Thursday, December 17, 2015

When the Dog Bites in the Form of Your Coffee Pot

Sometimes you have one of those mornings you know? The kind of mornings where you think you should just go back to bed.

Today I made coffee and somehow forgot to put our filter in it. You can only imagine the type of explosive coffee that was happening. Coffee grounds everywhere. Thick, mirky coffee slipping into all our drawers underneath the coffee pot. It ran into my pen and notepad/sticky note drawer. (which as you know, I ADORE my sticky notes) and then it ran into our kitchen towel drawer and then down into our tubberware drawer.

About this time, Scott offered to make the second round of coffee. As it's the last week of school for my clients I'm trying to be all pro-active by being on time and getting out of bed. (all very difficult things). The second round of coffee ended up looking like dirt water. Somehow Scott forgot to put the water distributor in the coffee maker.

I decided not to go too deep down the "shame rabbit hole" and just chalk it up to:

I clearly can't make coffee before I've had coffee.


I merrily skipped off to Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. After my sob story the barista said the coffee was on her. It made my day. It's crazy how one act of kindess can literally turn your mess of a morning around.

Once I finally arrived at my school, I remembered fondly how my office is a freezing ice box because only the air conditioning works. Since we've had lows of 39 I have really felt this chill as I sit in my office in my coat trying to cut out Christmas trees with scissors and numb fingers. My poor clients have been so cold!

So today I decided to see if I could at least do paperwork in the library at least for the morning till the chill wears off. I introduced myself to the librarian and she was so warm and kind. (and dare I say, almost happy to have me?!) She had Christmas music on and offered me bottled water and orange juice almost like I was at a cafe. I can't imagine a better place to do paperwork. Elementary school libraries are the CUTEST. There's a stuffed Dr. Seuss hanging out, Christmas books on every table, a stuffed Clifford Dog and tiny little chairs and a large blue and red mat on the floor.

It's made me think about The Sound of Music and thinking about my favorite things... when the bee stings, when the dog bites, when I'm feeling bad....I'll simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad!

Today my favorites things include, hot coffee, children's books, kind people, and the heater.

What are your favorite things? What helps you when "the dog bites"?

Friday, December 11, 2015

What Feminism Looks Like To Me

Advocating for women’s right politically, socially and economically is feminism to me. ALL WOMEN. A feminist scholoar named Bell Hooks  writes that it is “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression” and I thought that was a pretty good way to describe it. 
In the Middle East and Africa women are treated without dignity and without respect. About 27.2 million women are genitally mutilated in Egypt.
The world needs more feminists.
According to Dressember, the average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12-14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who are sexually abused as children. Many of these girls are orphans and forster care runaways whom no one is looking for.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice's 2011 report, 83% of victims confirmed in sex-trafficking incidents in the United States where identified as U.S. citizens.
The U.S. needs more feminists.
One in five college students experience sexual assault during their college careers.
The schools need more feminists.
Eating disorders are a daily struggle for 10 million females in the United States.
Our bodies need more feminists
In Debbi Pearl’s popular book, Created To Be His Helpmeet, Pearl advocates a system in which godly wives live in complete subordinates to their husbands, with no “equal rights.” She went so far as to encourage a young mother whose husband routinely beat her and threaten to kill her with a kitchen knife to stop ‘blabbering about his sins’ and win him back by showing him more respect. (Rachel Held Evans)

Those who claim Christianity clearly need more feminists.

There are STILL churches who don't let women speak or teach men.

The church needs more feminists.
Conclusion: We all need more feminism in our lives.
Now that you can clearly see there IS A HUGE NEED FOR FEMINISTS I would like to share what feminism is to me and what it is not. I would also like to note that I realize there are many different kinds and variations of feminism. I am not here to argue but would like to share what feminism means to me. I’m still working it all out and I certainly don’t have it all figured out.

I would also like to note and admit that my context, privilege, and affiliations does affect my view on feminism. I still have blind spots.

