Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Compartmentalize. (Try saying it three times fast!)

Have you ever had so much going on in your life at one point where you just have had to stop, breathe, and think: How the heck did I get here?

That's where I am at today.

I was journaling just a little bit ago about stuff going on in life and as I was finishing up, I thought: How did this happen? How did I get here? and then the ultimate question came to my head....dun dun dun...Who am I? ;)

But it wasn't in the "what's my purpose on this earth" jibber jabber kind of way.  It was more the thought of: if you would take me back to my 8th grade self, I would promise that where I am now isn't where I would ever have pictured myself in 9.5 years from that point.

So why I am here? How did I get to the place today where my 8th grade self would look at me as a stranger....

and here is the sad part...are you ready?

I think my 8th grade self would seriously look at me and say: "Grow up."

I am not kidding you. And for those of you who knew me then and now, know I am not kidding.

My two most recent posts have been pretty melancholy to say the least. Pretty debbie downer, and then only excuse that I have is that what "they" say is true: As you get older, life gets messier.

A couple summers ago when Molly, Kat, and I went to Florida, we had a lot of "meaningless stuff" going on in our lives regarding the people we were going to see in Florida. All three of us did.  So in efforts to make sure that we had the best trip possible, I made the three of us promise that anything that happened with the people down there (good or bad), it would not affect our time together in Florida.  And then as all mature 21 year olds do, I made us come up with a clue word that would stop us in our tracks if any one of us was ever letting what "the others" did affect us.  The word: COMPARTMENTALIZE.

The reason I chose that word was because I knew that as girls, our natural tendency is to think like a bowl of spaghetti noodles; everything is connected, intertwined, and linked in some form or fashion.  Guys, however; their brains are like waffles. Everything is separate and events that happen only affect the compartment that that "thing" is in.

So my goal for the weekend in Florida was too prove that we too, as girls, could think like men and keep things compartmentalized. We could keep events separate and not let it affect our weekend.

Now besides the fact that Kat could barely even pronounce the word any time she tried, we used that word SOOOO many times in FL- at least 20 times every day.  And honestly, it worked.  Trust me.  Things happened to each of us that could have upset us, ruined our mood, been taken the wrong way, demanded revenge or justice! ;), BUT!: whenever one of us started to turn sour, the other two would look at her, point, and say: "Hey, compartmentalize!". And not only did it give a little humor to the situation, it worked! We moved on and continued to have a grand ole' time!

Now.  As far as life today... I unfortunately don't have Kat and Molly with me every second to yell "Compartmentalize!" at me.  And honestly, the issues today are more personal and more important than those were. (Life gets messier when you get older even if just by two years.) But, I have got to get back to the old me.

I liked that me better and that me was much happier. When I knew how to keep things separate. When I knew that somebody's actions didn't always exemplify their "feelings" towards me. I use to give people the benefit of the doubt and if they hurt me or didn't like me, I didn't care. I was very good at protecting myself from letting those things hold me back or bear down on me.

I am not good at that anymore.  My protective shield has gone down and I have allowed myself to become a big bowl of nasty tasting spaghetti. And even though I don't know why I let that shield down, it has affected every area of my life and it just seems like one big ka-bobble of a mess and I hate it.  I guess the life is always a war and the thing you must always do in war, is keep that shield up and I will do so with the help of few because I know I can't do it alone either.

So here we go again... I am going to give compartmentalize another try and keep my head up. Keep on being loving, easy-going, understanding, SANE, logical Jordan. Not the one I have been over the past couple weeks/months. Eww. :)

Go ahead.  Give it a try in your life, too. Let me know how it goes.

Compartmentalize on friends! :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Giving Myself A Gift

If you read the last post, you know I am struggling with anger/forgiveness.

