Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Like a Girl"

For as long as I can remember "like a girl" has been a negative phrase.  Coaches told me not to hit the ball "like a girl."  Teachers responded to hurt feelings or tears with a warning: "don't be such a girl about it."  I've heard baseball fans heckle opposing teams with one enduring insult: "you swing like a girl!"  Boys tease other boys on the playground for being "a girl" or "a sissy" for various reasons. In short, the phrase is used to shame and minimize girls and boys alike.


Why has the description "like a girl" become a common place taunt?

What if we (as women, as men, as a society, as a human race) worked to RECLAIM the phrase? What if we make the phrase "like a girl" mean daring and courageous things?

I salute the Always company and their quest for this reclaiming.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Hallelujah, summer is here!

Today calls for a little celebration!

I just turned in final grades for two of the hardest courses in the COMM program.  Two courses, in miscalculated delirium, I chose to teach simultaneously.  After endless hours of grading, final scores have been submitted to the registrar.

My next move it to jump on the couch and rock an air guitar for approximately 10 minutes.  Allow these outbursts of dance to fully communicate my excitement.

Bring on the summer! Looking forward to sunny days, pool parties, camping trips, walks with Addie dog, swim lessons with nephews, cookouts, and vacations!

Hallelujah! Summer is here!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hope. Not (Yet) Faith.

Several thoughtful texts were exchanged between Tennessee and Puerto Rico today; I guess that's the going rate of conversation when my best friend is a world traveler. Today the notion of hope sifted from our texts.

I don't typically speak of hope.  Perhaps because I identify as (a bit of) a cynic on many topics, and critics regard hope with incredulity. Yet, I see a pattern of hope in my life--- but a hope that is different from my long held understanding of faith.

In everyday conversation, I often use the two words interchangeably: "I hope your flight arrives on time" and "I have faith your flight will go smoothly." See how easily these words can be exchanged for the other? Perhaps such interchangeability is a mistake! In fact, the book of Hebrews defines faith as the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things not yet seen. Faith is characterized by notions of assurance, hope, certainty, and mystery. Faith is not defined as hope.

My point? Simple. I believe there are times, topics, and circumstances for which I feel hope but lack faith. For years and years, I prayed for my future husband to come along.  I prayed incessantly for something I highly doubted. I wanted a brave love but did not feel assurance God had that relationship in the cards for me. 

And yet, when I flip through old prayer journals, I see those prayers repeated over and over again. Refashioned prayers where I petitioned candidly for "Scott" [side note: my Scott turned out to be an Adam]. These detailed prayers are indications of hope... or my insanity.

Most of my life I've thought of hope as an honorable but dainty characteristic. A winsome trait I lacked in manner and faith. But my understanding of hope is changing.  I no longer classify hope as the delicate sister of faith. Instead, I've come to see hope as enduring madness because hope is longing for something you aren't certain will ever come to pass.

But let us hope anyway. Hope wildly and frequently. Hope for safe flights, brave loves, restored relationships, renewed purpose, wholeness, and other "insanities."  Pray prayers of repeated lunacy that indicate your unassured hope. May God meet us in those utterances... and maybe even turn our hopes into faith and fruition.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Celebrating with E

A week ago one of my best friends went hiking.  On that fun Saturday outing, her fella got down on one knee and asked her to be his wife.  I've been excited for her everyday since she started dating Leon but that joy has doubled since she responded with a YES!

It's easy to celebrate with E!  Her journey towards finding her "one" is relate-able.  She wasn't the prom queen or the sorority socialite.  Instead, she was the college girl who developed a handful of friendships---- but you always heard the most laughter from behind their dorm room door.  E is fun to celebrate because her journey is real, not riddled with fairy dust and easiness.  Though E is gorgeous, she is down to earth.  She's reserved and, yet, one of the silliest friends I've ever had.  She is authentic... but without lording her humility over you and making you feel lesser.

I am excited to be excited for my friend as she basks in the joy of loving Leon and choosing marriage.  My joy doubles when I think upon her journey that has led to this romance.  I am grateful for all the prayers that broke her of fear and trembling (a closed-ness she once knew).  I am grateful that she is a Christ lover and seeker, enabling Him to slowly but surely mold her as He sees fit (Jeremiah 18:6).  He alone has made straight her paths (Proverbs 3:6).  He has prepared her for what lays ahead.

And so... I celebrate with E!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hosea, Dancing, and Great Love

My church is doing a series on Old Testament prophets. We kicked off with the book of Hosea, which has been neat because I haven't read Hosea in years.

Allow me to recap the primary concept from this book: Hosea marries a prostitute named Gomer who keeps returning to her lesser lifestyle instead of remaining with Hosea, who loves her desperately.  Their union is meant to be a reflection of how we (all of humanity) respond to God's great love: "yeah yeah, I hear you Jesus. That's nice that you care for me and have plans for my life. Now off to the brothel I go."

