Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Apology to my Gay Friends on Behalf of Misguided, Misrepresentative Religion

Dear Gay Friend,

It's your Christ-loving, religious friend here. Don't cringe or stop. I beg you to keep reading.

I've approached our relationship all wrong. And today is my day to (first) apologize. I'm sorry for being the Pharisee in your life. For living out a story of self-righteous, high-horse, judgmental ways. It's a tale that's unfair, ugly, and completely unbecoming.

My unjust actions are not a reflection of how I feel; rather a semblance of how I felt religion (not Christ, but the human-induced structure of the church) told me to act. What a shame. For me and for Him.

Like the Pharisees, I was so caught up in the rules and legalities of my "faith" (though I question if it can be called that in light of my shallowness), that I couldn't see the lessons you had in store for me. You taught me more than many of my "good" Christian friends and church leaders. You've showed me what it means to trust in God's grace and mercy. You're walking proof that God is good and makes no mistake, but that this world is broken and aching.

Christ made it clear throughout the course of his life that it's important to love the sinner, and hate the sin that plagues their life. I hate sin. All sin, be it gossip, greed, lying, homosexuality, lust, and the list goes on. But I love sinners. Just like you loved me despite the way I've been judgmental, dishonest, self-centered, unkind, and -worst of all- self-righteous. You're a consummate example of looking past the brokenness of others and seeking that gleaming bit of God's goodness within our flesh.

Namely, you taught me to own my sin. In doing so, I am afforded the opportunity to rest in and share the grace of our everlasting God. Your transparency opens my eyes to the fight between flesh and righteousness. We've talked many times about your life versus mine. You opened my eyes to the way your flesh can desire sin, while your heart and soul long to honor God. Never before has the sin-soul struggle been so evident to me.

You, friend, are to be honored. You are honest and true in your sin. I am not. I lie and say I've got myself together, that you're worse off than me. You're candid; thus, beautiful in all that you do. I stupidly attempt to hide my sin in a facade of perfection. I think about you often. Especially when my skin itches with the desire to make another attempt at concealing the sinful film that feels so dirty.

I love you friend. May I leave my high horse behind and walk beside you in this insane thing we call life? I long to ditch the man-made religious protocol that I've rested in for a decade and enjoy the experience of unabashed honesty though it may leave my heart and flesh raw.

Your self-righteous, self-centered, but hopefully repentant Christian friend

*I love interaction, but any and all hateful comments on this post will be deleted no questions asked. Keep it respectful and non-toxic friends. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Words & Letters [4]

Dear Readers, I'm at a loss for words and inspiration lately. It's left me busy on Pinterest updating my Inspiration Board. Care to contribute? 

Dear Sunshine, Oh how happy you make my skin. 

Dear Jen Hatmaker, You've changed my life with 7. I'm praying over and putting together my own five month stint of it. (readers, more to come here) 

Dear 10 Pounds Gone, Thank you for your departure. Let's not sneak back up on each other over time again please? 

Dear Floral Blooms, You make me and my heart happy. Thank you for lasting so sweetly on the kitchen table and for greeting me with a smile every night.

Dear Mr. Thomas, Feel better already. It's been twelve hours and I'm itching for you to be your healthy, lively self again. 

Dear Target, You really do do it again. Goodness you're too good to be true. And you're unhealthy for my wallet. But Target, do it again. And again. And again. Please. 

Dear Mama Bird, How do we always end up with such crazy ideas? It's what keeps life fun... Especially in those moments. Can't wait to take on The Handful with you. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Niner-Niner Nine One One

I grew up chasing ambulances and other emergency personnel in speeding vehicles. My dad loved a good 911 chase. Code 3: lights and sirens. Nothing less.

(this was an accident waiting to happen... but it didn't and honestly, it has nothing to do with this post) 

As soon as we'd roll up on the scene -be it an accident, a fire, a drug bust (yep, those happen in Small Town, California)- my stomach would do excited flip flops and we'd all jockey for a turn facing the accident. Sometimes we'd hop out of the car and casually stroll around the block. Sure, we were in our pajamas with no shoes on, who cares?