Pursuing gender equality 
Gender equality to me is equal pay for equal work. It's being able to vote and speak our voice politically, socially and culturally. Women’s suffrage was a great accomplishment in 1920 but we still seem to be dragging behind on some concepts. We might teach girls in the classrom that they are smart and capable and brave. But at home, we role model that they are not as intellectual or physcially competent as boys. We continue to foster dumb sterotypes that women are poor drives, women are bad at managing money, and women have to use their bodies to be accepted. We continue to use phrases about girls as insults:
 You hit like a girl. 
Don’t be a little girl
You run like a girl. 
Scream like a girl
Culturally we don’t pay as much attention to women’s sports as men’s sports (for example, the United States Women’s National Team for Soccer won the world cup but culturally we paid far more attention to the Men's team and they did not even make it to the quarter-finals).
Seeing women as humans with inherent dignity and worth
I really REALLY am sick of women being over-sexualized. It's ridiculdous you know. Our bodies have the ablity to nourish and to nurture, to think and to feel. We can memorize facts and crunch numbers and run marathons. We have 90-100 billion neurons and 650 skeletol muscles in our bodies, yet as a culture we have focused whether or not women are sexy or not. Our sexuality has been based off of some very narrow concepts as well just as the size of our butts, boobs and waiste to mention a few. We are judged for how we look and not how we think, what we do, or how we feel. It's getting old. Women have inherent dignity and value because we are human. This is feminism. This has also caused me to look at the ways women have sexualized men (while it is not as extreme or as frequent) can still be detrimental. We are SO much more than our sex appeal. 
Gender equality in my marriage
 In my marriage to Scott we both lead and follow. We don’t have set gender roles. We do things out of competence and preference. Some of these fall under stereotypes for genders and some do not. For example, Scott does most of the cooking because I don’t enjoy it and I’m not good at it. Scott finds a creative outlet in cooking. When women ask me about recipes, I always feel a bit sheepish as I refer them to Scott because I really don’t have an answer to their question. On the other hand, I really enjoy decorating our home and this is probably considered a more stereotypical feminine thing. But I’m not going to not decorate simply because of rigid gender roles. I like it and I’m good at it.

No longer shopping at Victoria Secret
This is a very personal one to me and by no means would I try to impose this conviction on someone else. For years I shopped here because, yes, their bras are amazing and comfy.  And their dressing rooms are glamorous and posh. BUT, about a year ago I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth is. I can’t support an organization that so clearly demeans, exploits and degrades women not to mention how many lawsuits they have had revolving around breaking labor laws. About a year ago I started working at a treatment center for adolescents dealing with severe eating disorders where I saw how much the media and modeling industry has impacted young girls and women. It only took a little bit of research to find that models (and Victoria Secret models in particular) were passing out on stage due to malnutrition and starvation. If anyone actually thinks this is sexy, then they need to get their head out of their ass. Obviously there are MANY clothing stores that unfortunately are not very inclusive. Victoria Secret is just one of them and they are very loud about it. Their images have shown us over and over again how you need to be tall, thin, young, have a certain color hair or skin tone in order to be truly sexy. This is also called racism, sexism, and ageism. A few years ago I about died seeing a 13 year old girl in the store being exposed to such degrading images as she hustled for all the lingerie lining the store. We can blab on and on about “all sizes and all colors” but if that’s not what we’re selling, I don’t buy it. (Literally).
Dismantling toxic patriarchies
A family, a church, or an organization that runs like a patriarchial monarchy where the male is king and what he says goes, is toxic. A church that has only male pastors is harmful to both men and women alike. We need each other. In the same way, a marriage where the male is in charge and calls all the shots is also toxic. We belong to each other, not in a competitive, whose in charge, I'll lead and you follow, way, but a we're in this together, way. Patriarchy does not empower women to be who they are. Toxic masculinity hurts men too as it comes from a socially constructed attitude that tells them to be agressive, be sex obsessed and yet emotionally constipated. This isn't good for anyone. The other day, a Christian pastor on a podcast I was listening to said to his female co-host, "women cry for the strangest reasons!" Right there I wanted to barf at his sexist remark. Males cry. Females cry. We all have feelings. These should be respected, not made into a sexist joke. 

