Sharing stories

I’d like to share a few stories that have captured my heart and show a beautiful transitioning I recognize happening in our community and world. Enjoy!

Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A

This is Shane L. Windmeyer’s story. He is a nationally recognized LGBT leader in higher education, bestselling author, and executive director of Campus Pride. His story fills in the gaps behind what I call the chicken fallout of 2012. His story is one of love, reconciliation, and understanding. Understanding beyond political beliefs, religious beliefs; it is a story of love beyond measure. Grab some tissues for those soon to be tearful eyes, this story will undo you.

Your Son/Daughter is a Minimalist. This is Good News.

This open letter written by rational minimalist, author, and speaker Joshua Becker is an excellent introduction into minimalism. Becker gives succinct points on the benefits of minimalistic living. Read it to be inspired, to learn something new, and to understand.

Tara Needs Telling

This story is shared by Tamara Lunardo (one of my favorite bloggers) online at A Deeper Story. Tamara shares Tara’s story. It is the gritty, raw side of love. It is a story that gives voice to the voiceless, a face to the faceless, and grace when grace is wrongfully and ironically withheld.

Here is a brief excerpt:

“She was a little boy who loved dolls, and a boxer who preferred panties, and a married man who craved the closeness of men. And when she realized how she looked wasn’t who she felt, she knew she needed change; she needed to be Tara. But people, we look from the outside, and the world didn’t see a woman trying to be herself; they saw a man trying to be a woman. So Tara lost her friends, her family, her spouse. She got herself– but she still pays dearly for the trade.”

Your Story Needs Less Stuff

Jeremy Statton, an orthopedic surgeon and a writer, shares how to live a better story with less:

It isn’t wrong to buy things. It isn’t wrong to own things. But it is fruitless to attempt to live a good story through possessions.

A special thank you to my sister Kyndal. She always is on the lookout for stories that resonate with me and stories that light a fire under my ass.

Back roads and babies

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A solitary drive.

Heading out to the country.

Back roads of Oklahoma.

Dust and gravel and red dirt.

The further I retreat from the city the noise, the frenetic pace, the busyness all fade. Fade to a distant hum.

The anticipation of reaching the farm

Of being greeted by dogs and babies and family

is my favorite.

The view. A farmhouse tucked safely away. A refuge. A sanctuary.

Tonight my gaze isn’t captured by the farmhouse,

instead I come around the bend and see

– my Little Man bouncing with excitement, pointing and grinning, and wearing a killer goatee of red, mud-packed artistry.

– my Oxford Comma, the baby, shattering me with his life-inspiring mischievous grin.

These boys are my babies.

And they know it deep in themselves – like I know it.

I’m undone with Little Man’s sweet voice exclaiming, “Keke’s here!”

I’d go and be and do anything for these two. And there is nothing more perfect than taking a drive out on those country back roads to spend the evening with my favorite little guys.

The God who sees me

“Roll your works upon the Lord – commit and trust them wholly to Him; {He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and} so shall your plans be established and succeed.”
Proverbs 16:3 (Amplified)

A verse spoken over me in my early twenties. A verse that God breathes over me. Never demanding. Never pushing. He sees me. He sees it all. And meets me in each moment.

The people pleaser in me doesn’t respond well to this idea of rolling my works, committing to the Lord. The people pleaser wants to please people at all costs – to myself, to God, to becoming who God calls me to be.

I think I am too much. Or not enough. I thinking I am failing or succeeding depending on others’ responses. That’s sick and twisted. God calls me deeper. He calls me to Himself alone. To forget the past. To forget my need for people pleasing. He calls me to Him. He calls out my deceitful need and replaces it with truth and health and wellness. My God doesn’t ask for me to get my shit together, to clean myself up, to defend, to explain, to excuse my behavior.

Why do I choose misery and bondage when God wants me to be me, to be His?

In His presence, though, in His presence, I am wholly beautiful, wholly confident, secure, seen. It has nothing to do with me, it has everything to do with who my God is. And He consumes the lies over and over. He refuses to let this be my story. He sees me.