We were a dedicated breed of rubber-neckers who'd seek out a good emergency and stare to our heart's and eyes' content. We'd make up good stories about how the new not-yet-painted house in the neighborhood went up in flames on Christmas Eve (seriously, it was insurance fraud), why there were a dozen police cars combing the apartment complex a half a mile from the house, and how that car ended up underneath that truck that's side was crushed by that other car. Sometimes our stories were better than the truth. Other times, the truth won.

But in those emergency vehicle chasing moments, I learned how to love some adventure. I learned how to tell a good tale. I learned life is fragile, gentle, and crazy. In those flipped cars, those burning houses, those eight people in cuffs, I learned that it takes just a moment to turn your world on its head.

When the emergency vehicles rolled up on our house last August, I knew those 911-chasing lessons were now my reality. A new perspective to life that held a before and after punctuated by some flashing blue and reds. Before things went how I wanted. Life was that All-American family picture. Insert emergency flashing bar here. And the after, where life does whatever the hell it wants and I'm standing hand in hand with my family as the dust settles.

Embrace the adventure friends. Love it and be sure it makes a good tale. Because what's life without a good story. And when life turns your world on its head. Hold on for dear life. Not to your things, but to your people (and your pup). Because when it does come time to head on home to Him, no car, no clothes, no nothing gets to go with you.

I write this as the freeway outside work is at a dead stop. There's all kinds of sirens flying by on the shoulder. Google Traffic says the scene is just a block or two down the street on the freeway. Maybe I should make a pass -or four. You know, for old time's sake.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Things could be worse... [Volume 1]

Today is a grouchy day at work. One of those days where I wish all the men I work with (literally I am the only girl) would just stay out in the yard doing mechanical things so I didn't have to listen to them complain about the weather, their wives, and each other. -Side note: these man have all known me 10 plus years so I'm basically a bratty, hormonal little sister complaining about my brothers. 

Being one to always find the glass half full, I realize things could be worse. Like:

I could be eating lion tacos in Florida. (And getting threats for it…) If lion’s not your bag other options are available. Like shark, ostrich, gazelle, duck, camel…

 My stomach is GROWWWLING just looking at that delicacy.

I could be a pregnant Kim Kardashian sporting great aunt Lucy's drapes to a big event... Only to lose in a "Who Wore It Better" Contest to none other than Mrs. Doubtfire. 
I'm going to concur with the people's vote. 

 I could be a firefighter dressed as Smokey Bear in a parade and get caught in my fire engine’s wheel which then runs me over and breaks my leg. Talk about public service.

This is not the Smokey who was run down by his own engine… 
But no one warned that little girl of the dangers of cuddling up to a mascot near a fire engine?

I could nearly die after being swallowed by a hippo. Now would be a good time to remove river guide at the Zambezi river between Zambia and Zimbabwe from my list of things to do when I grow up.


I could have been a victim in the Weinerpocalypse where a truck FULL of hot dogs tipped over spilling the Ballpark franks all over the highway… No fire, thus, no wienie roast.


If this post left you scarred and wishing for a teddy bear to cuddle with at night, here’s some pictures of baby animals that’ll reverse any and all trauma. Just remember, as cute as these babes are, they bite. 

And please remember, things could be worse. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In addressing that age old question that deals with "bad", "good", and the happenings of people

I’ve wrestled with this question for years. By no means is this a full and compete (or even correct) answer, but rather my take on the answer in the current moment that’s my life. In three months I’ll read this post and cringe because, at that time, life will be different and I’ll have a whole new set of feelings about “bad”, “good” and the happenings of people.

For now, let this get you thinking, wondering, marinating.

