Thursday, October 31, 2013

I'm Genetically Predisposed to Torture Dear Ones on Halloween.

I like costumes. A lot. Dressing up as someone else, who doesn't love it? THIS GIRL DOES.

I realize I got the costume loving skills from my mom. Or from my coming of age when she could no longer pick out the sweet get-ups she wanted me to sport. And, sometimes, my brother too.

You're welcome. Why? I did you all a favor and pulled together the greatest of Halloween costumes for you.
A weepy lion. The hottest in 1990's childhood Halloween trends. Just putting the cowardly lion out of business over here. (PLEASE NOTE: Lions are boy felines. BOYS. So, my mom did what every mom does, she made my costume feminine but adding flowers. You know, life's good when you #justaddflowers)


A joker, jester, professional silly man of sorts. Not to be confused with a funny person who makes jokes. Or a clown. This is a court jester of sorts. Because why dress your daughter as the queen when she can be the jester?!?

A tree. Or pair of trees. Complete with clothesline. Thank you Martha Stewart. This must be where my disdain for you and your over-the-top empire was born.

If all the childhood costume suffering wasn't enough, I grew up and realized my genetic predisposition to incorporate torturous costumes for ALL PEOPLE, but mostly for Jason.

Like the one time we were Charlotte and Wilbur and he wore a HIDEOUS pig nose and XXL girl's (as in children's) pink workout shorts.

Or when he had to take a pregnant chick to a frat party... Even though I WASN'T ACTUALLY PREGNANT. Two of the guys very sweetly offered to take me home so the baby didn't get second hand smoke.

Or when I painted our hair blue and teased it high as Heaven to play the role of Thing 1 and Thing 2 for a Dynamic Duo party. That is ENTIRELY our hair.

Or when we wore matching women's flannel pajamas to a Walk of Shame shin-dig. This girl WAS NOT about to run around in some lingerie or Tom Cruise Risky Business gear.

All this to say: MY KIDS ARE DOOMED
Mostly because this genetic gift has been realized and will, upon the birth of children, be capitalized. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm a wizard who graduated from Hogwarts!

I've never read the Harry Potter books. Until now.

About a month ago all the Harry Potter references that kept coming up in my life overwhelmed me. So much so, I decided I needed to hop on the band wagon and read through the series. 

Then, Geez Louise and Always Ashten came up with this: 

And, I knew it was destiny. 

Plus, yesterday morning there was a big white owl in the street on the way to the gym. I'm sure it was Hedwig encouraging me to say my piece. 

It's been challenging. I guess with old age goes the imagination. 

PLEASE NOTE: I've only read the FIRST book. So, I'm not going to have everything "up to date" with the entire series being out (for almost a decade actually). 

Though I've always considered myself a Muggle, in reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone I've come to terms with the fact that I AM A WIZARD and I WENT TO COLLEGE AT HOGWARTS. I know, this sounds insane coming from a 24-year-old that's closer to having a child than to childhood itself. But, like all good writers, I've got my facts lined up for you as proof of my thesis. 

When I got my letter of acceptance to UCSD, it came complete with lists and lists of things I needed. Most of which seemed magical and amazing at the time, but as I came to realize the use of educational tools, they were just run of the mill for upper-level education wizardry. 

I had a professor who couldn't stand the fact that math wasn't my language just as much as English -like the actual language we speak, not the class where you read books- wasn't his (HELLO SNAPE) and eventually encouraged me to withdrawal from his class (which I did, so Un-Harry of me). 

There are mysterious areas on campus that exist but are not accessible to students like the underground tunnel system that runs throughout campus. (Hello, third floor corridor) 

UCSD is famous for it's groves. Rumor has it: Hagrid's cousin lives in the canyon that the groves grow through. 

Some of my T.A.s were two faced arch-nemesees who hosted the most demonic of educational routines (hello Quirrell and he-who-shall-not-be-named). 

By the way, you know who shall not be named at UCSD goes by the name: Organic Chemistry. And everyone gets the chance to meet him. Except me. 

