Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bringing Out the Blue Hair

On Monday I picked up new, adventurous glasses (retro!) and yesterday I dyed some of my hair blue.

BlueHair1I pretty much love my new look, but it’s a big jump for me. I’m not really known for my daring fashion. I’ve been a solid-colored tshirt and jeans girl for most of my life with the occasional blip into something more expressive.

Which is interesting, because I am a pretty expressive person. I write. I paint. I sing (not always well, but whatever) and more and more, I dance. But when it comes to how I dress, I generally try to fly under the radar. There are probably many blog post’s worth of reasons for this, but it’s something I’ve been noticing a lot lately.

Through my fashion (or lack there of) and in a couple of other ways, I think I’ve been trying to hide in plain sight. (Does that make any sense at all?) I’m unsure of myself, so I try to fly right in the middle of tragically-uncool and fashion-forward.

I admire more expressive people, but for me I play it safe. I think things like, “I probably can’t pull this off,” and “Maybe if I lose twenty pounds,” and “What if people laugh at me?”

For a couple of years now, I’ve thought about dyeing my hair blue. I loved the idea of doing just the bottom of it, but didn’t know quite how it’d turn out. I mean, what if I looked like a clown? I talked about it so much that Ben bought me As-Seen-On-TV hair chalk for Christmas. (I wasn’t sure I trusted it, so predictably, it’s still in the box.)

Got to hang out for a while in an alien space pod!
Got to hang out for a while in an alien space pod!

Then we moved to Austin, where hair of every color abounds. I told Ben, “I really do want to try to the blue hair thing.” To which he said something along the lines of “Just do it already.” I guess my contemplation of blue hair is not as compelling a conversation topic to Ben.

My choosing-glasses convo was eerily similar. I’ve always gone simple, and while I loved the frames I wasn’t sure I could “pull them off.”

And you know what? I think these hesitancies are just symptoms of a root lack of confidence. A root unwillingness to be truly seen because what if people laugh or criticize?

And then I decided, who friggin cares? Don’t like me? Get over it! Ha!!

This is the year in which I dance. I’m done hiding. So I bought the glasses I love and dyed my hair blue. You might hate it. You might be wondering just when I went crazy. But when I look in the mirror, I think, now I look like me (And not at all like a clown, thank God).

It's harder to see the blue hair in this one, but you can see my totally rad new glasses :)
It’s harder to see the blue hair in this one, but you can see my totally rad new glasses :)

I’m not angry at the world or anything. I’m still pretty clean-cut and I still love Jesus. But I’m a little edgy, a lot artsy, and a tad bit more “colorful” than my church-going friends sometimes appreciate. At least for today, I think my “look” matches my self.

How great is that?!

 

A Shot in the Arm from My Friend Ian

My friend Ian inspires me just about every time I see him, but this week he’s been downright heroic. He signed up for a 30-day momentum challenge where the daily instructions are a bit terrifying, and day 3’s request was that he own up to his biggest fear. You know, easy-peasy.

He shared his response with our mastermind group–a little ragtag group of wantrepreneurs that I adventure with–and it really resonated with me. Turns out his biggest fear and mine aren’t so far apart: He’s afraid to say no or speak up to people because he defines himself too much by what they feel, say, or think about him.

But lately he’s been taking risks and just being who he is. He’s bracing himself, because when you first start to let go of people’s opinions, it feels pretty vulnerable. But he’s daring greatly these days, and he said this in his post:

[content_box_light_blue width=”75%”]Here’s to actually and boldly risking being disliked in hopes of being truly liked for who I really am. [/content_box_light_blue]

I freaking LOVE this sentence!

But oh my goodness this is such a battle for me. Don’t get me wrong. I have made SO. MUCH. PROGRESS. I think it’s a battle I’m winning. But I think it’ll probably be a lifelong battle, too.

Death to the People-Pleasing

The desire to please people and care for them is so ingrained in me, and I am SO aware of people’s needs and feelings, that it’s hard for me not to respond, even when, for whatever reason, I should leave it alone. Maybe they don’t want help, or maybe rescuing them won’t really help them, or maybe they really need help but I just am not able to give it without neglecting myself or my family. As I continue in this BeBeloved journey, I’m getting better at discerning when God is actually asking me to help, and when He’s not. Like Ian, I have a pretty hard time saying no. Sometimes I say Yes because I want to legitimately care for someone. But truthfully, sometimes I say yes because I want someone to like me, or because I want to be seen as caring.

