Friday, April 11, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Worth Doing

One of these days I promise to write more than just once a week, but as this post illustrates finding time is tough.  In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying what I am able to produce.  And please, feel free to share your creations and passions with me.  I am interested.  And, I owe you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Wearing My Faith on My Sleeve


Wearing My Faith on My Sleeve

Turns out, getting a tattoo on the underside of your left wrist hurts with an intensity I did not anticipate. Simply the shock of the pain dipped me ever so close to passing out. I didn’t dare look, of course, but the knowledge that needles were piercing through my thin skin, rattling the veins so close to the surface was enough to render me woozy. I had given birth without medication. I thought getting a tattoo would be easy. I was wrong.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Telling the Truth and A Haunting Dream

I am still writing every Friday for The First Day.  I neglected to link last week's post to my blog so this week you get two, two, two posts in one!  Enjoy!


Telling the Truth

My kids know I am not perfect. In fact, I point out my faults to them often. I admit to them when I have made a bad choice. When I lose my patience and yell louder than I want to, I apologize. I explain that I didn’t handle myself the way I should have and that, next time, I will try to make a better choice.


A Haunting Dream

The stage had been set up in the middle of a large hotel ballroom type space with plenty of seating on three sides. Our backs were to the stage so I craned my neck to look behind, but all I could see was black. The stage was built like a large shoebox turned on its side, the show presumably displayed like an elementary school diorama, but only to those with center seats.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Three Beliefs About God

Do you make a distinction between your spiritual life and your non-spiritual life?  Or do you actively incorporate your beliefs into how you live every day?  I was recently challenged to give this some deeper thought.  And then I wrote this.  And now I am going to go contemplate it some more.  I hope you will join me...  


Three Beliefs about God

Always one to think out loud, I first responded that I believe I am loved. This belief encourages me to love others in return and simplifies the way I think about love. It is just what I try my best to do. And I don’t simply love people like me or who I know will love me in return. I love because God loved me first and because I don’t always deserve it either.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fridays at First Day: The Neighbor at the Door

Often, a women's retreat is laden with tears and wrought with cleansing, yet exhausting, emotion.  This year, I headed off to Gettysburg feeling secure in my lot in the Lord.  And while the weekend was certainly powerful, I spent most of the time smiling.  Watching our women worship, sensing them experiencing the Spirit, and wrapping my arms around them in prayer, brought me great joy.  I felt God meet me in a place of lightheartedness, a place where He challenged me to see Him and myself as more complicated and beautiful than I had previously pictured.  And while I was smiling, this new uncertainty brought a tinge of fear.  But, praise God, He wiped that away without changing the expression on my face.


The Neighbor at the Door

I think I am afraid. Even if God showed up at my door, not as a burning bush, but as a friendly neighbor with wine and cheese and a great big hug (I love wine and cheese and a good squeeze), would I let Him in? I hope so.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Is God Near?

I leave this afternoon for a weekend women's retreat.  The title of the retreat, "God is Near," got me thinking about my experiences understanding the presence of God in my life.  I decided to write a post right before attending the retreat and a follow up post next week after I return.  It is my prayer that you all feel God's love in a special way today.


Is God Near?

My dad used to sit on the edge of my bed as I said my prayers at night. I would picture God hovering high over the Earth, reigning from the dark expanse of zero gravity, the sun illuminating His being above us. I have never pictured God as a white bearded old man sitting on a throne of clouds. I have always pictured Him with the face of Jesus whose picture hung in my grandmother’s terrace kitchen.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Valentine's Day Vow


Valentine’s Day Vow

Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day devoted to expensive dinners and cheap carnations, boxes full of chocolate and words empty of true intention. And love. Ah, love. The most meaningful decision I have ever made is to love others. So today’s holiday? I could obviously take it or leave it. But I am serious about love.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Living Life Like a Facebook Movie

When you visit The First Day to read the rest of this post, please be sure to like the piece (if you do) and leave your thoughts and comments if you have some (which I know you do.)  And Share!  Let's spread gross amounts of good across the Internet today because I am tired of the rest of it.


Living Life Like a Facebook Movie

We all know full well that Facebook never tells the whole story. No one does. We pick and choose what we post (and read) for a desired result or response. We share the good and rarely the bad.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Fridays at First Day: A Prayer for the Tragedy at Columbia Mall

I am honestly still reeling from the news that there was a shooting at the Mall in Columbia last Saturday.  It really does feel differently when something like this happens in a place where you have been, where you go often and definitely without ever thinking twice.  My husband has been to the mall since the incident.  It is often where he heads for lunch during the workday.  He said there were noticeably fewer people there and a somber mood.  I hope things never go back to normal at the mall.  I hope they get better than that.