Today during huddle at work, I read from this book called "One Minute Wellness." IT was talking about the four reasons for anger. There were:

1. Low Self-Esteem
2. The Immature Emotional Response
3. Value Judging (people misjudging our values and beliefs)
4. Un-forgiveness

So- my inability to forgive is feeding the anger. They had a description for each reason but the one they gave for forgiveness was so short, simple, yet truthful, that I have to share:

"Here is an illustration of the poisonous heart of unforgiveness: a Holocaust survivor once said that if you licked his heart, you'd die from the poison.  The truth about refusing to forgive, thinking hateful thoughts, and judging others is that such actions are like drinking poison in an effort to kill your enemy. Unforgiveness hurts only you.  No matter how bad the offense against you was, not forgiving the offender causes only yourself-not the guilty party-an early death.  So give yourself a gift by giving someone who needs forgiveness a gift he or she doesn't deserve.  This will add years to your life and life to your years.  It may just change the previously unforgiven person as well."

My favorite line is that refusing to forgive, thinking hateful thoughts, or judging others (all things I have done lately), are like drinking poison in an effort to kill your enemy.

Although not literally poisoning myself, I am poisoning my spirit and my character. I am doing damage to myself in efforts to "hurt" others.

Bottom line: that's just not going to work out the way I want it too.

I was glad I read that this morning.  One minute of wellness and can do a lot of minutes of good apparently.

Monday, December 3, 2012

An Ugly Reflection.

How precious is this little girl? And how familiar is that feeling she is portraying?
I don't know about you but the way that she looks, so exhausted with a hint of sadness
depicts exactly what I have been feeling over the past couple of days. 

I don't need to go into detail but bottom line, circumstances have brought the worst out of me. If you know me, you know loyalty is something I take very seriously. I am very protective of my friends and my family and when I feel they have been wronged, it is as if I have been wronged. I want to defend them more than they want to defend themselves. 

This part of me has brought out the worst in me because over the past couple of months. There have been a couple situations where I have seen some friends and me in turn,  be treated wrongly and betrayed by their friends.  When this happens, I have very little grace and want the person to be done away with. Because of the way I am wired, it seems easy and natural to me to let go of friends or even sometimes family who don't have your best interest at heart.  Friendship is about being honest, building each other up, and bringing out the best in people, right? It is about being loyal and protective, and standing up for each other. I have never been betrayed or deeply hurt by a "friend" before (a huge blessing) but lately this is the closest I have come in my life to that feeling and it mostly indirectly! 

I have seen a lack of honesty, loyalty, forgiveness, grace and just pure kindness lately in my life from others.  And when these things happen, my initial reaction is anger and that is what brings out the bad in me. When I look in the mirror, I see an ugly reflection. I have become that person I just described. I lack honesty, loyalty, forgiveness, grace and kindness.  When I look back on how I act, the things I say, and the feelings I feel, I just get exhausted and sad because I am not proud of how I have acted. 

I am still in a funk right now and I still want to be angry and am angry. I want justice and I want apologies from people, but you know what I am learning? Being this way is getting me absolutely nowhere because all I am becoming is an angry, ugly, non-compassionate, unforgiving person. 

Exactly the opposite of how I am called to lived. I am called to be different. To live above reproach. I didn't deserve the forgiveness I got nor will I ever. 

How shameful is that? I am embarrassed and saddened that I have let life circumstances bring out the worst in me. I never used to be like that. 

And starting now, I am going to work extra hard to look into to my heart, weed out the ugly, and bring out the Goodness that was placed there a long time ago. 

I am choosing to love.

Plus it is Christmas. Lots of love needs to go around this season. 

Merry Christmas everyone! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

good words...

