“Have Courage and Be Kind”

I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but Cinderella received a crazy amount of media during its opening week. I know I’m REALLY late to the game, but if you haven’t seen it, stop reading, go watch it then come back. Done? Okay.

Guys, this movie is excellent. Here’s the thing about Cinderella: it has all the usual components of a typical happy go lucky Disney sing along but touches a much deeper level than Cars or Toy Story. The first time I saw it, I was alone and enjoyed watching all the little girls in their princess dresses dancing in to find their seats. More than that though, I wondered if this movie could really live up to the expectations that Disney and Facebook had planted in my mind.images 2

I was ready with my producer mind to be disappointed with cheesy effects and sappy writing. I was happily proven wrong.

In our pathetic post-modern society, we’ve stopped believing that kindness can win, that love really does conquer all. We walk into the fairy tale expecting the happily ever after to come at a price, that somehow fighting and killing are required to come out victorious. Please understand, I absolutely believe that violence is often necessary. Our military and police forces are trained for this reason, but as a people, we have given up on kindness and forgiveness as commodities and traded them for cynicism and fear.

At the risk of sounding like a complete milquetoast, I’m going out on a limb and suggesting that humanity could do with a little less scheming and a little more honesty. America doesn’t need more female CEOs or women who scratched their way to the top; it needs women who can inspire others to greatness in the boardroom and yes, even the kitchen.

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A recent post from Rebecca uncovers the importance of stories like Cinderella “Somewhere along the way, our worlds grew dim, we got discouraged, and we forgot how much the fairy tale meant. Finding it again is as audacious as holiness, and even though we are tired, we aren’t too ruined for it yet.”

Movies like Cinderella bring us back to our original place of childlike wonder and the belief that good things can still happen in a broken world. We need to be reminded again and again that while there is evil in the world, we have been given the courage to overcome it.

This is why Cate Blanchett’s character is so perfectly essential to the success of this film. She is the perfect foil, what Ella could have become had she chosen to react differently to the horrific circumstances in her life. Instead, Ella is a light that exposes the darkness.

images That’s the big, dirty secret: a genuine spirit breeds fear in the fearful. A few years back, I experienced this myself. I watched a coworker crawl deeper and deeper into a fear that came only by my presence. That fear quickly grew into violence as the last shreds of his true nature and incompetence began to fall away. Like Cinderella, this part of my story didn’t end happily, but in the end I came out singing because I knew I had done the right thing.

Towards the end of the movie, Ella faces evil as she watches her stepmother literally smash her last hope at happiness. The heartbreak in Ella’s face is painful to watch, yet minutes later, she looks into her stepmother’s eyes and says genuinely “I forgive you.”

Guys, that is the grace that wins the world right there. To look into the face of evil and have the courage to acknowledge, forgive, and move forward. Forgiveness, like laughter, is contagious.

The story and the way it’s told bring us back to who we were meant to be as women: kind, courageous, strong without guile or bitterness. We’ve seen what happens when we allow ourselves to be consumed by grief, weariness and isolation. We become bitter, we shrink from our identities and hide behind performance. It’s when we move past the fear of being hurt again and dare to be kind in difficult moments that we embrace who we are meant to be and reflect God’s image back to the people we care about.

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PS: I just want to point out that Ella RIDES HORSES!!!!! That makes her my new spirit animal (along with Mindy Kaling and Kimmy Schmidt)

Since #LOVEWINS It’s Time for Christians to Embrace the Slanders… and the Opportunity

My husband wrote this today. I would suggest you go back and read part one, but this is really the meat of the issue. While I know many people will not agree with what he’s saying, I think everyone needs to take a look and what’s being said and how the arguments are answered.

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(This is part 2 to the previous blog found here).

One of my favorite books is I Am Legend by Richard MathesonPlease forget the unfortunate Will Smith film attempt from a few years back. Forget even the earlier Charlton Heston and Vincent Price versions (although they have their virtues).  For some reason Hollywood just can’t bring the original book properly to the screen.  The setting is pretty familiar. Our hero is the last human on earth. Somehow all the other humans were changed into vampires and our hero is waging a war for survival while also trying to develop a cure that will restore the vampires back to humans.

Seriously, it's been 60 years.  Pick up a book. Seriously, it’s been 60 years. Pick up a book.