A Prayer for the Tragedy at Columbia Mall

My personal fear is that incidents like the recent gun violence at the mall will drive people away from God and that the world might become a darker place yet. I understand that it can seem impossible to find God in such a mess. My hope, though, is that instead of turning away from God when such things happen, people will look to God for answers. God is always good.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Feed Your Belly, Feed Your Soul

I love the opportunity writing for The First Day offers me: a place to join the conversation on faith and practice and share personal experiences from my own journey.  As a devout Christian, I love to delve into serious issues of theology and doctrine.  But, in this post, I get back to basics.  There is an unavoidable link between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves.  I think there is a common misconception that nurturing one of these aspects of our identity over others might be more important.  Without thinking, I might argue it is more important to spend quiet time with the Lord than eat a snack.  And then I wrote this post:


Feed Your Belly, Feed Your Soul

I have no problem eating when I finally get around to it. I just wish I only had to eat because I wanted to and not because I devolve into a walking Super Grumpy Pants when I do not. And, not only do I have to eat regularly to keep my metabolism and mood in check, I have to eat the right types of foods.  Read more...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fridays at First Day: Letting Go in the Rain

I am certain every single one of you can relate to this.  Especially parents.  And, most especially, moms.  It is so easy to let ourselves get super emotionally wrapped up in the little things.  We take pride in our children and in our homes and in our life's work.  When things go bonkers (and they do at least 27 times a day) we take it to heart.  I think that is completely acceptable as long as we carefully place these moments in that safe place in our heart where life makes us smile.  The mud can be washed away, the dog won't be a pup forever, and our little ones grow up and change at least 27 times a day.  Will you walk with me and learn to let go in the rain?


Letting Go in the Rain

Not that long ago, a series of events like this would have caused me to literally scream and want to pull out my hair. I would have become frustrated beyond belief, feigning calmness to my children between clenched teeth. I would have grumbled and stomped, feeling guilty all along that I couldn’t keep it together. But this time, I laughed it off, chalked it up to the craziness of this beautiful life.  Read more...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday's at First Day: Becoming a Protestant Rebel

I would have chosen a different title for this piece.  I like its irony, however, seeing that I hardly identify with being rebellious or Protestant.  And, I leave my titles up to the editor's because it's their blog and I am rarely attached to one enough to fight for it.  I tend to trust writers with more experience.

Regardless, here is a short piece on when I began my relationship with the Lord, or rather, He began His relationship with me.  I am pleased to report I have been poorly serving God for half of my life now.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Becoming a Protestant Rebel
When I was 16 years old, I rebelled like any other typical teenager. However, unlike most other kids my age, I did not step out in order to date, drink, pierce or ink. Oh no, I reached straight up and over the heights of the rebellion box. I left the Catholic Church and joined a Protestant youth group.  Read more...

Share your story at The First Day or here in the comments.  I would love to read it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Word

In my judgy, stereotyping mind, where I simplify observing this crazy world by labeling and compartmentalizing, there are two main types of doctrinally conservative Christian women.  1. The homeschooling, babies at her skirt, long braid down her back, sacrificing, no makeup wearing woman who puts everyone else before herself and 2. The well-employed or married to the well-employed, cares what she wears, kids in super schools, philanthropic woman who won't get her hands too dirty or spend too much of her very hard earned money on someone else.  Both of these women attend church regularly and have a profound and genuine relationship with the Lord.  If I had to pick, I suppose I am the first?  Or wait, am I the second?  Or, no, I am totally better and above either.  So there.  I am different.  I am special.  I break the mold.

Nope.  Truth be-told, I am a gross combination of both.

And, this year I am not even going to try to do anything about that.  Like many of you, I have picked a word for 2014.  And while it took a few moments of convincing myself to share my word with you, I have decided I should. And I am not going to apologize for it.  I know full well that my word may seem like it is not in the spirit of the whole change-your-life-with-one-word thing, but my word actually gives me permission not to care what you think.

We have a joke in our church that there are two name tags to pick from: God and Not God.   I know I am not God, but I chose my word nonetheless.  Similarly, I know that, contrary to mainstream media and culture, I don't deserve to be happy or successful or famous or gorgeous or anything else so superficially ridiculous.  But, I also know that before I am a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer, writer, loser, I am a child of God, in whose eyes I am perfect and in whose plan I have a purpose.

