Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, love

Love the World, Love yourself

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time” ~ Marion Wright Edelman

Love the World, love yourself. I think that’s what Marion is alluding to above. There is no denying this year its been hard. This winter is dragging on, isn’t it? Last year we were all together and doing great things with our people; but now we’re all kind of on our own. It’s so funny to think how much can change in the span of a year – for good or for bad. 

I don’t need to map out the bad for you right now; you already know exactly what that looks like. We’re all doing our best to get through that part of life right now. If yours is going anything like mine, the house is somehow messier than ever even though you are home more than ever and you regularly lose track of the last time you actually washed your hair (can I get an amen for dry shampoo, podcasts, and zoom calls!?).

Life looks different

We can’t do everything we did before, it’s just not safe and possible right now, but who says we can’t reinvent some parts of it? Who says we still can’t do good in the world? Seriously, I have no idea who says we can’t – but I know we can completely prove them wrong. I’ve been doing it. So can you. 

Love Your World

If you’re crafty and want to spread some love to kids who are living with illnesses – check out what the folks at Cards for Hospitalized Kids and Cards for Seniors are doing. You can spread some cheer without leaving your home. 

Want to bring it more local? Contact local nursing homes, schools, veterans groups, and hospitals for info on how to reach out to people in need of a smile. Local schools, churches, and community agencies all have people who need a lift in their spirits as much as they need help with other needs. 

You can make cards, send donations, order pizzas for schools, or become pen pals with someone so quickly and easily. Your loneliness and theirs can create something beautiful from this mess! 

We can still send love

Dream Big

Really looking to make a difference? Here is one simple action, go online and simply ask your people: Does anyone need help with anything right now?

The responses will amaze you. Someone you know is worried about food right now and someone else isn’t sure who to call for help with their car. Someone you know may need shoes in the size you were planning to drop at the Goodwill store. Maybe that extra bike in the garage is all it would take to make life good for a kid in your circle. You won’t know if you don’t ask. 

We think good deeds need to be huge, grand gestures or donations – but they really do not. The small things, the ones that often mean the most to people’s hearts, are easily overlooked and go unmet. Small deeds matter. You are beyond capable of being the person who makes someone else smile without making a huge donation or contributing a lot of time. 

How do I know? I’ve gratefully and humbly watched it unfold in front of me over the last 11 months in a Facebook group I started with a friend. We were sad for the world and community as we started seeing people suffer. We do not have deep pockets or loads to share ourselves – but we have big hearts and lots of passion. People share needs, we help connect them to help. It’s that simple. 

Love the world, love yourself

Yes, I miss my church family. I miss my friends from yoga class and work also. I miss the moms from the softball team. I miss my women’s retreat friends, my travel friends, and my conference friends I haven’t been able to see. The void in my life almost physically hurts. 

But, by finding new ways to reach out – I’ve formed new friendships and strengthened others. I’m not as alone as I thought and neither are you. You just need to speak up. 

Tell people you miss them. Tell people you want to help. Share your thoughts, expertise, suggestions, and that extra box of macaroni you know you do not need with them! The empty places will be filled differently, but they will be filled. You will see that no amount of social distancing or quarantining can ever stop love. The human spirit is simply too strong for that, even though some days it does feel insurmountable. 

You may not think your impact is large, but you are exactly the right person to make a difference to someone today. 

The Greatest is Love

“Faith, hope and love are some good things he gave us – but the greatest is love.”

– Alan Jackson and 1 Corinthians 13.

We focus on so many things in life: normal day-to-day chores, holidays, work, and adapting to our new normal that it’s easy to forget the greatest and most basic thing we have in life: love. 2020 made that all clearer than ever, but in 2021 we know what we’re up against and we’re ready for the challenge. 

Love the world, love yourself. 

Posted in Christian, Depression, longreads, love, selfcare, Uncategorized

You don’t need a Valentine. Love yourself.

There are many definitions of love but my favorite is the verb form:

love : verb

 \ˈləv \

1: to hold dear : cherish

Living the verb life

I love (hold dear…cherish…) this form because it is limitless. The verb love isn’t tied to other people, places, or things. It can apply to anyone or anything which makes it the perfect form of love as we enter February. This love applies to us all. 

February can be a real downer month for some when they’re facing it alone. We all know alone has many different definitions too, so use which one applies to you. Whether now or in the past, we have all been alone on this day and it can be the worst. Like a flashing neon sign over your head announcing to the world “I am not wanted, worthy, cared for, or cherished by anyone!” every time another bouquet of flowers passes you by on its way to someone who has been chosen by another. 

I’ve been there. Many times. I used to believe I couldn’t celebrate this month, certainly not Valentine’s Day, without someone else in my life. There is some outdated idea that we can only be loved romantically and when others deem us worthy. I get it, Cupid is the love goddess’ kid and St. Valentine is the Saint of Lovers so that’s where it started.