Sometimes it hurts. Just growing up. Changing, growing. No longer are you the person you were yesterday because the nights changed you. The days changed you. All the guarantees in life become marks on a timeline instead of moments. We all get broken hearts, nights where the queazy fulfillment of alcohol turns to morning headaches and squinting eyes at the sun. We all punch our pillows until we fall silent, our muscles worked to exhaustion. 
We all wake up and stumble, barefoot to the daylight readying ourselves for our day. We interact with merchants, and sellers. We all see the advertisements that tell us what to be, what to buy. Some of us fall victim, some of us continue on. 
We all sigh heavily at the disappointment of the day. Or throw back our heads and laugh at the glory. We all kick off our shoes. Most, if not all, take moments to scroll through captured words, moments and memories that helps us get over the day, or cherish it. 
Sometimes, you get pushed. Beaten. Sometimes you get lifted, celebrated, cherished. 
Most times you just get up and do what you need to do. Even though it hurts. Because one day it’s not going to hurt as bad. One day you will wake up, after all the hard work, and realize the person you changed into isn’t someone different but just more… well you
(Source: thatkindofwoman)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

missing pieces.

You are my best friend as well as my lover, and I do not know which side of you I enjoy the most. I treasure each side, just as I have treasured our life together.
— Nicholas Sparks

I think it is really easy to like somebody.

I even think it is easy to love somebody. 

Falling in love is a little bit harder, but still very doable. 

However, becoming best friends with somebody you have fallen in love with is a whole different ball game. 

But I have a feeling that it is worth every piece of dirt and tears and the sweat that go into it because once you are best friends...

that's when the bond becomes rooted in something more than emotions. 

It becomes something that makes sense because you can no longer imagine doing life without them. 

The fit the puzzle of your life. 

They are a missing piece that you didn't know was missing but makes it all complete. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"To-Do's" Make God External

I realized something this past week while I was running:

by creating "to do" lists as a means of being a better follower of Christ, I externalize God from life.

Let me explain. 

Back in the Old Testament, God was external. Jesus Christ had not yet come to this Earth, therefore followers of God pre-Jesus time had to do externals acts of service in order to have a relationship with God. These included such things as sacrifice, literal acts of worship (raising hands, setting aside certain times to talk to God), prayers, etc...

However, then, a little something called Christmas came along and Jesus Christ came to this earth. Now, get this: the moment Jesus Christ physically left this earth, He sent His Holy Spirit to be with us-and not just with us, but in us. IN us. 

This glorious act eliminated the necessity of all 'to-do's. 

So please...Tell me why we foolishly make 'to-do' lists in order to be "good christians". My assumption is the typical list usually includes: do my devotional (morning times is best), go to church, sing worships songs, do good, be kind, give money to the homeless, give an offering, and so on. But whatever may be on your list, I have thought of at least three reasons why we consistently create them and try our hardest to live by them regardless the fact we know we will consistently fail at them. 

1. They are easier to comprehend because of the way we were raised. Most of us are trained in the mindset that when we do good, we get good. Whether from our parents, our teachers, the law, doctors, or dentists, when we do something right, we get their approval.  Nobody can deny the power of being felt proud of and of winning the approval of others. So we help with the dishes, we brush our teeth morning and night (the really good kids floss, too), we eat healthier, we come to complete stops at four-ways, we do whatever it takes to win the approval of our elders and people around us. 

2. When we actually complete them, we feel like we have accomplished something, i.e. did "good". Some people love the thrill of putting a little check mark next to an item on a list of "to-dos". To visually see you have done something you set your mind to can be extremely fulfilling for some folks. 

3. There is some value to lists because no matter the method, reason, or motive, spending time with God even via a "to-do" list does make us feel better about life and "closer" to God in general. That just comes with the God-package. He can and will infiltrate our soul no matter the circumstance.

But if you are a Christian (having accepted Christ into your heart as Savior of your life), you have made the act of internalizing God into your very being. He has made your heart His home.  The thing with "to-do" lists is that when we do these acts, we do so as if by doing them, we are bring God closer to our hearts. We are involving Him in more of our daily activities and our lives.

In other words, we are giving God a "way" and a reason to love us more, to approve of us, to be proud of us.