Freeing the nipple
I agree with them on empowering women and gender equality. They are trying to work towards ending the sexualization of the female's upper half.   However I can't get behind "decriminalizing female nudity". I think in a different time in history, in a different place, with a different culture perhaps nudity would not be such a stigma but we live here in the present. Today if you run around naked you are now a registered sex offended. There are a host of other things I want to "free" besides my own nipple. That being said, I have not seen the film, so my views are subject to could change.
Telling Scott to breastfeed our children
Someday I really hope that there is better birth control options for men. I think men and women both need to take responisblity for procreation. I want involved dads and involved moms. I think stay-at-home dads are awesome and I think we need to work towards having better maternity and paternity leave for parents. HOWEVER, I do not expect Scott to breastfeed our children. While this might be physically impossible I also don't have a strong innate desire for him to do so. I'm more about him changing diapers. That's a higher priority for me. 
Man Hating and Not letting Men Open Doors for Me
I really don't hate men AT ALL. In fact, I like them and so I married one. I went to small, private Christian college where a couple people coined me as a "femi-nazi" because of my desire to have a career and not cook all day in the kitchen. This was a pretty extreme label to be given for just wanting some equality. One of the first feminists I ever met was a professor at my school and he got a lot of flack for it. He was not the "picture" you get of a feminist, being he was a white male in his 60's. He taught my Intercultural Studies class and my Human Sexuality Class and he had traveled all over the world and was passionate about advocating for social justice. He was gentle and quiet and ordered flavored frapachinos and at my college, (which was considered a "girly drink") and people would make fun of him. This was a great way for him to discuss the affects of sexism on our culture and I just loved him for it. 
Feminism gets a littel fuzzy when you start talking about chivalry and opening car doors and such. I like when men open doors for me. I liked when Scott paid for our first date and picked me up at my house in his car. This might be considered "traditional" but I LIKED it. That's the thing about equality, it takes into consideration preferences. However, I have evolved over the years as far as my dating concept goes. I used to think I would ONLY let a guy ask me out, pursue me and call me first. Now however I have found value in reciprical pursual. I was the one to give Scott my number in our relationship and I made it pretty obvious I was into him. I am not so naieve as to believe that men are fine doing all the pursuing. Men also have a desire to be wanted, to belong, to feel pursued. It's human nature. However, as women have, unfortunately, been treated as lesser, demeaned and objectified simply because of their gender, I am okay with a little extra respect being shown (aka doors being held open, walking me to my car at night, paying for dinner etc.).
Never going to the spa, wearing pink or getting a pedicure.
I am 90% girly in the stereo-typical way. I love manicures and pedicures. I adore eating chocolate and watching a cheesy Hallmark movie. I want my massages and bright pink nailpolish and my masscrea. I wear make-up and do my hair. I like to take bubble baths with lavender. I played with Barbies growing up. I like everything to be asthetically pleasing. I also wear every day this month actually. Just because I am a feminist DOES NOT mean I have to shave my head, become a football loving fan, love war movies and become a gym rat. But I can if I want to. I don't have to become like a stereo-typical male or stereo-typical female. I can be me. I can be Heather. And Heather likes her nail polish. A LOT. 
Thinking I’m superior.
For me, being a feminist does not mean I think I'm better than men and that one day I hope that women will rule the world. I hope we can all get over the whole "ruling the world" thing and start working together to get shit done. Cause there's a lot that needs to be done! I don't think I'm superior or more valuable or worthy. I think both genders of all sizes, colors and orientations are valulable. 
Taking off your clothes on screen.
I’m sorry and I don’t want to be offensive but this just isn’t feminism. This is getting naked. There is a difference. Sometimes getting naked on screen doesn't have negative consequences. But sometimes taking your clothes off on screen leads to supporting the pornography industry and that is the complete opposite of feminism to me. And the pornography industry has shown to be linked to violence against women which supports the sex trafficking industry. We have to think about people over pixels. We don't need to watch anyone get naked on screen to value all bodies. My body is worthy and valuable and important. But it’s also mine and not for everyone in the world to see.
So this is what feminism looks like to me as I see it today. I really want to advocate for equality between the genders without having to take my clothes off. Please feel free to comment. This is a conversation I definately want to have and I have so much to learn in this area still. What does feminism look like to you? 
And if you feel so inclined please suport me and my gals as we advocate for human rights this December. #dressember


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tis the season for Dressember!

