Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Gender Role Fight: Where Are You Looking For Truth?

It's 1:07am on a Saturday (Sunday?) and I'm upset. Again.

I write a lot of blog posts when I'm upset; maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't. Whatever.

(However, I am drinking coffee for the first time in 7 days, so I'm actually ecstatic-upset. Is that a real state of emotion?)

Lots of you know I started the Good Women Project recently, and have launched myself into a world where the dirtiest of secrets find their way into my inbox, I am bombarded with links to Men Are From Some Other Planet & Women Should Rule Everything To Make Up For The Last Eighteen Thousand Years articles, and can't go 24 hours without wrestling through a gender-related identity crisis in my own life.

I interact daily with women who hate men, women who hate women, women who love being women, women who hate being women, men who hate women, men who don't know if women should be women or if they should be men, men who wish women would be women, women who wish men would be women, and women who wish we were all just humans and the words men and women weren't in our vocabulary.

Men and women: You all are a trainwreck.

And it is breaking me.

The fight against gender roles has seared a deep brand into the flesh of this generation, and instead of healing, I'm watching it destroy.

The issue overwhelms me. Every part of it. Feminism, sexual orientation, civil rights, gender roles, marriage, glass ceilings, those stupid statistics on men making more money in the same position as their fellow female co-worker.

The ungodly number of research studies, statistics, polls, articles & books written on the topic makes me want to give up entirely. To say, "To hell with this. Everyone just shut up, and just BE."

Unfortunately, I can't say that. The topic is a loaded gun, and we're firing it every single day - aiming with good intentions and hitting all the wrong things.

The long and short of it is that hurt people hurt people. Yeah. Hurt people HURT people.

We must realize how and why we are hurt before we go around firing off missiles in the name of protecting people suffering from the same wounds we are.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Beauty Secretttttttttttts.

Hey girlies. This post is for you. :)

I asked a bit ago if you'd like to hear some of my beauty secrets, and the whole world flipped out and assumed that I had lots. I'm flattered.

But, unfortunately, I don't have a lot of secrets. I only have a few. And I'm about to have none, because in 10 minutes you will have read this and they won't be secrets anymore.

Also, I'm going to preface this by saying I am not a girl who spends an outrageous amount of money on cosmetics, hair product & skin care.

I lived this lifestyle briefly, and it broke both my bank and my heart. Why? I found out pretty quickly that the more I bought, the more time it took me to get ready in the morning. I also found that it sabotaged my definition of beauty, and how comfortable I was in my own skin. So, long story short, I decided it wasn't worth dropping a couple hundred a month in order to sleep less in the mornings and be more discontent with myself.

I also want to challenge you, women, to build your beauty routine around your desired lifestyle.

What on EARTH do I mean by that.

Here's what I mean. I can tell you right now that I look "better" with darker hair, and that for me, this means getting a full color every 8 weeks. This also means I have to use Schwarzkopf Bonacure Repair Rescue Shampoo (but NOT the corresponding conditioner, it's too heavy - have to pair it with Brocato Vibracolor Conditioner) because it is the ONLY shampoo in the entire world that can keep the dye from fading and pulling my natural red out in a strange way. No really, I even tried Moroccan Oil products and that didn't work.

Girls, that's well over a thousand dollars a year on just my hair - in one paragraph. And that doesn't even include at least four different kinds of product to keep stocked when I use heat (flat irons/curling irons) to "protect my hair." If that didn't bite, do some more math. Spend an hour in front of a mirror every morning Monday-Friday, and even if your time is only worth minimum wage, that adds another $1850 to the annual bill. Plus, I would argue that you are worth more than $7 an hour.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Woman's Guide to the 21st Century:

Hey everyone!

Today I am directing all of our readers over to Max Dubinsky's blog: MakeItMad.

Last summer, Max wrote A Gentleman's Guide to the 21st Century. For me, it was a massive slap in the face. I had forgotten that men like this were around. I knew that I'd started to settle & I'd already started working on that, but this reminded me that it was an all or nothing deal.

I was raised with high expectations for men, and in high school was blessed to be around extraordinarily good guys. No, seriously. I lived in a bubble that most of you will never experience. A bubble where all of my guy friends held the door open for us girls, took the lead at the dance parties we threw for every single one of our birthdays (and kept their hands in the right places), dropped all profanity when we were in the room, and never tried to 'get with us' unless they had a damn good date planned. I successfully made it through high school without ever having even kissed a guy.