The first few chapters of Hosea are glorious.  We see him repeatedly seek out Gomer and she returns to him (again, symbolism for our tendencies). Here is an excerpt from chapter 2.
Therefore I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.  There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor [which means trouble] a door of hope.  There she will respond as in the days of her youth...  "In that day," declares the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband' and no longer call me 'my master'." (verses 14-16).
Now, just to be credible, please don't think the whole of Hosea is a sing-songy depiction of God's fierce love and forgiveness for His people. For a large portion of this book, that is not the tone. In fact, the bulk of Hosea describes God's frustration with His people who keep turning from Him. He's good to them, He loves them, He leads them, but they are rebellious still. Hosea catalogs all of this.

But like a loving Father, the story doesn't end in anger and well-deserved punishment.  He ends by nearly making a fool of Himself and going into the brothel after us (just as Hosea went after Gomer again and again). Chapter 14:4 says,
I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away...
Mark, my pastor at Crossings Knoxville, showed this video as a memorable summary of God's great love, reflected in the story of Hosea.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

USPS is my favorite...

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has made this a fun week by bringing exciting items to my door.
First, my wedding invitations came today!  Second, a pal's baby shower gift showed up this afternoon. Finally, en route to my home are four different books from my amazon wish list.  Note: If I were Meredith Pace, this would be my everyday life, ha ha, but I'm only an amateur book lover in comparison with Mere.

Normally, the wedding invitations would take the cake, but one of the books on its way to my loving arms is Khaled Hosseini's newest novel.

Ohhhhh beautiful, talented Khaled Hosseini.  I adore this author. And because of my sincere respect for his gift, I've grown bitter that there's only two Hossieni masterpieces published... until now.  His third novel was released this week and will be consumed upon its arrival.

I cannot wait to enjoy And the Mountains Echoed. The very thought of its arrival is making USPS my favorite.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Don't Believe Cheryl Crow and Other Hindsights

You know that saying: hindsight is 20/20?
What a true statement!  I find that I can see so clearly when I reflect back.

This morning, as I was driving to work, one of my favorite "girl jams" from the 90s came on the radio.  If you grew up in my era, you're probably familiar with Cheryl Crow's Strong Enough.  Man oh man did I love that song! I would play it on repeat in junior high and high school (right along with all things Alanis Morisette, old-school Jewel, and eventually the Dixie Chicks. Shout out to the Lilith Fair days.)

Anyway, back to the song.
I was a bit surprised this morning as I re-absorbed the lyrics.  Three minutes down the interstate and my blood was boiling because it's actually a horrible song for women (especially impressionable teenage girls).  Here is the chorus, the sole idea repeated throughout:

Are you strong enough to be my man?  Lie to me, I promise I'll believe. Lie to me, but please don't leave.   -Cheryl Crow, Strong Enough, 1994 
Crow begins and ends the song by mentioning her frustration ("I feel like hell tonight" and "When I've shown you I just don't care & I'm throwing punches in the air").  In between it all, she coos to her fella: are you strong enough for this? Strong enough to support me, bad days and all?  If you aren't, just lie.  Lie and I'll believe it... because what's worse than the lie is being alone.

What a tragic message to teach women!  And honestly, it's nothing new in our culture. For instance, how many women do you personally know who stay with someone who's basically an okay guy because it's someone?


I hate to admit it, but Crow's message made roots in my teenage heart-- deeper than I want to acknowledge.  Hindsight is 20/20 on this one.  Truth is: throughout my college & grad school years, every guy I ever dated, I knew I didn't want to marry.  Every single one of them, I knew... and yet I'd stay in the relationship.

Isn't that systematically ridiculous? That women are taught to seek any relationship because it beats solitude?  What a bullshit notion!  Being in a bad relationship isn't better than being alone.  In fact, even being in a decent relationship does not trump singleness; I'd argue it's the pretty-good romances that really mess with your head because you spend your days convincing yourself to settle instead of getting out of the relationship.

So I guess here's what I'm trying to say:
Cheryl, your melody is lovely but your lyrics are abhorrent.  Those words speak an ugly message into our world, especially to women who are already tempted to believe that being alone is the worst of all realities.  I'd like to state for the record: if you're with a guy who is not strong enough to be your man, then get the hell out.  If you're with a fella just to be with someone: move on.  Staying means you believe the lie that being in a relationship is better than being out of one (which just isn't true)!  
And if you are single, that's alright. Even on the days where singleness feels like an abyss of solitude and marital hopelessness, remind yourself that you're okay and lonely days pass. If you're single, you likely have pluck which makes you a stunning beauty (and we should be friends)

Finally, in either case, it's time to remember that we know not the minute or hour when *Prince Charming might show his face at last.

*double entendre for you to chew on.