Shh... It's a Secret!

I love first-timers to the blog. Their responses are so different.  Some of you send me messages telling me that you completely understand. You too are an awkward single female or a disenchanted 9 to 5-er. You express thankfulness for the camaraderie in the battle! Others send helpful critiques. I heard you were funnier. I don’t think you meant to use that verse. I would change the word in paragraph 2. Thanks for that, by the way.  And then… some of you read and try to fix me.   

Which, I don't actually mind because let's be honest, I am awkward.  I have embraced this fact after a lifetime of people explaining to me that I am, as if I didn’t already know, awkward. I am also open, honest, and truthful.  I realize that vulnerability, especially vulnerability to the cyber-world, is odd for most people.  We are taught to not over share, to keep our sad depressing thoughts inside and always put our best foot forward.  My mama used to say that southern girls always left food on their plate, meaning, no matter how hungry we were, we had to look proper and delicate. In response, I would say, I'd rather be a full yankee than a hungry polite southerner. Give me bread! Connection, I do not hide my flaws, I am not afraid of you discovering my inadequacies and I, by no means, care if you see me at my worst. I also really like pizza and if it has olives, I CANNOT stop eating. 

People that are uncomfortable with transparency and vulnerability make me feel more awkward.  They read my blog as if it is a secret cry for help!  Which is crazy, because I have a huge mouth, and therefore keep very few secrets. In my 32 years, I have learned to at least (semi) filter my typed published work.  Of course, there are still plenty of things I say out loud that I wish I could take back, but as Meg Ryan taught us all, once it's out there, there is no taking it back. Basically what I am saying  is, if you think I am too open on my blog, hang out with me in real life when I don’t have a filter or a “Publish” button.  It will make you  feel a lot less awkward about what I have thoughtfully published on my blog. 

Over the years, I have learned a few secrets to life. Number 1, vulnerability breeds vulnerability. The average person is going crazy inside the walls of their own existence. They have believed the lie that they shouldn’t “over share!” Their deepest desire is for someone to know the good and the terrible, and to still love them, BUT they have been taught to hide the ugly and project the pretty.  Although writing is cathartic, I am not vulnerable to satisfy my own needs.  I choose to expose my weaknesses because I believe this is what the world needs. I show you my brokenness so you will feel safe to share your own broken heart.  I show you my awkwardness because... I honestly can't help it. I think it is wired in my DNA. 

Secret Number 2, Humanity can never save you. It is no secret that all humans will let you down, including yourself. One reason I am open about my brokenness, is to keep others from looking to me for salvation.  We are all broken, flawed, and sinful. Humanity's inability to save themselves is the very reason we have to look to God for salvation.  So, if you are looking for a Savior, look up, but… if you are looking for a comrade in the battle, I got your back. 

My last secret for the day (because if you aren’t getting it, I don’t like secrets), my twin sister is pregnant with her first baby.  On (approximately) May 5th, I will finally be able to answer the question, “Do you feel each other’s pain?” If the answer is yes, I also felt a giant baby’s head rip through my body, whelp, you better buckle your seatbelt because this blog is about to get WAY more transparent. 

Living with Willie

I am no stranger to stars. For a brief time about seven years ago, I shared a flat with Willie Nelson. Before I went to sleep at night, he would gently sit at the end of my bed and dispense sage advice. Willie’s not just a pot head; he is actually quite caring- just your standard grandpa doped up on narcotics. It was a sweet, surreal, time in my life. 
In addition to the star struck wonder of hobnobbing with country’s original bad boy, just last night my cousin Gina invited Snoop and the entire Wu Tang Clan to our family card game. What was crazier than them getting invited is that they actually came!  I didn’t believe her, until I looked out the window and saw a tatted up shirtless dude walking towards the door.

When I woke up, I instantly knew, it wasn’t real. I am sorry Inception; there is no way my brain can trick me into believing Snoop Dizzle is coming to play cards with me and the fam- regardless of how real my dream felt. 

I don’t know about your brain, but my brain is smart, or at least that is what my mom tells me. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”  To trick me, it uses much sneakier tactics than star-clad dreams.  Instead of screaming dreams of sequins and gold, it whispers lies of conspiracy and deceit. My brain has convinced me of some crazy crap. For weeks I was certain that this girl I barely knew was trying to steal my life. The evidence was irrefutable. First, she started going to my church, and then she set up coffee dates to hang out with friends. She then scheduled her coffee hang-outs at MY coffee shop. Technically, our town only had 2 coffee shops, but… she most definitely chose my shop on purpose. She was edging me out, just like that insane babysitter in, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Eerie. 

My brain has tempted me to believe LOTS of weird stuff. There are days when I have no purpose or meaning on this earth. Some days it tells me that everyone else around me has no purpose or meaning on this earth. On good days, without warning, my mind starts replaying every past mistake, in SLOW MOTION, thus successfully demonstrating why I will never measure up! 

The brain is a tricky little devil. 

Or, is it the other way, the devil is a trickster with my brain? He is of course the Mac Daddy of lies (John 8:44). Like a lion on the prowl, he waits, looking for someone to ambush (1 Peter 5:8). His attacks are not random. His arrow is precise, targeted and tailored.  Rather than speaking bold-faced lies, he delicately intertwines lies and truths making the two indistinguishable from each other. He aims directly at the center of your secret fears and hidden deficiencies. 

His craft has been perfected, but it is far from flawless.  His arrows are hand crafted, individually fashioned to only work on one specific target, thus making his blow docile when used on someone else. The lies of the devil grow in the dark of isolation, but they die when brought into the light of community.  Speaking loudly the crazy whispers in our head is like waking up from a dream, you are instantly snapped back to reality.