Lots of illness is going around in my hood. Not just colds, stomach flus, aches and pains, but big D diseases. Like cancer, like chronic infections, like diseases named after people (if it’s named after the person who discovered it that means it’s bad news –in my non-medical professional head), like dementia. This big D disease makes my heart heavy with prayer, with hope, yet with sorrow, with anguish. And then I get to thinking. That thinking follows a trail that rabbit holes into why do “bad” things happen to “good” people? sort of fashion.

What makes a person “good”? It’s such an odd term we lend to those who are giving, wise, virtuous, sweet, caring, and the list goes on. But who said that’s “good”? And why does someone who possesses favorable character not deserve anything “bad” to happen to them? Simple answer: they do. Nope, no person –good or otherwise- has earned themselves a life free of suffering. Just because we –you, me, and all those in between- feel entitled to all the happiness, sparkles, and sweetness the world has to offer, does not mean we deserve it.

If you've been around a while you know that a big D disease is killing my little d dad. Yep, some dementia is doing quite a number on his brain and body. Little d dad is a “good” guy (by whoever the hell made that up’s standards). He did business, made money, gave generously. He taught people what it means to be virtuous and honest in work and in life in general. But, he’s a sinner nonetheless. There were times he made mistakes. Where he was fueled by the potential of lots of money. Where he was so stressed about work he didn’t engage at home. Where he didn't trust in the path God had laid out for him and was working to do it his way (rather than His way). The good news for little d dad, my big D dad sent His son to live and die to save his life.Thank God.

Just like my little d dad, I’m suffering in the piercing agony of loss. Watching him dissolve before my eyes is unbelievably painful. And I’m a “good” person. I tithe, I cook dinner for my husband, I’m honest and work hard. But, I’m a sinner nonetheless. I've made mistakes. Sometimes I drink too much and act a fool. Sometimes I care more about what people think than what God thinks. Sometimes I run away from a challenge to my faith rather than taking it head on with His strength. The good news for my foolish soul, my big D dad sent His son to live and die to save my life. Thank God.

Do I think my big D dad is punishing me with “bad” because I misbehave? No. But I do think we –you, me, and little d dad- live in a broken and hurting world where “bad” things happen with little to no good reason. I think we’re all a little bit lost, a little bit hurt, a little bit good, and a lot of sin. But the good news for us is the love, grace, and mercy that He bestows upon us. Thank God.

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." -Hebrews 4:16

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

If I were a president, I would be Bang-erham Lincoln. (Alternatively Titled: Let's Talk Hair Trends and Dopple-Bang-ers)

One day, a few months back I got bangs.
And love them. 
So much they got a selfie starring said Bangs
understudy by Awka-awkward Smile
(yes, shameless Pitch Perfect reference)
and ButtChin Galore.
Aweeeee. So pretty. 
Jason loves them too...

 Because I remind him of Garth. 

When things are tense I usually throw up this pose and do Garth's diner dance.
Talk about diffusing the situation. 
(Jason resembles more of an angry mole than Garth, but not all of us have such ravishing good locks)
I'm sure the Garth dance isn't a "healthy" resolution... 
But doesn't laughing cure cancer or something? 

When I want to be really rock'n'roll, I braid them overnight.
And wear them out all wavey-like.
Usually I pay someone to let me follow them around for the day...
With the stipulation that they do have to dress like Wayne.
I'm a natural with the waves. 
It's not the size of the bangs, but the motion of the ocean friends.
(Could that go naughty sexual innuendo? Yes, but I didn't mention it.)
Add some dark frames to my look and boom.
You've got Garth-ita.
Just to feminize it.
Eh? Scha man.
We do look good.

Seriously though, Halloween.
I'm coming for you, October 31st.

Speaking of me having bangs... 
They're actually a throwback. 
Lookie here, retro bowl-cut bangs.
I know. 
Contain yourself friends.
And the bow on my head was a miracle in itself.
From birth I was ANTI frill.
I can only imagine the extortion that went along with said ruffly ribbony hair accessory. 
But that's another story for another day. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Words & Letters [3]: Mother's Day Edition

Dear Mama Bird, Happy Mother's Day to you. I still think it's an abomination there's only one day a year (other than your birthday) to celebrate you. Maybe we can invent another day dedicated to Partners in Crime? 

