Tag Archives: Love

All the Right Reasons- Thoughts on Pregnancy, Love & Staying Fit

14 Feb

I’ve always had a disdain for exercise. Maybe because I am not athletic, or because when I was younger  I didn’t think I needed it because I had a super high metabolism and could eat whatever I wanted and stayed skinny. Maybe it’s because it was forced on me when I attended a strict Christian program after High School that equated staying fit with spirituality.  Or maybe I am just lazy. I’d rather sit passively and observe. But I am not 19 anymore. And (thankfully) life isn’t just about me.

Today, on this rainy Valentine’s Day,  I was at the gym  and I had a sort of epiphany. I’ve been dragging myself there because I know I need it, because my husband is a personal trainer and encourages me to go, and honestly, because of the cheap childcare. I know it’s good for me, but it’s not really something I enjoy. In the past I made it a necessary evil, but a selfish one.  I thought maybe I could get my body back, feel good about myself, feel thin. But then I got pregnant again.

I realize Motherhood changes the shape and size of your body. It’s difficult at first. I catch my reflection in a full-length mirror or see the number on a scale and suddenly I don’t even recognize myself anymore. But then I remember that growing and sustaining life is a privilege and a miracle. And I know deep down, I don’t want to be skinny. I want to be strong. 

And today as I was on one of the leg machines, looking down at my belly, swollen with life, I realized I wanted to be there.

I want to be there because I don’t want labor just to happen to me, I want to prepare for it, like a marathon runner trains months in advance for the big day. I continue to try to exercise because I believe very strongly in natural childbirth. I believe it can be not only bearable but beautiful. I believe my son can come out my body smoothly, that it doesn’t have to be traumatic or something to dread.

Yes, I acknowledge that sometimes no matter how much we prepare, things happen.  I learned the painful lesson when my daughter was put in an ambulance and sent to the NICU 30 minutes after she was born— some things in life you just have no control over.

But I can prepare. I can pray. I can hope for the best. I can get my mind, spirit and body ready as much as I can.

I don’t have to just let and birth happen to me.

I have a choice the way my child comes into the world. I can be at peace. I can be strong. (I am strong.) I can make myself stronger. I can take captive every thought and fill my mind with beauty, peace and strength.

I think a large part of maturity means you realize you are in charge of your own life. But the conundrum lies in the realization that as much as you’re in charge, you’re not necessarily in control. It’s a grasping hard and letting go all at the same time. A pushing forward and a finally closing your eyes and resting. It’s a striving for the goal, yet understanding everything worth anything is a gift you can’t pay for.

It’s all about motivation really. I think that being strong is a much better motivation than trying to avoid weakness. Love always moves you farther than fear. It’s all the right reasons.

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“Because I want to,” always goes father than, “because I have to.”

So I’ll stay awake and active. I’ll let self-discipline not be something forced on me by some inner dark voice, but a light within me motivating me to never give up. Always keep moving forward. I’ll let it be fruit in my life that comes automatically from healthy roots, water and sun.

Because that’s what love looks like. It looks primarily like work, with emotions blindsiding us as an extra reward when we put the effort in. It looks like sweat, blood and tears. For all the right reasons.

You’re My Adventure

8 Aug

Two weeks ago I married the love of my life.

As I walked down the hill to a beach on a lake where my friends and family waited, and saw my handsome, grinning groom, I felt like I must be in a dream or the happy climax of a really great movie. It was such an out-of-body experience, I couldn’t even shed a tear, so I just giggled joyfully.

It was perfect.

Perfect days are often followed by writer’s block. Nothing I say can describe the beauty of the moments I experienced. Here are the words I struggled to birth to share my promise to my husband that day.

Jean-Thomas:  I knew right away:

We had something beautiful.

Something full of magic and wonder.

I knew the pages of our stories would merge together.

I knew you would be my greatest adventure,

and you are.

Our love has grown in leaps and bounds since we met 4 years ago.

And I will love you always.

With God, in me, giving me His love,

I will love all of you.

The whole deal.

