identity.

I am regularly confronted with my lack of identity.  so much “chatter” blocks our way to think clearly about who we are in Christ.  sometimes who we want to be is the distraction.  at least for me.  I get pretty focused on all the “I’m going to start doing……” that I don’t just sit still and embrace who I am right now.

we can’t forget that we are a work in progress.  who we are RIGHT NOW is just as important as who we WILL be.  you can’t get to your new place if you don’t acknowledge the current state of your life, mind, dreams, attitudes, abilities, successes and shortcomings.  i’ll be honest….I haven’t figured out this dance.  I just now started even considering these things.

how do I get there?

how many aspirations are too many?

if you need to take things “one at a time”, where do you even start?

I know that right now in my life, I have 5 goals:

  1. To spend more time with God.  Everything rests on this.  If I can’t get this, then I can’t get anything.  (so I guess I know where to start….)
  2. To get healthy.  this is in several different areas.  I need to get back to eating better and exercising.  being a working mom is hard.  now, this is not an excuse, because I know plenty of moms who manage to do these things while working and having MORE than one child, but eating well (while I LOVE healthy food) is not my strong suit because I always wait until I’m too hungry and too tired to care…this needs to change and I realize only I can truly make it happen.  I over complicate this goal.
  3. To serve and give more.  I am actually taking steps on this one, though it terrifies me knowing how imperfect a person I am.  and let’s be honest, I can be pretty arrogant with thinking I know the way of things when deeply I know I don’t.
  4. To be a better wife.  These last two are the most important, but feel the most daunting.  I take photos with my sister for her wedding photography business.  one of the greatest perks to this (outside of getting to hang with my sis all day) is hearing people say their vows.  I am reminded (and discouraged) every time…reminded what it means to love, how exciting it is to love, and how far short I fall daily.  thinking goal number 1 will help me get to this one, because outside of that, there are days that it feels impossible to overcome my stubborn humanistic ways.
  5. To be a good mother.  now, I know that your husband is your first, but I guess loving my husband doesn’t feel as out of reach and confusing as parenting my beautiful daughter and loving her in the way God has called me to.  she is so, so, so easy to love…beautiful, smart, and full of awe.  there is an intense ache in my heart to love her better…always to love her better.  I want to be Jesus to her until she knows who Jesus is.  I want her to find Jesus early.  I want to cultivate an atmosphere of freedom and acceptance, while being sure I am raising her in discipline and truth.  there are so many things I want for her…I want her to feel safe and loved and joy and freedom and bravery.  and I realize everyday, as she says more sentences, as she learns to do more things, that I need God more than ever to raise her right.

While it is only 5 goals, these are lofty.  and they take diligence and perseverance.  sadly, my goal-oriented self has to compete with my lazy self.  it’s easy to feel inspired and keep things rolling 3 or 4 days, then all of a sudden I get bored of being systematic, or my rebellious nature comes out and I just quit.

i recently heard of a person who writes down every morning 3 goals for the day, 3 things he is thankful for and 3 attitudes he wants to practice throughout the day.  perhaps with morning prayer and focusing my thoughts on what i want for the day, i can accomplish healthy choices and will be filled with the holy spirit in my interactions with my spouse and my child.  and time with God is like drinking water…you need it, and the more you drink it, the more you crave it.

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the talons of social media

let’s take a journey back to the early 2000’s….the birth of friendster, myspace, facebook and twitter.  I was just old enough to want to express myself, but still too young to enter into a world where people’s attention defined me.  of course, I couldn’t possibly see the lurking danger behind this pretty page where I could pick a photo of myself, a fun backdrop, and eventually even put my “thoughts” to music!  it was a new thing where all of a sudden we felt “seen”….which is what most of us hope for – to be noticed, seen, appreciated.  with the introduction of social media, I believe a huge piece of humanity died, and in the place of that death, over time, a new sense of self was born…a confused beast that struggles to tend to its roots.