Fast forward three or four years and I had been completely and entirely convinced that these guys were gone. I couldn't tell you how many guys I'd kissed. I'd have to ask you the definition of kissed if you asked that question. Did it mean making out, or did it include the intoxicated kisses around the room too? I remember sitting on the edge of my bed at one point and piecing this thought together: "I know what I'm worth. The man that deserves me does not exist. So, I'll just take what I want from him, and I won't feel guilty. I can't get what I need so I'll just take what I want. What feels good. For ME."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hearts That Bleed, & Blind Faith : Today I Drowned In Love.

Today, I drowned in love. Five years ago, I drowned for lack of it.

Five years ago, in my desperation for Love, I anchored my mind with the determined decision that I would never, ever leave God, and never, ever forsake him. Because He promised me that. And if He was going to promise me that, dammit, I would promise it back. I didn't love Him, not yet. But I was going to learn if it killed me.

How I came to this solution, out of all things, I have asked myself over and over. How I fell at God's feet instead of at the devil's? Well. Over the last five years I've found the answer:

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I knew, five years ago, that I didn't understand his love. That I didn't feel his love. That I didn't see it, I didn't understand it, I didn't trust it.

But in the moment my heart snapped in the dark, when something prompted me to crawl out of bed and kneel, with my face in my pillow, hands gripping my sheets, sobbing and lungs struggling for breath, at 17 years old, I also knew that he would be Everything to me.

I knew that this God that I didn't know would be my Everything. And I wanted to know Him.

When love steals our hearts, this is how it feels. This is what we know but cannot explain. We just know.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ice: A Short Story.

Closer, just one step closer. Must. See. It. Children are the ones who don't know when to stop, I'll be fine. I won't fall. Lungs like a vacuum, breath stops. Ice burns into every inch of me. My mind just as frozen as the water that I'm now submerged in, and I grab at the camera body that is driving itself into the dip below my hip bone, wanting to save what I know is already ruined. I rise, the splash as surreal and silent to everyone else as it was to myself. Does cold water freeze vocal chords instantaneously? Inexplicably calm. In less than two seconds I've accepted defeat. I deserve this. Maybe it is a spirit of acceptance that silences us, not the cold. Fascinated with my inability to speak out and scream for help, the silent voice in my mind asked a thousand questions a second. Sometimes, I wonder if that's just what emotion is. Questions, statements, exclamations; all at once, too fast to understand and just fast enough to feel. I watch those I was with move in slow motion on the snow covered ice, realizing I've dragged their filming equipment down with me. How many thouands of dollars did I just destroy? I laugh at them, to myself, that they would have entrusted me with their most valuable possessions; things I can barely even make use of. Fools. My mind begins to darken and I know that I will sink because I’ll freeze, and that I’ll freeze because I refuse to scream; not because I can't swim.

40 minutes passes before they've found a woman who can find me at the bottom of the lake and save me. Ten times longer than one can survive without breathing. I am dead. They know this. I know this. Utterly lifeless, and unsure of my consciousness stemming from a heart still beating or from a perspective outside of myself. Something snaps and for a brief second I see a connection between soul and whatever this is that I am experiencing. She touches me, and the water is completely clear. I see everything. The world. Everything. I follow her underwater, with every intent of surfacing through the same skylight in the ice that she does. I watch it seal itself in a way that physics don't allow as soon as she slips through, and my entire body knows that no, her way out is not mine. I flip, easily, now breathing in the water like it is my oxygen. Second nature. Like a seal trapped beneath the ice, metal doors appear in every direction and begin sliding shut, from ice to floor, boxing me in. I race to escape. I could call for this woman again, I know this. But I find myself accepting defeat again. So easily. Condemnation and self-hatred is absent; this is merely a passive agreement of apathy. The last door slams shut against the base of the lake, echoing to my core. Panic and peace woven together in a way we don't experience above water. She appears yet again, to save me. Who is this woman? She slides a ring I cannot see on my finger, and slips invisible jewelry on my neck. I breathe. Again. Peace. Again. She lifts a door effortlessly and pulls me to the top. She does not speak to me in my native tongue, she speaks to me in Grace. And somehow, I understand this language. She offers to go back under, suffering pain upon pain to retrieve my camera. Even though we both know the water has made it useless. She understands my grief. Placing a worthless camera back into my hand moments later, Grace takes another form: action. And gives me not what I need but what I want. And stays by my side.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

