I am Cinderella, avocado, blue and summer.

Ok, I don’t actually know if that’s true. I didn’t take the test, so how would I?  I’m bombarded by these quizzes on my news feed everyday though. Which Disney Princess Are You? What Beatles Song Are You? What Campbell’s Soup Are You? What Book of the Bible Are You? Clearly, we live in a culture that is in search for identity and for confirmation that the good things we want to believe about ourselves are true. And there’s nothing wrong with those things. And there’s nothing bad about the quizzes. Really. They’re just silly fun and I think most of you would agree. But I wonder if they leave a little residue on us? A question about our strengths and weaknesses. A feeling of letdown when we didn’t get the answers we want.
What if I every time one of those quizzes tempted us with an answer that tells us we’re smart, funny, going to live a nice long life and then drift off to heaven in our sleep – what if – what if…instead we spent that 4-6 minutes finding what God says about us? Buzzfeed doesn’t have anything on the One who created us in the first place! He knows the hairs on our head, obviously He knows which Friends character we would be! : )

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The well-dressed elephant in the room

   The time has come. I’ve been wanting to write about this for a really long time. I’ve typed, backspaced, stared at the ceiling into the night working out how to say it and weighed out the pros and cons of being vulnerable. It’s all led up to this post. I’m sorry if this sounds bossy, but please – 

                        Stop stereotyping people with same-sex attraction as any or all of the following: 
Pushy. 
Selfish.
Out to convert people they don’t even know. 
Rude.
Unloving. 
Harsh
Pushing an “agenda”….
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. For a lot of people – for a lot of Christians – they hear “gay” and they flash to headlines like “Child with 2 dads begins gender reassignment therapy at age 4”.  

     I never gave it much thought until an individual whom I dearly love “came out”. Ever since then I’ve become more and more aware of this problem. I don’t want people to know that he’s gay, not because I’m ashamed, the exact opposite in fact. I’m so proud of him. He’s an amazing friend who knows how to listen in a way that I rarely see. He really hears me and when he does respond it’s careful, deliberate and for my benefit.  He has a way with words. When he writes he can draw you right in and make you forget about life for a while. He’s courageous (although I’m not sure he truly realizes it). He’s humble, He sees beauty in the most unexpected places and has figured out how to reveal it to those he trusts. He’s thoughtful, sincere, funny, intelligent and so many other things. And my fear is that people would cover up all those amazing qualities with a scarlet letter, if you will. It breaks my heart both for him and for the people who are missing out on knowing him. While it is their loss, it’s also mine and everyone else who is sorting through their thoughts and feelings after a loved one comes out. 

I’m not the only one who feels this way. The truth is, there are probably people you’ve talked to every week for years who have a loved one in a same-sex relationship and you’ll never know because they’re afraid you’ll make assumptions that you have no place making. I’ve lived with that fear and it stinks. But how will things ever change if we don’t talk about it?  I would have loved to have someone to talk to through my journey of understand and loving, but instead I felt isolated. 
 
So I hope this is the first step in a journey for us together.  All those things I listed could easily and accurately be said of the church if we were all judged by the people who are picketing funerals and bombing abortion clinics. But that is not who I am, I despise that behavior and would be crushed to think that someone lumped me in with a few people on whom the media chose to shine a spotlight.  You may not want to hear this, but your view on their lifestyle is irrelevant to this discussion. God loves people. He wants us to love people. It’s as simple as that. And how can we love someone when we refuse to know them? When we say hurtful things about the people they love? I get that “you didn’t know”, but that doesn’t make it ok.

By the way, that guy is my little brother. 
   
I would love to open a dialogue, just know that there is no place for rude or wounding language here. What has your experience been? Where can we start to change things in our own circles? Where do you see yourself in all this?

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
1 Pet. 2:17

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The Undoing

Peace. Intimacy. Presence. Face to face. 

If you’ve never heard the name Steffany Gretzinger then I can absolutely guarantee that you’re missing out on something wonderful. You may have heard her on other projects, but her first ever release just dropped and it is breathtaking. (get it here) As I journey through the album it’s as if as I worship the Father and Son, Holy Spirit creates a lullaby over me. 

   There’s an encounter with God waiting for you, grab your Bible, a notebook, turn it up and see what happens. 