I think you can try to care for people in a loving, Christ-like kind of way, or you can care for people in a codependent or doormat or even manipulative kind of way. Sometimes it’s hard to tell these apart–in other people and even in ourselves. But I’m trying to shed the second part without losing the first, you know?

Caring for People is Not About You

I think the secret (or at least a secret) to caring for people well is making sure that your expression of care is about them and not about you. If I am crafting my own identity from how people respond to me or appreciate me, then who I am changes with what I am able to provide and however responsive they may or may not be. This seems innocent on the surface but it’s actually pretty treacherous. If my identity changes depending on who I’m standing next to, I am on pretty shaky ground, don’t you agree?

But if, on the other hand, my identity is steady and I am already accepted, already beloved, then I can care for people from a pure place. If what I am offering is not what they need, for example, it’s no problem. Nothing about me has changed. But if my identity was wrapped up in being the savior or the good friend, this can be problematic. I may find myself feeling angry and abused. You get me? This used to happen in my relationships all the time. I would help someone in a way that felt sacrificial to me, and when they didn’t appreciate it or didn’t reciprocate, it felt pretty bad. Clearly I was trying to care for my people well, but I was looking for something from them, too.

It should come as no surprise that figuring this piece out made me a much easier friend to be around.

Being You is All About You

Here’s the good news. If we can get over saying yes and being polite in order to win approval, if we can stand on solid ground as the beloved of an unwavering God, then we can express who we are without fear. We can stop shifting who we are to fit the molds of the people around us and actually just be who we are. We can just be one person for everyone. And guess what: some people won’t like that person (gasp)! And do you know what that will change about you?

Nothing. Just be who you are!

So I say we all join Ian this week. Let’s risk saying no and speaking up. Let’s be willing to be disliked, and search out those who will love us for who we really are. Then perhaps we can breath a little easier and love a little better.

 

Rooted

Visual-Prayer-Psalm-1For the past two years I’ve been praying Psalm 1 over my family. It’s a short and beautiful psalm about what moves us toward a good life–good people and a good connection to a God who wants to give us abundant life.

This week, I’m sitting in it a little more, because I don’t feel as rooted as I usually do. Have I drifted? Am I too busy? I don’t know, but the little things have been bugging me. Unreturned calls, unproductive days, delays… and, oh, potty training. But there have been just as many moments of joy and connection. So I am recalibrating, counting blessings, and reading this psalm:

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Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

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This is the prayer we pray over Jack. That he would connect with people who bring him life rather than those who bring him down. We pray that he won’t fall into bitterness, that he won’t join ranks with bullies, that he will walk alongside people who love God. And we pray that he will be be rooted in the truth of God. That he will enjoy, even delight, in God.

We pray this for ourselves, too. And God has blessed us with good counsel over the years. I’m so grateful for the BeBeloved crew–Zereta, Michelle, Emily, and Jenni–who in various ways have walked alongside us through various adventures and struggles. We’ve both been blessed with mentors who have listened to our story and helped to shape it. And of course, we’ve had our share of experiences with the scornful, embittered, and even wicked. We have had to make hard decisions to cut out relationships that were, though it was painful to admit, toxic to our lives.

And I pray that we are the kind of people who bring goodness into the lives of those around us. May I persevere through trials in a way that protects my attitude from poisoning the people I love. May I be authentic without casting a complaining spirit. May I be known for love, even on days when my energy is low and I’m feeling discouraged.

The Crust

I’m aware the holidays are officially behind us, but for some reason this year the hustle and bustle seems to have followed me into normal life. So normal life, now, is just– busy.

This has not only my schedule in a flurry but my mind as well. Remembering, organizing, prioritizing.  Reprioritizing.  It can be a struggle to keep my relationship with God as number one.

Which is why I want to talk about pie. Yes, pie.

Life has been compared to a box of chocolates. I would argue there is a better dessert analogy. Pies are split into slices. Different areas of our life. All areas matter. But depending on the preference given to each, some will be bigger and some smaller.

While it’s not all-encompassing I find the list below covers most slices in life, at least for me.

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Career                             Family                        Friends

Health                             Finances                     Significant Other

God                                Church                         Goals/Dreams[/features_box_light_blue]

My tendency with a list like this (any list, I admit) is to create a structure. However, my pragmatic left brain is thrown off when I get to a particular slice.  God.  Placingcolored-pie-chart-hi[1] God even as number one implies that He is only part of my life instead of the whole.