Dumbledore goes by the name: Roger Tsien. Though he sounds purely mad in conversations, he happens to hold a Nobel Peace Prize. 

I was "sorted" into the house of Pi Beta Phi. Where beauty and brains abound. We're the Gryffindor of UCSD even as much as winning the Chapter of the Year (aka: House Championship Cup). 

At the close of each year (and then my college career) I relocated back home to live under the stairs in my parents' home. (Just kidding! No under-stair living, but I did really move home) 

I guess what this post mostly says is I AM A FAN. Despite being old and starting late in life, I'm a fan. And, that's fun. Now to finish the other six books and put together a weekend movie marathon. (see you all after Christmas, yeah?) 

For you doubters who don't believe me. EVEN URBAN DICTIONARY CALLS UCSD UC HOGWARTS

Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there... MUGGLE.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Love Wins: Always Ashten

Good morning ya'll! 

Today I get the joy and pleasure of introducing you to my dear blogging pal and Happy Hour Hangout cohort, Ashten, who blogs (and VLOGS LIKE A BOSS) over at Always Ashten. Do yourself a favor and immerse yourself in her wildly outrageous tweets as well as her ridiculously adorable pictures of her precious boxer, Warner. 

I'm thrilled Ashten agreed to share a hard, but beautiful story of the way love has changed her life as the second post in the Love Wins Series. She'll prove to you the redemptive power of love in the hard and the beautiful. How the process is not at an "end", but is growing and challenging for her sweet soul. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sitting down to write this is hard. I usually pride myself on my ability to be vulnerable in most of my writing but with this one my heart is conflicted with how much to share. There is a lot of pain that comes with this one; pain that I don’t know how to express to those who know me best let alone to a cruel and sometimes unforgiving world.

The thing is I still struggle with forgiveness. And redemption. And how redemption brings forgiveness. And how to forgive.  I struggle with how to move forward, how to trust again.

I have not had a hard life. I was raised by two parents who love each other, who loved my sister and me. We took vacations, we had holiday traditions and I was given many opportunities that others were not. I was raised well. 

All happy stories do not have happy middles. Mine does not.

The heart is an interesting organ: it can break a million times, in a million ways, but never heals the same way twice. In the last two years my heart has shattered into what felt like a million unfixable pieces. I lost my identity, my direction, who I felt I was. I was drowning in grief; I was living in a shell of my former self. I scared the people who knew me best: the people who watched their vibrant, boisterous and silly Ashten turn angry, bitter and silent. Truth was I was scaring myself too. I just didn’t know how to stop the cycle of sadness and anger in my heart.

Slowly, I started to find my way out of the darkness thanks in part to many people’s unfailing love. As my heart began to heal, I noticed it was colder; harder and less prone to act with love. It’s like I’m missing a piece that allows me to trust, allows me to open up to anyone, the piece that allows me to forgive. I was living with one foot in the darkness and one foot in the light. I was holding on to the anger, the bitterness and the grief because I had grown comfortable there.

I still struggle. Sometimes it’s hourly, sometimes it’s daily. Sometimes my struggle is silent, because I can’t find the words. Sometimes I slip back in to bitterness, anger and my words become sharp blades that will cut anyone who steps in my path. Sometimes I just hug my dog, Warner, and wait for the moment to be over just so I can get to the next one.

In moments when I cannot go on, when I feel like I’m completely alone, I remember God does not give us anything we are not strong enough to handle. Love wins. For years, I didn’t think I deserved love, or to be loved. Most days I still don’t. But, I have people who believe otherwise, people who force love upon me when I don’t think I will ever open that part of my heart again. People who remind me that after darkness comes light.  These people are my safety net, my great loves and the missing pieces I lost when my heart broke so many moons ago.

God has made me strong. He knows my faith waivers. He knows I am not perfect. He knows I fall often, and without much grace. But, He is forgiving when I am not. He is redeeming when I find myself unable to find redemption.

