Friday, March 29, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken

Is it already Friday?

I'm linking up with Lisa Jo again for Five Minute Friday. No overthinking, no backtracking, no editing this post. Just my thoughts for five whole minutes.


What does it mean to be broken? In my mind, it means to not be whole. To be in pieces. My outside isn't broken. All arms, fingers and toes are intact. So why do I feel broken on the inside?

Life has a way of breaking bad on you. At least it has on me. Some of it has been my own fault. Some of it has been just the luck of the draw. Some of it has hurt so bad that I didn't think I would ever recover. Broken. All to pieces. I feared it would show on the outside, so I tried to keep my brave face on. Did it work? A little. Enough for me to keep pretending that everything was a-ok, even when it wasn't. Even when there was a flood of tears like the whole entire Mississippi River flowing inside.

What's the remedy for a broken human?

We're all looking. Alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping, perfectionism, work...different ways to mend the same thing. A brokenness inside that won't stop cracking, chipping away, leaving a nerve exposed.

I've come to find out, as I've exhausted several different rolls of tape trying to fix my broken insides, that there is a difference between fixing and healing.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
{psalm 147:3}

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passionate Obsession

ob*ses*sion [noun]
fixation; consumption with belief; desire
Things I Am (Currently) Obsessed Over: (in no particular order)
1. A color-coded closet (for everybody, and I have been known to say things such as: What is this pink shirt doing in the greens??)
2. My appearance (my recent purchase of a product called Lashes to Die For--don't worry, it's just a lash enhancer--would be evidence of this)
3. Calorie consumption
4. Weight gain and/or loss
5. Checking my texts, emails and FB page
6. Working out
7. Pottery Barn
8. Kourtney and Kim (I won't lie, I love that show)
9. Painting (the walls in my house, that is. New paint colors always excite me)
I have been noticing a change going on for the last several years, and although I have been trying to ignore the painful process of their arrival, I can no longer deny the inevitable: Wrinkles have made their (most unwelcome) arrival upon my face, with a prominent one right in between my eyes. After a thorough investigation mere centimeters away from the mirror, I have decided that it is from wrinkling up my nose--you know, like you do when you smell something bad. And I thought to myself Really? This is among the first of some very prominent wrinkles to appear? Who goes around wrinkling up their nose all the time?
Apparently I do.
So, number 10 on my list of things I am currently obsessed with is this: wrinkles (and how to get rid of them).
Freedom from an obsession is not about something you do;
it's about knowing who you are.
It's about recognizing that what sustains you and what exhausts you.
What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can't have it.
{geneen roth}
It seems like the whole world is obsessed with appearance. Being thin and staying youthful are selling points on the cover of almost every magazine. As Jon Mayer sings in Stop This Train, "So scared of getting older, I'm only good at being young".
Obsession speaks to something people are fascinated by, something that we are passionate about. When I look back over my list, there is something missing...
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. {deuteronomy 6:5}
It seems I have gotten a bit...distracted...from what my true passion is all about: God. . I don't think it's a bad thing that I really do like Pottery Barn or that I enjoy thinking about what colors to paint my walls. And I admit that my focus on weight and calorie consumption probably still isn't as healthy as I'd like. But He's got to come first, to be my true passion, my real fascination. All I have to do is ask Him to help me revive my passion for Him. And my infatuation with Kourtney and Kim? Well, that's another topic for another day...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I want a dog. Like really bad.

Ok, how is this not one of the cutest things you've ever seen?

My husband is not an animal person, especially when it comes to dogs.

It's perfectly fine to be or not be a dog person, but when you're married to someone who doesn't want a dog and you really do, you could get frustrated at times.

Over the past 14 years, I have tried crying, begging and pleading (much to his aggravation). I have tried manipulation (getting angry and sulky), trickery (I once just went to the SPCA and got a kitten, and boy was he surprised when he got home from work that day. By the way, this method is not recommended.), bribery, nagging, and reverse psychology on my poor husband, but he remains firm in his decision: no dogs.


