How you doin?

A week ago I did an Instagram study to find out how many people answer honestly when someone asks how they’re really doing. It came out to about 30% of people responding honestly, and 70% of people not being honest. I proceeded to ask, “if you aren’t honest, why?” And “if you are honest, how has that helped or hurt you?” I was very interested in these answers and learned I needed to make some changes both on the asking and the answering side in my own life.

Most answers as to why people were not answering honestly were because they didn’t feel that the question was asked sincerely and because they were afraid to seem broken or vulnerable, especially when they felt others were dealing with worse feelings or situations.

So this made me think…do I mean it when I ask someone how they’re really doing? And am I prepared if they give me a real answer? Because if I’m not asking and genuinely wanting to know, why am I asking? And if they’re telling me they’re not ok, how am I going to handle that?  How is my response going to impact them?

We can’t all be Joey Tribbiani and get by with…

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I don’t want to go into this heavy, but it’s a real thing that needs to be given some weight. We should be sincerely checking on our friends, and I think we can do better at this. If we are asking how someone is doing just to be polite, then maybe we should find another mannerly greeting, and save the “how are you really’s” for serious conversations. People become accustomed to answering, “good,” “fine,” and “ok,” and then they can feel obligated to be ok even when they’re not.

It’s ok to not be ok.

It’s ok to not be ok and tell your friends the truth when they ask.

And here’s how I know. The people that said they answered honestly when asked how they were doing, they are here to tell about it.  Their honesty, good or bad, didn’t knock them out of the game. They worked through their season of not being ok. They talked about it, and it wasn’t easy, but it was just a moment.  It was light momentary affliction.  And in that moment they saw the importance of opening up, laying it out, and letting someone else bear some of that weight with them.

So the next time you ask, “How are you doing?” make sure you’re prepared to really hear your people out and to lean into them.  And the next time someone asks how you’re doing, tell them and give them the freedom to do the same!

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Making Excuses

Do you ever say yes to plans and then immediately feel sick knowing you’re committed to going? Yes, this thing sounds so fun, just what I’ve been looking, waiting, and wishing for, but now I’m having a mild panic attack. I do this all the time. I overthink all the ways that I could be awkward, unqualified, or unpolished, and begin to form excuses for why I just shouldn’t go at all.

This past week was a week of excuses. I was invited to a blogger meet up with some incredibly beautiful and creative women from Champaign. I’ve never been to anything like this and was crazy excited to meet women just as passionate about blogging and life as me. But soon I could feel the excuses starting to build:

I have nothing to wear.

They have thousands of followers on Instagram.

I need a hair appointment.

I have homework.

Maybe I should vacuum the whole house.

And hey laundry, I see you.

All of the ridiculous excuses were flowing now and I was talking myself out of going.

But I went, and I’m so thankful I did! These women were just like me with chaotic schedules, kids at their ankles, stresses at work, and insecurities of their own. They understood. I understood. And we shared and laughed and connected.

Making excuses is really easy and it’s even easier to give into them and give up on the things that can change your heart, change your situation, or maybe even change your life. So let’s make less excuses and take more steps towards the things that move us and scare us. We should let our hearts get stirred up. Let’s let them race because we’re challenging our normal rhythm. Because it’s in those places that we find truth, we find strength, we find trust, and we find love. It’s in those places that I found a cup of tea, blog ideas, cupcakes, and a table of women that are just like me.

Starving

Sometimes I can’t sleep at midnight and I find poems and quotes that ignite writing ideas and projects to help me love people better.  This is my initial take on an excerpt from Ann Voskamp’s book, “The Broken Way.”   But then I dug in and asked some questions on Instagram, and had somewhat of a change of heart. I got answers I expected to get, and some I didn’t.  Some answers made me sad, and some filled me up.  I’m starting to put those pieces together and I still don’t have a real title for this little project, so, for now, I’m just going to call it, “Questions & Answers.”  Below are my thoughts right after reading Ann’s post, but I know now that I have so much more to consider.

How are you…for real…like really?

How’s your plate?

We are starving.

Our plates are full, yet we are starving.

We all have heaping plates. Our plates are piled high with standards, overflowing with agendas, and teeming with fear and lies. Yet here we sit at the table with our bellies already full of mistakes and messes that are eating away at us and we’re too afraid to purge them. So we starve.

The act of purging our messy lives and letting our vulnerabilities flow out is yuck, and we certainly don’t want anyone watching while we do it. It’s the bringing back up of all the junk and nastiness that’s been sitting inside us that we haven’t been able to get rid of. No one is pretty when they throw up. So we just try to hold it all in.

But when we don’t empty our bellies we can’t touch our plates. They just continue to pile while we sit hungry.

When we don’t pour out our hearts even just a little-broken piece at a time, we can’t feast at the communion table and we miss the meal of freedom. We miss the freedom that is found in being seen, heard, and understood by another brave soul because we think it’s so much easier to hold in our struggles and hurts and sins.

But is it really…like really?

No, it’s really not. 

