentions were. It never crossed our minds that we could get hurt running or that she might lock us out of the house or make fun of us for doing something so silly. We were kids and she was our mom, we trusted her, no questions asked.

I'm not saying that as adults we need to be 100% free and trusting of every situation and person that comes our way. I'm saying that if someone tells you that they're not going anywhere, that they care about you, that they want to invest in you, believe them.

Give them a chance to show you that if they send you out into the yard, with the impending storm only moments away, that they won't shut the door as you race back.

Relationships are tricky. They are tricky all by themselves without any additional baggage or weirdness but when we add fear to the mix, when we add the skepticism that adulthood often brings we make things even more difficult.

I wonder how our relationships, my relationships, would be different if we entered them with childlike faith, childlike trust, childlike love.

Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 18, that unless they were to change and become like little children they would never enter into the kingdom of heaven. I've spent a lot of time thinking about that scripture and what I can say for certain is that I know that Jesus wasn't telling them to go backwards in their development or to start dressing like kids.

I think that Jesus was presenting them with a very clear and tangible example of living a life without fear. A life that is free to love, to be loved, to trust and to have faith...the life of a child.

How would you love differently if you did so without any fear? Don't just skim by that question, I want you to really think about it. What would be different in your life if you loved without any concern of rejection or humiliation but rather an openness to the possibilities that life had to offer you.

I'm still setting my intentions for the new year but something that's very high on my list is opening my heart and my life up to the love that I deserve. So often I shy away from things that are real. I tend to settle for the mediocrity of average relationships and that's not something I'm willing to do anymore. I'm not willing to miss what's real for the comfort and safety of the superficial.

So continuing with the theme of preparing for the life that we want in 2017, I say  to the grave with fear. Lets put fear to death and embrace the freedom and the hope that comes from loving like a child.

"There is an endless possibility for God to create a world within us, a world transformed through the bravery of perfect love."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Vision and Goals

On December 28th of 2015 I grabbed my journal went into my room and wrote out my vision and my goals for 2016. In the past, time and time again, year after year I had written out my new years resolution and they would only last for about a month or two at the most.

I would come up with these lists and be super excited about them for a few weeks and then before the holiday cheer had gotten a chance to wear off, my resolutions were a thing of the past. I know I'm not alone in this, I read a statistic the other day that said only 8% of Americans are successful at achieving and sticking to their New Years resolutions.

So I decided that I didn't want to do resolutions anymore but the idea of setting goals and creating a vision for my life each year was something that I was very attracted to. So that's what I did.

I went into my room and took a good long look at my life. Where did I see myself in twelve months? What kind of life did I want? What kind of people did I want in my life? How did I want to look in a year? How was my spiritual life doing and did I want to improve it?

All of those questions led to me coming up with 5 areas of my life that I wanted to improve. The areas that I identified were faith, relationships, finances, fitness and outreach. So I developed goals that fit each of those areas and wrote them down in my journal. I didn't just write things like "improve my physical fitness" instead I wrote "develop a routine of exercising 5 times a week and plan my meals and workouts at the beginning of the week." That's just one line from my fitness goal but as you can see it was specific and clear it wasn't general and undefined.

I wrote out steps for how I would achieve each goal and I didn't wait until January first to start. As soon as I closed my notebook the vision that I created for my life began. To stay on track I set up a biweekly reminder in my phone that would help me to remember to go back to my goals and see if I was on track and if not how I could get back to that.

I would be a big fat liar if I said that I was always diligent about doing these biweekly check-ins. Sometimes weeks would go by where I didn't take a moment to sit down and read over my goals and check my progress. Since it was new, I had to train myself to stay on track and to be consistent and intentional about the life I wanted and the type of person I wanted to be.

Today I looked back at my vision and the goals I set for this year and I've  achieved all of them except for one. One of them I made bigger than myself, knowing that it was a stretch but wanting to try it anyway. I might not have been fully successful but if I wouldn't have written it down and attempted it I wouldn't be as far as I am today.

I'm sharing all of this with you today to say that you don't have to wait until the first of the year to change your life. You can start today. Today you can take a moment to sit down and come up with five or less areas of your life that you would like to see improvement in. Five areas of your life where you can be intentional and diligent about putting in the work and turning those weak spots into strengths.

I haven't started working on my vision and goals for 2017 yet but after reading over my 2016 goals and seeing how well I did I'm beyond excited to do it.

I strongly encourage you to consider taking the steps to making your life exactly the way that you want it to be. If you're unhappy, you don't have to stay that way. If you lack financial responsibility, today is a great day to set your mind on working on that. If you don't like the person you see in the mirror, right now is the time to change that.

If you're not sure where to start or if you just need some support please don't hesitate to reach out to me in the comments section and I'll do what I can to help. You're one decision away from starting a journey that could potentially change the course of your life. The moment is now, what are you waiting for?

Until next time. Xoxo.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Christlike grace.

The other day after getting to work, I went outside to get some coffee and when I walked past my car I realized that something was different. There was a scratch on the back left side and the light lens was cracked. I sat there for quite a while confused about what had happened and eventually I reached the conclusion that someone had hit my car while I was home for vacation.

I spent a large part of my morning calling shops in the area trying to find the best place that I could go to get it fixed. I wasn't angry but I was very annoyed that I had to pay for something that I didn't do.

I now needed to take time out of my work day and make phone calls and adjust my monthly budget in order to factor in this unexpected work on my car. Work that needed to be done because of someone else's negligence.  This person's lack of responsibility for their actions resulted in me feeling inconvenienced and like I was being punished for what some random idiot did. 

Most people don't like being blamed or punished for something that they didn't do. If a little kid gets in trouble for a spill that their sibling created they'll scream and cry out about the injustice. As adults we're the same way. We complain, get annoyed and are so bothered when we have to clean up the mess that someone else created. Why am I the one that has to suffer when I didn't even do anything wrong? 

Today I was thinking about my situation and how unfair it all is and then my mind suddenly went to the cross. II Corinthians 5:21 says "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

My perfect and blameless savior became sin for me. Christ knew not sin but he decide to become it and pay the price for it so that I could be made righteous in him. 

I am so humbled by that truth. Humbled and embarrassed actually. Embarrassed that a person like myself, someone that has lied, has taken what doesn't belong to them and has lived the farthest thing from a perfect life could be so upset about paying the price for someone else. 

Christ died on the cross for me. He died for me and he died for you. Christ died for people that would never believe in him. People who will always argue his existence, curse his name and persecute those who love him. He died for the liars, the cheaters, the murderers, the racists, the pedophiles, the lost, the dirty and the marginalized. 

The perfect one, the one who knew no sin, laid down his life so that I could have the chance to find mine. 

Living a life that models the behavior and example that Christ set is a constant struggle for me. I have to die to myself daily. I have to constantly check myself and call myself out on my selfish and 'woe is me' behavior that in no way portrays the image of the father. 

Often when I'm writing I feel like I want to not only present an issue and discuss it but also at the end I want to provide a solution. Today, I have no solutions for you. If I'm being completely transparent and honest I'm sitting here still convicted about my feelings and the only thing that's giving me peace is knowing the sacrifice that Christ made for me. 

I am so blessed. Scratched car, cracked light lens and all...I am tremendously blessed by the sacrifice and the grace of the cross. May I be the type of person that extends that type of grace to those around me. The type of grace that forgives those who will never apologize and pays the price for a debt that I do not owe. The type of grace that though blameless is willing to wear the blame for another. 

The type of grace that models his sacrifice. A Christlike grace.