Now tell me, when have you ever needed directions to your own home? Does God need to be given a way by us daily in order to be in our lives? Do you think God needs to hear us pray and see us doing a devotional and see us going to church in order to be involved in your everyday life? Does He need a reason from us to love us more and protect us and approve of us more because we are spending time with Him?

No. He doesn't.

But by mentally creating to-do lists, we forget that. We externalize Christ believing that in order for Him to be in our hearts, we have to do the rights things.

Bottom line: Christ is in our hearts at all time, no matter what. Our heart is His home and nothing can change that. Don't let your human tendency of creating a to-do list push God away from you. Don't externalize Him.  Rest in the fact that He is in you forever. Make your heart a comfortable home for Him by letting Him be at home.  You have never felt more at home at a stranger's house until they let you go get a drink by yourself, open the fridge, and get good out of pantry without having to ask. So let God live in you all the time, every minute of every day. Not just during your morning devotional, not just at church, not just when you worship.

When we do this, our response to His permanent presence will dramatically change our relationship with Him and will draw us closer to Him than we have ever felt before.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Taking Advice from Tumblr.

For some reason today, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for my closest friends and as I saw this picture on a Tumblr site...

I felt even more compelled to write about it. To tell them.

These are my three best friends in/from Little Rock:

Kathrine Anne
How We Met: 7th-grade Winter Dance at Joe T. Robinson
Molly Susan
How We Met: Mrs. Shearer's Kindergarden Class
Lillianne Ruth
How We Met: 7th Grade- FSM church trip: aka Beach Blast

The other day, I was talking with some friends of the family who new Kathrine and I back in the 7th grade, moved away and just recently moved back to Little Rock. As I was talking to her, she asked about Kathrine and noted how cool and rare it was to have a friendship that has lasted this long and remains so strong. I get this a lot about my friendships and this is something I have never taken for granted with any of my best friends but especially with these three. 

We all know that loving people is not easy. When you look at friendships that have broken up or dissolved over time, you see similar stories/reason of time, distance, betrayals, differences, change, misunderstandings, selfishness & pride, hurt and pain, distrust, jealously, stupidity, bitterness, and many others. At some point, people let whatever the reason is keep them from loving the person. 

I have seen it and yes, experienced this to a degree but not matter what, these three girls have never stopped loving me and I hurt for people who do not have friends like them. I strongly believe that real friends are important to God and are one of the best ways a person can experience His love for us. 

Some of you may not know this, but I am not an easy person to love.  I can be mean, judgmental, selfish, annoying, complicated, and just plain stupid and Lord knows I have been all of this towards these three and yet, not matter what- our friendships never stagger.  Get to know my best friends: 

Kathrine. Well- she is my sister. It is funny because a lot of people have always looked at me as the "leader" either because I was just more dominant, I "sang" in church (like that is really that significant), or whatever the reason may be...BUT the thing is- they couldn't be more wrong. As our friendship has grown throughout the years, there is no doubt that I have become more dependent on this girl than she ever has been on me. She is so incredibly strong and independent. She is the most selfless and loving person I have ever been around and her ability to bring joy and laughter to the people she is around is absolutely astounding. She is the friend that knows me to my very core being. She says my thoughts before I can even say them and she knows every memory before I can recall it. With all the boys in my life, she has been there through every single one, falling both in and out of "love" with them at my side.  When I get mad, she gets mad. When I am happy, she is happy. When I am being stupid, she is stupid with me.  When I need to leave her by herself so I can go fix things with a boy (for my inability to leave things unresolved), she never holds it against me. When I distant myself from her because I am frustrated, she doesn't distant herself from me. She knows my every fault and my every sin and still loves me. She holds on to our friendship and keeps us above water because I am important to her and she is important to me. What an amazing picture of Christ's love for us. She is, without a doubt, my Shawn Hunter.

