Friday, January 31, 2014

As Mufasa says.

It's time to revisit how B.R.A.V.E. (our theme for the year) has bode over the last month. I'm thirty-one days into being a more awesome me.

Just before the end of the year we headed to The Lion King play with my family. I knew B.R.A.V.E. was in my 2014 future at that point and then Mufasa spoke to me. He said it's not looking for places to be B.R.A.V.E., it's about realizing those opportunities when they arise and taking them. Sounds easy enough, but after a month, I realize there's moments where I'd prefer to shy away from the tasks at hand. I haven't though.

This month I engaged in a new project to commemorate my year and keep me centered on my purpose through Ali Edward's One Little Word. I pissed off a group of avid cyclists on Twitter and took responsibility for it. I wrote about church for Overcome the Lie which terrified me, but you all came in and supported me so lovingly (when will I stop underestimating your goodness). I said yes to an adventurous -for me- new project that is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking (announcement to come in February's #sayyesproject link-up). I challenged myself to run 125 miles in the month, then gave up until I watched this sweet little TEDtalk and, thanks to Sam, I ran 40 miles in a week's time. And, I dropped a few walls around here talking more personally about faith and marriage.

Bold is going to be my focus for the next few weeks. In attending Jason's grandma's funeral I realized there's a legacy to leave behind and, for me, a life lived in bold sounds just right. Plus, February comes with a few big dreams being realized. Dreams in the blog, the life, the marriage sense. (Please stay tuned for those dear readers and friends!) And I'm a little bit terrified. But, I am B.R.A.V.E. even if only in taking on one small task at a time.

Also, be B.R.A.V.E. yourself over the weekend by getting your YES on. Next Wednesday, February 5th, the #sayyesproject makes another appearance and I'd love to have your sweet self linking up with our adventures.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

We don't wish we didn't.

Last April I decided I didn't want to carry around 15 pounds too much. I was embarrassed the BMI machine read my weight-height-fat ratio and called me obese (despite not feeling so). Instead of being sad about it, I put my mind to losing said extra pounds. And I did.

But in doing so, I bred a calorie counting, food stigmatizing self. Carbs are the devil, you know. Not a self that everyone else knows, but a secret self that partakes then drowns in guilt. Why that extra breadstick? Did you have to celebrate with a glass of wine AND cake? Two servings without a run this morning, puh-lease.

I was a great pretender. I told myself I was allowed to celebrate, to take a cheat meal once a week, that part of the joy of life is food and drink. But, the guilt always left a bitter taste in my mouth and soul.

Then December came. And I decided to share in ALL THE THINGS that were a part of my mom's fiftieth birthday. Cheesecake, dirty martinis, Italian food. A week in Mexico with the family was a break from beating myself up over what goes into my body. Margaritas, quesadillas, ceviche, galore. Christmas dawned on us quickly and the day was spent eating and imbibing. Delicious for my stomach and my soul.

Just after New Year's on a morning run, Mama Bird and I ran together feeling slower than normal. Talking about the joy that was Mexico, the fun that was a surprise party, the beauty that was Christmas day as a family. Not once did we mention how we wish we hadn't. That we wish we hadn't enjoyed those chips and salsa, hadn't loved those morning Bloody Marys, hadn't had that extra serving of stuffing. No, we didn't.

And, as we are on the verge of homeownership, I realize we could have been here earlier in our marriage. We could have skipped those two cruises to Mexico, the family vacations done big time, the cocktails on the beach and the horse rides through the jungle. But we don't wish we didn't. We made memories that were joy-filled, adventure laden, love wrought. And though we, at times, beat ourselves up for not hitting the numbers faster, making the savings larger, doing things just a little bit lesser, there is no regret.

So, let's skip the guilt trip, the beating oneself up, and do a little bit more of what we don't wish we didn't.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sneers. Jeers. Cheers.

Today, I'm tired. We've been busy and stress has been a bit intense . So, I decided some funny lists and GIFs would help me get over this mood

These are all things I'm supposed to care about. 
Or at least things I believe me, as an adult woman, should care about. But don't. 

1. How bad everything in our food is for us. 
GMOs, gluten, pesticides, etc. I know, I hear. But, you're telling me to eliminate my favorite foods. There's no way I'm breaking up with carbs, red meat, or condiments. I repeat: my stomach don't care. 

2. Politics.
I know, I know, unconcerned, uneducated citizen. But it all stresses me out, so I bury my head in the sand like a tiny-brained ostrich.  (And I shake my tail feather any time someone tries to engage me politically)

3. Flossing daily. 
I hate flossing. Mom, I know you're cringing many times over. But, really, I do hate it. Except after I eat steak, popcorn, or beef jerky. Then, I love it. 

4. What level you're on in Candy Crush. 
Especially since it's always higher than the one I'm on.

5. How potty training is going. 
I love mommy blogs, I don't love hearing about pull-ups, ruined underwear, and the in-between. I was potty trained without the worldwide web reading the escapades and I believe that's the way said process should remain. 