Every year as the holidays approach I try to figure out how I can create more space and time because invariably time is very limited. There are gift exchanges, work Christmas parties, Christmas concerts, Christmas lists and a million other very FUN activities I really want to do. Personally I feel like even if I started scheduling and planning for Christmas in the summer I still wouldn’t be able to get it all done. Yesterday I found myself so stressed over the freaking Christmas picture! I don’t want to edit it or try to pick through a million different kinds of Christmas cards. I just want it done. I want my letters stamped and addressed already. Tis the season to be jolly and I am apparently already a grump.
My whole over-achiever self has made the holidays very exciting but not quite so calm. All is calm and bright isn’t exactly something that happens to real life people like me. So in order to figure out a way to create a little more space I decided to do the impossible: 
Be done with Christmas shopping by December 1st. (not including Scotty #bestilllast)
I love Christmas shopping. I love how the malls bustle with anticipation. I love hot chocolate and the massive Christmas tree up in the center of it all, with Santa’s house a few feet away. But let’s be real, San Diego starts to get a little crazy around ANY MALL come November so I decided in order to reduce stress I would get all my Christmas shopping done by December 1st. Scott and I achieved my glorious goal this week and we officially have my family and his family all taken care of. That would be approxiamtely 17 people. So this December I’m spending my “extra” time by hopefully BEING calm and somewhat bright by advocating for #dressember. Basically I am wearing a dress every day in December to help raise money for women who have been exploited for their femininity. The money goes towards A21 and International Justice Mission that works to end trafficking and slavery globally. They are both amazing organizations and I am so excited to be part of. I am joining up with an amazing team of gals who are all so passionate about justice and pursing the inherent dignity of females. Our funding page is here is you are interested in our progress or want to support us.
This month I’m hoping to have conversations about justices and equality and what does it really mean to me to be a feminist. I want to talk about Christmas and Jesus. I want to talk about light and love winning. 

“The people walking in darkness, have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.”

I adore those words in Isaiah. Light has come for all of us. We are all in. There’s enough room at the table. And there’s enough light to push back the darkness.
AND hopefully I'm also adding to the "calm" by only having a few options to wear each morning as I don't have a ton of dresses. (as most of you know, I LIVE in yoga pants or leggings). If you catch me at the mall shopping for a dress well...then...I guess I've been caught. Please just give me a hug. I'll feel sheepish enough as it is. 


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Reading Habits

I was tagged by my lovely friend, Helen at her I Will Bloom blog to answer a couple questions about my reading habits. How fun is that?! Reading is one of my very favorite subjects so I was excited to be tagged! 

Our neighborhood used-bookstore Scott and I frequent :)

The tag questions:

Do you have a certain place at home to read?
I will read almost anywhere in our home. I read on the couch, our very old and comfy stuffed chair in our living room or in our cozy bed before I turn the lights out. Now that we've moved into a bit of bigger place and have a guest room I plan on making this the official "reading room" as we have already put two book shelves in there and an old rocking chair from my great aunt? (is that who your uncle's mother is?). So far it's been a room for storage and boxes! The only place I really don't want to read is at the table because then I feel like I need to be eating dinner. 

Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Oh gosh. I have so many adorable and cute bookmarks. But do I use them? Of course not! I never seem to know where they are. I usually little scraps of paper. Anything I can get my hands on such as a piece of magazine, part of a reciept or a colorful sticky note folded in half. 

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or number of pages?
I really REALLY like to finish my chapters. In school, that sometimes too much to ask for when it's come to text books. But when it comes to reading for pleasure, I finish the chapter. 