A few weeks ago my daughter got the idea in her head that she had to go to Build-A-Bear with her friend so they could, well, build a bear together. She always seemed to ask at the worst possible time (actually, there never is a good time for me to go to Build-A-Bear), so the answer was always a firm "No". Not to mention that I think Build-A-Bear is a royal waste of her money. So for weeks she has been crying, begging, and pleading to please, please, please take her and her friend to Build-A-Bear. She has tried manipulation (getting angry and sulky), bribery (Mom, you can go to a store you like, too) and nagging, and I'm sure if she could have thought of a way to trick me into going she would have. I was so frustrated and worn out by her incessant bellyaching over Build-A-Bear that I finally gave in and we went yesterday. But it wasn't out of the goodness of my heart. It was out of frustration. I was annoyed that I had agreed to go, I was annoyed that we were out as long as we were, and I was annoyed at myself for giving in.

She better be cute for all the trouble AB went to.


It occurred to me this morning as I was cleaning the bathroom that the last thing I want my husband to be is annoyed with me. I thought back to the post I wrote last year on an article I had read by author Lee Strobel, who asks this question:

How would I like to be married to me?

I'd love to say that everyday being married to me is a picnic in the park, but I think I'd be overestimating my lovable qualities :)

Honestly, if I were married to me and I exhibited the above behaviors over a dog, I'd be seriously frustrated with me. Maybe my husband has gotten used to me, maybe he overlooks my more {ahem} unpleasant qualities, maybe he's frustrated and just doesn't let it show. But no matter how he looks at the situation, one thing is clear: I owe it to my husband to respect his choice not to love dogs as much as I do, and our choice together not to bring one into our home. I say our choice because it is our choice together; otherwise, I would have already gone out and gotten one. But who wants to be married to a person who so unabashedly disrespects the choices you have made?

Not me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Smile Big

My smile.

I've never liked it. Like, ever. It's uneven, first of all. And my teeth are far from perfect. It started when my adult front teeth came in and they were way too long and yellow-ish, making me look slightly like a rabbit. Plus, I had a huge space between my front teeth. Some people rock the space. I did not. Then, one of my teeth came in really weird and pointy and I felt like I looked like bunny-dracula. Bunicula, you might say. Thank goodness for aesthetic dentistry and Crest White Strips is all I can say.

But I still don't like my smile.

I used to compare my smile to the smiles of the beautiful girls in Seventeen magazine, whose beautiful, white, chiclet teeth were perfectly straight and even. Why can't my teeth be that perfect? I would think. Why can't my lips be that thick and pretty?

Now I compare my smile to those in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Different magazine, same insecurity.

Looking at pictures of myself only makes it worse. I hate almost every picture that has been taken of me (besides those cute baby pictures where everyone looks absolutely adorable), and my critique of personal pictures is, like, way harsh.

And then there are those pictures of me, circa awkward preteen and teen years, making goofy faces that I was embarrassed the film developer at CVS even had to see.

The other day, I was trying to make my daughter laugh, so I just started snapping pictures of me while I "posed". It was fun to not be so serious about how my picture turned out, but to just kinda light-hearted laugh at my own self.


(BTW, this was her reaction to my picture taking...)


But even then it was a little hard not to look at those pictures and wish they were a little bit better.


Will this insecurity of mine every go away?

Probably not as long as I'm willing to critique every single picture of myself that I see. I would never say to another person the things I'm willing to say about myself, and I would be so offended if someone else ever said to me what I say to myself.

I don't think it has anything to do with my smile.

Looking to a perfect smile to fulfill my God-shaped hole just won't cut it, no matter how perfect that smile is. And the more I concentrate on that smile (or hair, or body, or whatever it may be), the more unsatisfied I'll be with what I see. My self-worth just can't be all wrapped up in a perfect smile.

Zechariah 2:8 says that I am the apple of His eye, and while I can read it and know it, believing it is sometimes hard. But it's a much better place to start than believing that a perfect smile can make all my insecurities go away.

Friday, March 22, 2013

FMF: Remember

It's Five Minute Friday!! I'm linking up with Lisa Jo this week to write for 5 minutes with no backtracking, editing or overthinking.