He loves me when I don’t think I deserve it and His love wins. And with that, I know I will not always be ok, but I am forgiven when I am not. I will be loved, always. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Always AshtenSpeaking of love... Don't you feel that way about Ashten? Do yourself a favor and connect with her on one or all of these social media spots! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

I am her.

Once, not that long ago, I told myself people were inherently good. That we had compasses pointing us in the direction of goodness -be it for ourselves, for others, for the general welfare.

Then, I remembered, we're broken people. All of us. A bit cracked and chipped in little and big ways. Though we're broken, we have an innate ability to seek goodness in most things -tiny or triumphant. But, like Eve, that very first woman, we can't turn our eye from the shiny apple that pesky Serpent pointed out.

"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the Serpent's cunning 
your minds may somehow be led astray from your 
sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 
-2 Corinthians 11:3

Instead of pointing fingers and placing the blame on Eve, we must realize we are her. 
I am her.

Last week I wrote about the funk I was in. The way I felt tired and ragged and like a raw, unhealthy wound. It felt like life was taking salt and rubbing it deep down in that exposed and uncomfortable flesh. I turned to that little broken part of me and felt like Eve with a serpent breathing down my neck telling me control of every situation would make me better. More comfortable. More joyed.

I laid awake at night running through "what ifs", playing out dozens of scenarios, moving the cards around one by one. And it didn't birth beautiful joy in me. It grew a deeply bitter, seriously stressed, downright mad woman who's focus was on her unsavory circumstances. Not a focus on her gracious God, her challenging and fruitful job, her beautiful little family.

It left me wondering what it took to have it all. Just as Eve did as she looked upon that forbidden fruit. What's it like, God, to have a dream house, a dream job, a lovely life filled with nothing but joy? And that sneaky Serpent, he said, "It looks like control, like pursuing your dreams with reckless abandon, like listening to me, not Him."

I heard him -the Serpent. And I contemplated his truth. Like Eve, I entertained those thoughts.

I am her. 

But, He's grace-filled. And He has redeemed us. Given us purpose. Pushed us in a new and good direction. So despite my flesh, despite my susceptibility, despite my denial, He's got my back.

Nothing like a weekend to refresh and refocus me. This week I give up my work stressors to Him. I relinquish my moods and cling to His joy. I bask in His grace and power in lieu of my deep fleshy desire to chase control.

I am her. But He is greater than me. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vlog Like a Hoss. Or Boss. Or Vlog Toss... HOW DOES THIS GO?

Oh my soul. I'm here. And I'm vlogging. I AM OFFICIALLY OFF MY ROCKER AND I'M STUCK ON THE FLOOR. Like this:

Now that we got our daily dose of panda out of the way, let's get to talking. More like, me talking while you listening with rapt attention as I make a fool of myself. 

Facts You Learned While Watching this Vlog: 
1. Ashten is dear and awesome and a VLOGHAWK. 
2. I adore wiener dog print which IS the new leopard. 
3. I live in southern California where it gets non-snowy cold and flannels solve all temperature issues. 
4. My friends are trouble makers. AND SO AM I. 
5. I went to UCSD and acquired my Rubio's addiction there.  
6. "Turn up" confuses me because I'm not fresh on the club scene. 
7. I watch trashy TV like The Bad Girls' Club and Jersey Shore. 
8. Urban Dictionary is far more educational than Wikipedia (or maybe I just made that up). 
9. You will drop an Urban Dictionary term this next week in conversation.
10. It IS impossible to say Ross Swiss without a smile.
11. I'm awkward at goodbyes. Always have been. 

Always Ashten

Did'ja grab a button? Oh, yes, go ahead and do that too. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shop-Free for Three: Cleaning Out My Closet

So, it's been a month since I did this
And, I haven't acquired any more stuff (minus the new Miley Cyrus Bangerz album I bought last night for $10.99 and have not stopped listening to). Now I'm itching to GET RID OF IT ALL. Like, by not adding to the clutter it just looks so clutter-like and I want to clean desperately. 
Last weekend I finally let the itch be scratched and clean, clean, cleaned. The kitchen, the closet, the dresser. Oh, the relief. But, it still feels over the top. Like there's too many clothes. I have more jeans than I'm willing to own up to. And flannel pajamas, OH MY SOUL.