as I have posted before, social media is really great.  I blogged about why I left Facebook back in 2014 – with all the perks to it, 4 years later, I truly do not miss it at all.  I still have an instagram site, and they are TRULY difficult to give up.  we all have our reasons to keep them:  stay in touch with family; look at photos of nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc.; networking for personal businesses; finding great deals on instashops and varage sale (which I still think is bogus that you can only use if you have facebook….lame), and then the sites like @natgeo or @historyphotographed that show great photos and educate.  the list goes on.  as with facebook, i love the perks, but i’ll be very transparent about my recent beef with all of it – I can’t let a friendship die naturally.  now, if a friendship is over in life, there is a level of confrontation that goes along with the exit.

when we were younger, if you had an unhealthy friendship, or a one-sided friendship, or just a friendship that was no longer relevant to your current world, you just stopped calling or seeing that person.  eventually things fizzled properly and that was that.  it didn’t mean you didn’t like the person, or wouldn’t willingly give a hug the next time you ran into one another at a party or a music venue…it’s not that you didn’t want to ever speak to that person again, like a major falling out.  it was simply that your lives had moved in different directions for a multitude of reasons and either one or both chose to move on from one another.

but now…oh the DRAMA of it all!  I have (had?) a few friends that I spent time with in my 20’s.  we went to shows, went to bars, had dinner at one another’s houses, grabbed lunch or grilled out on the weekends.  we shared failures, successes, fears, hopes, etc.  we were a part of one another’s lives during a period of time.  but things have changed….we all got married, had kids, fell into our own groove…priorities shifted and what was important to us changed.  to be honest, I tried to keep the friendships afloat for awhile, but it was a one-sided street for the most part.  I don’t make friends quickly (call me introverted, I suppose) so the deterioration of these relationships hurt…it hurt so much that when I would see them post on instagram, it just reminded me of that rejection.  and to be quite honest, when i saw them “liking” one another’s posts but not liking mine, it only made it worse.  it felt intentional.  that’s just the nature of social media—we can see everything that everyone is doing, thinking, etc.  I truly, TRULY hate that i paid any attention at all to who was liking what.  but instagram has a schematic that shows first mutual friends who like a post…so it was in my face without me trying at all.  i could just stop following them, and i did…but somehow that didn’t feel like enough.  i felt sad that they had dropped me without any true explanation…i just became unimportant in their lives.  it wasn’t a mutual “fizzle”.  and it’s ok that i did.  we are not OBLIGATED to keep the friends of our past.  but social media makes this so much harder to move on from.  because now, it can’t be an “i saw jane doe at the store and it was great to see her…we caught up and asked about one another’s lives then said our goodbyes”.  the choice i made to not only unfollow these people on instagram, but also to remove their follow is aggressive.  it’s like having a confrontation with them and saying, “i don’t want you in my life anymore”.  which is true and not true.  i don’t hate them, i would be happy to run into them and catch up, but i just don’t want to share my day-to-day with them anymore, especially when the efforts aren’t mutual.  but i fear that because of the entitlement of social media, and how major it has become to remove someone from your account, this is more like driving a stake through the heart, and if we do run into one another in the future, we may all look the other way.

i once spoke to someone about my husband making a choice to stop following whoever on facebook and to remove them as a “friend”.  this person told me that it “seems like he just doesn’t want to have anything to do with those people”.  my response was, that may be true.  then they called him “petty”……let’s put this into perspective.  the people he had “defriended” don’t call, we don’t all hang out, they don’t email him, or text him, or ask him how he is.  there is ZERO real life connection between these two people.  and he is now being called “petty” for removing them from his life.  how…..how how how does this make sense?  but that’s what the world of social media has done – we now MUST keep these friendships because we KNOW a person, not because they are actually friends.  these are not true friendships.  at church this weekend, my pastor said, “love shows up….a way we see love from our friends and family is that they show up”.  well, when people are only watching your life unfold, that’s not showing up.  and i don’t feel like we should have to continue to open our world to those people.