But, I don't want to leave you with the bitter, foul taste of all the things I should, but don't care about because what's that for a Wednesday. So, I shall also share five blog posts I DO happen to care about this week as a part of Cheers, not Jeers with Casey
Cheers not Jeers
1. Randomly, I ended up in some deep theological conversation with the wise-beyond-her-years Annie. And, girl's got a handle on His word in ways that inspire me and push me and motivate me. But, this post from her happened to come just when I was obsessing over Mary and Martha. Now she's got me and a few others digging into those words like no body's business. And I care so deeply. 

2. It has been made known that I have a mad girl crush on Kalyn from Geez, Louise. But, her take on the "23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23" made me shake my head many times in agreement. I don't think marriage young is for everyone. Nor do I think it's for no one. But, I might be biased.  

3. Jason and I don't read the same kind of books. In fact, his books and mine probably wouldn't even be found in the same store. When Sarah Bessey wrote about the Reading Challenge that her and her husband took on, I couldn't help to ask Jason to do the same with me. And, he did. So, we read. 

4. I've adored Annie B. Jones for more time than I'm even sure of. She owns a little bookstore, lives in the South, and wears cowboy boots -what isn't there to absolutely love. Her and her husband just bought a house. And the way she talks about her favorite part, the porch, is what I want to feel about our house. I want it to have that thing that makes it unique -like a mole on its cheek or a cowlick in it's bangs. 

5. The two beautiful women of Kin are beyond words precious. Their letters to one another are heartfelt updates that resonate with my heart despite how different our lives might be. But, this one about reunions after deployment just destroys my soul in the most lovely of ways. With tears in my eyes I imagine that relief, that joy, that moment of pure, deep emotional connection and it makes my heart happy. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

In Which Calling Names is a Shame.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my irritated tweet ranting about frustrations over a bicyclist who was dangerously riding against traffic and all over a busy, accident-prone road in our town. It wasn't my best look or my greatest prose, but it was honest. It was ill-received, especially out of context, as dangerous behavior isn't condoned by myself or the cyclists. It looked something like:
The tweet was the first tweet that's caught any attention of a large group of people: avid cyclists.

I would love to write a post about the politics and laws surrounding road biking and my take on such trends, but to those topics, I have not much to say. In fact, my take on bikes and road politics: all bikes, cars, and pedestrians should share the road in mutual and respectful ways. Your mode of transportation can always be used in dangerous and/or irresponsible ways so careful is key on the parts of all parties.

While I have utmost respect for the brave souls on bikes, I also believe there's uninformed bikers who ride in ways dangerous to both them and me -whether I'm in a car, on a bike, or running down the sidewalk. And this is why I once owned, but now don't, a bike -because I never felt comfortable enough in my ability to navigate through traffic or poorly paved roads. So, I stick to running.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get to my point. I don't agree with many of the opinions of the cyclists -as far as 140 characters at a time can go. And, I don't mind that we don't agree. What I do mind is the language and attacks levied in my direction due to my "disagreeable" take on their sport.

For the first time in (almost) twenty five years I was called a dozen mean names in less than an hour. Ranging from bigot to ass hat to fucking moron to hypocrite, all kinds of demeaning language were used. One woman said I'm flabby because I don't bike. Another took it as far to say I can't love God and not share lanes with a cyclist. While none of their opinions change what I think of myself, they also don't help create a space in which an adult conversation can happen.

Then, I couldn't help but wonder: is this how I respond to disagreement?

When someone hates on the God I love, do I launch into a defensive, name-calling attack -even if just in my head? Does a crude remark about the young age I married or the family I have push me to discredit the other party by assigning lame, mean names to their thoughts? I should be bigger than that, but am I? Are you? 

I don't believe a disagreement has ever been settled through attack and disrespect. No, the best conversations spent wrestling through tough, often opposite views best happen in respectful, honest environments. So, in the notion of being B.R.A.V.E., I'm going to work on eliminating the silent name-calling. Instead of writing someone off for their perceived ignorance or misguided views, I'm going to engage in that conversation, create a space in which to communicate, and expand my understanding of them, me, and the issue at hand.

Who knows biking might start to sound more attractive again?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vlog Like A Marital Boss

Obviously the title of this post is meant as a sarcastic diddy. We've been married a whopping two and a half years which makes us experts at learning, not knowing. I guess that's the joy of marriage. Please enjoy. And then share.

Things you learned today:
1. You guys give the best advice ever.
2. Vlogs are awkward(ish) but more fun than anything... Especially since you guys are all so damn supportive.
3. Lipstick finger trick. Sounds dirty, but it keeps your teeth so sparkly clean.
4. We aren't marriage experts (never will be), but we might as well share the tips and tricks that have worked for us over the last few years.
5. WE and ME are allowed in marriage. In fact, together they thrive and grow and create beautiful things.
6. Team Thomas' taste in most things are opposite. Thus why we attract.
7. Relationships are best when you remind one another you're a team, not frenemies or even just plain enemies.
8. Priorities are important and vital in keeping yourselves accountable.
9. Wifely duties are much more Team Thomas duties than just mine. Things work better when we do marriage as a dance instead of a follow the leader movement.
10. Most of my blog posts are written in the car. In my head. Then into my phone. Then into my planner. Then finally make their way into Blogger. Holy smokes.
11. Inspiration for me is like an earthquake. SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE. Then nothing.
12. Our relationship is based on a common goal: loving and being with one another. So there.