+ west. a bigger god. +



sometimes i wonder if the sky determines how i view god. out west, i am in love with a bigger god. in the midwest, i fight to see him through the clouds, and am constantly limited in what i believe of love.

to me, this is reason enough to move.

to be in love again, with a bigger god.

ps. ten points to anyone who can guess which photo(s) is/are of me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

+ that's when love gets so dirty. +

how did i become
a daughter you don’t have
a daughter you didn’t have
and a daughter you won’t get?

i know.
cause everyone wants an enemy
everyone wants a pretty memory
and everyone wants the best for themselves.

how did you manage
to make the imaginary thicker than reality
and how did righteousness
find it’s way into love

that’s when
that’s when love gets so dirty

Sunday, February 6, 2011

+ only one stone. +

I have so much to do before sleeping
I am sitting in a puddle
of little girl little love little do you remember
when you were too scared to move
the monsters in your mind
could almost beat out daddy by your side
tracing circles on the sheets and
invisible claws underneath
i'm so full of little girl little love oh so full
of nightmares and memories of hair bows and shadowed screams
bitter baby find the traces
of truer fantasies patterned with ties and laces
oh how your form softened
before you knew what they wanted
how your eyes sharpened and greyed
while he chiseled away her lossless faith
oh i'm so full
so very full

gripped, crystalized and
glassy eyes staring wide
she wouldn't know for years
her breath was frozen
and every element caught beneath the glass
trace slower, slower
the path tied up the forest in her heart
treading softer than she could
crushing crushing crushing
caught between every birthing cry
the path goes on forever
by speaking
by silence
killing two hearts with

Friday, February 4, 2011

+ Words, words, words. +

I’m still getting caught in my mind. Too many things catch my eye and force themselves inward. I crave heat. Lines and corners close me down until I pick up eyeliner in a no-commitment attempt to find change. So scared, so safe; be ashamed. I can hear the bass. And I can hear silence. Distracted by skin, I live through women who have no reputations and borrowed bank accounts. Faux hawks, full sleeves, I almost had you. I trace the edges of serifs in my minds eye and am too scared to dig them into my skin. I can’t remember the last time I could breathe. I tried last week with a cigarette but the winter air slapped me across the cheek for thinking I could do such a thing here. I stain white things on accident and innocent things on purpose. You were my outlet. I make plans to rip open necklines in hopes of using my collarbones as reminders that the sun will come. I choose heavy boots to prove to my thin legs that I’m walking; walking is moving; moving is progressing; progressing is finding what I had, right? I’m fine, really. I just can’t live without extremes.

there’s something scratching at my heart
it’s bleeding to get out
i keep my hands behind my back
so that
it’s not my fault when it gets loose
i need you here to hold me down
i can sever all these roots
will you
silence all this lace that’s slowly
tearing at my face
i’m unsure of the violent nature
it’s showing signs of taking
i need a witness to my faith
i’m only changing shape
in the beginning stage of breaking

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Grief, Lightning Storms, & A Broken Spirit.

I hugged my knees and stared up as far as I could. I watched the lightning flash across the Arizona sky and the outline of palm trees trace themselves against faint mountains in the distance.

My throat constricted as I tried to get out the words, "Daddy. Where are you. Where."

It was around midnight, and this had become my habit over the last two weeks. I fought through the day with all the hope in the world, and as soon as everyone else was asleep, my chest began aching with an intensity I was learning to expect. I escaped outside every night to sit alone in the cul-de-sac and watch the lightning storms. And cry.

The skies were strange here. Ohio lightning meant storms, and bad ones. Phoenix lightning meant God was in the sky, playing games. Reminding me that he was here, and that he was the same God, with the same stars, that had been present with me in every state I'd lived in.

Two hours of crying, every night, for weeks. Two hours of lightning storms. Two hours of learning that God was my father, and finding that I loved him - not just needed him. Two hours of asking why. Two hours of replaying in my mind years of things I will never repeat to anyone. Two hours of learning that I was held in a hand that adored me and had plans I wasn't expecting. Two hours of grief. Two hours of asking for nothing but God. Two hours of letting go of everything I'd ever known. I broke, every single night. Again, and again, and again.