normally when i post, i try to be more eloquent.  but today is just raw.  it likely sounds whiney and like one of those people going on and on about how unfair someone was to them.  but that’s just how raw emotions are…they aren’t polished to make me seem smarter or more collected…they are emotional.  i’m not blaming these people in full-i’ve changed too, and, again, it’s ok to want to move on. i guess i felt like they had already moved on, but wouldn’t do it 100%…like the boy who you know doesn’t want to be with you but just won’t pull the breakup trigger and instead, makes you do it when that’s not what you wanted in the first place.

maybe you get something from this…maybe you are in a similar spot and will feel liberated.  i blogged about this on the recommendation of a friend.  we suspect the world is full of other people struggling to remove people or things from their life because they don’t want to “confront” or “offend”.

we need to recreate our boundaries.  and if the friends i am speaking of ever read this, it’s not about “not wanting anything to do with you”, it’s about believing relationships are a two-way street, and if you want one, it shouldn’t only be by flipping down a line of photos on a screen.

you don’t have to hold on to people to hold on to the experience…

i have been enjoying all these random Tennessee snow days.  this morning work told us we would be coming in late, so i was sitting on my couch, enjoying a cup of coffee and cooking some irish oats…just appreciating the slowness of the morning.

i looked over at my bookshelf and saw an old book, one that i have had on my shelf for 14 years.  all this nostalgia came flooding back to me.  i got this book when i was in a missions program in Texas right out of high school.  it was a different world, and feels like a lifetime away.  the people i met there were wonderful, unique, and a true variety of personalities.  of course, like most people, you tend to create a “group” of friends.  while i had a couple different “groups”, this one in particular challenged me.  we would sit around, read poetry (yes, i was that girl…fine art major, duh guys), discuss books, paint with our fingers, sing worship songs and just think.  this book, in particular, was one that we wanted to read.

when i saw it on my shelf, i felt an ache for their friendships again.  i wondered where they were, what had become of them and if they ever thought of those times we had with each other.  i wanted them back in my life…today…right now.  but honestly, that is not a reality.  last time i checked, one was living in New York, one in California, and one still in Texas where we had all met.  for the most part, we are out of touch.  our lives have moved on in very different directions.

i felt like a piece of me had been ripped away and ruined by the thought that i couldn’t have them back.  then a calm feeling came over me.  you don’t have to hold on to people to hold on to the experience.  i may not have these friends in my life now, but i DID have them at one point, and they are part of what shaped me.  i don’t have to seek them out and maintain a shallow friendship across the miles…you know the ones i am talking about, those friendships you don’t let go of on principal.  you think that you HAVE to hold on, but if it isn’t working, and if your lives are moving apart, that’s ok.  it doesn’t mean you have lost that part of you.

life is a journey.  on journeys you see things that you may never see again, taste things that are a one-time indulgence, and experience life in a way that is unique to that moment.

hold on to your memories rather than trying to force these things to happen again.  it happened, and it is a part of you, and it’s ok if you have to let go to move forward.

maybe no one in the world is like me on this, but i’m sure there is someone out there that struggles with this.  i grew up in the same town and basically lived here my whole life.  i don’t let go of people easily.  it hurts, and it feels like if i let go, i lose that part of my past and who i am.  it makes me feel hollow sometimes…sad.  this morning it felt different.  the memories felt complete and warm, and i remembered those times fondly, seeing clearly how it had become a piece of my life, and i did not fear the loss, but embraced it as a step along my journey.the divine conspiracy

does it all HAVE to mean something?

i’m pretty sure i have posted about this before…in the past…i don’t know. but here it is, stumbling back into my brain like a drunk cousin that calls you for a place to sleep while they are “in town”.

courtesy of www.lindseyjohnsonphotography.com
courtesy of http://www.lindseyjohnsonphotography.com

it is odd, the feeling i get when i see kid art. something about kids painting pictures of their moms, their houses, their dogs, their unicorns…wait, what….their DREAMS…it always hits this innocent spot within me. it makes me remember the days i sat around and dreamed for no other reason other than to just dream. it felt good to believe the impossible, and seek out the unlikely. and when i see kid art, it reminds me that at some point in my life, i did things “just because”. i had absolutely no productive reason to do any of it, but i did it none the less. and it made me happy, even though there was no sellable product or result to come from it other than my mom telling me “good job” and my sister laughing at my polka-dotted horse that reminded her of something that had been shot…a bunch.