And finally, what works for you? 
How do you manage time between work, life, relationships, God, blog? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

There's a beauty about forever.

One time I wrote about a lady who had a serious distaste for the ruin that I call my tattoos. And I thought, one day, I will get to write about the way someone loved them. Because I believe for every person that hates, there's another who loves. With much excitement I share, today is that day where I talk about a lover not a hater. 

The love came in a completely unexpected interaction with a sweet four-year-old girl from Chicago. Her sweet Chi-Town toddler soul swam right up to my southern California born and bred self in the clear, warm waters of a Mexican swimming pool. As her and her twin brother were learning -cautiously- to tread and navigate the tame waters, she floundered and grabbed me thinking I was mom. Quickly realizing I wasn't, she said hi and breathed a relieved breath knowing she wasn't going to have to keep trying to keep afloat. 

"Hi Riley. I'm Amber. It's so nice to meet you."

"You have tattoos. So do I." And she raises her arm to show me the teal, air-brushed dolphin on her right arm. The edges are blurred from all the sun, sand, and salt water that makes Mexico trips official. 

"Riley, it's beautiful. Did it hurt?" 

"Not one bit. But it will go away the longer I swim. Will yours?" As she runs her little pink-nailed fingers over the dark cross and bright roses. She traces the edge of the humming bird's tail as she talks. 

"Mine is forever, Riley. It won't ever go away." 

"I like that. I like that it's forever because it's so beautiful." 

And, from the mouth of a babe, it's decided. There's a beauty about forever. And, there's a foreverness that we all wish for beautiful things. But things hardly last forever do they? My mom's garden roses that bloom for only a season or two. That amazing fruit tart with its bright colors and even more vibrant flavors. Babies, children, adults. It all changes, transforms, morphs and with it the beauty too. 

Thank you sweet Riley for your honesty and appreciation. 

Thank you God for being forever. For not changing with the tides of time or the trends of the season. For realizing few things last more than a minute or two and for enduring longer than all. 

"There is nothing fuller than full and nothing longer than forever, so you cannot offer me anything better than life with Jesus." -John Piper

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Love Wins: Katie from A Beautiful Little Adventure

Today the Love Wins series is back after a few months of silence and I'm thrilled to have my dear friend Katie from A Beautiful Little Adventure here telling her story. 

Katie was an easy ask. Her love story series on her blog was the first series I've read that wasn't an was happily ever after. The devastation in her tale is real and heart-breaking (even for me as an outsider), but the redemptive nature of love is evident beyond all things. So, enjoy her here. Then go there and read more of her story. 
As a young girl I was a love fanatic. I was addicted to falling in love. The rush, the butterflies, the anticipation – it all made me feel so alive. I crushed and dated many boys, searching for the “real deal” I finally found him at my small liberal arts college. We dated for three years before he asked me to be his wife. I put all my faith into our love and into our future.

One year after that proposal, I erased the word love from my vocabulary.

At that point, I perceived love as a fairytale told to wide-eyed and sensitive little girls. I was a cold, bitter, shell of a young woman. The words, “I don’t love you anymore” had shattered my heart. My fiancĂ© uttered those irreversible words to me over the phone while I was vacationing with my family. We were in the middle of planning our wedding, and our future, together.

My faith in love was stomped on and crushed until it was nothing more than dust. My anger and tears blew that dust away and I was alone. Life as I knew it was over and I had no idea who I was anymore. The girl who was obsessed with love no longer existed.

I locked myself up in a dark and cold room. The door was heavy and only I had the key. I was determined to not let anything that sounded or resembled love near me. It felt like my life was heading nowhere. I had no purpose and no confidence that I’d find one again. So, I kept that door sealed tight.

Yet, love didn’t give up. Every now and then, love would come around and tap gently at my door. Love’s taps were answered with my screaming rage. My heart yelled out, “How dare you disturb me with your lies, this is who I am now, I don’t need you.”

It was so much easier to hate than to love.

 I didn’t want to listen to what love had to say. I was too busy preserving my door. I found comfort with friends and partying. I continued to date the wrong kind of men, because I didn’t believe I deserved any better.  I was stuck in a prison I created for myself. But, of course I didn’t see it like that. This was my life now.

Over time love kept calling. My family supported me how loving families do, with kindness and patience. I accepted a new job that I loved and was able to use my creativity daily. I started to gain back some of that confidence. I was beginning to recognize bits and pieces of my old self as I introduced myself to new friends. And then the next day they’d be gone. I was healing but every step was painful and most times it was easier to simply stay put.

At least, I no longer screamed in rage when love came knocking at my door. Now, I stood quietly behind the door, hoping that it would never open up.