I keep trying to checklist my life away. Work? Check. Bible reading? Check. Go to church? Check. And then the checklist takes a nosedive into matters such as what can I do to make people be more happy with me, what can I be that will make people proud of me.

God crushes that checklist. The checklist is useless. The checklist is meaningless. I can’t meet the criteria. It’s impossible. I can’t. I’m stubborn. And a runner. And rebellious. And I do not like rules. I don’t want to be manipulated or have people shackle me with their bullshit guilt. I seethe, rage against constraints and boundaries. And other days when I am weary, I cower and give in to the guilt. I accept their guilt as my portion. But this isn’t what God destined for me. My satisfaction, my ontological self is wrapped only in Him – Him alone.

Today, as in other moments, I see this clearly. I choose God – I choose His best – I am all in. He will transform me. He will be ever patient. Ever resolute. No guilt. No condemnation. No manipulation.

He made me.
He sees me.

And my God doesn’t call me the labels I call myself. He doesn’t do anything but love.
Love.
Love.
Love.
Loves unfairly. Loves so fiercely and uncomplicated I can’t possibly comprehend its purity, its humbleness, its unadulterated strength.

Today, I choose God. I choose my Savior. And I will keep choosing Him.

I choose to let Him love me. Regardless of how I think I don’t deserve it. Regardless of how I have been, or was, or will be. I choose Him. His love. His seeing me.

I rest in this. I thrive in Him alone.
Today I say no to people pleasing.
I have eyes, ears, and a heart that is bending toward Him not toward people pleasing.

I taste
I see
I feel
I experience true, boundless freedom.

“…You are the God who sees me…”
Genesis 16:3

Sent with Writer.

Here’s to you little house!

This message came in response to my blog entry about my home. It is  from my best friend Elle who I felt summed it up just beautifully. I wanted to share her words and a few photos:

Will miss your Royal Tenenbaums-pink Domino magazine-teal with a splash of Cobalt house, but, only because you were there. It gave me a home at times when I could not find comfort in my own.  It was a place an artistic soul could find rest and where the manna of creativity was collected. The garage, an often overlooked room in a house by most ladies, was our little Italy of food, wine and conversation. A place where hurts of a most trench-like depth laid sprawled on our card table alter. It was a place to let go, be heard, hold hearts. Come to think of it, it was like the best church I’ve ever been to.  Laughter ruled, silliness encouraged, and love the norm. Here’s to you little house!

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Last moments in my home (part 2)

So last night my awesome friend and now former roommate Jules and I compiled a list of our most awesome/unforgettable/embarrassing/favorite moments. Remember no judgement! This is a celebration of an old chapter and a new chapter!

Here they are:

  1. Naked Cowboy – This dude “lived” across the street. I swear he really might’ve been photo-shopped EXCEPT he was really a live human being in the yard across the street. Our friends would come over to my house not to see us, but watch for sightings of Naked Cowboy.
  2. Community marathons – If you are not watching NBC’s Community, you are so streets behind. Get with it people. Countless hours of laughter and antics because of this television show.
  3. Chili – Jules makes the meanest, bestest chili this side of anywhere and it often solved life’s little problems. Having a hard day? Chili. Cold outside? Chili. Tired of packing, moving, selling crap? Chili. If you ask really nicely, I bet Jules would make you a pot of this awesomeness.
  4. So. Much. Beer. Never. One. Party. –  Our house looked like a frat’s next kegger waiting to happen.But I’m not really hostess material. Or like people nosing around in my business, much less my house. So no parties here. I take my party on the road.                          (This picture just doesn’t do it justice.)fridge
  5. Pink slip – Nothing like receiving a notice from the city because you might happen to have one weed that happens to be really tall, like adult-size tall. This may or may not have happened.
  6. The awesomely nosy gun-toting neighbors next door – these people could be super friendly or super creepy with their intensity for opening the front door with a gun. I’m just saying. These are people you want to keep on the good side of.
  7. The miraculous parting of the leaves – My yard had seven trees. Indeed, a Godly yard – it is His favorite number. And because the yard was blessed with His Holiness, every autumn when the leaves would fall and pile everywhere as in up to your knees, wading through kind of piles, but by the third day of the leaves collectively dropping from their limbs the leaves would part on each side of the sidewalk and stay that way all winter. It was and is a miracle – like a tiny, brief glimpse of the parting of the Red Sea in the Old Testament. Also, I would be remiss if I did not share that this year not only did the leaves part miraculous but not too long after putting the house up for sale the leave disappeared all together. Every last one of them. Gone. I didn’t rake them. Jules didn’t rake them. Coolest miracle. Ever.
  8. The Spider Incident – this spider took up a brief residence in Jules’s shower and we were both afraid of killing it. So I sprayed it with bug spray – it didn’t die. I sprayed it with hairspray – it did not die. It did begin to kind of freeze up and spasm though….so gross. I finally smashed it with a plastic cup. Jules and I screamed and screamed. I did a scaredy dance and nearly puked everywhere. By far the worse spider incident ever. I may need counseling. Just retelling the story is making me feel all clammy.
  9. Art Group – a time where artists of all walks gather to drink, eat, create, and solve the world’s problems.  It was also my time to share my favorite new rap songs and any other new artists I may have stumbled across. My art group is so close and dear to my heart. Those times together are so sweet and intense and soul restoring. I love my girls. But this was not a party. This was all about the art. Art, I tell you, art.
  10. Magic Mike Night – Once upon a time, some really great friends got together and watched Magic Mike. And then again. And then again. And ate some grub. And there was even some learning the dance moves and shaking booties. But not by me. This girl don’t dance. I’m too busy socializing.

This list is short and full of ramblings and doesn’t come close to explaining the fun and exciting and even quiet moments in my home. But Jules and I had fun. And the late night conversations were my favorite.

Thanks Jules for being so incredible and true and real. You are amazing!

Last moments in my home (part 1)

Tonight

And yesterday

Especially this weekend

A blur of activity

Of saying goodbye and hello

Of racing to an almost finish line, desperately playing catch up, and trying so hard to keep it all balanced

So these were my last moments at my home:

Sitting on the stoop with my best friend by my side

Wiping down the harvest gold counter tops, setting the thermostat, and walking through each room of my house turning off the lights

And it was all so fitting with Oasis’s Wonderwall pounding in the background

I walked out the front door

ran my feet over my favorite skull and crossbones welcome mat

locked the door

and

called it all good.

Why not? Finding the courage to say yes

20 secondssource: Pinterest

A few months ago, I wrote that God and I are on an adventure. And it was going to be epic. And it is. Oh it is.

I’ve been trying to figure out where to start with this story today. Do I start with my first purchase of TOMS? Or the summer of 2011 with my story of my roommate, of church, and The Book of Eli? Or do I share the visions I’ve seen? Any which way, I go I won’t look normal. But that’s good. Because I keep hearing people I admire speaking truth of how normal isn’t working. So I’ll just keep being weird, thank you very much.

The story is unfolding and I don’t want to miss a stitch of detail.

***

I’ll begin here in July of 2012. Sunday I walked into church. The warmth and comfort of worshiping freely in surrounding darkness is my favorite. I can be alone in my prayers unaware of how others are worshiping. I felt the inextricable pull to be there. I don’t like doing church alone, but today I knew I needed to be there by myself. And I am positive that nothing – excuses, laziness, no one thing – would have prevented me from being in service on that day.

The sermon was centered around the film We Bought a Zoo. I won’t ever forget that morning. My preacher shared his heart and encouraged us to move past fear, to have insane courage and answer the question of why not?

Why not?

Those two words had been pin-balling around my head forever. For. Ever.

And I knew the answer to why not? I had known it for a while but with the addition of 20 seconds of insane courage I wrote down snippets of my why not.

There is something beautiful in letting go of my expectations. Something freeing in not considering that poisoning people pleasing side of myself. Something greater than I could ever hope or imagine. The shroud of lies was lifted. The shadows of lights became whole and tangible. And I saw God’s leading. The possibility of what life is to be if only I would choose Him.