I miss those lightning storms. I have never experienced so much love in so much pain.

Part of me misses having a heart ripped open and emotions entirely out of my control. Part of me misses having nothing to my name. When you've lost everything, and are at the complete mercy of God, there is a strange safety you feel that you will find nowhere else.

When your greatest fear arrives, you learn that your spirit breaks; your heart breaks - and your body survives. But blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Matthew 5:3, I love your promise.

And when the kingdom of heaven belongs to you, perfect love begins to cast out fear.

Those lightning storms taught me to call God, "Abba Father." They taught me that he was Daddy. Not just God. They taught me that grief is a gift. They taught me how to leave everything behind and what it meant to actually believe that God is good. Dark chocolate good. The one thing you always wanted good. Finally home good. They showed me that the guy up there operating the fireworks in the sky had nothing to do with religion, or the life I had left behind. He had to do with a love I'd never known - and a love and intimacy and place of belonging that I wanted for the rest of my life.

Those lightning storms taught me that I now fear nothing. Nothing.

I'm realizing that I write a lot about pain, grief, hurt. These are things we are programmed to shy away from, and to avoid at all costs. We all have our methods. We tell ourselves other people have it worse, that it's "just a feeling," or that we just can't deal with it right now. We rationalize our pain away and tell ourselves that tomorrow is more important than yesterday.

No. Today is all you've got.

If you are human, you are deathly sick. If you are in excruciating pain, you are blessed: Because you are being made aware of it. Pain is not our greatest enemy, comfort is. Get yourself to the operating room. Get outside and yell at God. Even if you are 100% convinced that you are yelling at the sky because you know he doesn't exist, get yourself to that operating room. Cry until your energy is sapped. The surgeon adores you, and he WILL show up.

Let me tell you something. Every time your heart breaks, you will lose little bits of it, like porcelain chips that are too small to glue back to the pieces of the plate. But if you let him, God will step in and be your glue - and the more your heart breaks, the more of it becomes God's heart.

One of my precious friends asked me last night what the point of living was. This is it.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. - Ezekiel 36:26

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Introducing The Good Women Project!

Hey guys! On February 1st, I launched a new project: The Good Women Project. Please take a moment to watch this little intro video I just filmed to let you know a tiny bit about it. You can explore the website at and follow us on Twitter at @GoodWomenProj.

Please shoot me an email at goodwomenproject[at] if you have any questions or would like to contribute to the project.

The most recent post on The Good Women Project is titled, "Calla's Story: Emotional & Sexual Abuse." Check it out.

Love you all dearly.

How To Be A Millionaire By 25: Love Is The New Currency. Part 1.

I just walked by my co-worker's computer, whose screen was filled with an image of Mark Zuckerberg, with "How To Be A Millionaire By 25" stamped across it.

We are conditioned to believe that money will make us happy. Particularly if it's above the million dollar mark. I've never seen an article titled, "How To Be A Ten Thousandaire," even though for a lot of us, this would solve our immediate financial problems and provide a flight to our most coveted vacation destination.

I don't need to tell you that money won't make you happy. It will probably make you happier, but ultimately, it won't achieve "The Happy."

So, I have taken it upon myself to write a better article; one that doesn't include telling you how to code yourself into millions of dollars while losing friends and becoming nearsighted along the way. Here goes.

Realize that you cannot fix your own problems; you need others. Old hurts, daddy issues, image issues, personality flaws, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, selfishness, an inferiority complex, pride, distrust, there are so many. I have dealt with all that I just listed. Acknowledge them. Admit them out loud. And actively work on tackling the messed up parts of your heart and mind, with others. Get counseling. Get prayer. Confide in people who will work on rebuilding you. Childhood scars everyone, did you know that? We're born broken. We're born dysfunctional. We're born with the inherent need to lean on one another in order to find Love, and in doing so, rebuild our hearts.

Learn to give. I didn't give things naturally the first 20 years of my life. I didn't grow up being generous. 90% of the arguments I landed myself in during the first 15 years of my life stemmed from my sister taking things of mine. I've worked hard for everything I own, and it takes a heart-shift to realize that everything in our homes, bank accounts, pockets, and purses are not ours but God's. By the time you're 25, give regularly and give on a whim. What do I mean by this? Both are important. It's important that you plan to give (IE. $35 a month to sponsor a child) regularly, and it's important that you learn to give in the moment (IE. Buying coffee for the person behind you, giving a dollar to a kid crying in the department store). When you learn to give, it will change your understanding of permanence, materialism, and the value of people over things.