“… so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ...”

(full passage, Ephesians 4:11-16)

Let's Talk about SEX!

Three months before her wedding, I get a call, “If things don’t work out with Rob and me, I have come up with an awesome plan for us. We get paid to travel plus we get free shoes! Are you in?”

“Traveling and Shoes! No brainer, but… what’s the catch?”

“Nothing, we just have to become nuns.”

Obviously, join the convent, why hadn’t I thought of that before.  The convent, my Italian grandmother’s only exception to marriage and 10 kids! 

Growing up, I had two classifications for Christians. There were the “normal” not too crazy ones, and then there were the super committed zealot Christians, your standard priest and nun types. In 2001 I found myself in a bit of a conundrum. I had experienced God in a new and real way. Overnight I became my worst fear, a zealot, and I could never go back to being a “normal” Christian.  But what was I supposed to do, put on my celibacy habit and start beating kids with rulers? 

To be honest, my secret dream was to become a marriage/sex counselor.  In high school I practiced by giving advice to my parents. I think my dad actually “Amen”-ed when I explained the mandate of 1 Corinthians 7 to not deprive each other of sex for any reason other than prayer.

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (verses 4-5).

In addition to my dream of being the world’s most sought after Christian sex therapist, I wanted to be the mother of 8 ethnic babies, like Noah’s ark with kiddos! I am not saying that I wanted to procreate with 8 different men, I do believe in adoption people! But, I also wanted a husband to help me raise my wild multi-colored babies, and, I would, obviously have to apply 1 Corinthians 7 to my own married life.  The convent didn’t fit with the dreams in my heart.

Last weekend, as I went from one volunteer obligation to the next, it hit me, I AM A NUN! Simply put, I am a sex-less, celibate, woman devoted to serving the poor and the church of God. I am paying for my own shoes, but other than that, I think I got this nun thing down. 

It’s a hard knock life for a nun in our overly sexed culture. If your life looks anything like the lives on TV or on the radio, you can’t actually make it through an entire shift at work, without sneaking into a supply closet with your newest fling. Honestly, I don’t know how you get anything done! Media defines us solely by our sexuality. You might like men, women, both? You may prefer traditional sex or like the kinky adventures of sexual bondage. As a culture we are outraged by rape, forced prostitution and child pornography, but cheer for sexual experimentation and women owning their own sexual freedom.  Everything around us screams SEX, SEX, SEX! We are told constantly that to discover your sexuality is to discover yourself.

Maybe it is just my sex-deprived brain, but I am not buying it! In my life, sex is a verb (a very passive one) not a noun. I am not defined by who I am (not) sleeping with, and neither are you. In 2001, I began the sweet adventure of living zealous for God. I know now that I am not more or less spiritual if my life leads to the convent or to the altar. I am not trying to say your sexual life doesn't matter just that sexual identity isn't chief. There is more to life than sex and more to personal discovery than sexual affiliations. You will only find yourself when you lose yourself in Him.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20)

But, if you are looking for Marriage/Sex Counselor, hook a sista up!  I'd love to walk you through Biblical sexuality! :)

All in a Day’s Commute

My alarm starts its gentle screeching at 6am. By 6:50am (at the very latest) I start my mad dash to get dressed and out of the door before 7.   I make my sprint to the car, dressed, made up, coffee in hand, and lunch box on my arm. Since I never have enough time to let my car warm up, to navigate I typically roll down all the windows and stick my head out like a dog. Some days, like today, one of my sweet family members decides to spice up my morning routine by parking their car half way up the driveway. I am then forced to attempt a 70-point turn with my head out the window and my undrunk coffee balanced in my hand. 

Once I finally manage to get out of the driveway, I face the next challenge of the day, selecting my route, a delicate balance of luck and science.  Between 7am and 7:05am there is one bus-less window where I can navigate through a neighborhood thereby avoiding the terror of the interstate. Of course if I miss my 5 minute window, I am forced to select an alternate route.  It’s sorta like being on that 70’s game show, Let’s Make a Deal where you have to choose if you want to trade what you have for what is hidden behind one of the 3 doors.  Each morning, I take a chance on either route 1, 2, or 3.  I may be choosing a route filled with car accidents, bumper to bumper standstill traffic, new drivers, or18-wheelers that are blocking all 6-lanes, OR, maybe, just maybe, I have selected the hidden door of traffic-less bliss.  It is all in a day’s commute!

Forty, or so, soothing minutes later, I finally reach my destination, a cubicle filled with fluorescent lighting. Since my home preparation is done mostly in the dark, this is also the moment where I finally get to see how I actually look. Some days I stand in awe of my ability to miraculously put together a presentable ensemble! More frequently than I’d like to admit, I stare in shock at what I am stuck with for the rest of the work day. There was the day that people kept asking me if I intentionally dressed like a pirate, or the day where I did an entire presentation before anyone pointed out that my middle button was undone. I have shown up in see through outfits, and skirts too tight to be worn outside the club (that actually happened yesterday). I have had only one eye lined and both cheeks a hotter pink than fitting outside of the 1980’s.  I have used every office supply imaginable (pens, binder clips, and rubber bands) to make my frizzed out wild hair office appropriate. Nothing says business casual like a bun locked into place with office supplies!

At 8:30am with hair in place, coffee in hand and lunch in the fridge, I finally start my day. Next to my desk, highlighted in blue, I have posted, “If, in Christ, we have hope in this life only, we are of all people, most to be pitied”. 1 Corinthians 15:19

It serves as a gentle reminder, that in light of today's monotony, not to lose sight of tomorrow's hope!

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58