Dear Running Partner, We're already firecrackers... But if we're going to take on the task of getting even more ripped, I'd only do it with you. We're the Jay-Clay-Anthonay of Cabrillo. 

Dear Mom, You have phenomenal style girl. Oh wait, so do I. Thanks for owning 50% of the same clothes as me. We always look so damn cute. 

Dear Hot Tamale, Thanks for my first ever cock for the kitchen and enjoying our everlasting love for everything rooster. 

Dear Chrissy, Although you're getting all the credit, I enjoy hanging out with the man you chose to be your husband-my father. He's so silly and brings a smile to my face and my heart. 

Dear Madre, Hazel really appreciates your forgiving heart. And so do I. She has an honest to goodness love for the awesome new wood you got put on your patio cover. Gosh darn her. 

Dear Partner in Crime, There's nobody else I'd like to make questionable choices with. Skydiving, the Ragnar, The Amazing Race, and a cruise are still on my list of to-dos for us. You there? (Don't be a square)

Cheers to us. 

Baby Bird-Running Buddy-Am-Hija-Princess-Hot Enchi-wa-wa-Amber-Leader-in-Crime-Sis

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Love & Marriage, Love & Marriage: Or how friends should be your binoculars not microscope

There's a new pet peeve on the block in Thomasville. It's one that has gone from that "ugh, that was uncomfortable" to a full blown makes me so annoyed my vision gets blurry (which usually happens when I'm about to stand up for something despite it being awkward in the meantime). 

It's this thing I like to call husband-bashing.

It begins with this little complaint here, little complaint there thing amongst friends. Then, before you know it, there's a full out bitch-fest going on at the expense of your significant other. Once that bitchy ball starts rolling it grows and multiplies until it's unstoppable. I'm not sure when this marital mutiny became acceptable among friends, (even church friends... where it breaks my heart the most) but, I do know it's got to stop. 

Two and a half years ago this picture was snapped. I had a sparkly diamond ring on my left ring finger and a future husband on my arm.The joy -still- is indescribable. Nine months later we took this: 

I took the Thomas name and have done it well ever since (or not). My goal as his wife was to take on the world together. Him and I with God on our side. Today my goal remains the same, but with sub-goals. The most valued being: no marital mutiny.

You see, girls, we're out, having fun or at bible study sharing the highs and lows of the week all is good and clean, or on the phone while emptying the dishwasher for the third time this week, or texting while waiting on him to get home from work (he's late AGAIN). It starts with one little crack about his stink. 

Then his timeliness.

Then his unsatisfactory ability to "clean" the kitchen.

Next thing you know the only thing he does right is doing everything wrong. Poor thing. He's got no clue how ugly I'm being and yet, he tries so hard. 

I'm guilty. Probably the most guilty party in the room. So girls, let's encourage marriage talk that centers on joy, love, laughs. Not frustrations, annoyances, shortcomings. 

Nice things I have to say about Mr. T:
He sees how ugly I can be (it gets messy sometimes) and remains patient in my hissy fits.
I cook dinner, he cleans the dishes. Every night. No questions asked.
He gave me the sweet pup I love so dearly for Valentine's last year by his own will.
One day, he will give me the kids I've spent decades imagining.
He works his ass off at work, at home, at life.
He commutes. Daily. And doesn't gripe about it when I would.
His love and dedication to family is palpable and ever-present.
He doesn't rock the boat. You can always expect stability. 

Friends, be binoculars that bring perspective of the far off and a larger picture to the table.
Don't be the microscope under which to examine every fault -big or small.

Here's some amazing words about marriage and the role of friends 
within it from a dear blogger I love to read. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dementia is still... Demented.