linds, it was POLKA-DOTS! that horse was beyond happy with its spots.

my husband is a big dreamer. he stops short when you ask him to do it out loud and on purpose, but that doesn’t matter. he LIVES it. i see him teach himself new tricks all the time — embracing the unknown and the lingering desire to just go and do. and i think, “man, i wish i were as unafraid and bold and in tune with my inner child”, but sadly, i am not.

but maybe i could be…

does it all HAVE to mean something? likely, the answer to this question is absolutely not. because if we allow ourselves to drift back to our childhood, maybe we can see that these gifts and creative impulses are to bring delight to God.

in those moments of letting loose, we find that those are some of the most treasured moments, moments that mean a great deal to our Father. He made us…and that doesn’t just include our thoughts and our actions and how we turned out as a responsible, involved adult…it means our creativity, our imagination, our dreams, our sense of humor. He made all of it. let loose, be ridiculous, draw a picture for no one, sing a song alone, make up a dance routine to a song in your kitchen (c’mon, you KNOW you used to do that when you were a kid…always a choreographer), tell a story that is complete fiction and fantasy and includes mermaids and giant sea people…do it, and you will feel all that stress and all that adult-ness wash away, if just for a moment. it doesn’t mean it won’t still be there, but maybe it will make it a little more manageable with a tiny laugh tucked safely away in your arsenal, helping you get through it with a smile.

new year, new thoughts…

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

it’s 2015. IT’S 2-0-1-5!!! and that is pretty unbelievable. i remember when I graduated high school, i thought years like this would never make it here because they were so unfathomable. but here it is in all its glory.

i’m a sucker for the new year. i love beginnings, and i AM one of those people that, even though i believe you can “begin” something at any time of the year, i get charged up by the number 1 and the concept of january, and monday.

most years, i make a decision to work out more. (this year is no exception, of course) but the big difference between this year and other years is that i am focused on LIFE! i want more life in my ….uh…..life. so my hubbs, our two best guy friends and i made a decision on new years eve to focus on one goal we want to attack RIGHT NOW. no more far away goals. right now goals are in my very touchable future.

new year’s resolutions/goals:
-to do something creative every month;
-to put God more into my daily living;
-to be satisfied with the parts of my life i can’t control.

#boom

so, to pick this a part a bit further, let me explain.

-to do something creative every month-
i was a fine art major in college. i have a degree to prove it. BUT, when i got out of college i let all of it go to crap. why? oh i’m sure i could entertain you with many reasons “why”, as we can all find excuses for anything and everything. but to be honest, i really don’t know why.
maybe i didn’t feel like it.
maybe i got bored.
maybe i was afraid.
maybe i was just downright lazy.
and the scariest one? maybe that’s not who i really am at all.
that last one is the one i have let torment me—convincing myself that i am a true fraud of a person who floats along not knowing what i’m doing or why.

with that in mind, i decided that in 2015, i am going to focus on ONE creative project per month. be it taking photos of something just for me, or doodling more, or making a piece of art for a friend, or learning to sew. SOMETHING. in school, they teach you to find a way to make a living doing art. props to the teaching, because if you are a fine art major, they SHOULD be teaching you how to move forward, out of your garage and into the world of business. but the bad thing? your brain turns to make-it-into-a-profit mush, and you forget that you started doing this because you loved to DO IT. so that’s the plan this year. make art and be creative just because…for no other reason at all.