So.  I have taken a huge step out of the box in choosing my first ever word of the year.  Which for 2014 is:

Please note: I did not read this book nor am I intending to mock anyone who is honestly working to improve their spiritual lives using the one word approach.  Additionally, I believe, in some ways, God has given me this word and while it implies I am going to try to live life MYSELF I will always do my best to turn first to the Lord and lean on Him alone. 

What's your word this year?  What do you think of mine?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fridays at First Day: What I Can Give and God is Not in a Box

Over the holidays, I continued to write for The First Day, a new online and print spiritual magazine exploring arts, culture, faith and practice.  Committing to submit a piece for them every Friday has challenged me as a thinker and a writer.  I feel that I have already grown in both areas thanks to this opportunity.  I hope you have received something from them as well.  

Here are my two latest articles for The First Day:

We all give a lot: our time, our talent, our emotions, our money. How was Christmas—this season, this year— changed by what and how I gave? How was I changed? Could I have given more? And, at times, should I have given less?  Read more...

I let whatever I was just thinking, feeling, doing, fall to the page with a few more tears. It’s messy and maybe silly, but I am a bit angry and certainly sad so I just keep writing. And then I stop. I feel better, but I know that this time, I am not finished.  Read more...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

So Much to Read, So Little Time

In little irksome ways, 2014 is already teaching me that I try to do too much.  For instance, merely over the month of December, I accumulated more than 10 books on my bedside table.  I am very interested in reading all of them cover to cover.  I love to read.  I love to learn.  I love to escape to fictitious lands and experience through fictitious eyes.  And here, today, on January 1, I have read at least one page in each of these books, but little more.  To make matters worse, most of these books are in someway instructional. Why do I feel compelled to be so productive?  Maybe I need a book on how to get better sleep so that I will have more energy to...oh, never mind.

Title: Man Repeller
Author: Leandra Medine
Though I am unclear on his thoughts on the title, this book was a gift from my husband.  It is a collection of autobiographical essays written by a fairly funny and successful "bloggess."  I could write a book like this.  I am not a Jewish girl from the Upper East side with a large following and a fancy degree from the New School, but everyone's awkwardness is equally as hilarious and I am easily as witty as she.  Good thing I am just enjoying reading this book and not judging it or myself in the process.

Title: A Prayer Journal
Author: Flannery O'Conner
I love Flannery O'Conner's transparency in this journal which was recently published.  Of, course O'Conner was writing for no one, but herself.  Still, her honesty with God humbles me.

Title: Help, Thanks, Wow
Author: Anne Lamott
Lamott, on the other hand, intentionally wrote a book on prayer.  Though not a spiritual leader, exactly, I truly believe her experience and way with words has the ability to teach us all.

Title: Bird by Bird
Author: Anne Lamott
Also in the "I heart Anne stack" is this essential book for all writers, aspiring or otherwise.  This one, I will definitely finish.

Title: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Author: Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
A great parenting book.  So simple, yet effective.  I love to talk and when it comes to my kids I often say too much.  I want nothing more than to understand my little ones and have them confide in me as they grow into not so little ones.

Title: Hyperbole and a Half
Author: Allie Brosh
Ok, so this is my attempt to be hip and cool.  Thankfully my friend Laura gave this book to me for Christmas so I can feign "with-it-ness."  This is also my true comic relief in the pile.  From what I have read so far, I am just like this woman.  And she is a mess.  Awesome.

Rounding out the list is "Praying with the Psalms" and "The Message" (a contemporary translation of the Christian Bible) both books written and/or translated by Eugene Peterson.  One day, yes, one day, I will read through the entire Bible in a year.  

Also on my bedside is a book of Christmas Sudoku puzzles which is festive in cover design alone.  I have no idea when I last tried to finish one of those.  And a yoga DVD which is doing absolutely nothing for anyone in my bedroom where there is no TV or floor space for such nonsense.  Perhaps I should tidy up a bit.

And last, but certainly not least, is "Living a Jewish Life" which I picked up at my church's library.  A new character I am developing is Jewish.  That is all.  Stay tuned.

So, clearly, I have plenty to keep me busy by my bedside this year (I didn't even go into what is on my desk).

Hey, wait, none of these titles are fiction.  Sacrilege!  Well, I am off to the library to necessarily add to my pile...

They will never be stacked this neatly again.

What should I check out fiction-wise this year?  Have you read any of the above titles with your very own two eyes?