Do you eat or drink while reading?
I don't ususally eat while reading because that gets to be a little too much multi-tasking for me. However I LOVE something to drink. I love strong coffee with a good book in the morning. In the evening, a glass of wine or hot tea with a book hits the spot. 

Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?
No way! Reading IS THE EVENT. I have no need for TV or music when I'm enveloped in a good book. That would (and does) drive me nuts! However I've learned to adapt as most coffee shops play music. Sometimes the music genre DOES not fit my book genre at all and it makes me feel very conflicted emotions, but I guess coffee shops don't generally offer music to fit your book plot. #firstworldproblems

One book at a time or several at once?
I FOR SURE, read mulitple books at a time. However, I have learned over the years that I need a limit or the decison of what to read takes over the actually reading time. For me, about 3-4-5 books is the max. I generally have a book I'm reading for my book club, a fiction book or a comic-relief book, some kind of "self-growth" book, an education type book for my field, and then a "spiritual-growth" book. Right now I'm currently reading:
-Persuasion by Jane Austen
-Rising Strong by Brene Brown
-Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (reading for the 3rd time as it is #thanksgivingtradition)
-Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman

Reading at home or everywhere?
I will read anywhere, at home, at the park, in the car (as a passenger only, don't worry!) or at a coffee shop. I like to go to bookstores and libraries to read as well. I definately have preferences for where I read, but I can do it anywhere. It helps me get through a lot of less-than-fun situations such as waiting rooms, and flying. Ugh, I hate flying. But If I have a good book I can manage. If I have an amazing book it works like xanax in keeping me calm and preoccupied. 

Reading aloud or silently in your head?
Silently. But I read aloud to my younger clients! I love children's books so much. 

Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?
If I'm at a bookstore and debating about a fiction book I read the last page. I KNOW!!!! I committ the worst of reader crimes. But heres the thing, I don't want to buy the book if it's going to have a DUD ending. That's a waste of my time and there are so many good books and not nearly enough time for them all. So yes I read the last page. With, non-fiction books I do skim if it's 1) something I already know or have been previously educated about or 2) it's being redundant and I want to get to the "meat and potatoes" of the book. I generally don't ever skip pages!

Do you ever write in books?
That depends. I do underline. I don't write in my classics, or in my fiction. But I do write in my other books especially if I think I have a good point. I actually tend to write more in the margins if I disagree with the author!

Thanks so much Helen for tagging me! This was really fun!!!

So now I shall tag my fellow blogger friends to participate! (once tagged, feel no pressure, it took me months before I was able to complete. Also I will not be offended if you never complete! Much love to you(s) and happy reading

Monday, November 23, 2015

30 by 30

As most of you know (because I am very mild loud about my birthday month) I turned 30 recently. I know many who have done "30 by 30" lists. I find them so fun and inspiring. Since I didn't do that I thought I would create a list of 30 things I did in my 20's. It's certainly a decade to reflect upon. My 20's brought so much to be grateful for. I often create mental lists in my head when I can't fall asleep at night. The list can be about literally anything and it usually helps calm my brain. So last night, I started creating my "30 by 30" list.

Here's a peek into my decade with the lovely 20's including highlights, lowlights, losses, discoveries, and firsts. Enjoy!