It doesn’t’ quite work out.  Right when our hero finishes the cure that would turn the world back to its pre-vampire status, he gets captured. The final chapter is…

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Band Aids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes

​”The Only Person Who Judges Me For My Abortion — Who Matters  — Is Me.” These are the words of Anna Spargo-Ryan, a gifted writer and talented blogger who recently wrote a piece for Medium about her parenting and abortion experiences.

Anna perfectly captures the grieving process in a way I never could.

“No one who loves me is critical of the decisions I made then. They don’t say to me, Anna, I still can’t believe you did that to your unborn child. They don’t say, Wow, you made some really bad decisions. The only person who does that is me. The only person who stands in front of a mirror and screams into it is me.The person who needs to forgive me is me.”

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Every time I read these stories or hear “inspirational” quotes from women who say abortion is such an empowering experience, my heart breaks. Not for the child who lost his life, but for the mother who lost hers. Anna admits that her experience has been a little different. She doesn’t feel empowered, she doesn’t feel judged. She doesn’t feel at all.

I believe (and I think Anna agrees with me) that every woman who has made the decision to abort her son or daughter is shattered inside. It’s a grief that is different for everyone but a grief nonetheless. Anna dreams of screaming into a mirror as she recognizes her own desperate need for forgiveness.

But Anna’s missing the key here. Healing doesn’t come until we’ve acknowledged our sin and its gravity. Only after we say “Yes, it was wrong. Yes, I hurt someone” can we ask for forgiveness. To put it bluntly, without sin, there cannot be redemption.

Last week, Planned Parenthood released this mission statement: “​At Planned Parenthood, we believe that a woman’s decision about her pregnancy should be hers. We support the women who come to us, we make sure each woman has the information she needs to make a decision for herself, and we work hard to make sure she does not face political hurdles or financial hardship because of the decision she has made. We believe in providing nonjudgmental care no matter what.”

Here’s the thing, I don’t know many crisis pregnancy centers or pro-life organizations that would disagree or refuse to adopt any of these principles. We should support women, regardless of the decisions they make and we should absolutely provide non judgmental care. I honestly believe that’s a big part of why the national abortion ratio has continued to drop every year since 2007.

We have to acknowledge women where they are at and realize that the story doesn’t end with a child’s life or death. It begins. Anna does a great job of reminding us what’s really at stake here. Women don’t forget; it may change, but the memory doesn’t fade.

“At the beginning of my book there’s a dedication. It’s not to my partner, or my kids, or my parents, or myself. It’s the only way I know how to forgive myself — to create something permanent (or with at least one print run) that gives some meaning to the experience I had, without dismissing it or dismissing my perpetually correct decision. It says:”

For the person I knew infinitely,
and momentarily.

I Love Being A Girl

Last night I decided to put my hair in sponge curlers because I hadn’t washed it in two days and didn’t feel like showering. This is really saying something because my shower is something God built to show me that warm rain does fall in places other than Seattle.

My loving husband quickly pointed out (as he does every time I pull out the multicolored monstrosities) that I was a short step away from joining the white trash grannies club. While I agree that these curlers look hideous on my head, the results the next morning are well worth the effort.

I’m a naturally lazy girl when it comes to my personal appearance and anything that takes longer than two minutes to accomplish in the morning is therefore not worth my time. I truly envy those women who can create complicated looking hairstyles with seemingly minimal labor. Sponge curlers are great because they give me the chance to look like a woman who actually made an effort with almost no work required in the 7am hour.

When I was little, I HATED curlers. My mom would spend hours raking a brush through my hair then rolling those things as tight as they would go before sending me off to bed in tears. I exaggerate, but only a little. It was 6 year old torture, but my mom knew that I would wake up the next morning so amazed that my stringy brown hair had evolved into a glorious, bouncy crown of Shirley Temple loops.

As a working professional, I discovered that the concept still applies as long as the curlers are wound loosely and combined with about half a can of hairspray. It’s the part of my life that makes me feel like a girl…… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

To be honest, being a girl and being good at it is harder than it seems. We not only have to please everyone else with our looks, but we also have to satisfy our own crazy vision of beauty on a daily basis. Sometimes (like weekends), it’s easier because I genuinely do not care what I look like when I clean my bathroom or unpack books. Other days, it takes hours. That’s when I’m glad at least a few of the beauty tricks from our little girl days are still around to help out.

Nail Challenge Update

I realized today that I haven’t updated anyone on the Nail Challenge in awhile. As some of you might remember, last year Brian made the rather generous offer that if I could stop chewing my nails for six months straight, he would take me back to Paris.