She's 88. Her memory is failing and her eyesight is growing dim. She's lived through things I can never imagine--life in an orphanage, The Great Depression, WWII. She's lived through decades of radical change and shifts that I will only ever read about. The stories she can tell...but she's lost the most important person in the world to her heart. Her husband, her soul mate.

"He's gone to be with the Good Lord," she says, but I know her heart aches. Every conversation includes a memory, a snapshot into the past, into a life I never knew.

She no longer cares how many calories she consumed, how perfect her house looks, or what brand of clothing she wears. Her most precious possessions are her memories. I look at her with a wariness, a disbelief that shows on my face when she starts bringing the past into the present, a way of reliving and remembering those days bygone.

Then I remember: she is my heritage, a living legacy.

My grandma.

Photo: My grandma <3

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Moving On


That's what I was feeling last night. Just lonely. Which makes me feel a tiny bit sad, too. Usually when I feel this way, I quickly find something else to occupy my focus, but nothing seemed to do the trick last night. My kids and husband were involved in other activities. And there I was. Poor, poor me.

Sometimes when I feel sad or lonely, I eat something sweet. Not much, just something to cheer me up. It momentarily makes me forget about feeling emotions. Sometimes I grab the iPad and play stupid games, or check my email for the thousandth time, or check to see how many views my blog has had. Anything to make me forget about feeling the way I feel. I guess there is a fear somewhere inside that if I face my sadness or lonliness or whatever, it will overwhelm me and crush me.

I'm currently reading about a new way to deal with unwelcome emotions: face them (go figure). Sigh. I wish there was another way, but there are only so many pieces of candy or silly games that will cover up what I don't want to face.

So last night, instead of going for the candy drawer or the computer, I asked myself two questions:

How do I feel? Lonely.

What does it feel like? Emptiness, a swirly mist in my head, sad. The colors gray and blue.

Once I had identified how I felt, I didn't feel the need to numb the feeling by eating or sitting in front of the computer or tv. Even though my mind (at times my worst enemy) sometimes goes overboard with a medley of "No one likes me anymore" and "I have no friends", I realized there is hope beyond how I was feeling last night. It didn't crush me. I was strong. I am strong. God is my strength. We've got this.

Dealing with my emotion from the get-go, even when it's an emotion that I don't want to face, gives me the freedom to own it and then move on. And that is so much better than stuffing myself full when I'm not hungry or spacing out in front of the tv.  It gives me the ability to actually enjoy life, even with all it's inevitable ups and downs.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Healthy, Strong and Active

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you are in the right spot.

I couldn't be happier with my new look! I owe a special thanks to Thirsty Hearts Design for the super cute new header.

Isn't it cute?

Photo: Åhlens in Sweden got new mannequins. Instead of the 'normal' size 0, these are size 6 and 10. Some people are saying that they 'condone obesity'. 'Like' if you think these are realistic and think size 6 and 10 should be considered beautiful!

In other news, I found this picture floating around FaceBook, with the accompanying message:

Åhlens in Sweden got new mannequins. Instead of the 'normal' size 0, these are size 6 and 10. Some people are saying that they 'condone obesity'. 'Like' if you think these are realistic and think size 6 and 10 should be considered beautiful!

I, of course, "liked" the photo and shared it on my page.

I think the mannequins shown in this picture look great, and to say that they condone obesity is absurd. Our culture has gotten too obsessed with being skinny when using a size 6 or 10 model, whether human or mannequin, is considered "condoning obesity". It's no wonder so many women have issues with their size.

I think we should condone "healthy", "strong", and "active"--and maybe even {GASP!} "curvy" and "voluptuous". And if that means a size 10, then so be it.

I also think some women out there are desperate to stop the war on their bodies. They need to hear that "healthy" is a good thing, and that "skinny" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I've gotten so much more comfortable in my skin in the past year as I've begun to accept my body instead of constantly fight against it. I've started to see that I can be beautiful just the way I am. And yes, I said beautiful. Not okay, not just fine, not alright--beautiful.

There is beauty in not constantly striving. There is beauty in confidence. There is beauty in peace. And grace.