I was scared. I didn’t want love to see what was on the other side. I didn’t want love to see me so desperately lost.

After two years, I got curious. Love’s knocks were coming more often. Who did love think it was, being so persistent, nosing it’s way into my thoughts, disrupting my new life? Didn’t it hear? I didn’t need it anymore!

Pretty soon my curiosity started to build my confidence.

And then one day, with hesitation, I opened my long sealed door. The light was sobright that I had to close my eyes. Love came close and whispered very softly into my ear, “Yes, it’s you! I want you. I love you.”

I wasn’t sure I had heard love right. What did it mean by “Yes, it’s you!” and “I love you”. I didn’t need love to love me, I needed a man out there to save me. I needed someone to make me feel again. I pushed open the door the rest of the way with the anticipation that my love, my savoir would be on the other side. My love, to take me away, to save me, to fully heal me, to love me. 

I opened my eyes. The world was a busy place. So many people going in so many directions. My eyes stung a bit as I took in the bright sun.  It was so bright that day. It felt so warm, so comforting on my skin. For the first time I saw how the sun was shining for me. Not just for everyone else. The trees, the grass, the weeds, and all the people. I was part of them. For the first time in a long time, I belonged.

Love didn’t leave my side. Love held my hand as I found my footing in this new world I opened my eyes too. Gradually I began to feel like that girl I had given up hope on. I wanted to read those silly fairy tales again, to discover what I used to find so enchanting about them.

Love was my friend. Love was fun. Love was not letting go and I didn’t want it to. I found confidence in my work and in my life. I was finding a purpose again. I made plans for the future.

I forgave.

One day I woke up in my new apartment and realized I was fully healed. I was ready. I was ready to give myself a chance. I was ready to meet someone new to let someone love me.

Even though it was broken, I was going to shine up the pieces of my broken heart and serve it on a platter to someone. Even though it was broken, it was beautiful.  Even more beautiful than it had been years ago.

I found that someone almost immediately. We exchanged our equally broken hearts and they fit together as good as any two hearts can. My soul smiled. We committed to helping each other be the best we could both be. Together.

I turned to face love, who had not left my side. I wanted to thank love for helping me find my partner and some day husband. I wanted to thank love for giving me faith.

As my eyes met the eyes of love I took a startled step back. There was love, standing in all her glory smiling at me. I gasped. Love wins.

She was a reflection of myself.

Monday, January 20, 2014

For today: Faith.

Hazel has these crazy dreams. She's being chased by something by the looks of her face, the twitch in her ears, the shake of her paws. Whimpers and soft barks escape her chops between heavy, deep breaths. Growls curl her lips into a hint of mean face as her eyes roll about underneath their heavy lids.

Sometimes, as she's having them, I wake her. I tell her she's fine, just wake. Others, I just watch. And I wonder. Are we all running away from, fighting against, being threatened by nothing but the darkness in our own imaginations?

More personally, am I unconsciously fighting the tides of a dreamed doom in helpless and futile panic? Am I working so hard to beat the imaginary danger that seems ever-so-real around me?

Tragedy is terrifying, no questions asked. Loss is difficult, admittedly. The unknown can feel so overwhelming, for sure. But the question begs: am I inventing my own worst nightmares then in working my damnedest to avoid them focusing on its fruition? And, in doing so, am I twitching nervously in my subconscious?

Could what feels so dangerously real to us in thought be, in fact, just a figment of our imagination? That flash of worry when he's home late and I fear an accident has him caught in it's metal teeth. The momentary feeling that I'm not walking to my car alone in the dark parking lot. That chill as the hairs on my neck stand tightly at attention as they mimic what feels like a tension in the air. Am I, too, fighting in my subconscious wishing to be woken by a comforting voice that reminds me to just wake?

Very practical answers would feel so appropriate here. They'd surely lend a little peace to a post that's more confusion than clarity. Alas, I have none. And, for today, I will pretend it doesn't make me edgy. For today, I will lean into my faith in an Abba Father. I will hope in His hand watching over me assuring I shall not be crushed.

For today: faith.

"For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." -Colossians 2:1-5 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Is it because death is final?

Jason and I went to a funeral last weekend. I couldn't tell you the last time I went to one because this was my first.

I went to my first funeral with expectations, as we do most of our firsts. My expectations were full of black clothes, tears, awkward embraces. All somber and sad. A service touching but more depressing than anything. A church of family and friends gathered solemnly. Each attendee in their own bubble of sadness.

My expectations were unmet. 

The funeral was beautiful. Joy-filled. Sad -but only sad for us who are left behind to miss her sweet spirit. For the husband of 54 years here without his first, last, and always. For the great grand kids who won't be able to know her gentle soul and friendly arms. For the memories she won't get to bestow upon my story-loving ears.

The casket was there -unexpected and slightly arresting for my first time. That's how death is, isn't it? Unexpected. And we like to have our expectations met -rarely exceeded. But death it's out of our control. And that's uncomfortable for the planners like me. It derails our plans and changes our trajectory while encouraging us to do justice to the time we have.

