But Seriously, Who Does That?!

Men! Ugh!! Who can understand them?! I mean, who does that?!

Have you said (or thought) one or more of those phrases in the last 48 hours? Was it in reference to your husband? Go on, admit it. If it helps, I’m over here raising my hand. Now, think about the same husband. How many good comments have you said about him in the last 48 hours?

Often times I find myself sharing more of the annoying moments of marriage with people than the good moments. And, when I share them, I dwell more on them. And, that’s completely dumb because those moments make up a negligible amount of our time together. It also paints a much bleaker picture of marriage in general and encourages others to complain about their husbands. Because who doesn’t love a good husband-razzing session?

But, I’m calling crap on this now. Not to say there aren’t genuinely appropriate moments for lamenting or advice-seeking. That’s why God made girl friends. But, we are prone to misuse these moments, sliding right past the zone of appropriateness into gossip and complaining. Let’s do something about this, friends! Let’s challenge ourselves to praise (I said praise, NOT WORSHIP) our husbands. Let’s focus on the amazing things instead of the dirty socks on the floor. Cough, cough. I didn’t say this would necessarily be easy.

Here, I’ll go first:

599956_10100542609029078_567909000_nBecause of my faith, I believe that marriage is a picture of God and the church. That, in essence, it is to mirror that relationship. Recently, during a meeting with some wonderful women, we began discussing how God lavishes his love and gifts on us (feel free to read Ephesians 1 for more details). And, as we were discussing how he gives us his best gifts, how he almost obnoxiously lavishes us with them, I immediately thought, “This is what my husband does!!”

Every holiday, I know that I will get a present that is hand-picked for me, and it will be the best on the market. Because that’s what my husband gives to me. He spends an enormous amount of time making important financial decisions (almost annoyingly so, sometimes), but he picks out the best. He gives the best for me. I don’t even have to worry about there being something better or more perfect out there. He already gave it to me.

This is just one small snippet of how amazing he truly is. But let’s just embarrass him with one thing at a time.

How is your husband amazing? Feel free to be as cheesy as you’d like, just keep it G-rated, because I only have so much space in a trashcan to lose my lunch.

Share the Rainbow

Typically, I shy away from giving my opinion on a variety of political and social issues. For one, I find that those who are more than eager to offer their opinions are doing so in such away that divides and hurts people (and I am looking at both sides of the aisle here). Second, I have more than enough to deal with in my own life before I can start picking apart the actions of others (for instance, today I could have fed an entire family in need on what I spent at Starbucks…hello, selfishness).

But, then there is this hashtag, #shoutyourabortion. And, it’s a thing. Like a real, trending thing. And, my heart has shattered and landed in my gut. And, I’ve realized that I just can’t be silent. You see, there was a time I didn’t think I could have children. Which was a relief, because I definitely didn’t want them. In fact, I faked being excited about having a kid up until the point I was pushing my daughter out.

nature-person-hands-girlMy first pregnancy wasn’t planned. Actually, many would label the pregnancy as an “irresponsible choice.” You know what is also an irresponsible choice? Calling it that (also, my Starbucks visit…see above). The only time I contemplated abortion was when I thought, “man, I wish there was a way I didn’t know this was a baby.” But, I did. From the moment I saw those 2 lines, I knew there was a baby. Not a group of cells. A baby. A child. A person. A life.

And, I chose to walk through an incredibly difficult period filled with judgment. Just a few of the not-so-quiet whispers behind my back (or sometimes straight to my face) I heard were as follows:

  1. “Wow! She should have been more careful.”
  2. “Her poor parents. They must be so ashamed.”
  3. “I bet she was trying to baby-trap him.” (only got this one from people who didn’t understand my independent streak)
  4. “A baby is the last thing she needs.”
  5. “That was irresponsible.”
  6. “That’s what you get for whoring around.”
  7. “Slut.”
  8. “Wow! That baby does NOT look like a preemie.” (in response to our daughter being born 6 months after we were married)

As you may have already guessed, most of these comments (for which I have come up with VERY, VERY harsh responses in my head) came from people who were active in the church. The very people who are supposed to be a beacon of God’s grace!! And, with every plunge of sworded-tongue, I was so glad that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was a baby. A child. A person. A life. Because if I hadn’t been sure, I might have been shamed into making a much different decision.

While my heart cries for every child we lose to abortion (I would, quite literally, take them all in if I were allowed…or if it were humanly feasible), I am absolutely disgusted by the way we, as Christians, treat women who are walking in this period of confusion and guilt. We have to change the way we see these pregnancies if there is ANY way to end abortion. We cannot shame away abortion (you would think The Scarlett Letter would have taught us this by now). But, we have been given two extremely powerful weapons in this fight: hope and grace. Hope and grace. Hope and grace. Hope and grace. Say that out loud as many times as it takes to sink in.