And curves.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Food for Thought: Strength

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring }

Friday, March 15, 2013

About five minutes ago, I had a choice: paint my nails (which look dreadful) this cool new charcoal gray magnetic nail polish (Kim K. has been seen wearing some of a similar color, and I have a secret obsession with the K fam)...or blog.

I must admit that the blogging only squeaked by for the finish. My nails really need to be painted. And I kinda want to look like Kim K., but that's another story for another day.

I decided last year that I would read the entire Bible all the way through. I have, for all of my life, taken what other people have said about the Bible for fact, whether that be through Bible study, church, or other books. I have never, ever, ever had the desire to read the Bible to figure it out for myself until now. While some, or maybe even most of what I've read or heard about the Bible has come from trustworthy sources, I want to be able to determine for myself what I think about it.

I am decidedly not getting what I bargained for.

The Bible is full of questionable activities, and it's not simple.

I think I'm going to need some serious counseling from my pastor before its all said and done.

Besides all the begats and begats, the story is actually pretty interesting. I can't pronounce half the names (although I did discover the name Asher, which is a name I really like and plan to name something Asher someday), nor can I pronounce the cities these people are from. They are bizarr-o, no offense to the Bible.

The thing I cannot wrap my head around is actually God Himself. It is entirely possible that I'm not meant to wrap my head around Him at all, but I still do try. All these questions keep running around in my head (which I am writing down, with a little attitude behind each question--I don't know why, or what exactly I'm hoping to try to prove). Why did God say this? and Why did He do that? and I'm sorry, but this is a little wacky and Are you serious? run through my head each time I pick up my Bible to read it (by the way, I'm towards the end of Deuteronomy). I actually started coming up with imaginary conversations in my head where I brilliantly outsmarted whoever I talked to about this with my clever and discerning questions.

A few days ago the question started floating around in my head: What do you really believe?

That's easy.

My life is based on my faith and my belief in God.

Once I decided the answer to that question, the other questions didn't have quite as much attitude behind them. I honestly do think that people should read it and find out for themselves, no matter how many years you've gone to church or how many Beth Moore bible studies you've done. You could argue that the questions I have and the specifics do matter, and I wouldn't disagree, but they won't detemine the answer to that question about belief anymore.

I believe in God. I have lots of questions. I don't have many answers. Sometimes I have doubt. But I believe in God.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Food for Thought: excerpt from Women, Food and God

Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they are hungry for something they can't name: a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life. Something deathless, something sacred. But replacing the hunger for divine connection with Double Stuf Oreos is like giving a glass of sand to a person dying of thirst. It creates more thirst, more panic. Combine the utter inefficacy of dieting with the lack of spiritual awareness and we have generations of mad, ravenous, self-loathing women. We have become so obsessed with getting rid of our obsession, with riding on top of our suffering and ignoring its inherent message, that we lose the pieces of ourselves waiting to be found beneath it. But fixing ourselves is not the same as being ourselves. The real richness of obsession lies in the ineffable stillness, the irrefutable wholeness, that if found in turning toward its source.

{geneen roth, women, food and god}

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My inner dork.

Yes, she's there, hiding herself among the folds of life-fabric I attempt to weave: that I am  super-cool, amazing, brilliant and beautiful, and these things would make you want to hang out with me.

My inner dork showed herself radiantly this morning as I got ready for my book club. I was going back and forth between my bathroom and my closet, trying to find an outfit that a) didn't make my tush look big, b) didn't make my thighs look big, c) didn't make my midsection look big, d) did make my bust look big, and e) didn't make me look pasty. (FYI, no such outfit exists.) I was examining each item of clothing carefully, seeing if it meets all of the above criteria, when I heard music. My heart literally skipped a beat as I thought, Is there music? Where is that music coming from? IS THERE SOMEONE IN MY HOUSE?

Um, no. That would be the music I turned on only 15 minutes prior to going to get ready. And who thinks that someone is in their house and that person's sole intention is to play music anyway? Really? Can you imagine? Today I believe I am going to break and enter this house and play music. {Sigh}. Sometimes there are no words.