Is it because death is final? So final. Unlike everything else we experience. Marriage should be final -but it isn't says our divorce rates. Children feel final -until they turn eighteen and grow up. Death, though, is final. You can't come back or change ways or do anything but wish for it to be different. Here I stand: dumbfounded. 

I left that funeral loving the woman I went to mourn more than when I arrived. I left inspired by her husband's love for her -hoping that's the love my husband will feel for me. I left hoping to be a pillar in the lives of many as she was all of her days. I left preemptively cherishing every little ounce of life I've got in me.

We're supposed to feel sad -and I do. But she's healed in Heaven -a place she always wanted to go. So, I shall spend the weekend doing the things that scream air into my lungs and adrenaline into my soul -all in celebrating her once again.

And to you, I wish the same. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

First comes love. Then comes laundry.

The part that I hate about marriage is laundry. It sounds dramatic. And I know, just wait until you have kids. But I hate married laundry. Particularly because that laundry does not just belong to me, but it belongs to him too.

I was a runner in college often rising early each morning and putting five miles under my belt before getting ready and heading to class. Running means sweat. I'd peel off my clothes, throw them in the hamper, and go about my day with no worry for their smell. Those running clothes would sit in my laundry basket for two weeks (at best) before I made a trip home for a weekend visit and a date with the washing machine. Those clothes -with sweat from miles in their fibers- never once smelled.

Mr. Thomas, on the other hand, works up as much of a stink as he does new muscle each and every day. That stink hangs around in his workout clothes and, thus, our laundry basket. I cannot (and do not) let our laundry sit for less than a week. And yet, the smell of that receptacle.

I hate married laundry. I hate it. And, I want to tell Mr. T, "do it yourself". I want to have a his and a hers basket because my shit don't stink.

But, that's not marriage folks.

Marriage is this weird intertwining of all things personal. Marriage is intimacy and what I thought would be the largest part of intimate -sex- seems to be just a small slice of the proverbial marital pie. Because there's laundry and bathroom drawers and closet space and shoe buckets that blend so quickly from mine to ours. It's those spots where his and mine are indistinguishable. It's blending that occurs unconsciously which begs for special attention.

Because laundry can stink. And so can marriage. Without a little effort and some preventative measure, without deliberate thought and good intention, the stink builds. Because marriage is laundry. Most parts rewarding, but sometimes stinky. Most parts pretty and fashionable, but sometimes not. Most parts complementary and fun, but sometimes feeling like "we've got nothing to wear" despite evidence to the contrary.

So, I will do laundry. His and mine: ours. Stinky, smelly, stained - I will do laundry.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Mama went and got herself all B.R.A.V.E for 2014. Good for her because it seems I'm the only one doing any brave thing around the house these days. Answer me this: why am I the only one hunting all felines, keeping crows from the yard, and barking at passersby? 

Now I'm being T.R.O.U.B.L.E. and stealing the spotlight for the day. Mostly because Mama's not getting on my new hashtag (#hazeldoes2014) quite as excitedly as I'd imagined she would. Payback is me being a snitch. A bitch being a snitch. Literally, me -a female dog- writing to tell you -snitching- how bad Mama is at sharing my pretty little face as of late. A pun and a shot of my speckled belly to show you just how upset this pup happens to be. 

What Mama -and your pretty little self- doesn't realize is the way my pretty face brings a smile to all the other souls in the land. It doesn't matter how bad your day happens to be, my wrinkles, splotchy (and not in the acne way) nose, and priceless attitude are sure to boost your spirits. 

While other dogs are busy sniffing butts and licking crotches, I've diligently worked to blend seamlessly into the world of humans. Forget manner lessons or cotillion classes for this girl, I'm purebred class. The average dog wishes for the dignity that composes my seamless resolve. 
Not all dogs are as highly evolved as I. Obviously. As a young pup I observed the many evenings Mama spent pouring over that giant book with tiny little words, golden edges, and seriously thin pages. She kept using those neon markers to write in the book and reprimanding me when I'd mouth those beautiful, bright pens. But a dog that studies God's truths is a dog that needs a hashtag.
Aside from having an affinity for God's goodness and grace, I'm a fan of bed time stories. Not in the human, tuck me in bed, and tell me a story way, but in the tell me a tale so I can snore like a freight train sense. There is no other thing like being wrapped up in the arms of Uncle Bub while he talks nonsense about all the heroism it is to be a sweet, furry soul. We, the dogs of the world, are the best friends in this world.
Literature, impeccable table manners, and stories are not all that I love. I'm a believer in beauty that surpasses bubble baths and collar flowers. You see, I've dialed in my family to the need for nail maintenance and who better than my Uncle Bub to ensure my nails are pretty and pink just like my soul. My goals for 2014 are mastering mascara to bring out my puppy dog eyes and to reign in the wayward hairs that make up my intense brows.
It's not simply about what humans can do for me, but mostly, about what I can do for them. You see, my family, they're cute and sweet and loving. BUT, they need me to keep things together. I spent the month of December teaching my Pops how to work with wood. You should have seen how that boy almost cut his hand off! I taught him how to set up that table saw according to the manufacturer's regulations as well as how to keep all of his limbs. 
I've been teaching Ma how to manage ALL. THE. THINGS. Mostly money and her office at work. Girl's got some learning to do, but now that her bark isn't that much bigger than her bite things are looking up. I see potential people. And when I see potential, I hone it into full on skill.  Lucky for you, I'm looking to expand my leadership abilities into a full-fledged business and you might just be my next big project. 
And, this concludes my takeover. Your takeaway today:  Every dog needs a hashtag. I, for one, am living proof. 