(dementia is hard to look at in photos. so you won't see it here. 
it's not how we want to remember him... or how we want others to remember him)

It's been a while since I've talked of Dad and dementia.
So here's an update.
**If you came by for light-hearted... You might very well be in the wrong place today.**

He's back at the facility.
After spending a month in a Senior Behavioral Health unit.
(In case you didn't know, that's a nice name for Old People Psych Ward)
*Being PC is nice, but doesn't make this any easier, so let's call it what it is folks. 
Before: he was restless, frustrated, difficult to interact with...
After: he is calmed, peaceful, a joy to be around.

Lately, there's this nagging thought in the back of my mind.
You see, when he wasn't behaving I had convinced myself it was because he was dying.
Like he wanted to go out kicking. And making trouble.
Then he didn't die.
And now he behaves and is kind.
In my head, this means he isn't dying anymore.
I know it doesn't work this way -behaving and dying aren't mutually exclusive.

At the same time I'm worried he isn't dying anymore,
I realize it's my dad that's dying.
When he was mean and disinterested and a busy-body, he was Pete, but he didn't remind me of Dad.
Now he's him.
He's the man who taught me to ride a bike (though I insisted as a child I taught myself),
The same man who taught me to "feather a clutch" (Still don't know what the hell that means),
The same man who taught me the construction business and how to hold my own within it.
And I'm watching him disappear, little by little.
Because he's dying.
Though some days I think he isn't.

It's like we're caught in a sick nightmare-dream scene
And we've got to keep pinching each other to remind ourselves this is reality.
We can't seem to run or walk or move...
While the world and life keep flying by challenging us to keep up.
Thankfully we've got a God who keeps the wheels on.
And a village of care-filled friends, neighbors, family who are pushing us when we've run out of fuel.

Who knew dementia would get my brain all confused and twisted and upside down?
Thank goodness for a God that's handling the timing and planning of it.
Because right now getting through my day worrying and thinking about Dad's life
(and subsequent death) can feel exhausting and near impossible.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care."
-Matthew 10:29
One of my favorite sermons (that addresses so much of this heavy stuff ) is here
Do yourself a favor and check it out.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seafood on the Barbie... Or How I Love Summer and Barbecue

It's that time of year again where it gets warm, 
the sun hangs out extra late in the evenings, 
and the barbecue is on more evenings than not. 

There's something about the smokey smell of BBQ 
combined with the 8:00 pm twilight that fills my heart with smiles.
Plus, a good set of tan lines always makes me happy. 
How best do you celebrate the long days and sunshine?
With some seafood on that beloved barbie! 

Cajun Lemon Salmon Tacos
Cajun Spice (I use Mrs. Dash)

Wrap the salmon pieces in tin foil and squeeze lemons over them. 
Sprinkle with cajun spice, pepper, and salt to your taste.
Close up the dressed salmon in little foil envelopes and toss on the grill.
Meanwhile, heat your tortillas.
Add all ingredients to tortilla and top with salsa or guacamole.
(if that's your thing) 
Simply enjoy! 

Lime-Sriracha Shrimp Kabobs
Olive Oil

Add shrimp to a zip-loc bag.
Squeeze juice of one lime and some sriracha over the shrimp.
Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. 
Close bag up and shake to cover shrimp in marinade.
Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Spear the shrimps with kabob sticks.
Toss on the barbie and grill! 
(a note: shrimp cooks fast. Pay attention or you'll burn it before you know!)

Happy Start of Summertime friends!
Time for barbecue, late evening sunshine, and tan lines! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Seriously… I’m obsessing over Social Media

I know, I just wrote about Facebook. Now I’m back talking about Social Media as a whole. Holy smokes Amber. GET OVER IT.