 
Here is one the treasures from “The Undoing”. I could say more, but I’m really just hoping you’ll check it out for yourselves 

Stir in me a love that’s deep
A love that’s wide, a love that’s sweet
And help me, Lord
To never keep it to myself

And if my heart should dimly burn
And if my feet should fail to run
Call my name and I will come right back to You

There’s no fear in love
There’s no fear in love

Stir in me a love that’s deep
A love that’s wide, a love that’s sweet
And help me, Lord
To never keep it to myself

And if my heart should dimly burn
And if my feet should fail to run
Call my name and I will come right back to You

There’s no fear in love
There’s no fear in love

I wanna stay close to You
It’s really that simple
I wanna stay close to You
Just as simple as this song
I wanna stay close to You
It’s really that simple
I wanna stay close to You
My whole life long

Uniquely yours

I haven’t had a lot to say lately. Busyness, hurt and my internal editor have quieted my voice. There’s a time for every season and so I’ve waited and listened for that familiar voice that speaks to my heart and says “share this”.  It hasn’t come and I’m totally ok with that. Through the moments that I literally (don’t laugh) glanced up and said “this, Lord?” and sensed a “not yet” until tonight when I felt released to say this-

Be yourself. There’s a worship that only you can give, don’t withhold that from the One who is worthy of ALL our praise. There will be seasons of silence from you to the world around you, but there never needs to be a season of silence where your worship is concerned. And not just worship in the sense that all of our obedience is worship, but actual songs. So make a joyful noise. Whisper your heart. Kneel before the throne saying “holy, holy, holy”. Use your uniquely beautiful voice to give honor to the King. Go ahead, He’s waiting ❤

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Because men are pigs.

Men are pigs? Crazy that I can get away with saying that and not expect any angry responses as long as I can “justify” it. It’s kind of messed up. I’ve noticed this trend…as far as I can tell is been going on for oh, maybe 20 years or so?  It goes like this: women are empowered, strong and smart and think it’s ok to make jokes about how men are helpless, weak and dumb.  Before you get too ruffled, allow me to say that I realize that a lot of it is said in jest by women who not only love their husbands, but even like them.  I just don’t think that makes it ok.  Sitcoms, facebook, internet memes, conversations…if someone landed on our planet and heard and saw the way we talk about men they’d be amazed that there are so many of them still walking the earth without a woman to personally assist them throughout their day.

Listen, I get it – we have our strengths as women and some of them are totally opposite from the men in our lives. Multi-tasking, attention to detail, we do those things well (most of the time!) But there are also things that as a general rule come more naturally to men. Go to a public place and choose 10 random men and 10 random women and chances are they’ll be able to lift more. But, oh the uproar when a man suggests that he is stronger and that a woman is in need of his assistance. I’ve heard more than one woman rudely say to a man “I’m perfectly capable of opening my own door” as if his manners are insulting, and yet we say some pretty mean things and laugh as if it’s the most hilarious thing.

I don’t write this to point fingers or make you feel bad, just to say this – lets do better. Let’s honor the men in our lives and whenever possible give them something even greater to strive for. It’s so cool — when Wes brags about me in front of his friends it makes me want to improve and to live up to what he sees in me. I want to do the same thing for him.  Choose your words wisely, build him up and celebrate his strengths. Let’s work together to be women who show respect to our husbands, boyfriends, brothers, friends…and lets stop being the jerks that we don’t want them to be!

 

Funny-quotes-If-your-husband-is-amazing paint

Are you my father?

I’ve never really talked to anyone about this particular struggle in my life, so bear with me….I would not be sharing any of this if I didn’t believe in the value of vulnerability and sharing our joys as well as our struggles with each other. Just as much as I long to know that I’m not the only one who has faced these things, perhaps one of you is in the same boat and we can encourage one other. This will not be particular well written and I am far from having answers, but it’s real, so take it for what it is.

In 2006 my dad died of cancer. It changed a lot of us in different ways, but for me I think the most profound has been the way that I’ve found myself searching for someone to answer some of the questions that dad always answered for me. Not “how do I check my tire pressure” as much as “Am I doing life well?”.  Likely some of you are scolding me for not getting 100% of my validation from God, and I understand that. I’m not sure that this blog is for you, you may want to move on. Only in recent years have I come to understand how rare it is to have had a dad like mine. I always felt that he sincerely believed that I was capable, that I was strong, that I was lovely.  Even through the times that I disappointed his heart, I never saw anything less than love in his eyes. When other relationships made me feel not good enough, weak and ugly I could always go to the one place that I felt safe and like I wasn’t a total screw up. For the first year or so after he died I was dealing with grief, finding my place in our rearranged family, getting through Wes’s deployment and the violence that surrounded it and basically just focusing on getting through the day. It wasn’t until after that season ended that I began to notice this thing in me…this desire for validation. Even though I believe that it is the way that I was created, I’ve still had to fight against hating that part of myself. I don’t want to feel vulnerable to someone else’s disapproval, I don’t want to feel like a little girl, unsure and floundering for a nod of approval.  I’ve been blessed to have some strong, Godly men in my life, but I’ve come to almost fear them. I’m afraid to ask too much, to be too needy and to let down my guard. In some cases it’s wisdom, in some fear and in some I’m not really sure. I struggle because a 29 year old woman with a wonderful husband, 2 amazing children and a growing relationship with Jesus “shouldn’t” feel this way.  There is nothing at all inappropriate about this and I fully embrace a fathers role to affirm his daughter/daughters whenever possible, but in the absence of a father or an obvious father figure I’m not sure what this whole thing is supposed to look like. And so I go on another day. I seek Father God’s heart toward me, what is pleasing to Him about my life and what is He highlighting for me to change. As a line from one of my old favorite songs says “I sing until I sense a smile upon Your great and lovely face”.  I feel like that’s where I live.  I want to hide my face when my pastor says that I’ve done well in some area because who is so hungry for approval that they beam with joy at a passing compliment? Not me….