Molly- my most loyal and oldest friend. She is so loyal to the point where she can talk as much crap about me to Kathrine (only to Kat) as she wants when she gets mad at me and I don't even care because there is absolutely nothing that could be done to demolish this friendship. She means too much to me. She can misunderstand me and I can misunderstand her but no matter what, at the end of the day our friendship will stand. She looks to me for advice and she values my opinion. She reminds me to have fun and she reminds me to stay true to who I am.  When it comes to relationships, she makes sure that I am being treated like I should be. That I am being treated fair and that I am taken care of. She understands me and when she doesn't, she seeks until she does. When I need to have fun, she's the first to say "Lets skooooo." When I need to rest, she says "I'll get the wine, you get the movie." When I get into trouble, she gets into trouble with me. She, too, is so selfless and always puts my needs and wants above her own. She hates drama as much as I do and she loves hanging out with guys as much as I do. She brings the southern gentleness to my personality (with a lot of effort) and I bring the northern strength to hers.  She balances me out. She brings me down to earth when I am trying to fly high but then brings my into the sky when I feeling smashed to the ground. She is the Louise to my Thelma.

And Lilli-  Lilli is my kindred spirit.  She is my rock.  She knows my heart down to it's very depth. She reminds me that there is a point to this life and there is a purpose and the one purpose is to live life being in love with Jesus. The deepest worries, concerns, questions, and struggles I have with life, Lilli is always always there to listen and help me figure it out. She lets me talk and she gives me answers. Her friendship feeds my soul.  Whenever anything is wrong, I go to Lilli for advice because no matter what, she will never judge me.  She may not agree with me or the things I do, but she LOVES me regardless. She can be away for a year but our souls never lose touch. Our friendship never demolishes.    And not only that- but the girl makes me laugh. She brings so much joy to my life. We can laugh and laugh about the stupidest things and we have no shame in that. She lets me be nerdy and weird and corky in a way that with anyone else, I would feel dumb.  She has loved me unconditionally. In fact, I think she is the only person in this world that I have never gotten mad at.  She has never hurt me.  But I know that even if she did, it would be out of love and NEVER intentional.  That is not Lilli. She is so beautiful and has the most beautiful soul.  Her words and life inspire me and she challenges me to be better, to live better, and most importantly, to love better. She wants what is best for me and has never had a selfish grain in her body when it comes to our friendship.  Lilli Walker is truly one of the most amazing women on this earth and I have no doubt that God will do amazing things through her. Lilli is my Samwise Gamgee but also my Dori. :)

So- for those of you have continued to read- Just know that if you know or have had the privilege of having one of these three people in your lives, you are so incredibly blessed. I am so thankful for who they are and how they have influenced my life. I am who I am because of them.

There is something incredibly powerful about friendships like these.  They are such a gift and blessing from God and I am so incredibly thankful.  Especially when weeks are hard- like this one- having them there to catch me and talk to me and listen to me is incredible.

If you have friends like this, tell them how much they mean to you. FIGHT for those friendships. Don't give up so easily. Make them a priority and keep them alive. Cherish them and cultivate them.  There is no gift more valuable in this life. I promise.

If you don't, work on it. Pray for them. Search for them. You NEED them.  (Just don't go trying to steal mine. Unlike my awesome friends, I am pretty selfish when it comes to sharing them).

And if you had one of these friendships and lost it, think about what happened. Is there elements of that friendship that should be worthy of withstanding the fight or the fall out?  Are you missing a part of who you are because you let selfishness and anger get in the way? Are you too hurt? Decide to try and resolve it if it is worth it. But if it's not and the wounds have gone way to deep- learn to let it go and forgive them.  They probably never went into the friendship wanting it to end the way it did.  This doesn't mean you have to forget it but you can forgive. You can learn from it. and move on. And go be a friend you want to have.

Friends. I am so grateful today for them.  Who are you grateful for?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Lil' Perspective on "Things".

Some people look for hope and contentment in the world- things that are man-made.
Some people look for hope and contentment in God.

Me. I have hope in God. Real, unrelenting hope and faith.