I’ve issued myself a challenge. If you’ve been around a while you know how I love them. It’s not a funky diet or workout or bible thing… It’s a social media attempt. I shy away from writing about the mundane; thus, no twitter. Blogging only happens when I feel like I have some super, extra, specially important to share. Facebook is more of a friends’ news flash feed than communicative forum. So, the challenge: Remove so much pressure to be socially, mediated-ly profound and participate. Period.

Keep the over-thinking, the wondering and what-if-ing to a minimum. Maximize creativity. Try things I've never tried before... Like sharing 140 character thoughts and snippets throughout my day.

(not quite so much of using the noodle and more of letting my fingers write away)

Meaning, I’ve got myself a twitter. Facebook is restarted… Not only for me personally, but also for the blog. I'm still snapping and posting on Instagram (which I love to do). Write, write, write and dare to post. Engage with me friends, it’s encouraging and fills my little heart with joy. (More logistically, I'll be adding buttons to link to all of the above... But I've only got so much time in the day!)

In all honesty, the challenge is not so much getting started, but the marathon nature that a month can feel like. Sounds dramatic I know, but I like immediate gratification. Anything requiring more than a solid week’s effort on the web makes me want to scream. This time I’m determined to make it.

(literally happier running a marathon than being consistent in writing and engaging online)

Now that we’re past that part, I’m off to watch my sister-in-law get married. I tailored my own dress (in that, I bought it… Wanted it to be more, so added to it). Check it out on Instagram. I may have to submit myself to Project Runway. Alright, I get it… I’m not quite there yet. But a girl can dream?

Happy Friday friends! Enjoy your weekend... Especially since it's finally feeling like summer 'round these parts!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What my month away from Facebook taught me…

(I can’t for the life of me find the website I found this picture on. Truth be told it was the background on my work computer for months, possibly years.
If it’s yours, tell me and credit will go where it’s due!)

Four weeks ago, in a screw-you-social-media frenzy I deactivated my Facebook. I said, "I don't care about what anyone "likes", complainy status updates, and Vegas trips with the girls." And I don't. But in the absence of Facebook I realize there is much social media I do care for.

I care what God is doing in the lives of my friends at church… And since we are all too busy to see each other daily, Facebook is the next best way to keep abreast (did I really just use that word?) of all their highlights. Plus I don’t mind checking out all their adorable, cuddly babies since I don’t have one of my own (something I’m entirely secure in right now… I’ll share when that status changes).

Spending some time away from Facebook reminds me how quickly and easily I can get caught in the throes of social media. Like a five minute break from work turns into a half hour of scanning through some random stranger’s rooftop pool party pics with my jaw dropped. (Thank goodness for friends who hang out with TOTALLY INTERESTING people… Don’t act like you’ve never secretly Facebook-stalked some Rand-O).

I’m a bit more guarded on Facebook than I am on here. Why? Who in the hell knows? But somehow I have convinced myself all who read here don’t know me in “real life” so I don’t have to worry about talking through some of my emotions in person later. After hitting the four weeks free of Facebook mark, I decided to look at my blog traffic… It dropped significantly. I guess my readers are “real life” friends. Thanks friends. You rock both behind this screen and in the real thing.

Funny thing about emotions (I digress, obviously), I used to be a big crier. Then dementia happened and crying mortifies me. Public, private or otherwise, I conserve water by avoiding tears. I’d hate to become dehydrated amidst my sadness… In all seriousness though, the touchy feely in person emotions overwhelm me. Thus, I stick to sarcasm and dry humor. Was this post about my emotional duress or Facebook fast? Oh me, oh my.

Final Note: The above photo of the cow has absolutely nothing to do with this post other than I adore cows and just the sight of one makes my heart swell with joy.

Final, Final Note: I know the cow’s front feet are tied together, though I don’t know why. I don’t condone animal abuse in any way, shape, or form… Thus, I’ve blissfully convinced myself the ropes are a fashion statement… A cow-bracelet of sorts. Maybe I mean a hoof-let. Nonetheless, if I ever own a cow it will not wear ropes. Unless they are bedazzled and come with a bell.

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