Love your body. No really, I mean it. Love how you were created. This is a hard thing for me to talk about, for two reasons. I am blessed to be put into the 'pretty' category by most people. And at 5'7" and 120lbs, I don't have anything to complain about. But here is where we discover just how deep our insecurities are, women (and men). When I was 13 years old, I asked my mother if I was pretty. She hesitated, and replied, "Well, there are different kinds of pretty." Translated: No. So, since age 13, I believed that I just wasn't pretty, and that was fact. Growing up, I was skin and bones. My parents, relatives, and lots of my friends made fun at me for being so skinny. I was painfully self-conscious, and refused to wear shorts up through high school. Yes, through high school. My uncle used to call me "Skinny Minnie," and I cried over it. I hated swimsuits. Because I was so thin. Go ahead, hate me, women. Emotional scarring is all the same. I accepted that I was not pretty at a very early age, and that being lanky was a curse. (Lanky Lankford - don't think I didn't hear that one. Ouch.) Then, one day, a couple of years ago, I just decided to not deal with it anymore. I gave up on hating how thin I was, hating certain aspects of my body, and hating that I'd never be the tanned, blonde girl with a flashy personality. I accepted that I was created this way and there was nothing I could do about it. And guess what, I still can't do the tanned, blonde girl look. I can't be the dark eyed, exotic beauty. And I can't be the stunning red head with freckles perfectly placed across my cheeks. All three of these girls I would rather be. But take a look at this picture of little me. Yes, pale skinned, victorian-era girl with haphazard curls in my face? I can be her. Because I was made to be her. And I've fallen in love with how I am.

Pursue joy actively. This is a decision you make, not something you stumble upon, or reach once you achieve x, y & z. Decide to pursue joy, ask God for it, put yourself in places where you receive joy from others, and take time alone to restore your heart. When we are whole-hearted, we live in joy.

Write a mission for your life.
I'm not talking about a career path, goals, hopes, dreams, etc. I'm talking about what kind of person you want to be known as. Who you are is infinitely more important than what you accomplish. A few years ago, I was handed an index card and told to write down what I wanted to be remembered of me. I wrote, "that she showed grace and compassion, regardless of what was deserved." That line has remained in my wallet, and molded and shaped who I am over the last few years. It keeps me in line. When my emotions get the best of me and I relapse into a bitter, "but this is what I deserve," - I remember that compassion and grace are worth the sacrifice.

Love your handicap. If someone sat you down and asked you which moments in your life were the most painful, would you tell them? There's a reason that "rock bottom" is a phrase we all know. I wrote a post on pain and grief a few months ago, as well as on loss. Ladies and gentlemen, your handicap is where God has chosen to give you unique value, unique faith, and unique access to his heart. You will find more love and more close friendships in your handicap than you will anywhere else. Your loss, your betrayal, your shame, your divorce, your parents, your depression, your disease, your heartbreak, your addiction, your rape, your mistake, your abuse, your dysfunction - this is where we see God and where he will use you for the rest of your life. I would argue that he created you for this. It is a blessing. In the words of darling Jeni, "it is not a design flaw, it is my gift." Stop sweeping it under the rug, and hoping that the ache will go away. Face it, talk about it, share it, and seek healing in it. God will use it, I promise you.

Find your point of perspective. I wrote a post called "" awhile ago that deals with finding joy. Let me keep this short and sweet, though: Perspective is everything. It is so easy to become wrapped up in the details; we forget that 95% of what we do today won't matter a year later. Start making decisions based on what is permanent. "So fix our eyes not on the seen, but on the unseen, for it is the seen that is temporary but the unseen is eternal." - 2 Corinthians 2:18

Memorize these phrases: "I'm sorry", "I don't know", & "What do you need?" These phrases are probably the three most life-changing additions to my weekly vocabulary. Learning to apologize simply, admitting that you don't know the answer, and asking what someone else needs are will get you far in life. It keeps you living in humility and breaks the cycle of self-centeredness.

That's it for today. Stay tuned for Part 2.

- - -

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