My plan is to get rid of all that is not used or loved by me and pass it along to a doting home... Then, I WILL NOT REPLACE IT AS MUCH AS I WANT TO AND CONVINCE MYSELF I NEED.

I was contemplating an IG shop but really, I don't need the money. Or the stress of attracting people to the shop. Or worrying that people won't like the way that things fit or look or smell. (Everything will be washed OBVIOUSLY). Simply put, it's yours for free plus the cost of shipping that'll come your way via a Paypal invoice. So, I've decided to put it together in picture form and post it on Facebook. It'll be a single album where all will be available to be yours or for someone in your life.

All I ask is to be sure your picks are more needs than simple wants. I know, who in America really has a need? But, my prayer for these clothes and kitchen and house things are to be a blessing to someone else. Not to be another pair of jeans in a 27-pair-of-jeans closet or another coffee mug in a 50 mug collection or another book to collect dust on your nightstand.

So, you know if you look in my window and girl's getting down, I'm waging war against the clutter monster. 
Go ahead and LIKE our Facebook page, that's where the postings will go up in the next week or so. This weekend's busy so there's no promise they'll be there then, but after that yes. 

This girl is rocking a shopping fast going on six months now... I'm hoping to be like that, sort of. Right now, I'm just working really freaking hard not to break out in hives when the clothing section of Target is in sight. But, really, do yourself a favor and love on Erin. This girl is my soul sister who, despite living on the other side of the country, knows my heart so well. ALSO, it's important to mention she's drinking no caffeine and just undertook a sugar fast. IS SHE A SUPERHERO? Yes, Captain Self-Control. And I love her for it. 

1. What cocktail would make a weekend full of fishing tolerable for you? 
i'm a simple lady. i would sit with a fishing pole in my hand all weekend if you kept refilling my hendrick's gin and tonic. 

2. Beauty product you can't live without.
i'd like to say mascara, but let's be honest, i have terrible skin, so i need that concealer BAD.
3. Your all time favorite book... And why? 
i think it would have to be Little Women by Lousia May Alcott. there's something about it that just spoke to me when i was little, and as i get older and reread it, i pick up on older themes that still hold true to me. it was the first "grown-up" book i ever read, so it holds a special place in my heart. 
4. Which Real Housewives would you join? 
i would definitely join the real housewives of beverly hills! they seem like the classiest and the most fun group of ladies. new jersey scares me way too much to ever risk that craziness!
5. Your favorite Halloween candy. Or cocktail. Or fall treat. With a link.
my new favorite fall food is easily my pumpkin soup that i made a few weeks ago (it's my grandpa's recipe!) 
Share your favorite blog post you've written. And your favorite that you've read.
this post about prayer when i was going through a really hard time last year is one of my favorites i've ever read. 
sarah doesn't always write about faith, but when she does, it's simple and to the point, and it makes so much sense. she is who inspired me to start writing more about my own faith. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Refiner's Fire

There is an inexplicable sort of urgency in my heart for this one. An urgency God wouldn't let me get over. I have a pattern I like to keep with my posts and their content, but it's been burning and I've been ignoring Him... Until now. In obedience, I write.
Four and a half years ago, my family started on the most difficult journey we will face (or so I pray). Never did we expect to be tried and tested in the ways that we were and are and will be. But today we stand with more strength, more faith, and more love. However, it isn't an easy road to walk.

In the beginning, my mom noticed my dad's memory seeming to slip. She expressed concern to us kids, but we told her it was nothing; he'd never been one for details. We all started paying more attention and months later, we agreed things were not right. We sought the help of a neurologist and he went through weeks of testing, MRIs, doctor appointments. All the while we waited for an answer.