But I keep trying to find contentment in and by the things of this world.

I was convicted of this today in church. Although the sermon wasn't, a home-runner for me, the service pastor at our church put this in perspective at the closing of the service.

The flesh and the heart are always in a constant battle. But what's important to remember is that by simply changing your perspective the enemy can become weaker. When we look at the things of this world from a heavenly perspective through the eyes of God, things of this world become a lot less powerful and influential.  

But I think it is important to mention here that I did not say things of this world become bad.  

So many of us have it ingrained in our heads that "things" of the world are bad, especially materialistic things. I don't believe that and I honestly don't think God believes that either. I don't believe God wants us to suffer and live in "poverty" because others are in poverty. I don't think when Paul wrote in the book of Timothy that "love of money is the root of all evil", he is saying money is bad. In fact, he doesn't say that at all. He says "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil".

There is nothing sinful about wanting a nice car and having a nice house. It is the perspective and meaning you have and give to those things that can lead to sin.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that just as much work can be done for His kingdom by those with a nice car and house than by those without. I choose to believe that Psalm 37:4 means what it says: "Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". And in Proverbs 16:3 which says, "commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed".  Did you read that?  desires of your heart and your plans.  God has set certain desires and plans within our hearts because it makes us who we are as individuals. Just because we have them does not mean they are inherently sinful plans or bad desires. In fact those plans and desires can be the more powerful tool in our lives.

I am pretty sure that the fact that I want to own every single Boy Meets World season on DVD is not a bad thing.  My desire and plans to travel and explore the world outside of missions are not bad and unGodly.   If somebody wants to become a successful president of some big-wig corporation...that is okay and can bring just as much glory to God as anything else.

It all has to do with perspective. I am challenged to look at things with a different perspective. I am choosing to not feel guilty for wanting nice things and desiring certain plans for my life. Instead, I will choose to check my perspective- look at them all from a heavenly perspective- so when I get my plans and desires or loose them, at the end of the day, I can still stay "God is more than enough."

My hope and contentment will still be rooted in Christ.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Feeding the Foundation

Since I was a teeny tiny kid, I have always loved big houses. I seriously obessessed over them and always wanted explore them and one day take up residence in one. In fact, many Sunday afternoons were spent looking at the houses for sale in the newspaper, picking out my favorite mansions, and then gluing them into my scrapbook.

I am not sure why I loved them so much. I thought it was maybe because I lived in such a little house. However, even now as I have grown up, babysat and stayed in some really beautiful homes, I am still obsessed with them.  Everything from the outside to the inside, I marvel over.

As I was thinking about this the other day, I thought of the analogy that people use for people. You know- "it is on the inside what matters". I thought of houses that are so pretty on the outside yet the insides are completely ugly and then also of the house that are old and yucky on the outside, but the inside is really well-designed. I prefer those houses because they have the Narnia effect on the emotions.

Either way- both parts of the house can change. The interior can be completely renovated and redesigned as well as the exterior.

But one thing that can never be changed (or is very rarely changed outside of complete demolition) is the actual foundation of the house.

Then I thought: and when have I ever taken the time to look at the foundation of a house? After all that is where the structure and the beauty of the house being and evolve from.

So take that thought, apply it to people and go with it where you want...but here is where I go:

If instead of making assumptions about people by their exterior OR interiors, I looked at their foundations, how would my relationships with them change?

I am great about judging the exterior, by the way. It is one of my favorites games. I mean after all, in case you didn't know, Jordan means "rivers of judgment" so naturally, I am a natural. (justified?! please?!) I think we are all pretty good at this though.  It comes in a package deal with our sin nature.