We are actually starving ourselves of bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2, Romans 15:7, Hebrews 10:24). We have each other for a reason.  We were given mouths to speak truth, grace, and healing on behalf of others.  We were given hands to hold up faces, place on shoulders, and to pull others out of darkness.  So we cannot be afraid to share our broken places.  We cannot be afraid to bring up the bad to make room for the good. We cannot be afraid to be vulnerable because we are all starving.  Not one of us can feed ourselves so we must lead each other to the only one who can fill us up.

 

Stymied

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I have a love for words and phrases. I’ll read something and then have to write about it. I read the word, stymied, in a book recently and thought it was pretty neato! I probably liked this one because it reminded me of Stymie from the Little Rascals. I love his quote,

You only meet your once in a lifetime friends… once in a lifetime.

The boys all had a falling out because of a girl, and the fear of losing their buddy. It reminds me of the friends I used to have and the friends I have now. The good friends, the bad friends, and the best friends and begs me to ask why we are or are not friends anymore.

Stymie means to hinder another from reaching a set or planned goal. That’s not what friends do, is it? Stop each other from reaching our goals? No, it’s not what we should do as friends, but sometimes it’s exactly what we do, intentionally and unintentionally.

Sometimes we don’t like when our friends are successful, especially if we aren’t benefiting or reveling in our own success. We don’t think it’s fair that our highs and lows aren’t coinciding with theirs and we sometimes lose great friendships over it.

Maybe we are failing at all the things while our friend seems to be bounding up ladders at work, school, life, or in social circles. So we try to bring them down to our level out of fear. We don’t cheer them. We don’t encourage them. We belittle them and minimize their efforts. We start to pick them apart and they begin to lose their pieces. We make them think they’re off track, that they’re missing their marks, and that they are less than they really are. And then they act less, then they start losing their grip and slipping down. We’ve intentionally stymied our friend. We broke a thriving person out of our own selfishness and lack of trust in God’s unique path for our life.

Unintentionally stymieing however is something I’m most often guilty of. I hate to admit this because now you’ll all know! And I’ll be held accountable. But I have the absolute best friends and I really want to keep them! We tell each other our hopes, dreams, goals, and struggles and hurts. We share it and bare it all. But when it comes time for me to give advice, I hold back. I know where my friend sits and I know where they want to be, but out of fear, I sugarcoat the truth of what they need to do to get there. I know that the truth might be really hard, that it might hurt, that it might mean they have to change something and I’m afraid to say it out loud even though I know it could make their mountains move.

Today I feel the weight of this word, stymie and know that it all comes down to another word, fear. We are afraid of our failures, afraid of a little grit on the way to our goals, and afraid of words that need to be said.

“These are conversations that need to happen; this is discomfort that must be felt…we have to acknowledge that our lack of tolerance for vulnerable, tough conversations is driving our self-sorting and disconnection,”                                                                                    -Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness.

We fear a life where plans may not make sense, but that fear can lead to losing ourselves and losing our once in a lifetime friends.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/ecc.4.9-10.niv

Being Real & People Who Don’t Understand

A friend posted this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit on her Instagram a long while back and I have tried to put into words how it’s made me feel and I just haven’t been successful. Little does my friend know, but it made me stop, take a breath, and have a good cry. The Velveteen Rabbit was a stuffed rabbit that was turned into a real rabbit through feeling love from his child owner.  The child becomes sick and all his toys from his room must be burned, including the rabbit.  But love saved the rabbit from being burned with the other toys and gave him the freedom to join the real rabbits in the forest. This made me think of my God loving me enough to save me from death, and offering me a new life if I only show his love to others. If I only am real with others.

Being real, like really real, is not an easy undertaking for anyone. That’s why we all don’t try it. It’s so much easier to sweeten up reality and delete words and retype them a hundred times until they say the perfect thing everyone wants to hear. We all want to just hang with the cool kids like we’ve belonged there the whole time.

But I’m just not a cool kid no matter how hard I try. I have never felt the sureness of truly fitting in with the crowd. Ever.  It always feels forced and awkward.  Some people just don’t seem to get me and that just has to be fine, but it hasn’t always been.  It actually will eat at me and make me cry and angry and question my whole heart and mind and face and clothes and how I mother and how I speak and how I write and how I live. But maybe they are never meant to understand me.  Maybe I just have to keep on loving them anyway.

Loving people that don’t love like you is real hard. Loving people that don’t show love is hard. Loving people that don’t love themselves is hard. Loving people that don’t love Jesus is hard. Loving people that only love themselves is hard. Loving people is exhausting. Your eyes get tired of looking for the good, and your arms get tired of reaching out and wrapping around people that may never do the same for you.  But love is real.  Love is the most real thing you can do for another person. Love is what we are here to do, what we are called to do because of what love did for us, and love is the only thing that will save us from ourselves.