  1. I learned how to make candles
  2. I graduated with my bachelors in Interpersonal Communition with a minor in Christian Studies
  3. I started this blog and developed a little blog community I simply adore.
  4. Wrote my first screen play in film school
  5. Started seeing a therapist for the first time
  6. I experienced the wonder of self-care through art, writing, yoga, massage, essential oils and books. Started my first book club. 
  7. I went to Morocco on a missions trip with my church and rode a camel!
  8. Ran Cross Country and ran my first half marathon
  9. I moved from Minnesota to San Diego
  10. I graduated with my masters in Marriage and Family Therapy
  11. I went to Finland and Italy with Scotty! And to Hawaii with girlfriends for the first time!
  12. I went to Yosemite and saw the Redwoods for the first time!
  13. I lost my lovely Grandma Moot who was generous and kind and the best Moot a girl could ask for.
  14. Became a therapist and saw my first client ever. 
  15. I was a maid of honor/bridesmaid in 7 weddings
  16. I recovered from an eating disorder after years of hard work, support and courage and now love holding workshops or presenting on body image education and prevention.
  17. Went to my first orphanage and fell in love with working with kids/youth who are vulnerable, feel lost and displaced. Love to advocate for these gems.
  18. Lost my good friend from college, Derek, tragically and suddenly
  19. Discovered my love for authentic Thai food (give me all the curry and pad thai please!!!)
  20. Lived on a roller coaster of dating and breaking up for far too long
  21. I got off the roller coaster and overcame my life long fear of committment and marriage and married my best friend. BEST DECISION EVER. 
  22. Worked 17 different jobs (including being a therapist at 6 schools, being an RA, working at library, being an admission counselor, receptionist, a nanny, an assitant director for children's ministry, a counselor at a treatment center, a writer for the examiner, an editor for the newspaper, and most random award goes to: being a cookbook binder at a factory one summer) #also #becameacoffeeaddict #duringthistime
  23. Learned more about what it means for me to be a feminist in marriage and how to integrate it with my faith.
  24. Met the lovely Baps and Mimi (Scott's grandparents) and lost sweet Baps this fall. 
  25. Learned about shame resiliance, courage, whole-hearted living and vulnerability thanks to Brene Brown's amazing research. I found my tribe. 
  26. Spent time with old family and friends and new family and friends (this is one of the most valuable and important ones and one I plan on prioritizing every decade) We are hard-wired for connection!
  27. Have finally accepted the fact that I'm obsessed with comedy in books and movies and that my entertainment preferences are slightly narrow. #parksandrecreation #mindykaling #tinafey #unbreakable 
  28. Dyed my hair dark brown and red (which turned pink) and pierced my cartiledge and got bangs! 
  29. Worked hard to stop being a hoarder by regularly giving away excess (especially in the closet region of our home)
  30. Discovered that rock bottom does not have the last word. I now believe wholeheartedly what Bob Goff says in his book Love Does," I used to think there were some prisons you couldn't escape but now I know there's no place I can go where God can't rescue us" I believe Love wins. Love will always win. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What I'm Celebrating and What I'm Mourning

It’s been said that in life you need to mourn well so you can celebrate well.
Mourning and celebrating is such a dichotomy. It’s a tension we all have to hold in life and one I’m really not all the excited about.
Of course I would like to celebrate…constantly that is, but mourning? Do I have to make time for this one?
I’m guessing Paul understood something about this when he talked about this in Romans 12.
Rejoice with those who rejoice
Mourn with those who mourn
Life is truly brutiful. It’s beautiful and brutal says one of my favorite authors who wrote Carry On Warrior.
I’ve been in the blur of mourning and celebrating for awhile now. 
I guess when I’m going through both I feel internally conflicted. Maybe that’s why I’ve struggled to write recently.
I’m celebrating because Scott and I have finally moved into a mold-free (more importantly: mushroom free) apartment. Twice the space and double the windows. I’m celebrating because in the morning the light streams in so brightly and warmly. I’m celebrating because finally I’d like to be at home on a Saturday rather than out because I’m not trying to avoid a leak in my closet or little mushrooms growing silently and steadily.
I’m mourning a little because moving is hard and unpacking is difficult. When I want to be home relaxing after work, I am unpacking and organizing.
I’m mourning because my bike was stolen. And to be honest, my bike was for sale so I’m not very sad about the loss, I’m just more creeped out thinking about someone stealing a bike. I would have given it to them if they had asked. But remembering I live in a world where people feel so desperate that they have to steal makes me feel sad and unsafe.
I’m celebrating because this week I turned 30. I entered a brand new decade. I’m so grateful for my 20’s. I grew so much. I worked so hard. I leaned into the pain and embraced love. I encountered courage and vulnerability and shame. But I also found gratitude. I found space. I found calm. I’m madly happy for my tribe and for all their thoughtfulness and words and kindness and gifts as I turned 30.
I’m mourning because sweet little Baps passed away this week. Baps is my husband’s grandpa. But I consider him one of my grandpas too. From just about the moment Scott declared he liked me, Scott’s grandparents adopted me into their world. They invited me to their Thanksgiving family reunion in Yosemite they hold every two years when I was just a girlfriend. They treated me like family before I even was family.
I was completely petrified the first night in Yosemite as a huge mob of family members I had never met infiltrated the tiny cabin that night. Baps made me my very first Old Fashioned, a cocktail made with bourbon, orange and cherry. Baps’ way of inviting you in is always asking what you want to drink. Baps must have known I was incredibly nervous for he made the drink so strong I had to hide my shocked face as he asked how it was. That night Baps told me about his favorite trip he ever went on with Mimi. It wasn’t to Italy or Hawaii and it wasn’t a classy cruise. It was just a very long road trip across the states. He recalled it with so much fondness. Just him and Mimi exploring the world together by car. I'll never forget my first Thanksgiving with him.