-to put God more into my daily living-
i’m actually moved by my husband’s leadership in this. he wants us to read a chapter of the bible together every night, and that is awesome. really, what this is about for me is awareness. last night before dinner, hubbs read a verse to me. it’s a verse i have read a bajillion times (yeah, bajillion IS a word in my world), but last night, the verse just hit home. “create in me a pure heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” —Psalm 51:10. we sat and talked about what it meant to us, and it hit me with a fresh awareness. i told adam that i believed that what this verse meant was me asking God to take all the nasty out of my heart, meaning all the judgement, all the criticism, all the impurities. and not only to do that, but to help me stay steadfast, persistent, strong and unwavering in that change. and you know what that takes? GOD. an everyday sort of God. a tiny, dark moments sort of friend who will be there in my head, where my integrity lies, and help me to overcome the sides of myself that well up and make me into a non-loving person. i want God to be so present in my daily living that he is there, like a best friend sitting on my shoulder, keeping me accountable and AWARE of where my heart is at.

-to be satisfied with the parts of my life i can’t control-
in the past, i have written about some struggles i have dealt with here, and that is still something on my heart. adam and i have been trying to build a family, but it appears that now simply isn’t the time. and i have peace with that. God got ahold of me at the Hope Spoken Conference last year and replaced fear with peace. however, it is still the desire of my heart, and i just have to keep trying and remember that God gave me this time to grow my marriage and to find myself. to serve him and to enjoy every moment i have here on this earth. and i intend to do so.

and i pray this for all of you. no matter where you are at, that is where you are, and you have to make the best of it. because there is always something good you can see, no matter how dark the sky gets. it’s not easy to focus on the good, but it’s there, all around us.

happy new year, my friends. i hope this year you find something new and good.

a christmas poem….

i never really “write”. i mean, i ramble and blabber on, but i am no poet or children’s book author. BUT….today i wrote a little poem for my office to let everyone know about a potluck coming up. it is a spin-off of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. i took a couple words and maybe one direct line from the poem, but most of it is original thought. i’m actually pretty proud of it, so i am going to share it here. a quick note about some “inside” jokes….our office hangs a HUGE wreath every year that half the office loves and half of them despise. i hear all day, “i love that wreath” and “i hate that wreath”. so, that’s that part. also, clearly, you will see that i work at a law firm. Ginger is our office manager—i like to tell her she’s the momma of our workplace. ok….enjoy!

A poem.

Twas the month of December, and all through the office
All the creatures were stirring, including the ………uh……(dangit, I just started this and I already can’t get it right)……

……(ahem)………

It wasn’t a stocking that was hung but a giant wreath instead.
In hopes to delight half the office, and make the other half wish it were dead.

The attorneys were nestled all snug in their chairs,
While visions of settlement checks showed up in their prayers.
And Ginger recovering from Corporate Counsel, and I wrapped in decorations,
Had just given up on not drinking libations.

When somewhere in the kitchen arose such a clatter,
Tony sprang from his office to see if it mattered.
Away to the oven he flew like a flash,
Threw open the door hoping for bangers and mash.

The glaze on the foil of the baking ham below,
Made everyone’s mouths water, but Ginger said NO.
And to all the anxious eaters’ wondering eyes did appear,
Were mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie….. and ice cold beer?…..(ok, ok….holiday cheer…fine)

With a bunch of talented chef’s the meal came together so quick,
Everyone finally figured out that this wasn’t a trick.
More rapid than eagles the courses they came,
And we whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

Now turkey! now baked ham! now green bean casserole and cranberry sauce!
On sweet tea! on deviled eggs! on stuffing and gravy, leaving nothing to toss!
To the end of the line! pass the veggies and beasts!
Let’s make like the Who’s in Whoville and enjoy this great feast!

Dr. Seuss, you're art rocks.
Dr. Seuss, you’re art rocks.