That afternoon I sat next to the swimming pool of my childhood home and spoke quietly with my best friend. I shared my why not question and my answer. For months I had known the answers to this question, but I had not verbalized them to anyone. And do you know how my best friend responded? She said, “What can I do to help?”. No questions about a timeline or specifics or whys. That is love doing.

I shared three things.

These three things are what I know and I have to trust the process, trust God and change as needed.

1) School – I finished up my first semester of grad school. I hope to take more classes (of course, we’ll see once final grades are released – fingers crossed, people!). My heart is pulled toward English – always English and literature – and to working on a community college campus.

2) Uganda – Africa is my heart. I didn’t know that for a long, long time. I will be going there – I just don’t know when or how or any of the details – BUT I will travel there and help at one of the mission-minded schools.

3) Rational minimalism and dumping debt like a mofo – Yep, the girl with a library in her house, DVDs and music everywhere is saying yes to less. I have put my house on the market. I am selling out. All these things are weighing me down. I am choosing a different way for myself.

I love the freedom I am experiencing already. Honestly, I am enjoying experiencing the loosening of my heart’s greed toward material possessions. This does not mean I do not buy stuff or deny myself. But I am choosing better. And nicer. And am learning to wait. (Which is so hard to do with a beautiful new apple iMac on the market and I really, really want it.)

All of this – school, Uganda, minimalism – are teaching me more about the process of waiting and preparing than I ever wanted to know.

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what the landscape will look like. And for the most part, I love it. I love this adventure. I love not knowing. I am learning the freedom of not being in control – control is just a false sense of security anyway. And I love the fact that in a few years, I will be living debt free and traveling and teaching. I think. But in the end, really all that matters is this is between God and I. He asked and I said yes to this adventure.

Because…why not?

___________________________

*What is Finish Year (#FinishYear)?
Finish Year is a community of people online encouraging one another in January and throughout the year to stay resolved and determined to see our goals lived out. Check it out and join in. Don’t allow past failures, lost opportunities define today as ruined. Make a better choice – one choice at a time. Better choices, better decisions will thrust us forward into 2012 and into our beautiful Stories.

October is for writers

Photo courtesy of Kaleidoscope International

October is my favorite month during my favorite season. And now it has even more reason to be my favorite. My friend Jim Woods has invited me and thee and everyone in between to Writers Unite!

There are four components to this:

1. I will do the writing I know I should be doing; be it blog posts, essays, a short story, poem, novel or something else.

2. I will write for myself first, not to please anyone else.

3. By the end of October, I will share at least a portion of this writing on my website.

4. I will encourage and support others that are participating by using the hashtag #writersunite as much as possible (via Jim)

For me this will be blogging here less and focusing on a major research project. I will also be working on a short story. I look forward to sharing my short story with you at the end of October and will spare you the doldrums of my research project.

I would love for you to join this community with us: journal, create, write, and share.

Please let me know if you are planning on participating or are already involved, I would love to encourage you!

 

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A family tree of awesomeness

 

Happy Birthday, Mickey!

Have you taken a good look at your family tree lately? It’s pretty incredible.

A son. A daughter.

Four granddaughters. One grandson.

One great-granddaughter. Eight great-grandsons.

And we still keep blooming and growing and living large.

Because you have been an inspiration and motivation to live life fully.

You have shared so many laughs with us. You have shared so many stories. You have given us the gift of dream vacations and seeing the world.

I saw Alaska in all its gloriousness. I read Jack London while visiting Alaska because of you. I white water rafted down through Denali National Park because you gave me the gift of travel.

You have been hang-gliding with my cousin and sister in Hawaii. You took my other sister to be baptized in the Jordan River. And that’s just to name a few adventures.

This year, you took the entire family to Key West and the Bahamas on the big red party boat. You danced with your eldest great-grandson. You visited Hemingway’s home with us. You cheered on your granddaughter and great-granddaughter while they sang karaoke. Every night we gathered for dinner.

We are a loud, rambunctious, ornery bunch. And we are yours.

I love you! Thank you for giving me such a gift of family.

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