But St. Valentine is also the Saint of epileptics and beekeepers, so if he can diversify, so can we.

We need to start every Valentine’s Day (and every day for that matter) by remembering love isn’t just gifted to us by other people, we have the power to gift it to ourselves too. In fact, we should gift it to ourselves because if we can’t love ourselves, how can we ever expect someone else to? If we don’t cherish our own greatness, it’s hard to find someone truly worthy of our love. 

Quit chasing love.

I know. Easier said than done. I am well aware. I have spent plenty of time over my lifetime chasing after people I hoped would see me as worthy of their attention. Maybe then they’d decide I was worthy of the love my heart cherished so badly. I could name many things about them I loved and was dying to hear them love just one thing about me in return. My happiness literally hung on their answers, which were generally not what I was looking for. 

I based my self love on their approval which completely removed the “self” part from the equation. It took me years to see the insanity I was putting myself through, trying the same things over and over while expecting different results. Each year, I was disappointed but not surprised. I just assumed love wasn’t for me. It took me a few more years to see that was a complete crock of shit. 

We don’t need love from any outside person to be loved. We are loved already and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14 for more on that). The sooner we start believing that, the happier our lives will be. Maybe with someone special, maybe without but there will be love. Lots of it. 

Instead of waiting for outside sources to “gift” us some other definition of love – we need to live a love verb life with ourselves. We need to hold dear and cherish ourselves. In this day in age, waiting around for some White Knight to show up and bestow affection on us is not only outdated but completely unrealistic. 

Learn to love yourself

This month: it’s time to love yourself. No, this isn’t selfish (unless you start treating others like crap to love yourself, then we need to talk). We will not hate our flesh but love and care for it like Jesus does (Ephesians 5:29, generously paraphrased). Everyone will be loved in their own way with just a few little tweaks to life. 

  1. Buy yourself some flowers. I’m not kidding. Go to the store and go as big or small as you want but get some flowers in your space. It’s dark and wintery, they will make you smile. Bonus: you will get ones you definitely love.
  2. Treat yourself. Yes, it’s hard right now. Money is tight for some and many places are limited on availability. That can’t stop you from still treating yourself to a little something for being awesome. Grab yourself something off Amazon or order your favorite take out to enjoy with a good book. Cook your favorite meal, even if it’s a little more work than the Hot Pocket you were planning on. Take a nap and ignore your dishes one afternoon. Hike that trail you love. Do something that makes you happy, no excuses.
  3. Pamper yourself. Hugging yourself isn’t the same as hugging someone else, I fully agree. That doesn’t mean your body can’t still be loved too. Take a long bath or shower. Make a playlist of your most relaxing music and soak. Get a new lotion, a facemask, paint your nails, practice yoga, meditate – just do something that leaves your body feeling renewed and refreshed. 

You are love.

Treat yourself the way you want others to. Love yourself fully and show the world what you deserve. Don’t settle for less. You don’t need other people, cheesy stuffed animals, or chocolates to make it known you are loved. Wake up, roll out of bed in love with yourself and the rest will fall in place in due time. 

You do not have a timid spirit; yours is powerful, loved, and full of self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Remember your power and love yourself fully.

Posted in Christian, Depression, happiness, longreads, love

Make Graceful Resolutions

We talked about skipping resolutions, but be honest – some of you still did it, didn’t you? I knew you would… so let’s be gracious in how we proceed here.

I hope you shall be in the 8% that keeps them (and is honest in their reporting to the people who track these sort of things). I also hope, whether you make resolutions or set smaller goals for the year that you remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace. 

In years past, I’ve set goals to work out and eat healthy but I was never kind to myself. I took away everything I liked, signed myself up for things I don’t like doing, and internally scolded myself any time I stepped remotely close to messing things up. The moment I actually made a mistake in my goals, I declared myself a failure at my resolution and gave up completely. Sound familiar? I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

Why do we always focus on things we’re bad at in the New Year? We make a whole list of things we need to fix about ourselves without really stopping to look at all of the things that make us wonderful. Can a resolution or goal be to just keep being awesome instead of focusing solely on our flaws? 