One by one things were ruled out. Tumor, no. Alzheimer's, no. Dementia, not that either. Then came that fateful Monday night in July 2009. The doctor's office: they had a diagnosis, but it needed to be discussed in person, in the morning. A call that didn't bode well. Doc said, "Things don't look great."

After a night of no sleep and lots of tears, I went to work, just like Popsicle would want me to, just like I had for weeks.

On July 17th, 2009, a neurologist diagnosed my 56-year-old father with Early Onset Alzheimer's. He said despite the lack of genetic evidence he was sure my father was losing his memory for good. He warned that my dad's age would lend the disease to be more aggressive. "Make arrangements," he said. 

There are no words to describe the searing pain, the utter fear, and the deep panic that sets in with a diagnosis. I immediately drove home to spend time with my family. My brothers played in the pool with my dad like always. My mom spent hours on the phone letting all of the relatives know the results had come back and we faced a battle with one of the most mysterious diseases known to modern medicine. I sat numbly, reveling in the familiar noises that would one day be gone. 

One call. Two calls. Turned into dozens of calls. Reliving the diagnosis over and over and over, sharing with family, sharing with close friends. Quiet conversations amongst one another filled with sorrow, with tears, with doubts and questions. Promises made for the future when things don't look good, when he's unable to care for himself, when we're not sure what to do for one another.
Why God? I ask. I spent years asking. God, why? Why us? Why him? Why? Why my mom? Why Jeremiah in his youth? Why now? Why not later in his life? Why, God, why?

While I still wish this all away. While I wish it wasn't us. While I wish so desperately it was different. I see His truth in this. We are being tested by fire like in 1 Corinthians 3:
"This work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." -1 Corinthians 3:13-15
We still don't know what's going to come of all this. We don't have an end date for the suffering that's being endured. We don't know what will take him from us and to His Heavenly Father. But we do know that God is doing His work among us.
I know that I don't want to just barely escape through the flames. I want to be thrown into the fire only to burn brighter than the flames. I want to be blinding, like the blue flames that compose the hottest part of the blaze.

I want to know that God placed me in the hottest of heats, in the toughest of times, and I made it with His presence there to keep me cool. Thankfully, my family -the people that mean the world to me- get to join me in this journey.

My dad is slowly losing his whits. He's content, but unaware. For him, his ignorance is bliss. For us, family and friends have made a safe and loving space for us. It is there we mourn, we seek protection from the flames, we feel encouraged. It feels as though the fire's dying. Slowly, ever so slowly, it's dying. And the flames, though smoldering, still burn, reminding us that we are not yet there -wherever there might be. His refiner's fire is continuing to work on us making us more like Him.

It's not easy. Or fun. But the bible never promised easy or fun. It promised to glorify Him.
"God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed." - Job 1:21
Some of you are in the midst of a season of burning hot flames. It may look like disease or divorce or loss or heartbreak or waiting. It may not look like our fire, but you're in it and you feel it and you want relief. I feel you. And I encourage you to stick it out because it'll make you all the better in spirit, in life, in love. 

You can do this. You will endure. You will survive. 
He will sustain you. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ragged. Raw. Unprepared.

Yesterday I woke up feeling ragged and raw and mostly unprepared for the day. Unprepared for what I didn't know was to come, I guess.

I felt that raw feeling as soon as I rose from my slumber to a not-even-slightly-gracious alarm clock beckoning me to the gym. A place I didn't want to go, a workout I didn't want to endure with a trainer to which I didn't want to listen. I wanted soft, cottony sweetness cocooned around my tired, ragged soul. But, Mondays don't work that way. 

The morning routine was filled with undue grouchiness that beckoned me to call myself Oscar and crawl back into my trashcan. Coffee should have cured it, or so I told myself. Starbucks hasn't enough in their store to make this ragged, rawness go away. Nope, because Mondays don't work that way. 

