Check out Episode 2 of the She Proclaims podcast! Please share your thoughts and follow for more!
There are many definitions of love but my favorite is the verb form:
love : verb
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 There is some outdated idea that we can only be loved romantically and when others deem us worthy.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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
No new blog post this week… because there is a new PODCAST instead! I’m so excited!
Check out the top menu for access or look me up on Spotify, Google podcasts, and Breakers!
Please subscribe, listen, give me some feedback and stay tuned! I’ve got big things planned and 2021 will be amazing!
Faithful resolutions are so much better than the others. The expectations for the year are realistic and basic. With the state of the world these days, I’m confident that was the right move heading into the New Year. While resolutions are hard to keep, we know looking for more happiness in our life is always a good undertaking. Some days will be more productive than others, but we’re making progress. Progress is more than enough.
What about your faith this year? What are you doing to grow that? Faithful resolutions are my favorite. Unlike the crazy variables in our spastic world, our faith will never let us down. In fact, it’s the rock that we can firmly stand on amidst the chaos in the world and our life. Faith is life.
All you really need to do in your faithful resolutions in 2021 is follow this lead from Jonathan Edwards:
Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
I love it. Sure it sounds basic and simple, but at the end of the day pure faith and love are basic and simple too. The beauty of God is that he doesn’t track how many times you read your Bible or how many daily devotionals you complete in your lifetime. Yes, they bring His words closer to us but if we aren’t letting them sink in to become the core of us, I don’t think He cares how much studying we do. Our faithful resolutions require more action from us.
God Loves Faithful Resolutions
He wants people who love Him. People who know how to ask for forgiveness for mistakes and gracefully give forgiveness to those who wrong us. People who not only read or speak his words, but actively live them out. Love each other, help each other, and worship Him.
Say your prayers. Use the canned ones if needed, but speak to God honestly and openly from your heart. Tell him your mistakes, worries, and fears. If you cannot be raw and vulnerable with Him, who can you? Ask him for his help and mean it. Sit in the stillness and keep your heart open as you move through your day. He’s there, you just need to let Him help.
Resolving to be more faithful doesn’t require anything flashy or special to achieve. It doesn’t require perfection or daily tasks to be checked off. There is no required purchase or equipment and no mandatory meeting to attend. This resolution is the easiest and will change your life deeper than any other.
Live like he wants. God loves justice, love, and helping others. Speak up for those who cannot and be there for them in their struggles – even while you’re dealing with your own. The best way to grow your personal faith is to look beyond yourself. Doing His work and living his words is worth more than being able to recite verses.
Don’t Stop Believing
Finally, even when the world around us seems to be losing its faith everywhere we look – hold strong to yours. It’s easy to love God when life is full of rainbows and sunshine. Loving God during dark and stormy times is where faith grows. Keep walking with God, even if no one else is, and goodness will be restored around you.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
This year, I’m not focusing on the mistakes or shortcomings I had in 2020 to make resolutions I likely won’t keep. No one should. Every day is a chance to start something new, to do good things, and to improve ourselves. Take them one day at a time and give yourself grace throughout the year. It’s ok if you miss a Monday, eat that brownie, or forget to do a week’s worth of reading. Life happens.
Just stay focused on the good stuff. Wake up daily full of gratefulness for another chance at life and do good things. No matter how big or small they may be, do them in love. They’re the key to successful resolutions for a righteous life.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Please note: this was written as a three part series and supposed to post before the events in Washington D.C. on Wednesday January 6, 2021. The sentiment is still the same, but 2021 has already proven to be surprising.
Be realistic in your expectations for the New Year
My world is filled with people excited to be over with 2020. I agree 2020 will likely go down as one of the most difficult years in most of our lives. However, 2021 is not a magical cure for all of our problems.
Celebrating the new year and making big promises for the new year is nothing new. Over 4000 years ago, the Babylonians made promises to their gods at their new year celebration to improve themselves so they could win the gods’ favor on their crops. If they were successful in their resolutions, they would have good crops and if they were not the crops would fail. My family would be very hungry if our ability to eat rested in my ability to stick to a resolution for a year.
The Romans did the same around 46 B.C. They made promises to the gods of how to improve themselves and believed those actions were directly tied to their quality of life. Keeping of the resolutions would make an easy year for them and breaking them would lead them to a falling out with the gods. Again, I’d be in big trouble if life rested on whether I could actually stop drinking Coca Cola for a year (spoiler: I’ve tried many times, I crack by March).
