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?