Time to get my crotch goosing, butt sniffing, chop licking good time on. 

Over and out, 

Monday, January 13, 2014

I am church. Hear me roar.

In December I was approached by the lovely Ashley from Overcome the Lie. She asked me to join other God-loving women in writing about the lies we've lived under, the way He's redeemed them, and the betterment of our life now. I was flattered, but felt unworthy.

How could I write about a God that I love when I hadn't been in His building in almost two months? I composed my thanks, but no thanks email. Then let it sit in drafts. I prayed over that email: that it not close doors, that it keep the opportunity for growth with them later, that I not give up for no reason.

Then I thought about church -what it means to be one, what attendance looks like, how it happens. And, I realized I'd been to church. Not a church that was made up of a live band, worship music, a sermon, all inside a chapel with a congregation dressed to the nines. I went to church in a bookstore with other women celebrating Jesus Feminist, in the dining hall of a memory care unit, around a seven mile loop with two other women, at the dinner table with my husband and, on special days, with my family. I'd been to church, just not in the traditional sense. I'd communed with other believers, shared in the act of worshiping in spirit, and He had moved in us.

You see, I grew up in church. Church where there was always Sunday best, soulful worship, and challenging sermons. I loved that church; still do. But it was at that church I learned that attendance is key; notes are extra credit. Being there once a week placed you happily in God's graces. But church, it doesn't look that way anymore.

God doesn't need a chapel, a set list, a message to be worshiped. I believed the lie that church was only so when done as prescribed. And the order of church extended even further to the people. And I believed the lie for far too long.

That church roared -as only men do: deep, ferocious roars. That church had leaders equipped with taut muscles, strong wills, and penises. The women of that church followed -happily, lovingly, supportive. Those women were tender, gentle spirits who mastered contentment while serving gracefully next to their spouses, families, friends.

I envied the girls who could be gentle and quiet. Who didn't pine for Michael Kors that or Kate Spade this. Who were good at following and didn't desire to lead in big L ways like I did. And I felt ashamed for my desires. The dreams in my heart felt too big, too masculine, too much for the woman that I am.

Then, God redefined church. And in redefining church, he refined me. He revealed the need for women strong, honest, and bold in His Kingdom. He revealed that no dream is too big, too masculine, too much for me -or for you. And He begged me to embrace what He already loved so dearly.

I'm a woman roaring in my own pitch-y, high-note. It's a roar that's covered in bright tattoos and adorned with a shiny nose ring. It's a roar that doesn't take well to "because I said so" and loves to say shit. It's got questions and doubts. It's not afraid of dirt or pain and it revels in the depths of joy. It's a roar of my feminine, God-loving heart.

And now, I live in the freedom of truth.

We exist to empower a generation of women to overcome the lie because Jesus overcame the grave.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Vlog Like a Beauty Boss

Things You Learned in this Vlog:
1. B.R.A.V.E. reference contextualized here.
2. 25 means you're a grown woman and grown women wear lipstick.
3. As a child I had a chapstick addiction, I'm hoping to mature it into a lipstick addiction. HOW DO I DO THIS?
4. Maybelline's Lip Whisper is the bomb and is cheap.
5. Sparkles. SPARKLES. Hi, Mac Dazzleglass. Not only is it sparkly, but it's also got snarky names.
6. Urban Decay FOR THE WIN. Primer, Naked Palettes, everything is good.
7. Blinc primer thickens and elongates without any weighty droop to your lashes.
8. Do yourself a favor and get some Fairy Drops. The wand is funky, but DO IT.
9. Blonde hair and dark eyebrows are the shit. Period.
10. I struggle with voice volume control.

The big message here: 
I need to master lipstick. BUT YOU ARE MY ONLY HOPE. 
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And, before I step completely away, a friend to introduce... A friend who looks like the girl next door (and she is) except better. She's got a blog full of amazing beauty tips and tricks (some I happen to use and more that I happen to desperately need for myself), a faith that'll inspire you to pursue Him, and creativity to boot. I believe you would call this the "whole package".

