The Blue Bench


There is a bench somewhere, probably nearby. You might have totally missed it before, but it’s there. More of a swing, really, though it’s mostly fallen into disuse as such over the years. Its color, however, has remained bright and vivid, as if it desires to teach the sky how to be just so. It’s a rather impossibly bright shade, making the bench simultaneously something old and something new.

This is an uncommon bench. This bench invites company. As you sit on the bench, you will find that its openness and space are not diminished. Rather, the bench seems bigger, longer, wider, brighter. So you add a friend. That bright blue bench seems bigger still. The more people who join you on the bench, the bigger it seems. The bench sees everyone as important and makes room for them.

The bench holds a lot of things, things spoken, sung, shared, and written. Joyous dreams. Mind-blowing adventures. Broken hearts. Torn souls. Stronger scars. Triumphant stories. Tearful whispers. But one of the most important things that this brilliant blue bench holds is a hand to always take yours, someone who has got your back and will always be there. Because the bench never met someone who wasn’t important. And everyone needs someone.

The Blue Bench

Reblog: My Favorite Badass


This was too excellent not to share from Elizabeth Gilbert’s facebook page today!

I have so many absolute badasses in my life, to be honest. Those few of you to whom I spoke today, believe me, you ARE badasses and I love you dearly in all your excellent and awesome badassery. MUAH!

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WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE BADASS?

Dear Ones –

Our sweet friend Ruth Sze at www.doodlebubbledesigns.com posted this lovely drawing on Instagram yesterday and I love it so. She invited us to ponder who our favorite badass is right now, and I invite you to do the same, and to tag that person in your response.

My favorite badass this week is my friend Glennon Doyle Melton (Momastery) because she always uses her broken heart to heal a broken world. She is a tireless and generous love ninja, who is not afraid to be vulnerable, not afraid to risk connection, not afraid to share her scars and fears so that others do not feel so alone in their confusion.

Also, this week, somebody was mean to Glennon (which makes me become a crazy she-wolf of protection for my friend!) but Glennon refused to let it stop her from her ongoing mission of love.

My favorite badasses are all people who are not afraid to feel their feelings.

A real badass is not afraid to forgive.

A true badass is not afraid to sit in her sadness and anger and pain until she works her way through it — rather than lashing out in retaliation at the world, or making other people suffer for her pain.

A beautiful badass — in my eyes — is someone who has learned that before she can make friends with anyone else, she must make friends with the crazy shit-tornado who is herself. Because until we love our own crazy shit-tornado, we can’t love anyone else’s crazy shit-tornado.

A creative badass is anyone who is not afraid to share her imagination with the public — regardless of the criticism that may arise.

A generous badass is anyone who says, “I have more than enough for myself and I ALWAYS WILL — therefore, I will share whatever I have with you.”

A resilient badass is anyone who stands in the wreckage of failure and error and says, “Oops. Guess we better start cleaning this up…anybody got a broom?”

A brave badass is anyone who has ever asked for help.

An optimistic badass is anyone who believes that this broken world is still worth fighting for.

A smart badass is anyone who can set boundaries without being punishing or vindictive.

And a holy badass is anyone who knows that — beyond this whole wild and messy world — there is power at work greater than anything we can imagine…and that we are part of that story.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by SO MANY badasses. It would take forever to list them all. But today, I especially honor Glennon, who had a rough week and who keeps going…and for whom I will ride or die.

Now…over to you guys.

Who is your favorite badass today?

ONWARD,
LG

NaBloPoMo Day 6: No One but “Mister”, No One But “Missus”…


Next year,  I will have been married for ten years. My husband and I have learned a great deal about each other, yet there is still much to learn. Ben works extremely hard each and every weekday (and Sunday) to make sure that I not only have what I need but that I have the means to get what I want. He frequently asks if I am okay and if he can help me if I seem stressed or tired (which is far more frequently than I like to admit). He continues to endeavor to learn my love languages and surprises me with little gifts now and again. He encourages me, tells me how proud he is of me, how glad he is that I am in his life.

I try to keep aware of Ben’s moods, ask if he is OK, if there is anything I can do to help when he is not. I endeavor to support him, uplift him, and encourage him through his teaching and pastoring work. I remind him all the time that I love him deeply and dearly, I am here because I choose to be here, want to be here, and I am not going anywhere.

We call each other helpmeet because that is what we are to each other: we are not only doing life together, we are helping each other through it, supporting and each holding the other up through times of life that are rough. We understand that there are periods of life when one will carry a higher percentage than another. Mine was when Ben was injured in a car wreck, his ankle in a splint/cast and him on crutches/a cane for four months. When I was pregnant, Ben took on a higher percentage of everything in life. Since having our daughter, he has taken on being the sole breadwinner for our family for the first few years of her life as I have been at home with her. We understand that there are periods of life when one will carry a higher percentage than another. However, that does not stop us from being grateful and wanting to make sure that we are doing whatever we can to help each other.