My daughter (the one I never thought I wanted) constantly makes me see things in a way I never have before. Recently, she has insisted that she is the My Little Pony character Rainbow Dash (she even has the glitter costume to prove it). And, I will admit, at first I was NOT on board with this obsession. My Little Pony!! Glitter Rainbows!! But, as she prances around, shouting “I LOVE RAINBOWS!!! Rainbows make me happy,” I am reminded that I, too, love rainbows. They symbolize the hope and grace I have in Christ. The hope and grace I am supposed to share with other. There is a promise and freedom in rainbows.

Today, as I was trying to figure out how to piece together all the feelings, I came across a note I wrote to my daughter about her name:

Dearest Lillian,

One day you will hear a famous quote by a man named William Shakespeare: “What’s in a name?” Your daddy and I took very special care in picking out yours. While you might not share our last name forever, you will carry around “Lillian Grace” your entire life. And, we hope you do it with pride.

Lillian means in Hebrew “My God is a vow.” You will learn the overwhelming truth in this statement over the hopefully many years you are here on earth. For God’s promises will not fail you, even where you fall short. And, trust me, you will fall short. But, don’t worry, you are not alone: every single human has failed at some point or another. And, it is when you do that you will understand the meaning of the word (and your middle name) Grace.

However, the meaning of the name Lillian is not the only reason that you have your first name. One of Mommy’s favorite verses is Luke 12:27. It says to “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” As you will soon learn, the overall context of this verse is telling us to worry about nothing; God has it under control. Mommy and Daddy will spend our lifetimes trying to teach you this, and you will spend yours learning to comprehend the magnanimity of this lesson.

Mommy and Daddy can’t wait to meet you, and we can’t wait to watch you grow up! We know that you are a wonderful blessing, and will teach us so much more than we can ever hope to teach you.

Love Always,

Mommy

So, there you go, friends. God’s promises will not fail us. His hope and grace will not fail us. Embrace this. And, share it. #sharetherainbow

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*I do feel it particularly important to add that we were also afforded grace by many individuals. And it was refreshing and greatly appreciated.

I’ll Hold You Up, Friend

This past Sunday, I spent 2 hours getting ready. I dressed myself and two children (well, three if you count the heart-change Lillian had about her outfit) and packed three bags. You read that correctly. Three!! One for Lillian. One for Lucas. And the backup-diaper-bag I call a “purse.” I made lists. I checked stuff off. I made last minute dashes into the house for things forgotten. Mr. Moore and I then wrestled the children into their carseats. And, we looked at each other and sighed. We were on our way.

On the way to church, I reflected on all the happenings of the week. How I wish the kids would sleep through the night. How I’d gone to Starbucks a few too many times. How exactly I was supposed to process all the horrendous stuff going on in the news. How I this. How I that. Never once did I think how God was about to rock my perspective.

Halfway through the praise and worship portion of the service entered a man in a wheelchair. An elder wheeled the man to a spot up against a wall in the aisle, where they were met by a man in a striped shirt. The elder and the man in the striped shirt lifted their disabled brother out of the chair and into a pew.

After a brief exchange between the man in the striped shirt and the disabled man, I saw an act simultaneously so small, yet so great. The man in the striped shirt offered the disabled man his arm, and he lifted him up. And he held him there until the very last bar of the last song. And, there they stood, praising God in unison.

As I tried to discreetly remove the tears from my eyes, I started reflecting on this beautiful thing that had just taken place. And, I thought of how many times I’ve seen those around me struggling through this or that. And I’ve been too busy with checking off lists and packing bags. Or I’m too exhausted from sleepless nights. And, I have ALL THE GOSSIP in the news to formulate opinions on. I’ve just been too [me-centered] to offer an arm.

And, in these few minutes at church, I realized just how wrong I’ve been. And, really how wrong we’ve been as Christians. Friend, while I realize we are supposed to take care of our families and ourselves, we have totally missed the mark on taking care of each other. Or, at least I have. But, I am not called to be first. Or second (sorry, I Am Second, campaign). Or third. I am called to be last. I am called to hold others up.

starting from $1.99So, take my arm, my hurting friend, when you can’t stand on your own. I will hold you up. I can’t fix it, but I know the One who can. I will stand with you where you are. I will cry with you. I will pray for you. And, I know there will be a point in life where I need it. And, I hope you offer the same.

Helpful Self-Help

I don’t really like self-help books. Let me rearrange that sentence. I REALLY don’t like self-help books. Most of the time, they are filled with superficial fluff, and serve you only slightly better than watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (my guilty pleasure). And, when they aren’t as shallow as kiddie pool, they seem to tee you up to feel like an epic failure. Notwithstanding my feelings on self-help books, I finally found one that I feel obliged to share.