Love is Jesus upon a cross, held there by the sins of people that struggled to love. People that look a lot like you and me.  We struggle to love and feel loved because we are real human. We want things to go our way, make sense, and just go about our day. So when we meet people that love for real we think there must be something wrong with them, they must have some other motive, there is no way their feelings can be real.  Who would love like this, expecting nothing in return?  Who would give up their time and hearts and selves like this, only to be scarred and burned? Love can feel a lot like hurt and look a lot like work.  But I think I’d rather be real and love the best that I can than be who I’m not and never hold Jesus’ nail-scarred hand.

John 13:34

1 John 4: 7-8, 19-21

Matthew 5:43-48

Boots on the Ground

“Fellas, we gotta have boots on the ground.” My father in law likes this phrase, and he uses it to encourage his employees to seek out new customers in new areas. It’s always stuck with me, so I decided to apply it to myself. Get my own boots on the ground.

In the military boots on the ground means ground troops who are on active service in a military operation. It makes me think of my Marine brother stepping off of military planes in each deployment, and troops driving through cities looking into faces that sometimes seethe with hate. The troops aren’t always physically fighting, but they are actively there and ready to go. They are focused on the job. They are aware of their surroundings, but not distracted by them, and they are prepared to take on whatever comes at them. They have boots on the ground.

When I woke up this morning I took a minute to think about the hard things I feel called to do in the coming year, and the fear started to creep in. Go back to school, write books, speak, sing, let go of old things, take hold of new things, be more of myself, and continue to grow in faith.  It’s going to be a fight to stay motivated, stay focused, stay inspired, be vulnerable, and stay in God’s word. It’s going to be a battle of pushing through the ugly struggles, dodging life’s bullets, and turning my face from distractions that might look like the way out of the war zone. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be hard because it’s going to be so good, and so worth it, and so hoped and prayed and wished and worked for. I shouldn’t be afraid of this, yet here I am letting the lies fear conjures in a person echo in my ear.

I brushed off the thoughts and I got out of bed with both feet on the floor to began my day like any other day.

But today was different, the worried thoughts kept coming, but the fear didn’t stay.  Reminders of hope and courage and faith popped up all day long. Reminders of God’s love for me in a friend’s message of encouragement, reminders of what he’s already done for me all over the faces of my children, reminders of the the remarkable places he’s taken me, reminders of what he’s brought me out of, and reminders of the way he’s leading me with every step right now.  He reminded me that I don’t have to actively fight these battles in my life.  I just have to let God actively be there and be ready to go when he calls me.

I gotta have boots on the ground.

I am Martha

I wrote this post almost 2 years ago, but it still feels true today. I’m still fighting to be Mary in a Martha Mindset. But I’m seeing the beauty a little clearer now. There is freedom in letting go of some of the things that are holding on to me. I’ve laid down a few things this year. Saying goodbye is hard. But now I get to sit at Jesus’ feet and just wait, just breathe, just trust that God has my next move. I turned 30 years old today and I needed to read these words again to start this next season of my life.

I am Martha, running around trying to guarantee my worth and everyone else’s happiness.”- www.shereadstruth.com

I read this phrase in the She Reads Truth devotional, and it hit me in just the right way so that I could see my struggle and the things it’s keeping me from.

I struggle being Mary in a world where I’ve always been Martha.


Luke 10:38-42
At the Home of Martha and Mary
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

See Martha saw the need for the table to be set and the food to be made and to
MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.

But Mary saw the real need, JESUS.  Mary set aside the busy life stuff, and saw the importance of sitting at Jesus’ feet so she might hear the words he had for her.

The calling on my life to be a sharer of God’s word has grown stronger and more difficult this year. Before, when I felt like he was just calling me to write words on a page, that wasn’t so scary. But now that I’ve felt the calling to share the words he gives, it gets messy. That’s when I become Martha. I go over and over the things I write, not trusting that they are from him, so they are good. I set the words out into the world and then worry about what everyone thinks of them and thinks of me, not trusting that they are from him, so they are good. Not trusting that I am obeying, so God is being glorified. Not trusting that the acceptance of others amounts to nothing at the end of my life when I’m face to face with Jesus trying to explain why my love of people and acceptance is greater than my love of obeying him.

My biggest ugliest struggle is the time, thought, and emotion I put into pleasing other people. With this struggle, there comes a time when you just lose your ever loving mind because some people just CANNOT be happy.
I have to stop letting my concern with other people get in the way of my ability to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to what He is saying.


I want to be Mary. I want to just drop my need for order and wanting to have everything put together all the time. I want to ditch my desire for acceptance from EVERYONE. I want to trust that God is fully able and doesn’t need my assistance to run his show. I want to be Mary and sit at Jesus’ feet. I want to be Mary and hear what God has for me.
I want to be Mary and know that acceptance from God is all I need.


So let me tell you something really beautiful. WE  ALREADY HAVE HIS ACCEPTANCE.  

All of us.

He accepted us when he sent his son to die on a cross for us. He accepted our sins and paid them in full before we were even brought to life. And all he wants is for us to be like Mary. To sit at his feet. To wait on him. To trust him. 

We all have Martha moments, but life is much more fulfilling when we learn to be Mary.