I will love the paradox that is you: The creative genius. The fighter. The lover. The  dreamer. The doer.

I will help you see the good in the world.

I will point out color and light when all seems dark and grey.

I will remind you to “stand on your head.”

I will help resurrect your dreams when they seem dead.

I will be that ridiculous, random girl when you need to just have fun.

I will never, ever, ever tell you to “grow up.”

I will give you grace.

I will forgive.

I will listen.

I will seek to understand.

I will hold nothing back from you.

I will always support you:

Even when the distance seems overwhelming.

and when I long for nothing else but for you to be next to me.

I will wait for you.

I will be your home.

I will grow with you,

Explore the world with you,

Create an epic life together.

I will stay in awe of this:  that we get to be with each other.

I am reminded of a line from a poem that begins,

“Speaking of marvels, I am alive
together with you, when I might have been
alive with anyone under the sun…” 

I know that God, in his sneaky ways, brought us together,

through all of time and space

to this very moment, here and now.

To begin our life together.

Jean-Thomas, you are a gift.

I will never take you for granted.

And I will love you with everything in me, and beyond.

 

I Love Jesus, But Sometimes I am an Atheist

26 Mar

The most terrible acts in the world happen when human beings treat each other as less than human.

A Chinese orphanage where special needs children had their limbs tied to hard kitchen chairs and left alone all day to stare at the walls.

A dirty room on the top of a brothel in India, where girls lay sleeping, fragile and exhausted from another night of abuse.

The cries of a young girl as she was taken down the stairs to a basement, by a man who was supposed to be caring for her while her parents were away.

Many look and say, “How could God let this happen?”

And even more deadly, religion says, “Everything happens for a reason.”

If I had a communion shot glass of wine for every time someone carelessly attached the phrase “God’s Will” to someone terrible, I’d be slurring my words right now.

I used to believe suffering made us better, so God must cause it. It was not for us to understand, only embrace. God wants to “break” us, and He will do whatever it took to get us to rely on him.

I imagine a mother or father using similar phrases as they abuse their children, all in the name of “love.”

This is not love.

I don’t believe in this god anymore.

I can’t.

I don’t believe in a god who would orchestrate horrific pain, destruction, and death.

Light and dark can’t mix.

I don’t believe in a god that picks and chooses whom he loves and whom he disregards.

Love is not true if it has conditions.

I don’t believe in a god who controls your fate, who is nothing more than a cruel puppet master putting on a show.

Love does not force its will or manipulate, but allows freedom of choice.

I don’t believe in a god who is looking for ways that we don’t measure up, who is constantly pushing us to try harder and be better.

Love doesn’t force or condemn or have an agenda to change someone.

People usually have a valid reason for not believing in god.

I don’t blame them.

But my God is pure love, acceptance, grace and beauty.

My God, in his love has given us control over the earth and our lives. Even though He risked us screwing everything up, it was the only way to offer freedom.

My God always gives good gifts, always redeems, always makes things new.

My God is found in the eyes of the abused prostitute, in the compassionate activist who rescues her, in the bread she is given to nourish her frail body.

He is in the laugh of a special needs orphan tied to a chair as the sunlight pours through the cracks in the walls.

He is in the words of the little girl who is restored and redeemed and telling her story.

My God writes the book of our lives with us, bringing adventure, romance, and surprise endings.

godwrites

So, sometimes I am an atheist.
Because I refuse to believe in the god religion has created.

But Jesus—I can’t help but believe in and love him.

Love, etc.

14 Feb

My Senior year of High School I bought this black shirt that had a velcro strip across  the front. It came with a bag of velcro letters so I could spell anything I wanted to. The first time I wore it was on Valentine’s Day, where I proudly used it as a billboard to show off my sustain for the day,

“Cupid is Stupid.”

I was of course, single. The year before my first boyfriend whom I was on-and-off dating for two years, had finally severed things by cheating on me with my friend (who was his best friend’s girlfriend.) Later, my rebound summer fling had quickly ended after going on a missions trip and deciding I didn’t want to date until God told me who to I was supposed to marry.

