To the Friend that Only Called When They Needed Something

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I love you.

I’ve heard so many people speak down about your type. The one that’s here for a season for assistance and then gone for a year. The one that only calls to ask a favor, but never calls to say “how are you?”

We all have seasons.

Some seasons are harder than other seasons. Sometimes, you need attention. Sometimes, you need to know you’ve been heard. Sometimes your current backlog of issues are so overwhelming that hearing about someone else’s may make your anxiety and depression crumble you to pieces. Sometimes you don’t have the confidence that you could help anyone, so you don’t ask. Sometimes you haven’t learned reciprocation. Sometimes, you don’t know how to communicate you care. Sometimes, you’re so extremely busy with work and kids and marriage and school that it’s difficult to fit one more thing in for a friend. Sometimes mental illness only allows you to reach out when it’s really bad. And, perhaps you called me because your closest friends wouldn’t listen, or ran from you when things got bad.

Call me.

You may not ask me “How are you?” although I’d love for you to. But, I’ll be here to listen either way. Because someday, that might be me on the other line — too overwhelmed and distracted by life to realize I never asked you how you were doing before I began crying on your shoulder.

You may not stick around for my season of need.

But I’ve learned a lot from you. I’ve learned how to be a listener. I’ve learned how to calm someone down. I’ve learned to be patient with you. I’ve learned that sometimes it doesn’t have to be about me. I’ve learned to say “No” when I can’t help you more. I’ve learned life from your eyes. I’ve learned that when I give you my time, it doesn’t mean I’m owed anything in return. I’ve learned how to love this moment because it means you trusted me enough to call.

Of course, I hope you stick around. I hope you call me just to ask how I’m doing. I hope that you’ll be there in my time of need, but perhaps that season is for another friend. And, that’s okay.

In the meantime, I’ll love you. In the meantime, I won’t demand anything in return. In the meantime, call me anyway.

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No Shave November, Beauty, and The Sterilized Inhuman ‘Womanly’ Appearance 


So back in college, I participated in no shave November. Yep, for real. I did. And, I won the contest for hairiest legs for women. 

I think some women couldn’t believe I did this… and couldn’t believe I appeased the entire men’s basketball team by giving in to their request for a close up during the game where we presented our legs at halftime. It was fabulous. Seriously – wish you were there.

Now listen, leg hair may not be attractive to our culture — but we are also a cultural overly obsessed with a woman’s perfectly sterile appearance: no body hair allowed, must have acne covered by makeup, must lose all body weight gained after a baby, must have perfect hair without fly aways or frizz, must have thigh gap, must never have sweat showing through clothes, nor odor should ever be smelt — it’s ridiculous really, and frankly inhuman. Our culture sees us as “less womanly” with these human features…

Perhaps I thought it was good to go the extreme to show women to be confident in what makes us human. We can’t live up to a magazine standard, and most days we just don’t have the time nor energy to put on makeup or shave our legs. (Perhaps we thought spending that time with our kid was more important!) And guess what? That’s okay. You’re beautiful. Your legs don’t define you. Your makeup doesn’t define you. Your hair doesn’t define you. Your body shape doesn’t define you. Your clothes don’t define you.

And women can be the worst to engage and perpetuate this false identity and markers of worth, degrading a woman for her appearance. Instead, start valuing the heart — and start talking about the heart. Stop complimenting what she’s wearing and compliment her smile, her humanity, her love, her intellect, her dedication. Because that’s what continues to grow beautiful with age. That’s what we need to recognize. Make her hold tight to that, not what time will steal away from her.

Lord, bless this mess . . .

 

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Here’s my view from where I’m writing this. There’s Chex on the coffee table (and floor) that my daughter more played with than ate. Books that she emptied off the bookshelf, dolls she strung out, a shopping cart she tipped over, a dirty high chair, her favorite bunny she must cuddle with, and more.

Typically in these moments, I put my daughter down to bed and then rush to tidy the house from the tidal wave of a two-year-old. I stress. I tell Tucker to help. I scrub. I get frustrated. Or, sometimes it relaxes me to place everything back in its perfect order. Sometimes I even fantasize about the times before children, with the house a beautiful serenity of peace, quiet, cleanliness, breakable decorations, and candles. Once everything is in order, I pause and soak in the serenity. Don’t we all? I mean it only lasts for a few hours…

Tonight though, I decided to stop. Sit. Stare. In the middle of the mess and chaos, tonight I see beauty and blessings. I see home. I see a place where my child plays and feels safe and secure. I see carpet that pads my child’s knees when she crawls on the ground pretending to be a cat. I see food left out, meaning my child was able to eat her fill and we were yet blessed with more. I see toys given by thoughtful relatives. Toys from birthday parties and baby showers – where we celebrated life, another year, and family. I see clothing folded in the chair, not yet put away – clean clothes that I am able to wash when needed in the comfort of my own home.