I found myself upset over things in ways completely unjustifiable. Annoyed over organization -or lack thereof- in our home, our closet, my car, my desk. Frustrated with the way my sloth-like grouchy soul couldn't get my act together and suddenly the clock says 8:19 and I must rush, rush, rush. Driving down the street as J.J. Heller saves my soul with her sweet melodies, wishing the defrost worked just two minutes faster, praying deep, longing prayers for a not-ragged, not-raw, not-unprepared feeling. Because Mondays work that way. 

There were work meetings with big work choices, customers with even bigger demands, and the typical work movements that make up the sick and twisted dance I call the "work day". Nothing felt graceful or gentle or beautiful. It all felt clunky and heavy and Monday. And, I was upset. I could feel the funk. Could identify it's heaviness in my soul, but I couldn't shake it. Because Mondays work that way. 

Really though, most days don't work that gentle, soothing way right now. I'm biting my nails again -a sign of anxiety. I'm cleaning pretty intensely at the office -a sign of attempted control. I'm short and callous with Jason -a sign of stress. I'm hard on myself from dawn till dusk -a sign of frustration with more than just me. I'm insane laughter then angry tears -a sign my emotions are bottled and confused. Because days work in a rugged and chaotic way. 

So is life. I guess.

I'm ragged and raw and mostly unprepared. And that makes me mad at myself. Because, I like to be strong and solid and mostly Girl-Scout-Try Prepared. You guys? I don't have my shit together. I usually don't. And that's allowed. 

I'm ragged and raw and mostly unprepared. And that's allowed. That's what life is about. And, I'm alive. Very much alive.

I'm ragged and raw and mostly unprepared. For this space. For this place. For these words. For your encouragement. For your hurts. For His work. And that's allowed. Because I'm alive.

I'm ragged and raw and mostly unprepared. Take me as I am. You, take me as I am. God, take me as I am. Me, take it as it comes. One day, one way, one work at a time.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And this. It does a work in my heart. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Haters gonna Hate. And so am I.

The atheist boy that sat next to me in high school once said, "Amber, you've been a Christian for so long that you don't know what it's like to truly hate things/people/places in this world." 
At the time, I had nothing.
So I said, "Um, well, I hate things." 
And he said, "Ok, Amber, what do you hate?" 
And I had nothing.

Not for lack of hate, but for lack of response to a boy who had previously no interest in talking to me. Now I realize my answer should have been, "I hate when someone never talks to me and then when they do it's such a surprise I can come up with nothing to say!" 

I've spent the last five years noticing those moments when I really do hate things/people/places. And then, over the weekend I ran a half marathon FULL OF HILLS with my mom and that gave me lots of time to be filled with hate.

Today, I share my hates. 
(Wait, really this chick's about to blog about hating -yes, the answer is yes.) 

TRADER JOE'S. Not the store, but the hullabaloo that is getting parked and into the store then back out to the car alive with groceries in tow. Big store. Small lot. WHO THE HELL PLANS THIS SHIT?

The numbering system at House of Fabric in order to get your fabric cut. I always end up behind the lady who's cart is brimming over with 52 bolts of hard to cut fabric. THIS IS NOT THE DMV, THUS I CANNOT BLAME THE HOLD-UP ON GOVERNMENT WORKERS. 

In the tune of cars: drivers who are entitled to be in front of you regardless of how close they merge to your grill. WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT OF WAY EVERY TIME? 

The man I ran next to with his entire collection of car and house keys, $4.87 in change, and a water pack that sounded like the crash tide every time we ran downhill. SIR, IF I WANTED TO RUN NEXT TO A PIGGY BANK I WOULD HAVE BROUGHT ONE!!! 

Bloggers who judge other bloggers. Or people who judge people for blogging. Or people who judge other people for doing what gives them a feeling of purpose and is a passion. AHEM, MARTHA STEWART. 

Judgey faces from old people when you're out to breakfast at the same place of them and you're stinky from running thirteen hilly miles and they've been at church. MA'AM, I'M NOT ALWAYS THIS STINKY, BUT WHEN I AM I EXPECT GRACE.

And, that is enough hate for the day. Actually, for the month.

We all get the way this is facetious. If you don't, please email me. Or don't, because I hate someone without a sense of humor. Really though. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sometimes I Feel Like...