“I am not the same person. I just need to date Jesus,” I said over AOL Instant Messenger. (Classy, I know.)

The next day he showed up at the diner where I worked, and waited in line while I wrote down orders for burgers, malts and stacks of onion rings, just to tell me he’d never been dumped for Jesus before. I felt a little sorry but mostly heroic, and slightly martyr-ish, like Joan of Arc must have felt.

Ten years have passed and it’s been a wild ride. All those timelines and deadlines (you know the ones: “If I am not_____by the time I am___, I will may as well DIE!”) I had I threw away, after that age had come and went.

I wished I still had my velcro shirt so I could tell the world how I really felt.

Because human emotions are complicated and deceiving. Also being a female, in this liberated, modern culture where you have the freedom to choose whoever strikes your fancy and you don’t have to worry about an arranged marriage with a greasy, bearded goat breeder when you hit puberty. Too many choices.

Then you are surrounded by all things sexual, or if you are lucky enough to be in a weird Christian subculture like I was, you are surrounded by all things about avoiding sex, all this effort to guard your heart and stay pure and wait on the Lord, while your hormones are raging on like they don’t know your heart has changed. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

Then there are all the expectations. Before I moved to Texas, I didn’t have many options. I came from a small town and 90% of the guys were way below my standard, because they loved country music and chewing tobacco and looked like they needed a shower. The other 10% were drug addicts or just pervy. A whole world opened up when I met my first “godly” man. Even though you weren’t allowed to date during the first year in the program I attended, I thought a lot about THE ONE.

What would he be like?

How would he sweep me off my feet?

When would I know?

And the biggest question: When the hell was he going to show up?

I heard these real Disney-esqe love stories from the staff there, only missing all the teen angst and kissing when they first met and anything really juicy or like real life. Yes. That is what I wanted.

Perfection. I fully believed God loved me too much to “let” me fall in love with someone I wasn’t going to marry.

So THE ONE came… and went…. and came…. and went… you know how the rest goes. It was starting to get embarrassing. I told myself I wouldn’t do it again, and I did. I would get so guilty, so full of shame. Just like I always was.

After years of one heart break after another, I finally smartened up and realized I couldn’t blame God.

I was the one doing the falling.

And then a funny thing happened. I found grace.

When I did, the guilt disappeared. Nothing in my past mattered. The shameful parts became simply stories (and some of them just funny.)

And another thing happened: I stopped believing in THE ONE.

Ok, maybe I didn’t stop believing that there was someone special for me, but I stopped believing in THE ONE as a fabricated fairy tale that was going to fix my life.

I stopped believing THE ONE would be perfect and everything would always look like a happily ever after.

I changed my expectations. It’s not that I lowered them, it’s just that I didn’t hold them tightly or idolize them.

I stopped believing THE ONE would complete me. Not because I finally listened to all those seasoned married couple who told me so, but because I finally realized,

I was already complete.

I knew things were different this time around when I didn’t care if I scared him away with my honesty…. yet he stuck around.

I told him up front exactly who I was and what I’d come through, down to the dirtiest detail, and for some reason, he decided me loved me anyways.

That, is my story, and it’s ongoing. It isn’t perfection, and often I have to laugh because it’s nothing at all what I pictured and everything I’ve ever wanted all at the same time.

Loving him is a lot of things, but it is never boring.

It’s a constant adventure, and it’s beautiful.

It’s too bad I still don’t have that old velcro shirt, because if I did and I wanted to tell the world what I thought about romance, love, etc, I would borrow a slogan from Steve Carell in the film Dan and Real Life,

“You better be prepared to be Surprised..”

 

A Brief Conversation with the Sun

5 Sep

“Good morning, world,” she said, letting a ray of sun on her face,

“Why I am here another day?”

She paused, letting questions shift and arrange priorities inside of her, putting off her daily routine to try to understand how to be human.