Of course, if it’s good enough for the Romans – our Christian church wasn’t going to be left in the dark either. “Covenant Renewal Services” popped up for people to repent their sins from the previous year and to also make new promises with God as a renewal of His Covenant with us. It’s great to examine yourself and reflect on how you’re carrying yourself in the world, but I’m also really glad God doesn’t attach strings to His love for me. Resolutions for any reason are hard.
At this point, they’re mostly a secular thing and most people don’t even do them. Only 40% of Americans say they make them with roughly 8% reporting they keep theirs (I have no proof but I’d bet a few of those people are fudging too). I don’t make them any year, but this year in particular I think it’s best to skip them and limit my 2021 expectations for many reasons
I have been disappointed enough over the last 12 months. Some decisions were my own and many were not. I did NOT see a global pandemic of this magnitude happening in 2020. Maybe some people did, I’m not exactly always up in the news as much as I should be, but last year went off the rails more than I think most of could have predicted. We all want it fixed, but problems this deep didn’t start overnight nor will they disappear overnight.
The dropping of a sparkly ball at the strike ball at midnight does not mean the pandemic is over.
We don’t have a fairy godmother waving her wand to put things back to normal at midnight. We can celebrate hope for 2021 but still need to be realistic in our expectations. The vaccines are coming but it will still take months to get them out enough to make a dent in the virus. People are still struggling to stay afloat while we wait to safely reopen places. We have new leaders coming in to try and heal years of problems. No single person can change years and decades of problems immediately either.
We need to approach 2021 with hope and determination, not the expectation it will be better simply because it’s not called 2020. We have real work to keep doing as we continue having hard conversations, taking precautions to keep us all safe, and helping people around us. We need to just keep going and adding any more to our heavy burden entering 2021 just seems self-destructive at this point.
I’m welcoming 2021 into my life calmly. It’s a breath of fresh air, we are closer to moving past a virus and stepping back into life more freely. But we aren’t there yet. Not with the dropping of the ball, flipping of the calendar, or changing of the year. We still have work to do.
Let’s go into 2021 hoping things get no worse and enjoy the process of rising together. Last year disappointed most of us, but this year could surprise us.
I woke up today and the first thing I thought was “its 2021”. Then I laid for another minute before also thinking “its also just Friday”. I feel like I did yesterday. As I expected I would. However, starting a few new things is not lost on me at this point. Seems like as good of a time as any.
My book is coming along. Which has obviously taken me away from the blog a bit. Sorry, not sorry. I’m sorry there’s less here but you have got to absolutely trust me when I tell you this book is going to be really great. It’s all going to be worth it. This blog and site will always be home base though, so I’ll still be here too.
To keep me on track, I’m hoping to focus on blog series this year. Topics I feel are important or that people bring to me as important to all of you. I’m the mouthpiece, but I can’t do this without you. If there’s something you want to talk about, bring it to me 🙂 AND, I’m totally scared of this, but people have asked for videos or podcasts also. I’m not sure that’s for me but I am fully willing to try.
So starting in January – there will be a podcast tab added to this site and a monthly recording will be added! Not exactly sure all the topics or how it will go, but we’ll go through it together and see where we end up. Scary and exciting. Worst case, its just not right and I quit. No harm there, right? Right.
Please make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and subscribe to emails on the blog so you don’t miss anything – and SHARE with your friends! 🙂 There is exciting things coming, but I can’t reach everyone all on my own. I need your support and clicking of the little share button to help keep things moving along. Thank you so much for all you’ve already done and I can’t wait for us all to move into something even bigger this year!
I hope you had a fabulous New Year. I hope you are healthy. Remember you’re loved, never alone, and we’re going to get through this weird time together. We made it this far, we can finish strong.
Most years, our life is dictated by calendar squares filled with scribbled times. Appointments, birthday parties, meetings, classes, and other demands decided our daily pace. Very rarely did our family’s speedometer fall much below warp speed. We grumbled about being tired and wanted to slow down, but we couldn’t manage to stop.
Until this year, when God gifted us a brake job.
When the world around us closed and our circle grew smaller, it was scary. The once overflowing calendar was nearly blank. Other than zoom calls, the days were clear. They were ours to fill, or not fill, together at home. We were finally stopped. God fixed our brakes and gave us a break.
We rediscovered family game nights. We played games we forgot we even owned. We laughed, sometimes argued, and celebrated our wins. Between turns, we swapped stories and thoughts about our lives we may have otherwise missed. We heard our kids’ feelings about life. They shared their hopes and fears about the world unfolding around them. We shared our hopes and wishes for them. We created the inside jokes, love, and memories to hold together the crazy mess of our 2020 life.