We have walked this road together for almost ten years. We are still growing, still learning each other as we age and grow and change along with life. We have made a great beginning together, I believe, and I am looking forward to the rest of our lives together.

Green top, black pencil skirt, and black fascinator 2

NaBloPoMo 2014 Day 12: Discussing the Other


Author’s Note: This is my latest article published by The Well Written Woman.

As I told the editors upon submission, I was working on this article a month ago and, then, it didn’t feel like the right time to publish it. So I published a small statement on love instead. I cannot really explain why. But, a few nights ago, as I opened up Word on my laptop, I was drawn to open and revise this article again. This is an intensely personal work for me and that makes me nervous to send it out into the world, in all honesty. But I hope that, somehow, somewhere, it makes a positive impact.

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“Life is constant rewriting and revision. It’s a good thing I like to edit.”

Not too long ago, I said this to a friend in response to his sharing a picture with me on Facebook. The picture was a quote admonishing that great writers aren’t necessarily great first-drafters but great rewriters. My friend asserted that the quote was applicable to a great many things in life and I find that I must agree. I have found my life and my very self to be in a constant state of re-evaluation and revision. From my sense of self, to a more personal understanding of my faith and calling in life, to my relationships, friendships, and the way I relate to others, amongst other things.

Over the past three years, I have been able to observe some pretty intense shifts in society: some notables are states legalizing same-sex marriage, the resurgence and redefinition of the feminist movement, and the cases for and against religion. One of the hottest button topics of late, though, is sexual orientation. Whether you are hereto, homo, bi, or trans (sexual or gendered), American society has become largely more open and accepting of your orientation than in the past. This is a pretty significant cultural shift. But, as with just about every major cultural shift – from a heliocentric solar system to the abolishment of slavery to women’s suffrage – it is not without its share of battles. The world is so loud with voices crying for acknowledgement and others rising in anger and protest (on both sides) that I do not know where my voice fits or if it should even be heard. Writing this, it’s scary for me because I know the chances of it backfiring and those angry voices, whichever side they may come from, growing louder and becoming directed at me, my intention notwithstanding. But hear me now. I am not here to comment on the politics of or rights for differing sexual orientations. I am not here to talk about civil unions or marriage or legalities. That is above my pay grade. I am here to talk about people.

When I was a young girl growing up in a deeply conservative community, there was no such subject as sexual orientation. Nothing deviated from hetero on that score, not to my limited knowledge, and no one discussed anything ‘other’. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school and afterward that I had friends who were willing and felt comfortable enough to be open with me about such things. Right now, I would dare to speculate that a good third of my current friend base would classify themselves as belonging to a sexual orientation other than hetero. It was an entirely new experience for me and I found myself woefully unprepared. I did my best to observe these individuals and tried to listen closely when they spoke about their lives growing up, their decisions, and their lives now. As a Christian, I grew up hearing sermons about and reading the passages that speak against homosexuality, yes. But, also as a Christian, I am reminded that it is not my place to make judgment calls on other people’s lives, the state of their souls, or their relationships with God. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”[i] I know what it is to be disparaged against, to have the choices I have made or the way I live my life judged and found wanting by others, for the sheer reason that I choose to be a Christian. Therefore, I try to uphold my friends, any friends, whenever I can. Not with shouting or with soapboxing, but with an acknowledgement of their wonderful qualities as a person.

I have friends of faith, friends of purpose and drive, friends of talent and heart. I have friends who are brilliant people and far outstrip me in intelligence. People who have helped, loved on, and cared for me when I needed someone most. They have sat with me – online and in person – and kept me company all day when I was on bed rest at the end of my pregnancy. They have brought me adorable gifts just to see me smile. They talk with, listen to, and encourage me when I am in need of a gentle, kindly heart. I have friends who are blessings in my life.

Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with this.

Their humanity does.

Their willingness and desire to have an impact for good in this world does.

One of my dearest friends, a young gay man, is one of the first people I call or text when I am in a rough spot and in need of prayer. He is one of the deepest men of faith that I know, and I often find myself humbled by him and his joy in life and constant work to learn and grow closer to God. I cannot tell you how uplifted I am by his presence in my life.

I know who I am, I know what I believe, and I know what my calling is: to love others. How can I be faithful to that calling if I am judging someone behind my words and actions or seeking to change them through our interactions? That’s simple: I can’t. Will we agree on everything in their lives or in mine? Nope. That is part and parcel of being humans with free will. However, I believe that the question of sexual orientation and its role in the acceptance or denial of people has become a wedge in a faith whose greatest calling is to love others. These are people with lives and families and faiths and convictions, hearts and souls, and beautiful ones at that. They are my friends, my neighbors. Divine appointments do not come in a simply-wrapped box but with all the trimmings and trappings of lives lived in a myriad of ways. One’s sexual orientation or choice of lifestyle does not change their humanity or their need for love, patience, peace, support, faithful friendship, kindness, and relationships in this life.

Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and second only to that is to love your neighbor like your own self.[ii] I wonder just how many people wouldn’t have to walk through life with shattered hearts and battered souls if we held to these two all-important principles, regardless of color, race, philosophy, orientation, or creed. My parents used to tell me, “You might be the only Jesus that people ever see,” admonishing me that the way I live my life and the way I treat others will speak louder and more broadly about my beliefs than anything else. If God is love, then it is our responsibility and duty to share that love and light with others, no matter who they are. Anger and hatred and separation only produce more of the same. We are not to judge others or claim to know the inner workings of their souls or the mind of God. As I said before, that is above our pay grade. But we have every duty and reason to love them as God loves them. So I ask, I beg you. Let’s treat each other like human beings, because that is what you are. Bright, brilliant, soulful human beings.

Giving of Your Grace


Everyone has a grace. Everyone has a talent, a means of making an impact. Everyone is blessed with a grace.

I sat for almost a full minute, looking at my hand as it land upon the clean lined pages of my notebook, grasping a pen. I sort of marveled at the sight. here is my grace, my talent. I have a few, yes, but this is what I have considered and cultivated specifically as a talent: my writing. (I really should have someone sketch my hand holding a pen someday.)

Everyone has a grace. A grace that allows us to fill a specific place in our community of life. Whether that grace is teaching, cooking, speaking the truth, listening, organizing, or driving others around, it is something that helps others, something that someone may need. You don’t know who or where or when but your grace is important. It is needed; it is vital. Some may not see your grace, or they may not understand it even if they do see it, but that will only affect your grace if you allow it to, if you let it. I’m not saying that it will be easy all the time, that it won’t be frustrating or saddening. But it will only stifle your grace if you allow it to stifle your heart.

Grace is not only a fluidity of motion, it is not only composure and aplomb under pressure. Grace is the giving of love and kindness and honesty and help to others no matter how they may react, how they may treat you or others.  Grace is how you react and respond to others, not how they react or respond to you. I’m not writing this to preach at anyone. It’s on my mind and spilling out my fingers. Writing is my grace. I am endeavoring to write honestly and lovingly and, moreover, boldly about my life. Not everyone will agree or be happy with what I write but, at the same time, I may be fortunate enough to encourage someone else or give their soul some refreshing. I don’t flatter myself in that I might change lives, but I hope that I can be at least the smallest bit of help to someone somewhere.

Your grace can be the simplest of things, such as offering an upset friend a hot beverage to calm them. It may not mean much to you, but it could just mean everything to them. Your grace is important to life; it is vital.

The Sweatshirt – written summer 2005


Author’s Note: This was written the summer after Ben and I started dating and we were apart for four months, him here in Indiana and me with my family in the Cayman Islands.

 

It’s just an old sweatshirt, red and well worn, emblazoned with his alma mater. It fits him and swallows me whole but is always comfortable. Just a sweatshirt. There’s nothing really special about it. Wait! That’s a lie. It’s his. I wonder if he realizes, if he knows…?

“Take it with you so you’ll have something of me this summer,” he said, after I had already informed him of my intention to do so.

I hate summers. I hate being away, being apart.

I wonder if he has any idea of how many kisses are being held for him by that shirt? I’ve lost count myself, but it’s at least four a day. At least! My day begins and ends with kissing that shirt.

I have slept with it each and every night, beside me in the bed. A poor substitute for the man I miss. Its sleeve lies thrown across my tummy, just as if he held me while I slept. Every night, without fail. I wonder if he could imagine me glaring around my room angrily the day I came home to find that the shirt had been moved from my bed to my rocking chair?

I wonder, does he have any concept of how many tears lay dried upon that shirt’s sleeves, shoulders, and flaking white lettering? How many nights it’s heard me sob for God to let him know how much I miss him. How much I love him.

Sometimes, I wonder…can he have any idea how comforting it is to wrap him around me, even though the shirt stopped smelling solely of him weeks ago? I wonder if he could envision my joy at burying my nose in it and smelling his scent layered beneath mine?

This sweatshirt has become the dowry box for my hugs, its battered shape cuddled with when I become lonely or feel sad. If this old shirt could talk, it could tell him so many secrets and tales of my days without him. This sweatshirt could tell him, ever so much more eloquently than I, just how much I love, adore, and cherish him.

But, no. It will never talk. Never tell those secrets. It is just an old, red sweatshirt after all. But it’s his.