Instead of rushing to sanitize the chaos of life and place it within order, comfort, and control, tonight I pause. This mess means that I have abundance: of safety, of comfort, of entertainment, of food, of procreation, of family, of home. Being able to even HAVE a messy house, or a house to fuss about in general, means we are beyond rich.

And isn’t this just like LIFE? Right when we believe everything is out of order, we’ve lost control, we can’t find our way, we’re drowning in to-dos and should-dos, and we feel there’s no where to go to find peace, the veil is torn away in the middle of the storm to see its strength, beauty, and life giving water.

Lord, help me to see this mess for what it is instead of seeing it as a chore and a fuss. Help me to be able to sit in the chaos and feel warmth and beauty, giving thanks for my home, family, and life — beautiful messy life.

Lord, bless this mess.

Body Image: Your body’s sole purpose isn’t to please a gaze

 

 

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My body wasn’t meant to please your gaze. My body’s purpose is not to sell your brand of clothing, makeup, hair color, shoe brand, etc. Its sole purpose is to not be a over-sexualized symbol to turn the heads of men. Its purpose is not to wear a bikini in the summer. It’s not for other women to have an object to compare their body to. Its purpose is not to retain my 16 year old figure.

My body is meant for many things in fact. And a sexualized, ‘perfectly shaped’ being is not the highlight.

My body is for usefulness: it’s to move, to jump, to run, to breathe, to child rear, to breastfeed, to digest, to hear, to see, to feel, to climb, to make, to read, to create, to go, to write, to play music, to contribute, to renew, to grow, to age . . .

My body is made to express: love, art, kindness, compassion, beauty, gentleness, frustration, anger, to serve, to hug, to kiss, to hold, to be held, to assist…

My body is to create: to create peace, to create shelter, to create art, to create music, to create joy, to create new things, to recreate old things, to create a space for community, to create a family, to create beauty…

My body is for my husband: to love, to make love, to serve, to hold, to assist, to laugh, to cry, to grow old with, to behold, to take care of, to admire, to create with…

My body is for my children: that I may bring them into this world with the growth and marks of pregnancy and the pains of labor, that I may pick them up when they are sick and cradle them. That I should chase them when they take off the first time they ride a bike without training wheels. That I should have bags under my eyes because I didn’t sleep because they were awake and lonely. That my hair and nails aren’t done because instead I spent the money to go on a trip with them…

At the end of my life, I want my body to be marked. Marked with smile wrinkles. Marked with scars from adventures. Marked with stretch marks, my tattoos left by my children who forever changed my life. My breasts will hang differently from breastfeeding. My hips will be worn and achey from playing on the ground with children and grandchildren. My skin will be aged from playing in the sun and gardening. My nails will be torn and worn from working hard and serving others. My feet will have callouses from staying active and moving.

And, my life will be full.

Women, allow your body to be marked by life — in the most beautiful of ways. Embrace the shape you are in, the skin you are in, the hair you are in, the type of clothes you can afford, the color of your features, the shape of your legs, your thighs, your marks, your scars. Remember all that your body is and does and has been through — and its endless beauty in these moments — It’s not just some outer covering meant to please some passerby’s eyes. It never has been. It never should be. And it should never be your definition of its worth.

The Truth about my Pregnancy: Fears, Anxieties, Wonders, and Awe

 

Pregnancy. Is. So. Bizarre. (…and beautiful)

Looking down feeling this thing in my tummy that I am not in control of move and kick, my tummy jiggling side to side (without my permission), is quite awkward in the midst of company. The cravings even more bizarre, and unless you become a pregnant lady yourself or live with one, you won’t ever quite understand the ups and downs of pregnancy, including the possible horrors (no sarcasm intended). “Coping with pregnancy” sounds insulting to women desiring to be pregnant or to the life growing inside me, but the beginning of pregnancy for me was just that—at first.

Commercials always show moms bouncing their little ones on their knee looking down and smiling while their baby grins, energetic dads throwing their toddler up into the air beaming with pride, and expectant moms smiling in the doctor’s office as the doctor comes in with the news, “It’s a GIRL!” But, what about the times in-between?