“To love,” the sun replied, realizing an answer from the world would be a little hard to hear because of the colorful noises, melting into each other. Besides, sometimes the world got a bit demanding, and he might  convince her to try to fix him.

She hadn’t been expecting an answer at all. The question was purely rhetorical.

But now that she had it, it warmed her, drawing out light between cracks of uncertainty and dusty corners of familiarity.

“To love,” she repeated, knowing that the tiny word held a billion galaxies full of meaning, that the world himself couldn’t even dare contain.

“Yes, to love,” The sun repeated for emphasis, rising higher in the sky at the energy that came from the proclamation, making sure his fingertips reached her, tickling her face.

He knew he was only a metaphor, his warmth a picture of what could happen on the inside of her, if she dared make this truth her purpose, if she believed this instead of focusing on the chaos the world would bring.

“To love,” she whispered, knowing beyond knowing that this was greater than any human heart, any world, greater even than the brilliant energy shining on her skin.

The sun smiled brighter. Now she got it.

Shout It From the Rooftops

13 Oct

God doesn’t hate you.

He is not pissed off at you.

He is not rolling his eyes at your stupidity.

He doesn’t point out your flaws.

He doesn’t think you’re crazy.

He is not embarrassed by you.

He never, ever condemns you.

He isn’t impatiently tapping his giant foot up in heaven, waiting for you to grow up, to get over your addictions, to clean up your act.

He doesn’t just “put up” with you because he has to.

He doesn’t inflict disease on you to teach you a lesson.

He doesn’t leave you alone so you will realize you need him and stop taking him for granted.

He doesn’t emotionally manipulate you.

He doesn’t demand you give your “110%,” to work until you are worn out.

He is not schizophrenic, hugging you one day and slapping you the next.

He is not far away, someday somewhere in the sweet by and by.

He doesn’t “hide his will from you” and then choose someone else when you don’t “follow your destiny.”

He doesn’t think you’re more awesome than his other kids because you attend church, tell everyone to accept him, sponsor poor kids, or try to overcome your porn addiction on your own.

His doesn’t change his mind about you when you decided to throw it all away and completely F up your life.

He isn’t impressed by your self-made “holiness.”

He isn’t shocked or surprised by your horrific disgusting sin.

His view of you has nothing to do with how hard you try not to sin, how much you strive to be good.

NO!

God simply loves you because he IS love, not because he has to, but because,

You are his son, you are his daughter and he sees you as worthy to be loved.

He only gives you good things.

He only offers you life.

He only responds as a loving father with open arms, not just forgiving your sins, but throwing you a party.

He is only pure grace and pure beauty, and he gives himself to you.

He only sees who you really are: whole, loved, absolutely fantastic and brilliant.

He will do anything to free you from the chains around your mind.

He will do anything for you to see what you already have in him.

He only asks you see who you are and believe it.

AND

You will realize you are already healed, whole and restored.

You will stop trying to do and realize it has all ready been done.

You will live in peace and contentment.

You will live a beautiful adventure, free from guilt, shame and fear.

You will create and grow and change the world without even trying.

And you will love people and love yourself and feast and drink and see that you have the Kingdom of God in you, beauty all around you, and eternal life here and now

Art Is Home

23 Jul

notes build like bricks
to create structures to be filled
with souls who find home there

words mix like swirling colors in paint cans
making drab and old weathered browns
new blush reds
and starry-eyed blues

we live inside art because we need to know
our slight hope of excruciating beauty
really means something

that this doesn’t have to fade with childhood
this belief fireflies glow because they need to
light up the black
that willow trees push their way through thick layers
because they have to see the sun

and we’ll know the best thing to fill time and rooms with
is hysterical laughter
and songs that walk through walls

we live inside creativity because
if we don’t see newness
in each morning
we cave into death

we know if we begin to think it’s all been done before
we may as well cripple our legs our gouge out our eyes

so we swing wide the front door
ignoring locks and alarms systems
we let our hearts become a canvas
and our minds a sketch pad
we allow words written across our limbs

and then we know

we live inside beauty because
we need to know beauty lives inside us

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