Interior however, can be a little trickier. You meet someone and if you are anything like you me, based on a 15 minutes conversation, you know if you like the person or not. (probably more like 5, if I am being honest. )  When talking you wait to see if the person meets your standards of a"good conversation".  Did they make me laugh? Did I make them laugh? Are they smart? or are the a little more on the Paris Hilton side of the spectrum? (I am okay with either).  Can they have a real conversation or is just surfacey stuff?  Where are they from? Where did they go to school? What did they major in? Oh and a big one- greek life? If I can guess from the get go, this usually means I won't be best friends with them. (I said usually- not all the time and I said best friends- not just friends. )

Some other people may take longer than 15 minutes though.  It takes a couple interactions, a couple hang-seshes, and a couple weeks or so. You can get to know the inside of person based on what they say, how the interact, and who they are, right now in their life.

But this is where I go wrong and forget. Everyone changes from the inside out and like I said, the only thing that doesn't change, is the foundation.

Foundations form, frame, and uphold both the insides and outsides of a person just like they do a building.

Some people can look like they have it all together on the outside and the inside because it is the areas of our life we can control and change. We can control our looks and we can control our behaviors. However, we all know that after a while, when you get past the mask and the act of a person and start to see dysfunction, you realize it is usually routed in the dysfunctional foundation of that person. And when you see the dysfunction in the foundation, then grace and mercy extend a lot more freely because we realize that people's ugliness, covered by a scripted and perfected act, is just an outcome of a faulty foundation- something which usually they have no control over and have no idea how to fix or remodel. 

So what does this mean?

The obvious-pay attention to the foundations of people before you judge them on the outside and the inside. Grace and mercy are something we receive freely everyday from the Person we deserve it least from so we should more than willingly extend it to others.

But more importantly, take a look at your own foundation.

No matter how you grew up or how you were raised, it is important to pay attention to how you are feeding your foundation. This can be done negatively and positively.

Are you feeding the weaknesses of your foundation? For example, taking issues from your past and letting them ruin your relationships now by giving them control over the present? Are you dwelling on the negatives things that were built into your foundation that you had no control over. Or what above feeding your sin nature in general? Unfortunately, nobody has a perfect foundation. There is sin built into every single one? So are you feeding the sin of your foundation? When you feed the sin and weaknesses in your foundation, you will produce a weak and ugly person no matter how good you think you are at masking it.  

Instead, focusing on feeding your foundation with good. And I don't mean things that simply make you happy, but things that are good in God's eyes- including but not limited to struggles and challenges along with happiness and love and grace that you let shape you into a beautiful person inside and out.

Stop trying to control the outside appearance and inside behaviors,based on "who you want to be".  Instead feed the foundation, build into it with good, and you will become who you want to be and it will more solid, more believable, and more sturdy that any mask or scripted lifestyle could ever be. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Storm

A couple months ago, on my Facebook status I wrote a quote that I heard from a sermon.  It said:

 "Lord, let us not focus on the storm but rather focus on the One who calms them." 

I thought there were storms going on then, but little did I know that the big storm was just brewing.

For those of you who don't know, The Monnahans (by Monnahan's I mean, Woodwards and Morgans as weird) family has been through a crazy, crazy storm lately and God has held not just me, but my whole family accountable to that profession and prayer. So as I boldly stated that quote a couple months ago, I can now say that that prayer has bled continuously out of the hearts of us Monnahan's over these past couple of weeks and God has continually challenged us to focus on Him throughout this mighty storm.

To give you a good picture of what life has been like, think of a big wave out on the ocean.

Whether its your first time on a beach or you are a  professional surfer, there is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing a gigantic wave out in the ocean beginning to form. I remember as a kid on a family vacation in Hawaii, just staring in complete aww as these huge waves formed out in the ocean and waiting for the loud crashing noise as it broke back into the sea.

Like the excitement of the formation of a gigantic wave, our whole family was so excited fo Abby's wedding.  If you weren't able to be there, you honestly missed out on an amazing wedding and by far the best one I have ever been too...and I am not just saying that because she was my sister. 