But if there were words, shenanigans would come to mind. So would ballyhoo.

This isn't the only time my mind believes an untruth. I've believed for many, many years that the only way that I could be beautiful was to be thin, and I have been at war with my body and my food ever since I first decided to diet and control my way to beauty.

I think she's saying Don't do it!

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been contemplating a question I read in the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge: What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your very own striving?

What if?

What if everything I have believed about myself just isn't true?

Is it possible that my inner beauty could then shine, and I could at last be free from the chains of self-loathing, disgust, and hate? That I could be at peace with who I am instead of constantly striving to be that picture from a magazine?

The war would be over. Food would again be a source of energy instead of my mortal enemy. Maybe even an occasional source of pleasure.

It doesn't even sound right to my war-torn ears. Food? Pleasure? For years I've had a I-hate-you-because-I-have-to-have-you-but-I-would-give-you-up-in-a-hot-millisecond-if-I-could type relationship with my food.

To think any differently seems like a bunch of ballyhoo to me.

Or maybe I'm the one with the wrong idea.

In the words of the therapist from Good Will Hunting:

No more shenanigans.
No more tomfoolery.
No more ballyhoo.

It's time to declare peace and enjoy life.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Home

It's FMF again! Today I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday, where you write for five minutes with no editing, backtracking or overthinking. Happy Friday!


Sometimes I wish I could go home, if only for a few minutes. My heart aches for it. I long for the familiarity of someplace that I can call home, that doesn't depend on me to provide the comfort, the love, or the quiet peace that I associate with home.

When my mother died, my concept of "home" was completely shattered. My home was torn and tattered, and the three of us left behind didn't know how to go about rebuilding what remained of our lives.

Slowly, my lens has widened, and I have accepted that "home" for me is what I make it. It can be built on what I wish I had, the tattered and torn remains of yesterday, or I can take what I have right now, today, and build a new reality for myself and my family: Home.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Oh. My."

Those were my husbands words as he read yet another crazy story from the newspaper. This time, a grandmother shot her "troubled" grandson with a Glock 9mm semiautomatic handgun. Wha??? You can't trust anybody anymore, I thought to myself. Nothing but bad news. I couldn't stop my thoughts from going where they go every time I hear news like this: fear. Overwhelming, all-consuming fear. The type of fear that causes me to narrow my eyes with doubt at every person that crosses my path, wondering, Where are you going, where have you been, and what are your intentions? The type of fear that makes me want to lock all my doors, pull down all the shades, and never let my children leave my sight. Like, ever. As one of my FaceBook friends put it (paraphrased, of course): "When my kids were little and couldn't read, I drew a big X on the things that were bad so they wouldn't mess with them. I wish I had drawn one on the door to the outside world." (Thanks, Debbie:)) Yep. My feelings exactly.
My cynicism of the human race isn't new. The older I've gotten, the more my cynical nature shows itself. I want to believe in good, but I can't. Or, rather, I won't. It is a choice that I can make, but I normally choose to let fear overtake my decision-making, and the outcome is that I don't trust the world at large. Maybe that's smart, maybe that's good, you know, to keep myself at a distance. But what keeps me at a distance from the bad also keeps me at a distance from the good. I know there is good, I've experienced it. But in my cynical state, I tend to think that it's the minority that's good and not the majority.

It's hard to live a full, optimistic and hopeful life and be so cynical at the same time. In the midst of my cynical attitude, I forget that there is a life to be lived, and lived out fully. It's good to be smart, it's good to be careful...but it's also good to be full of life. When I look out my window, I can see a small picture of a beautiful world out there, but from behind theses panes of glass, that's all I see. I have to get out there and be in it to feel the air on my face, experience the sunshine, play in the snow, or taste raindrops on my tongue.

But...I hear myself saying (I guess you could call me Chicken Little), it's scary out there. Anything could happen.

It's true.

But how am I gonna know if I never take any chances?

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
or of the arrow that flies by day,
not of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
not of the destruction that lays waste at noonday
{psalm 91:5-6}

Tuesday, March 5, 2013