 Meet Lyss from Lyss & Loveliness

My name is Alyssa, and I blog over at Lyss & Loveliness, which features thoughts on faith, beauty, positivity, and life. I love getting to share my heart on these topics, and love getting to hear your thoughts, as well! In addition to being a writer and blog designer, I'm also a newly-wed wife, fur momma, and lover of coffee, words, design, and the color coral. I'm looking forward to having you join me through life's adventures :)

My new year's resolution for 2014 is to be both intentional and disciplined across all areas of my life, including in my faith, my marriage, my career pursuits, my health, and relationships with those I love. It's going to be a long journey, but I know it will be so worth it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Real Reasons I Hate Resolving

We've survived the first week of 2014. But did our resolutions survive? I know, mine neither… That's why I'm anti-resolution. (And, if ya'll were around here last week you'd know there were no Thomas resolutions!) 

Throughout the last week I was suffering through bouts of regret over the way I'd skipped on resolutions and the discipline that might be involved in keeping one. I decided instead of feeling guilty about lack of will power, I'd work to realize the reasons I steered clear of resolve this year. And, the 9 Stages of Resolutions were born. 

Stage 1: I just want to look hot. So, I shall kick carbs for 2014 and get abs that would make Beyonce jealous. DON'T TRY AND TELL ME NO. 
Stage 2: Attempt to move into your local gym. Who needs sleep anyway? 
Stage 3: Fret over every little thing that goes into your mouth. No carb, fat, or sugar shall enter this temple. Time for a crash course in nutritional labels. 
Stage 4: Hate all of the world that doesn't have the same drive and determination as you. 
Stage 5: Realize results aren't immediate. Let the loathing begin. 
Stage 6: Bargain. Play dumb. Anything to get yourself some sort of reprieve from this no-carb, gym-going madness. 
Stage 7: Succumb to those little carby whispers that beckon you in waking and in sleep. 
Stage 8: Hate your craving soul as soon as you polish off that plate of spaghetti, loaf of garlic bread, piece of mother load chocolate cake, and half liter of soda pop. 
Stage 9: Intense re-dedication to the new day, new year, and new you that is here on January 8th. 
Now that I've managed to discover every last morsel of resolution regret, don't you want to get on the breaking all bad habits train? 
Me neither. 

And with all of that encouragement, happy resolving dear friends!

We're resolving to lose all resolve and stick to B.R.A.V.E. 
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And, speaking of resolutions and goal-setting, this driven beauty is Samantha from Elah Tree which is part blog, part shop -both of which I am a huge fan and love. I'm sure we're all trying to be good little boys and girls and steer clear of the shopping thing, but I'd break that resolve for her sweet stuff. Without further ado, meet Samantha.

I'm Samantha, mid-west girl living in the big city. I'm a big fan of creativity, art, and encouragement and that's what Elah Tree encompasses. A lifestyle blog full of creativity and encouragement and lovely little shop inspired by that creativity. 

In the New Year's celebrating spirit, will you also include your resolution (or resolutions) for 2014.  
My New Year's Resolutions for 2014 are to complete the goals on this list
If I only had to pick a few they would be: 

- Visit Point Dume.
- Start Running every day.
- Visit The Edison
- Practice drawing once a week.
- Learn Dreamweaver & Illustrator

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

#SayYesProject Meets House Hunters

Might you be here because you're practicing saying YES during the New Year?
If not, you should be. 

Welcome to the first #SayYesProject of 2014.
The idea's simple: when you want to say no, say yes. Then blog about it. 
Or Instagram it. Just share it and inspire someone else to say yes too. 

Without further ado, here's our January YES! 
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My December YES was much more of an our than a mine. It's a year that was months in the making, then moments in the YES-ing and just as quickly in the no. All this are you're going to think there's a Thomas baby in the works, but no (didn't you see all of those drinks I had in Mexico?).

No baby. But, YES to a house. A house we were thrilled to call our own. With a yard that I could plant rose bushes in, with a garage where Jason could do his carpentry, with many rooms to fill with many babies. And then, a no.

After a few weeks of busy home-buying work, our dreamy little house was foreclosed upon. Foreclosures makes sales messy and difficult, I know; but I remained optimistic it would be ours. Then, just like that, it wasn't. And, I was disappointed, frustrated, bitter.

We took Christmas to regroup, refocus on our goals and ideas, remember that it's a process that doesn't happen overnight. We told each other there's a better house for us out there. We pointed out the ways the house just wasn't the right one.

Then, we started looking online again. That little seed of bitter kept rearing its ugly head begging for attention and a little bit of processing. I realized it wasn't the house that felt lost, but the little dreams and visions we had for it -babies, a swing set in the backyard, Christmas lights on the white wood trim, a flag over the garage doors. I'd set my heart on that home but that home isn't what we'll make us a family. No, it's our family is what makes any house a warm, lovely home.

Those memories at home will be fond and beautiful and filled with love just the way we imagine it regardless of our address. Yes, we're disappointed in the outcome, but we're not defeated.

So, for now we say YES again. To doing it all over with excited hearts and the same big dreams. We remind ourselves every house will be better because we're in it, every yard more adorable with Hazel's little mug running amuck, and any room more filled with a little bit of furniture and a whole lot of love.