Well, many, many months later, I am happy to report that we are now in the third (almost fourth) month of bite free nails! This is thanks in great part to the debut of a wonderful product known Facebook wide as Jamberry Nail Wraps. These are basically little stickers that shrink wrap to your nail and come in almost every color, design, logo you can think of.


I hate spending money on my nails, but since Jamberry is about a third the price of acrylic nails, I figured it was worth a shot. I ordered a free sample from Megan then hosted a Facebook party. A week later, my first sheet arrived. Guys, these things are awesome. It took maybe 20 minutes to apply the first manicure and it lasted the promised two weeks with a few days to spare!

The best part, though, is that it made my nail biting habit incredibly difficult. Sure, I can still get to the nail, but only if I’m willing to gnaw through three layers of saran wrap first. After the first week or so, it just didn’t seem worth it. After three weeks, the temptation for cannibalism began to diminish. My nails even started growing!

It’s been three months and even though I don’t quite have the gorgeous length I was expecting (nails break, y’all), my nails are longer than I can ever remember them being before. I’ve pretty much kicked the habit and replaced with a fun new hobby.

I checked in with Brian and the deal is still on with a vengeance, so stayed tuned for new Jams pics and maybe a few of the Eiffel Tower!

Here We Go Again

After weeks of searching for a new CrossFit box that wasn’t going to charge us an entire paycheck to kill ourselves 3x a week, Brian and I have gotten lucky! Living Social is offering a fantastic deal where you can work out at Nassau CrossFit for a month for only $35. We realized there will probably never be a coupon like this again and jumped on it right away.

After stalling and putting it off for a few days (oh, the siren’s call of burritos and True Detective), we managed to rush to the new location and arrived… ten minutes after class had started. Here’s the thing, this place is in a strip mall of half empty stores and fast food chains. We somehow managed to park at the back end of the parking lots and definitely got in a little cardio before even got there.

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Me in class (to scale)

This class was class was definitely a little different from the last one in that it was the two of us and one other guy, so the class was personalized to our strengths and weaknesses more so than last time. We started with the usual warm up and stretches then moved to “presses”.

Oh boy.

So here’s something I didn’t know before. In CrossFit, there are three different types of presses: shoulder press, push press and push jerk. Of course none of these are what they sound like and involve somewhat complicated choreography of muscles I didn’t know I had, but in the end, I felt I could more than I was able to before.

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Yeah…right

One of the many things I love about this type of exercise is that the trainers leave the hard stuff until the end and sort of trick you into thinking it’s not as hard as it actually is by breaking up the exercises into timed routines. This week, it was three minutes of as many burpees as possible. I didn’t count this time and focused  instead on pacing myself. Justin, our trainer, explained that is important as you work into longer or more complicated routines. They would rather have you do fewer reps and actually finish the time than burnout before the timer goes off. For my lazy, out of shape butt, this is the PERFECT way to motivate me. Convince me it’s not THAT hard then use positive reinforcement to burn WAY more calories than I thought I could in 5 minutes.

I still miss my boxing classes and am working on a way to do a couple classes each every week, but more the next month, Brian and I are making slow but steady progress towards the elusive goal of fitness. I’ll keep you posted on our routine. Maybe a few of you have suggestions on how to survive the world of CrossFit?

What’s the best way to keep yourself going? How do I stop looking in the mirrors? Is it normal to stare at the guys doing pull ups with longing and hope that one day, maybe I could do that too?

THE BUILDING BLOCKS TO A LASTING RELATIONSHIP

Marty is homeschooling mom and blogger who has some great insights into what makes a successful marriage tick.

MY 32 CENTS

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(This is part four in my series on relationships.)

It happens. Somewhere a DJ is playing ”All of Me” when you look across a crowded room and there she is. She’s stunningly beautiful and the moment your eyes meet there is a spark. Everyone else fades away as you walk toward one another like Tony and Maria from “West Side Story,” or Cinderella and her Prince at the ball. You introduce yourselves and then talk as if you have known each other forever. A whirlwind romance follows and a few months later you walk arm and arm down the aisle together for all eternity.

 And then reality sets in. Followed by disillusionment. Because that kind of love, the falling in love, butterflies in the stomach kind of love, rarely has the foundational elements necessary to build a lasting relationship.

 Our society has tricked us when it comes to relationships. It…

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