We enjoyed puzzles and podcasts at the kitchen table after the kids were in bed. Instead of solely operating as the championship caliber parenting team we are to get through busy days, we laughed and talked about things other than family logistics like two adults who genuinely love each other. We had fun as best friends, not just mom and dad.
We discovered courage and grace in ourselves. We were not experts on doing life completely from home. We fumbled through Google classrooms, Zoom classes, and online church. We still aren’t flawless with it all but we’re ok with that. We did brave new things like cut hair and master third grade math. We learned to play the guitar and paint. We learned how to ask for help and passed third grade math together.
Nothing happened how we thought it would in 2020 but it turns out, that’s ok. Mary probably didn’t plan on giving birth in a stable and placing baby Jesus in an animal’s manger either but look how wonderful that turned out. This year, we finally understood the world around you doesn’t dictate the goodness of our life; the love we share around us does.
This post is part one of an October pregnancy loss series.
“We can’t find the heartbeats, but that’s not uncommon. We’ll do an ultrasound and get them that way. Plus the first look at your babies.”
I was just excited as the doctor when she offered me a first look at the two sweet babies growing in my womb. They’d seen two sacs early on and my blood work numbers were off the chart; they told me there were two babies weeks before. I was equal parts scared and excited.
Turning the corner into the second trimester had felt like a giant weight was lifted off me. I’d seen friends lose babies before and knew getting to the second trimester was a major milestone. One not to be taken for granted and one I thanked God for every night. I did it. I was in the clear. My first major responsibility as a mom and I had nailed it.
I went to my check up that day alone, an ultrasound before 18-20 weeks hadn’t crossed my mind! The books I was absorbing every night didn’t say anything about ultrasounds earlier and I was over the moon to think I could see my little babies sooner than I ever imagined. I knew they’d look like little dough ball people, but they’d be my little dough balls and that was all I cared about.
The next 30 minutes are still a blur in my mind, more than 15 years later. The dim room, the crinkly table, my paper gown, and the cool gooey gel started me on my happy adventure. The stark silence, the slight squint of the eyes, moving the screen from my view, then the tech leaving to get my doctor ushered me into a journey of loss unlike any I had been on before.
I heard words like empty, nothing, lost, and gone mixed in with medical words. They asked if I could call someone for a ride. If I needed to go to work. If there was anything they could to help me then. I think I shook my head. I know I cried and slowly pulled on the maternity pants I had already needed once I was alone in the cozy ultrasound room. I walked into the room pregnant and loving my babies, I would be walking out broken and alone. Finding the courage to open that door and leave my hopes for them behind was hard.
I went to my car, I called my husband to tell him what happened then I called work. I did not have an ounce of tact or decorum left when I spoke to my boss.
“My babies are dead. I am not coming back to work today, I am not coming in tomorrow. I do not want to talk about it ever. Please tell everyone so I do not have to talk about it. I will be back Monday. I do not want to talk about it.”
I hung up, I drove home, I crawled into bed, and I cried until every inch of my body ached just as badly as my empty womb and heart did.
When the doctor “catches” a miscarriage before your body does, you’re left with a terrible choice. You can walk around and wait for your body to start the painful process of expelling your sweet baby or you can go to the doctor for a D&C procedure to remove everything and start healing your body. Make no mistake, it is the same painful awful procedure as an abortion but they call is something kinder when you’re at lowest. I’m not sure why they change the name.
I chose the D&C. Early the next morning, without eating anything, I crawled out of bed and called the doctor’s office right at 8am like I’d been told to do. They gave me a long list of things to do and don’t do before my assigned time to report to the hospital for the procedure. I walked through the house in a zombie-like state gathering comfy clothes, maxi pads, and doing a few chores I likely wouldn’t have energy for later in the day. Then we headed to the hospital.
I recall nothing of arriving or going into the room. I do recall waking up next to my doctor in the recovery room. Visitors were not allowed back there, but doctors were. She sat by side so I wouldn’t wake up alone and empty in a strange place. Her kind blue eyes and the warm laugh lines on her face were the first thing I saw.
Immediately, I broke into the biggest, ugliest, most incoherent tears of my life. She leaned in and held me and let me cry. Everything hurt. My body was sore and I could feel it bleeding. I was woozy and dizzy coming out of the anesthesia and feeling ready to puke from the meds in my system. Nothing felt good or pleasant in that moment. From the very bottom of my soul to every corner of my body I hurt.
My doctor remembering I was a grieving mother in a lot of pain meant the world to me. Her kindness and love got me through the few hours of recovery before I headed home for a miserable weekend of recovery.
I thought I left the hard part of the trauma at the hospital but I was wrong.
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.