This year, I challenge you to love you and be kind to you. You made it through last year, you made it through all the hard days, and you are still here. Celebrate those wins and build upon your goodness by growing your goodness and loving your imperfect self. I’m following this method for 2021:

  1. Take an inventory of what you’re really great at and do more of it. Be honest with yourself and don’t worry if others would agree – this is your list, not theirs. If you think you’re a great singer – who cares if you make it onto the voice? You love it, do more of it. If you are an amazing organizer, see if you can volunteer with a group or just help a friend get her crap together. Do more of what makes you amazing and launch that happiness into the world.
  1. Take an inventory of what you’d like to do and do more of it. You want to work exercise more? Then just do it a little longer than last year. If you do 1 minute or 1 hour more each day you’re doing it. Celebrate that win. You want to read more books? Get the Kindle app on your phone and stop scrolling Facebook in bed or on the toilet (don’t act like you don’t do that). If you read 1 more than last year, you did it! Whether you end 2021 with 1 book or 200 books read, you did better than 2020 and that’s a win. Do more of what your heart wants. 

3.    Smile. This one is easy. If you’re from the Midwest, we already do it. Make eye contact with people and smile. Smiling reduces your blood pressure, lowers your stress, and boosts your immune system. It literally makes you healthier with barely any effort (see more on its perks here https://www.henryford.com/blog/2017/10/health-benefits-smiling).

4. Live like Elsa. Just let it go. All of it. Quit yelling at people while you drive, fighting with strangers on the internet, and unfriending people with different political leanings than you. Just because someone says something you don’t agree with doesn’t mean you need to launch a verbal nuclear assault on them and their family. As my boy Thumper has been preaching since 1942: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Move on. 

That’s it. Low effort, big results, and completely doable. Focus on one day at a time, don’t bash yourself if you have a slip up – just try again. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13. 

Let’s do 2021 with love. For us, for others, and for the world.

Posted in Christian, God, longreads, love

I’m Not a Real Christian

I’m not a real Christian according to some.

Some people tell me because I believe in Science along with God, I’m not a real Christian. I believe in the Science that masks, washing hands, washing surfaces, and limiting close contact with people will keep us healthy. I believe that even a 2% death rate is too much. I believe the world can reopen if everyone would follow that plan but since so many people are too selfish to follow the rules, we have no choice but to be closed. I believe if masks were not healthy, surgeons, fencers, and dentists would have been dying in droves long before this started. 

I believe the people in our world are too selfish to look beyond themselves to do anything slightly inconvenient. That’s the real plague hitting our world. I also believe until people start doing things to help people, this will be here until we start coming back loving each other how God wanted in the same way the Plagues in Exodus just kept coming until the Pharaoh finally did the right thing.

Some say I’m not a real Christian because I am pro-choice. Even though John 6-8 from The Message reminds us: “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone”. For my body, I am pro-life. I wish everyone would be pro-life, but I also understand some people are in terrible situations where that just may not be possible. For those people, I love them and support them making the most difficult choice ever.

I am not without sin, I will not judge them for theirs. Instead, I will love them and fight to protect them from the unfair stones coming their way. I also do not understand how the people from the previous paragraph can be ok with 2% of sick people of dying but still yell all lives matter and pro-life is in the only way. Sounds more “Pro-birth” than Pro-life to me. Especially when we treat the poor, oppressed, foreign-born people so horribly.

Some say I am wrong for believing immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers deserve to be welcomed. With a hot meal, a warm bed, and a chance to live a life away from the dangerous parts they came from just as the book of Matthew instructs. These are families who have taken their babies through war zones to protect them and give them a good life. They are not a threat to our lives. They are brothers and sisters seeking a better life. 

Many of them are the same people so many vacation mission trips swear they love and want to help so badly. If you can love them when you get to work in the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico when you get to visit and work in paradise – why can’t you love them the same when they come here? Is it really about the mission then? Or boosting your ego on social media while getting a tan and visiting paradise? I believe we should love people and help them everywhere. Especially when they are on our own doorsteps. It’s literally what Revelation 3:14-20 was written for.

Some say I’m not a real Christian believe I believe love is love. Love is for everyone. Honestly, I think we got Leviticus 18:22 all wrong. The flawed human who interpreted those words then wrote it down clearly misunderstood something. I do not believe our God, so full of love, would ever say true love is wrong. He would not promote hate. He would certainly not teach us to judge, shun, and treat people unjustly over their love. I believe God Himself felt so seriously about it, He sent his son down to clear it all up for us with actual words from His own mouth in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This isn’t rocket science. Its a new commandment, one that covers the whole Bible and the whole world forever. Love everyone as Jesus loves you. 

You sin, I sin, we all sin yet God and Jesus love us. That’s how He tells us to conduct ourselves and the only way people will know we are His disciples. By loving people how we are loved. Full of grace and forgiveness. During hard times, happy times, scary times, sad times – all of the times! I searched those verses in multiple Bibles looking for the * pointing out it applied to everyone except gay people, and guess what? It wasn’t there. Not in NIV, KJV, The Message, NLT, ESV, NKJV, or anywhere. They all say it clear as day. 

Love everyone as Jesus loves you. THAT is how the world knows you’re a Chrisitian. That is what I’m trying to do. 