Merry Christmas!

why i left facebook…

i could likely talk about this for days. because the longer i consider it, the more reasons there are to have left. i “deleted” my account today…which you have to go to a special site that you have to google to find. they will keep your page forever hidden away in their secret stash, but your photos, notes, etc. gets removed from their servers. tricky, tricky, tricky….now, let’s dive in.

my final profile picture
my final profile picture

Number One — Privacy Mush.
facebook is getting scary, ya’ll. all this stuff about social experiments and facebook messenger app is scary and weird. i think because my generation grew into the social media right as we became independently thinking young adults, we take for granted that all is safe. the internet is something that most of us still do not truly understand. and to know that there are sites that are storing all my PERSONAL information is weird. online banking is scary enough! i know we could talk about all the things on the internet that are “scary” and how this statement could possibly be construed as hypocritical if i’m going to keep instagram and whatnot, but i guess you have to start somewhere, right? and today, it’s facebook. i am not educated enough about all these types of things, and really, they aren’t the most important reason i am leaving, so that’s all i will say about that.

Number Two — Attitude? Check.
this is the big one. i heart facebook, to be quite honest. i love to look at all my friends pretty pictures, and be exposed to funny buzzfeeds and music. i love seeing my niece sing and my sister’s photography. i live in a bit of a bubble as it is, and facebook usually keeps me somewhat aware of what is going on in the world.

but there are some major pitfalls to this sort of exposure. while i am inspired, i also, in a most honest and transparent way, have to admit that i spend a lot of time subconciously comparing my life to other people’s. and i know this is a typical struggle, but i think that if i step back, i tend to experience more feelings of lack or regret than of joy and satisfaction.

on another note….it has become a total compulsion for me. if i get up in the morning with time to spare, i tend to spend time on facebook, checking in on everyone’s feed rather than making breakfast or going for a run. that is what i got up early for, but i end up getting “distracted” and letting my plans fall away. same with work. if i’m here and it is slow, then i will spend hours just scrolling. not necessarily posting, but just being a voyer. and that leads back to the feelings i mentioned above…feeling like i’m not doing enough with my life, that i’m not experiencing enough….

WHICH, brings me to my next thought. when i DO experience something amazing, beautiful, emotional, truly life changing, i can’t help myself from posting it. in fact, it’s almost like it wasn’t AS awesome unless i share it with the facebook world. but whatever happened to just sharing these things with the people closest to us? and i mean REALLY closest to us. the other night, my husband and i were having dinner, and he did something so silly and so funny…i laughed one of those deep belly laughs. you wanna know what my VERY FIRST THOUGHT was? “i should post this on facebook”. that’s a problem. an official problem.

Number Three — Are You There God? It’s me, Amanda.
this one is tricky to convey. this may not be the problem for many of you, but my relationship with God has been heavily directed by facebook. it has become my church. inspirational quotes, messages, songs that draw me to the Lord….aaaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s it….i let my own personal relationship sortof fall off, and i haven’t been to church regularly in ages. i have no community here near my home of fellow believers that i meet with on sundays in the flesh. because facebook has “sustained” me by providing some Godly encounters. but that can’t be all there is. in the morning, i could be studying my bible. at night, i could be praying. but i don’t. i get so drawn away. it’s just like any distraction, but this one sortof snuck up on me. i didn’t even realize how much TIME i was spending on social media. and how much time i could be spending on other things.

—————————————————————————————————

this is all personal preference. it’s all personal struggle and personal testimony. i am not trying to get everyone to leave facebook, and i’m not trying to tear down anyone who stays. in its humble beginnings, it was meant to be good. and it was for me. but now, now i have forgotten who i am living for. when i see something awesome, i forget that i used to be introspective and let it find root in me. now i just blurt it out on my wall and kindof forget about it. and there is something sacred about the relationship between husband and wife….we get to see sides of each other that we are honored to know, and maybe, just maybe it isn’t everyone else’s business. at least not the 200+ people i couldn’t bring myself to defriend on there. as we grow together and experience life together, and maybe one day get pregnant and have a family and grow old and experience disease and sadness, maybe we should keep those things close to the heart. and while some people can, i found that i had lost my ability to maintain some privacy in my life, my thoughts, my emotions, my experiences. i think it is time to get back to my roots a little bit.

my hope is that this blog might encourage someone who might be dealing with similar struggles. maybe i could help put into words something that you struggled to see clearly in your own thoughts.