But that is me. And like it or not, that’s where I’m at. My mom, my husband, my brother and some of my wonderful friends are huge encouragements to me. I appreciate their influence in my life greatly. But for whatever reason, it’s just not the same. I’m not sure that this season in my life will ever end. It scares me a little to think of living the rest of my life this way. Perhaps that is just how it has to be. So I will be brave sometimes and others not so much. I will set my face as flint until I cannot and then I will weep in the secret place. I will look for others who are missing a voice in their lives and I will be open to opportunities to meet their needs. I hope you will do the same. You may just have a lot more to offer than you think….

AHA! Part 2!

If you haven’t already, check out part 1 = )

Photographers 

Fiddlestix Photography

So there’s this super sweet girl that takes super great pictures AND she shares her skills with lots of lucky clients! To see her work and book a session –
https://www.facebook.com/fiddlestixphotography

http://fiddlestixphotography.zenfolio.com

Bloom and Bumble Photography

Or, if you’re in the northwest Ohio/ southeast Michigan area then you’re lucky enough to book with this amazing photographer –
https://www.facebook.com/BloomAndBumblePhotography

I had to pause to look at her photos again, I just love her work!

She may be taking a bit of time off with baby girl number six on the way any day now : )

Crafters

Bekah Hall/Twirls and Curls Botique
Where to start? I’ve been lucky enough to know this girl for well over half my life and it’s been so cool to hear people raving about the adorable girly accessories that she makes.  While you’re ooohing and ahhhing over her things make a note of what you want to order because you’ll have to wait until after new year. And while you’re at it, make a note to pray that God would heal her body so she can do what she loves and be totally pain free!
https://www.facebook.com/TwirlsAndCurlsBoutique

Sarah Hall/ LaLa Ladybug
The hats, oh my goodness the hats! So much cuteness! Custom crochet of all kinds, if there’s something you have in mind, drop her a message and get an order in!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-La-Ladybug/556645004369332

Darla Sprague / Hooks and Needles Crafts

Lots more cuteness here! I didn’t even know that you could crochet a stuffed animal until I saw Darla’s pictures. Such great gift ideas for all kinds of people in your life!
https://www.facebook.com/HooksAndNeedlesCrafts?ref=hl

Direct Sales

Amanda Clark with Better Way Imports

I really hope that you take the time to check this out! Shop with a cause. Shop because justice matters. Make your dollars go further by purchasing what you want/need AND changing a life in the process.  Here’s what they’re about –
“Better Way Imports began first as an encounter with a profound awareness of the evils of sexual slavery in disadvantaged populations of the developing world.  Of all the slaves in this world, roughly 80% are women.  With few skills, no education, and a depth of poverty nearly impossible to imagine, women are trapped in the hopelessness of their situation.  Often sold into slavery by their destitute families, they become ensnared by a web of deceit, ignorance, and debt.

A way out has been created by local fair trade organizations designed to give them hope, education, and a future.  Assured a fair price for the work of their hands, these women regain their futures–a way to earn, learn, and provide for themselves and their families.  More than this, they gain the restoration of their God-given dignity, a priceless part of their experience and existence.  But where can they sell their beautiful creations?

This is where Better Way Imports comes in. BWI is the means for the retail sale and distribution of these fair trade goods.

Started in 2001 by Bill Leep, Better Way Imports grew out of his desire to do something about the deplorable living conditions of people in Kolkata, India.  Read his full story here.

Better Way Imports offers exciting opportunities not only for those trapped in slavery, but also for you! Join us in the fight against modern-day slavery by becoming a Freedom Fighter, attending our events, or buying our products.”

So you can check out their products online at http://store.betterwayimports.com
and then get in touch with Amanda to place an order or book a party

Melissa Niemi with Norwex

A year ago I didn’t know what Norwex was and I went to my first party not planning to make any purchases. Then Melissa told me about the products and I realized that I owed it to my family to at least look into it.  One swipe of the envirocloth and I was hooked!
Learn more about their products, shop and order here –
http://www.norwex.biz/pws/melissaniemi/tabs/home.aspx

I actually have 2 friends who sell these awesome products, you can also check out Jessica’s page here – = ) http://www.norwex.biz/pws/jessicaholroyd/tabs/home.aspx

For all your Thirty-One and Scentsy needs, Brigitte Goss is your girl!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/simplywarmerscentsyus-Your-Independent-Scentsy-Distributor/404241969709590

https://www.mythirtyone.com/brigittegoss?verify=true

I think that’s everyone! If I missed anyone let me know and I’ll add you! Praying that 2014 is an amazing year for all of you and that you have as much business as you want and that you and those around you are extremely blessed by what you doing what makes you come alive!