I don’t worry about anyone who thinks giving love and demanding justice for all the people of the world makes me less of a Christian. Their judgement doesn’t matter to me nor should it matter to you. It’s hard some days when you feel like you’re in the minority and surrounded by hate, but you’re doing exactly what we were all asked to before Jesus left. 

Jesus says that makes us all real Christians. Some people may say I’m not a real Christian but I’m not living my life to appeal to their judgemental hearts. I am living my life to love and help those around me. Just like my Bible tells me to.

And that’s all that matters.

Posted in black lives matter, Christian, love

Protect the poor and oppressed

“How can you be ok with protests for black lives during this virus when you were not ok with protests against the government during the virus?”

A completely fair and valid question I was asked. Something I have asked myself many times over the last few weeks. Am I being hypocritical by shaming one but attending the other? Am I picking and choosing when I want to fear the virus based on what is convenient or most comfortable to me? I don’t know. Maybe. I’m a flawed human, afterall, but it really boils down to Psalm 82:3 for me:

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.” 

Why do I not agree with protests against COVID-19 safety measures? Because they are there to keep the weak among us safe. Anyone with a compromised system deserves to be taken care of. They matter to their families and that’s all I need to hear for them to matter to me.We have been asked to love each other and take care of those who need it; I have an issue with people who don’t care for each other. Taking care of others is not oppression, it’s an honor I take seriously. Exactly how I would want people taking care of me to do.

I’m going to pause here for a moment to address the word oppressed: the people protesting COVID safety measures are not oppressed. You are not. Being asked to put a layer of cotton over your face and to stay home for a couple of months to save thousands of lives is not oppression. Oppression is not canceling a vacation, missing a haircut, planting flowers later than you would like, not being able to golf, or only getting take out food. Those are all privileges. Complaining about those being temporarily paused to save thousands of lives is disgusting. 

Oppression doesn’t tell you from the start there is an end date. Oppression doesn’t have an end date until generations have suffered and finally speak up. The most commonly used definition of oppression is to “keep (someone) in subservience and hardship, especially by the unjust exercise of authority.” Did the government arrest you for your peaceful protests (I’m not addressing the assault rifles many brought either)? Did the government arrest you for not wearing a mask? Were you stopped and harassed by police for not wearing a mask? Heck. They sent us all money. Oppressed people don’t get checks in the mail from their oppressors.

Parts of this order absolutely frustrated me. I had to reschedule a vacation twice, cancel one trip, and take on homeschooling (which I never wanted to do). I’ve got a solid 4 inches of gray sitting on top of my head, I miss the salon fiercely. I understand wanting this done. However, if me having some crazy hair for a few months can help stop the spread of a virus that kills thousands, I will choose ugly hair every time. 


People said “it only kills old people and people with weakened immune systems, so make them stay home.” That is oppression. You’re picking out someone for reasons beyond their control and limiting their freedoms. They are second class citizens in that narrative to better accommodate you. Not to mention, how does someone look at themselves in the mirror knowing they were ok with everyone’s grandma’s dying as long as they could get a haircut. I have yet to find any way to slightly understand that viewpoint. 

Then, comes “all lives matter”. What? You just said that old people and people with weak immune systems don’t matter. You refused to wear masks to protect babies and small children (who cannot wear masks) because it was annoying. You literally just laid out all sorts of lives that do not matter, then three weeks later when the actually oppressed people start speaking up the narrative changes?

I could respect “all lives matter”, but never agree with it, if the position stayed constant. If the words were clear. Just way what it means: lives like yours matter. Not dark skinned people lives or old people lives or sick people lives (they said it – not me). We already know refugee lives don’t matter and children of immigrants really don’t matter. 

Yes, I went to a protest during the stay at home order. I am not sorry or hypocritical. I happy to see most people wearing masks. Most people stayed apart as best they could too. I went because numbers in my area were down for Covid, some businesses had already opened (I know, not your stupid haircuts), and these were lives at stake that matter also. 

I wore a mask to protect those at risk from the virus and used my voice to try to protect good people from being unfairly treated by people in power. 

I love the police. Their job is hard. Which is why the BAD COPS NEED TO GO. 
I love all people. Life is hard. Which is why the BAD PEOPLE NEED TO GO.
I love peaceful protests. America is beautiful. LOOTERS AND RIOTERS NEED TO GO.
I love protests I don’t support. PROTESTS THAT PUT PEOPLE AT RISK NEED TO GO.
I love people. ACTUAL OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION NEED TO GO.
I love Jesus. Jesus loves people. I love people I don’t agree with. HATE NEEDS TO GO.

I could go on but I don’t see the need. I will do whatever I can to protect people, promote peace, spread justice, and practice love like Jesus did.