Sometimes I feel like I'm just not on the same page as God. Like He has plans that He's not letting me in on. My heart grows a little bit bitter because He's keeping secrets and that bitterness creates a distance between us in my heart. 

Sometimes I feel like my prayers are falling on the deaf ears of a busy God. Like He has greater fish to fry, so I fall to the wayside. With it being Him whose schedule is so full, I find myself losing heart and with it, faith. 

Sometimes I feel my heart welling up with BIG, lofty dreams for Him and faith and people and the lost and the hurting. It burns inside of me and I want to go, go, go; but not without Him going too. And, He's saying stay. Be still. Let me work in you. But I don't want more work in me. Because, I want to help, to do busy, to feel alive. 

Sometimes I feel like the words in my Bible don't contain the life they once seemed to have. Like He has stopped breathing His ever-powerful spirit into me. With it being Him who isn't blessing me with His spirit, I find myself distracted, frustrated, and blaming him. 

By sometimes, I mean lately. Lately, I feel stuck in a rut of waiting that in turn makes me disinterested in the work He's doing here in the stillness. Lately, I want to move and toss about and change the world with all these words and thoughts and ideas. But, He's holding me here. In stillness. In Him. So, I do what every good Christian girl does and I let go. Not let go of my ideas or burning desires, I let go of Him. Yep, just like that, POOF, God, I've got it figured out and you follow me why don't you? 

I'm a hormonal, bratty student who doesn't care about the deep and necessary lessons from my teacher. I had a moment the other day where I felt responsibility in my relationship with God. A responsibility to be invested, involved, interested. Not a responsibility because He said so, but because, I want to do His will. I want to be His light. And, the source of that light looks like seeking. 

It's all too easy to get involved in a cycle of laziness, of apathy, of indifference. God has blessed me with a single question: If I'm not feeling close to God, guess who moved? (Easy answer here: it's me.) 

Instead of pointing all my stubby little fingers at Him, I've taken it upon myself to change. Instead of being apathetic, stubborn, and thick-headed, I need to move, relocate, find a new, more humble posture. 

So I'm moving. Somewhere in order to find a better place with Him. I have no reason to sit in misery, instead, I must grow myself, my walk, my trust. 

I want to grow for the glory of my God. Simply stated, He's what makes life so sweet. And I want to share in His blessings with you. This weekend I'm dedicating more time to Him and less time to me. My prayer is to enter next week feeling inspired, strong, and ready to share more of Him and me and Mr. T with you.

Happy Weekend dear friends. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Country Song Wife

Growing up in church I always heard about the Proverbs 31 wife... She is a precious woman who knows what it means to be kind, trustworthy, a good steward of her faith, husband, and family while providing compassionate, generous help to those around her. I grew up thinking that's the only way to be a good wife. And maybe, that is. 

But, I've spent a lifetime listening to some very sweet souls sing of what makes them love their women. And, I want to be the spunky, God-loving, boot-wearing wife they love. 

The Country Song Wife
She's small town from the country, she ain't big time, but she could be (Rascal Flatts)  
I still remember you came by my trailer with some chicken legs and homemade wine. (Steel Magnolia) 
Same old boy. Same sweet girl. Ten years down the road. He held her tight and kissed her lips in front of the picture show. (Tim McGraw

I ain't saying I'm perfect, but I promise I'm worth it 
Because I win and you win when it's who loves who more  (Thompson Square) 
Country from her cowboy boots to her down home roots, she's country from the songs she plays to the prayers she prays (Jason Aldean) 

My oh my, you're so good-looking, hold yourself together like a pair of bookends (Blake Shelton)
Then she walks up behind me and throws her arms around my neck (Rascal Flatts)
And when I got home... before I said Amen, asking God if he'd play it again  (Taylor Swift) 

She's my kind of rain like love from a drunken sky (Tim McGraw) 
'Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine and I bet we'd get along just fine. (Miranda Lambert)
You'll be my soft and sweet, I'll be your strong and steady. You'll be my glass of wine, I'll be your shot of whiskey. (Blake Shelton)