Cringe. Will somebody smash my pie in my face, please?

Compartmentalizing life might appear to simplify things for my brain, but it vexes my soul.  Mind versus soul, versus heart, versus body. Geesh!

But wait– Jesus had something to say about this!

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Mark 12:30

Interestingly, all slices fit within one of these parts of self. Health within strength. Dreams within the heart, and so on. But the Scripture itself sets God apart. He is to be loved in all the matters of my heart, all the matters of my soul, all the matters of my mind, all the matters of my strength.

This pie analogy is really feeding me (pun intended). Seriously, there is no separating Jesus from any area of my life. Whether setting my budget or relating to coworkers, every piece rests on Him. He is not a slice. He is the crust.

And pie without crust is just a mess.

I am beginning to see that I am loving Jesus when I put Him first in each area of my life. Jesus & career. Jesus & money. Jesus & friendships. Jesus & Ryan, my boyfriend.

One habit I’ve started to support this new perspective is turning thoughts into prayers. Liberating! Instead of being ensnared in a web of my own thoughts, I am lifted to God by my prayers. How free I am when I am in His presence!

This isn’t about making sure my Bible reading is the absolute first thing I do in the morning, or even in the first two hours of waking, etc.  It’s about viewing Him as the central reason behind every choice I make and action I take. When a self-centered human such as myself is attempting this, I must recognize… it is a practice…

Whatever your life looks like, however many slices, place it on Him. Will you join me in the undertaking to make Him your all? If so, I believe we’re both in for a blessing. Here’s to dessert.

Defaulting to Hope

I’m a self-proclaimed burden bearer. I care. Sometimes this inclination to care for others crosses a line. On one side I’m blessed to be blessing others; on the other I’m a masterful mess of burdens, the full responsibility of each at that! Though I never recall God giving me that job… Problem is– I see the needs, desire to help, and heap weight onto myself. My optimistic heart to serve soon turns into a pessimistic heart that’s overwhelmed. What’s worse– this becomes such a tendency there are times my heart even skips over the caring step and goes straight to being overwhelmed. Afterall, I’m only one person… I’ll never be able to tackle all these burdens… It’s hopeless. Ugh.

Perhaps you are a sister burden bearer who needs to ask along with myself, “What IS Jesus asking of me?” My guess is any human with two X chromosomes is genetically wired to take care of others. Are you a teacher? Nurse? Mom? Servant? Leader? God recently stared me in the face with some truth about this.

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Mark 6:31-42

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.

The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said “Five, and two fish.” And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. And he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied

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Go Look

How simple the beginning of this miraculous story. Jesus wants a little down time for Himself and His close friends. But a crowd stomps on that plan. They were in high demand. And here’s where Jesus captures my heart again. Instead of being irritated He is compassionate. That ever-loving heart!

Conversely, the disciples (pragmatic, flustered, closet burden bearing brothers??) are matter-of-fact. It’s late. They need to eat. Send them away to get food. Then Jesus stares them in the face with this craziness: “You give them something to eat!” My alarm would have paralleled the disciples': I don’t have the means! There are too many! It’s desolate! Perhaps he gave this impossible task to prove nothing was impossible for Him. Whatever the case, I love His answer. “How many loaves DO you have? GO LOOK!”  We’ve heard the story. Upon gathering the small amount they could, Jesus amazingly blesses it. He kept multiplying the food; the disciples merely had to set it before those in need.

Everyone’s Fed

Too often this scene plays out in my life. I recognize the need, but the magnitude thwarts compassion. Jesus tells me to meet the need. I focus on what I lack to meet the need and feel like giving up. Thankfully, He tells me to just focus on what I do have.

I am in this process of learning to look at the facts, no longer out of hopelessness, but out of hope. The view that there are possibilities and that God’s got this. I am learning to default to hope, not dread. Sometimes the bunch of burdens I’m carrying is my own. At times even those seem like too much. Even then, I must choose hope. Choose peace. Remember– this story did start out with Jesus seeking a little peace and quiet.

By the way, I’m starting to think hope is an attribute of beauty.

So before you get overloaded, look around. Count the loaves, count the fish, put them in God’s hands, and sit down. Everyone’s getting fed.