When we first got married, someone gave me a copy of The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Of course, in my true self-help hating fashion, I put it away in Randal’s shed with the rest of the books that didn’t quite make the cut to fill precious bookshelf space (I own a lot of books). I stumbled upon this book when cleaning out part of the shed. And, in a moment when our marriage seemed to be filled with a little less than sunshine, butterflies, and puppies, I curiously opened it up.

This book is great for a few reasons. First, you only have to read 2-3 pages per day. Second, the 2-3 pages are actually filled with substance that makes you think a little deeper. Third, each day comes with a non-cheesy “dare” that makes you apply what you’ve read. The first three dares included refraining from saying anything negative to your spouse. That’s 72 hours of not complaining and not pointing out any flaws. And, since I am obviously 100% perfection all the time, he needs me to point out these flaws, right?! How else would he know what he needs to fix?

And, I have to admit, it was somehow a very hard and very easy 72 hours. It was hard because it made me consciously think about what was coming out of my mouth. And, let’s face it, even for relatively quiet females (like myself), it’s easy just to talk for the sake of talking. However, it was amazing how easily the void of small nit-picky comments were filled with actual, deep conversation. And jokes. I love to tell silly jokes.

One thing I noticed is that negative words don’t just pervade my marriage. Snide remarks often find my conversations as I dole out gossip in an attempt to “relate” to others. Or my frustration leads me to say things that I know cut down rather than build up.

So, I am challenging myself. For the next 72 hours, I will not say anything negative to or about anyone. Period. Instead, I will try to replace negative words with gracious ones (or silence, if I’m about to break). This may not seem like a very long time; however, if you are female, and are prone to conversing with others, you may quickly realize exactly how hard this could be. I mean, what do you actually talk about if you can’t gossip?

Nap Time Ponderings: The Politeness of Love

There is so much that I want to write about, that I hardly know where to begin. It’s like life has handed me a smorgasbord full of opportunity, and I don’t know what yummy morsels I want to pile my plate up with first. So I’ve decided to settle the matter by letting through the words/ideas that seem to want out the most.

I’ve been mulling a few things in my head recently. That means that the poor husband has been forced to listen to my excitement over MULTIPLE “ah ha!” moments. It also means that I will further mulling these things over the only way I know how—pen and paper (or keyboard and MacBook, if you will). And I will write them out during nap time, hence the name (and unfortunate grammatical errors). 

A few years ago, I wrote a blog entry on purpose and love. I loved writing that blog post because it let me wrestle with the dichotomy of love and purpose, which I had been wrestling with in my head for quite some time. Now, I want to again touch on the subject of love:

First, I want to look at myself in the mirror.

Love is patient. I am not patient. Love is kind. I am not always kind. Love does not envy. I sometimes envy more than I care to admit. Love does not boast. It is not proud. Just two days ago I recall bragging to my husband about my “darn good chili” (more on that later). Love does not insist on its own way. But what if I really want it that way? Love is not irritable or resentful. Um, oooops. 

But, I am called to love. So, why am I so bad at it?

I will admit that it is a seemingly far-reaching conjecture, but I believe one of the reasons is this social norm we call politeness.

Think for a moment what it means to be “polite.” And then take a look at the definition of “polite” from Merriam-Webster:

Screen shot 2014-03-06 at 4.20.57 PM
Even the definition of the word is confusing. Is being polite being respectful? Or is it being socially correct and proper? And what if those two are at odds with each other?

 Here are some of the ways I have recently seen “politeness” pan out:

  • We give people unsolicited advice on a number of issues in their life, but when someone is truly hurting we leave them alone because we want to “give them space” or “not be rude.” I am certain that anyone reading has lived long enough to have experienced the loneliness that comes with going through a painful time.
  • When we do help others, we do so superficially, and gossip about it later.
  • We smile at our frenemies with hatred. We HAVE the word frenemies.
  • We tolerate others putting people down. Sometimes we help.
  • We are well-mannered individuals who care about being socially-respectable, and frankly, don’t want to be associated with “them.” This to me is one of the worst. And, unfortunately, it’s the one that I catch myself doing the most. For instance:
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Our dryer is currently out, so I had to venture to the [gasp] dreaded laundromat. I brought enough stuff to make sure people knew I didn’t “belong” there. My own snobbery is so shameful.

Where do we get off thinking that we are better than others because of their race, religion, socio-economic class, life choices, etc, etc?

I cannot think of this as acceptable any longer. So, from here on out, I will do my best to redefine politeness in my life. I will be respectful. I will look into the eyes of everyone. I’ll strive to be nice, but not fake. I will get down in the trenches of others’ lives. And I won’t talk about it later. I will love. Will you join me?