I’m celebrating because witnessing a marriage that lasted 60+ is very very novel and rare today. I feel lucky to have experienced their love. I feel grateful to have known Baps. I feel thankful to see how much love and generosity this sweet Grandpa has lavished on his family.
I’m celebrating because today my voice is back from having a terribly long cold. I am an external processor and not having a voice made me feel very isolated inside my head.
I’m celebrating this time of year. Thanksgiving is coming. It is 46 degrees at night. I’m celebrating with candles and hot tea from Trader Joes. I’m celebrating Christmas shopping and my endless love of wrapping paper and gift tags. I'm listening to Michael Buble's Christmas album on my iphone complete with a fake image of a fireplace crackling. 
I’m mourning for Beirut and Paris and for Baghdad and for some many tragedies that are beyond my comprehension and understanding.   I’m mourning for schools that no longer feel safety because of violence entering a place that is supposed to be about life and education and growth, not death and a brutal ending.
It’s really hard to do both. It’s a tricky tension this rejoicing and weeping. Both are weighty and demand my attention. 

Both need to be heard and acknowledged to live well. 

I want to live abundantly. I won’t numb the light or dark. I won’t only  give in to negativity. But I won’t dissociate into only the positive.  
I will be here for both.
Today I’m celebrating and mourning.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Encountering Truth

For our honeymoon, Scott and I traveled to Italy. It was Spring, 2013 and we celebrated Easter there. At this time, Pope Francis has just been elected and there was pictures of him everywhere. There was a certain energy in the air of it being Easter and it's hard to describe. I found out later that Pope Francis washed the feet of prisoners at a youth detention center in Rome for Holy Thursday Mass just before Easter. This completely endeared me to the Pope. I had never encountered the beautiful architecture of the cathedrals I saw around every corner and it was my first time going to the Vatican. Everything was covered in history and tradition and a sense of sacred faith.

Ever since my experience there I have been drawn to learn more about the Catholic faith and draw insight from Pope Francis. I decided to read Encountering Truth* a few months ago and have really enjoyed it. The book is a collection of Pope Francis's morning homilies he gives from St. Martha's Chapel. A little after seven in the morning, Pope Francis gives short little devotionals to a small audience of offices workers, priests, nuns and some journalists as well as gardeners. 

There are a total of 186 homilies in the book each with a date and a couple of Scripture references. The last one I read was spoked on November 7th and was about God's "weakness of love and joy of mercy". I have loved reading Pope Francis's inclusive language as he reminds everyone that we all belong and that we are all loved. He said, "He is a God who seeks, he seeks all those who are far from him. Like the shepherd, who goes to look for the lost sheep. The work of God is to go and seek, to invite all to the feast, good and bad. He does not tolerate losing one of his own" It gives me such great security knowing that we have a Shepherd who seeks and save and rescues the lost. And we are all lost from time to time. 

I like the rhythem of reading a homilie once a day or once a week. Each one is spoken with such warmth and kindness. It gives me a nugget of truth to ponder all day long. If you are looking for a different kind of devotional to read daily that refreshes the spirit, I would really recommend this one. 

*I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review