Want to join in next time around? Good news! 
We're back at it on 
Wednesday, February 5th.
Now it's your turn. Link up dolls.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Be Like Mike

I wanted to be like Megan. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be like her. You know her too don't you? She's that girl that was always exactly what you wanted to be, but weren't. The thing about Megan is she isn't one girl in every way, she's every girl in one way or another. 

I wanted to be like Megan because she was humble and smart, yet everyone wanted to be her friend.
I wanted to be like Maraya because she had those to die for eyelashes and a heart for others.
I wanted to be like Ashley because she's got porcelain skin and a sarcastic twist. 
I wanted to be like Natasha because she's funny and bold and willing to take on any adventure.
I wanted to be like Jessie because she's sweet as sugar, real as Survivor, and hysterical to boot. 

I wanted to be like them. And, the things I admired most in their lives still remain so. But instead of letting what they've got overshadow my perceptions of myself, I've learned there's things I've got that others admire. 

I've got a lot of attitude despite my small size. 
I've got a head of hair that's unruly and thick, but amazingly healthy. 
I've got big baby blues that look almost as deep as I in thought. 
I've got more heart than I oftentimes know what to do with. 
I've got a sense of humor that makes up for any smarts I might lack. 

I wanted to be like them until I realized I'm happy to be me. A me that isn't lion haired or uber-personable, but a me that is natural and joyful and loved. A me that's happy to have friends like them whose pieces I can appreciate while having friends like you who come to this space and share the bits of you that stir up that same want. 

I want to be like you because you're honest and open despite doing hard things. 
I want to be like you because you bring inspiration and thoughts that spur on my own. 
I want to be like you because your words move the hearts of many.
I want to be like you because you are magnetic. 
I want to be like you because you're beautiful inside and out. 

I want to be like you and, instead of being comparison-fueled and jealous, I find myself inspired. I'm learning what it means to be vulnerable, bold, and brave in a community of women who are doing just the same. How lucky are we? 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Some are silver and the other's gold

Part of being B.R.A.V.E. this year is honesty about the spots in my life that are dark little corners I've steered clear of out of fear of feeling diminished, appearing lame, and requiring vulnerability. By exposing the parts of life that feel underdeveloped, there becomes light in which to grow, words from which to pull nourishment, and, at times, rain to drink. Because nothing grows without an honest effort (at least not in my garden).

I've never had that Mean Girls group of friends -I'm not referencing the Burn Book, but the tight knit girl group. From a young age I've been aware of the girl group, but have not experienced it personally. Or, more honestly, I've only understood what it means to be outside of that group and longing for a friend. As I've grown older, I've had many friends come and go. We've been phases in each other's lives with no hard feelings, just big distances, marriages, jobs -all those grown-up things. And, I'm thankful for those cherished moments and memories.

While I don't want to -and can't- replace those who are dear to me, I can grow my collection of lovely people. Because, when I'm being honest, I'm lonely. Not in a depressive, pity myself, no one loves me way. But in a I want to have friends to coffee date, to double date, to fill rooms with laughter, and to sit with and cry. I want to talk the woes of our young marriages, the frustrations of jobs and house hunts, the excitement and fears that come with not-so-distant parenthood (no, we're not pregnant). I don't want to exchange new for old in my life, I want to supplement.

This year, in an effort to be B.R.A.V.E., I will go on two friend dates a month. I will soften my face in public so it's not bitchy, but friendly. I won't be too embarrassed to compliment a stranger or give out my email. I will say hello when I make eye contact with someone -expected or otherwise. I will stop closing doors before they are opened because I'm too shy, she's too put together, or because I'm not good enough. I will step up to and seize every opportunity that presents itself -without excuse, hesitation, or reservation.

Like the community here has grown with much effort and honesty, so can the community I have offline in the here and the now. We aren't here in transition in Small Town, California, we're here for the long haul so it's time to invest in friends. Because I'm B.R.A.V.E. and so is she -whoever she might be.

I don't do this often but, 
any advice for a girl interested in some new friends? 
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Speaking of friends, meet my dear blogging buddy Codi from Art of Balance. This girl's got a heart of gold and the ability to be vulnerable beyond comparison. The way she's turned her struggles with anxiety into golden learning lessons while growing her faith and her blog is truly admirable. Do yourself a little favor and skip on over to her spot for some inspiration!  
My blog will always be a very good representation of me because I believe in sharing the bad with the good. If readers are taking the time to read my blog I want to make sure they're getting to know the real me! My goal in life is to keep things simple, down-to-earth, and meaningful. Life is a gift and I plan on enjoying all the big and little things that come along. More specifically, if you follow my blog you'll learn about my struggles (and successes!) living a happy life with anxiety, my love for dogs, books, and helping others, and hopefully feel inspired to create your own balance and happiness in life!

My biggest resolution for 2014: Don't sweat the small stuff. For someone with general anxiety, this is critical to keeping sane. My goal is to work on recognizing the things I can't control and challenging myself to just go with the flow. Going with the flow is something I admire in other people so I'm excited to challenge myself to stop sweating the small stuff!

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