Until I had a child I never realized how much my life was dependent on myself, on stability, and on consistency – something pregnancy allowed no room for. As a single woman, I had a routine, had ambitious goals, and made a plan to achieve them. I worked full-time on salary, had a small apartment, was saving money, planned to get a masters within the next few years, and hopefully be married as a graduate masters student with money saved and little debt or stress. I also rigorously trained in CrossFit. In fact, a few months before I found out about baby, I hit a PR (personal record) for the Deadlift at 205 lbs, about 2.2 times my bodyweight, and a month before accomplished 7 strict pull-ups, and a few weeks before achieved my first muscle-up, an advanced movement taking tremendous strength and technique.

Because my pregnancy was unexpected, there was not time to prepare emotionally, physically, financially, or mentally. The changes were rapid and constantly altering—demanding flexibility, patience, and trust. Morning of sickness, days of looking in the mirror at my bloated swollen tummy (the abs I worked so hard for hidden underneath), moments of seeing my once smooth facial skin scattered with red-raised bumps, and weeks where my eyes displayed deep dark circles—revealing nights of tears, sickness, and worry. Although I never thought I worried about my appearance, I did for the first time. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore.

The realization that I could never be alone terrified me. There was a being inside me that I couldn’t simply ask to leave and come back tomorrow. I felt her presence and her demands on my body every moment. This commanded immediate attention and knowledge. For the first time in my life, I was not prepared, I had no plan, and I had no idea where to start, but the clock was already ticking. The physical changes though were nothing compared to the emotional turmoil: shame (read my first entry), guilt, fear, excitement, awe, and wonder all mixed together brewing and not knowing what the outcome of the recipe would bring in the end. Time both slowed and raced by as, within a few months, I found out I was pregnant, got engaged, planned a wedding in a month, got married, Tucker moved in, we searched for a new home, we both moved out, we made a new budget, planned for a baby, signed up for parenting classes, and encountered countless other adjustments (all of which I plan to talk about in a future blog in detail).

However, something changed in both of us, something beautiful and profound. The changes in our life didn’t matter anymore. My bulging body, my acne, my old life goals, the sleepless nights, the drained savings account meant nothing to me once I saw her little body on the ultrasound machine and felt those little wiggles for the first time. The realization of the beauty and mystery of life was astonishing. At our first apartment Tucker first felt her move: we sat together with his hand on my tummy and his eyes widened, “Was that her!?” “Yes,” I beamed.

Throughout the whole experience, Tucker and I became strong, united, and crazy about our little one, not being able to imagine (or want) our life any different. The stretch marks, sleepless nights with dark circles under my eyes, the cramping legs, the new diet meant THIS body can bring about LIFE! The little dark lines on my skin were evidence of a healthy, growing, beautiful baby. Why would I see them as anything less? I stopped caring that my house wasn’t perfect, that my bank account wasn’t overflowing, that I didn’t have my once sporty-body, that I couldn’t keep up in CrossFit, and that I wouldn’t have “PhD” tacked onto the end of my name within a few years. Our life now was about this new little life and waiting to look into her eyes for the first time.

It’s funny how in life we often make our own plans and set goals believing that “If I only had ______ or achieved ______ ,” I would be happy and feel complete. And yet, when it was all taken away and I didn’t have a choice, my life became most complete, filled with awe, adventure, wonder, spontaneity, faith, and love. I no longer fought the changes but instead welcomed them, searched their boundaries, stood in awe of their mystery, explored the unknown, and trusted in my Heavenly Father who promises provision for His children. Often my hands go to my tummy (have you ever noticed this with pregnant ladies?) rubbing the sides just a little as if cradling and cuddling my baby, and my eyes fill with tears—no longer tears of fear, but tears of complete joy and love. My little family is what matters now and creating a life of beauty for my little girl.

Tucker has been incredible in this journey, right from the start. He’s been loving, thoughtful, helpful, and faithful along the way—without him I wouldn’t have made it this far. Our family and friends, we couldn’t thank enough. And to our pastor, parents, and mentors, your encouragement, example, strength, and support led us to fight through, keep our heads high, and connect with the Lord in a way we’ve never experienced.

And to our little baby daughter, you are our sunshine. You changed our lives in the most beautiful and unexpected ways. Mommy and Daddy can’t wait to hear your laughter, pick you up, cuddle you, and see you smile. We can’t wait to feel your little fingers wrap around one of ours in a warm embrace. We know there are difficult days ahead of long sleepiness nights and frustrations, but know that we love you more, and have already fought hard for you, through our fears and stretched beyond what we thought we could bear, and we aren’t giving up now or ever. And, as much as we don’t wish to see you in pain or disappointed in this life, we know that in those moments we find our true strength, are able to push out our idols, and press on to faith, hope, and love. Tali, we love you and will see you soon.