Saved two months, bought a little diamond. Tonight's the night, feels like perfect timin'. 
Down on one knee on momma's front steps, man I'm gonna die if she really says yes. (Kenney Chesney)

Take me down to the little white church (Little Big Town
Through weakness and strength, happiness and sorrow, for better, for worse, I will love you. (Shania Twain)
And share all the love and laughter that a lifetime will allow. (George Strait

You'll still be my sweetheart when everything ages, you'll be the last book on the shelf (Pistol Annies)

And the heart of a faithful woman, who never let him forget (Lee Brice) 
The love for me, girl, I see in your eyes... That's beautiful, beautiful every time. (Lee Brice) 

There ain't nothin' not affected when two hearts get connected (Brad Paisley) 
We are one heartbeat in the darkness, we are one lasting answered prayer (Darius Rucker)
I'm gonna thank the Lord for a real good life, A pretty little girl and a beautiful wife (Kip Moore)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Speaking of country wives, you know who is one? My dear friend Mrs. Laura Beth. Not only is this girl adorable in all ways, she's married to a real, live farmer! Take a moment to acquaint yourself with her beautiful heart and amazing photography. 

1. Beauty product you can't live without. 
Mascara. (AMEN, sister!) 
2. Your all time favorite book... And why? 
Oh my goodness, I've read so many good ones and am hardly asked this question. I'm going to go with Dear John by the always wonderful Mr. Sparks. I love how he writes and can make me cry and laugh, hands down one of my favorite authors.
3. If your life were an OPI color, what would the name be? 
Wine Not Party?
4. What's the story behind your blog's name? 
Laura is my first name, Beth is my middle name and I recently became a Mrs. Thus Mrs. Laura Beth was born! 
5. Share your favorite blog post you've written. And your favorite that you've read (by someone else please!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When you mess with the bull.

Once a week for the next seven weeks we're going through the lessons that are life and the loss of it. They're more snarky than smart, more silly than serious, but they'll make your life more colorful -which is what this living this is all about, right? 

In March 2009, we started the long journey of finding a causeand cure for my dad's memory loss. Four and a half years later we march on fighting loss and the hideousness of dementia. These years were and are laden with lessons about ourselves and God. Here's the first of seven bits of knowledge we've picked up along the way:

Grab it by the balls and hang on for the wild, leg kicking ride.

Fact: Life's wild. 

Though, it can seem so plain, boring, mundane. You can suffer through each day wondering when the monotony will end. And then CHANGE and you can't tell up from down, left from right, because you're twisting and turning in so many insane directions. You can hate it, run from it, attempt to hide. Or you can throw yourself into the midst of the mess and enjoy. 

It's like a rodeo. Every cowboy hops onto the back of a bucking, angry bull with hopes of an eight second show. Sometimes you're the successful rider who remains atop a two thousand pound beast and other times you're being trampled.

I grew up hearing: "When you mess with the bull, you get the horns."

This probably wasn't a statement about life, but about picking your battles. Or something of that nature, but I'm an expander of sorts, so it's about life now. 

Growing up, we lived just minutes from a dozen longhorn bulls. When I hear "get the horns" I imagine one of those long horns impaling me. And, yes, it terrifies me. For years, I did everything in my power to avoid the impact of pointy horns in my ass. Then life showed me how horn-y it is with dementia. With death. With humbling marital moments. With job-searching challenges. With anxiety. Oh, the horns. 

For years I allowed myself to live in fear of life and it's sneaky, sharp horns. Then, I decided, if life's going to kill me -which it is because we're all going to die- I might as well have an adventure while I'm at it. 

Put on your shit kickers -or cowgirl boots if you're more proper than I-, break out your straw hat, and cowgirl up. Life's going to buck underneath you despite your best efforts to subdue it into sweetness. Instead of fighting the wild, unruly nature of this adventure we're all on, let's grab it by the balls and hang on tight. 

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