I say this because we had the opportunity to see some of our best friends and family come together and create a fairy tale princess wedding for Abby and Trent. The wedding was just like a wedding you would see in the movies and although to most of the guests, they saw pretty decorations and lights, I saw an outpouring of love over not just Abby but our entire family as our friends celebrated this occasion not just for us, but WITH us. Hours and days were sacrificed in many people's lives to put this wedding together and I cannot tell you how thankful I am and it wasn't even my wedding. We, the Monnahan's, have been so incredibly blessed to have such amazing friends established here in Arkansas, since our family is so far away. The wedding was an incredible event and memory we all shared.

But just like a wave begins to break, the wedding came to an end, and there was rush of weariness and recovery that over swept my parents. Although not one thing could have been more perfect about the wedding, it did take a lot of work. And by a lot, I mean A LOT- especially for my mom and dad. They were strained in every way imaginable...physically, emotionally, mentally. 

It took over a week to even have them just physically back to themselves but on May 25, the wave broke- and the crash came. A big crash. Lindsey, who was at the time 20 weeks pregnant with a sweet baby boy- Grayson Scott, was forced into delivery due to uncontrollable complications. For some reason, baby Grayson did not want to wait any longer and pushed his little feet out causing the umbilical cord to wrap around him. So at 9:44am, Grayson Scott Woodward was born into the arms of Jesus. He was just 10 1/2 inches long and wait 12.6 ounces.

This was without a doubt the hardest thing our family has ever been through. On the way to the hospital I had to go to Target and buy what would be the first and last piece of clothing Grayson would receive from his Aunt Jordan. Tears filled my eyes as I tried to find the smallest outfit knowing nothing would fit him. I settled for the baseball onesie that said "little brother".  He was going to be my little nephew. The little guy I would take to the park, take to baseball games, take to get ice cream, teach him how to call the many things.

Once I got the hospital, we were told we could go in and see Lindsey. I cannot tell you how hard it was to walk into that hospital room, seeing my big sister holding her teeny-tiny baby boy, knowing she would have to soon give him away. But I can promise you that while holding baby Grayson with the sadness and the difficulty of his passing overwhelming us, the glory of Christ was still shining through.  I wish each of you could have seen...everything from his teeny tiny fingernails and toenails to his little eyelashes and forming ears made each member of family stare in awe at the intricacy of our Creator. Just look at his tiny feet print- they were so precious. Collins even got to see him and just stared in awe.

The support and love from family and friends poured in through the following days. Lindsey and Damon were so loved on, as was the rest of our family. We had a beautiful memorial service for Grayson led by John O'Leary. There was beautiful poetry both written and read by a dear friend, Stacey Hammons, a tear-jerking poem from my own dad, and then as music played, each of the family members let go a balloon as we said our final goodbye to sweet baby Grayson. We had an ice cream truck waiting for everyone to have ice cream after the ceremony because like at every little boy's birthday, there must be ice cream.  On the morning that Grayson was born, Kathrine and I declared "Home" his song by Phillip Phillips which we played while we let the balloons go.  Listen to it.

A couple days went by and support continued to pour in as Lindsey, Damon and the rest of us tried to get back to "normalization".  So like after the crash of every wave, it seems as if the worst of it is over. We thought it was.  We all thought Lindsey and Damon had all they could handle. But then a sickness over took her body- probably due to the weakened immune system caused by stress and fatigue.  Just a week after the crashing of the wave, the undertow came and grabbed them both. one. more. time. Because of Lindsey's diabetes, getting the flu is not just a 'sick-in-bed-for-the-day' thing. It includes hospitalization. IV's. 24-hour care. This time it was not just one night, but three.  My mom and dad, still recovering from the wedding and Grayson, then stepped in like the amazing parents they are and become full-time parents again to Collins (the busiest one-year-old on the planet) while Damon and Lindsey stayed in the hospital. 

The undertow pulled at every thread of their being. They were mentally exhausted. Physically exhausted. Emotionally exhausted. Financially exhausted. Relationally exhausted.

It wasn't until this past weekend, that the undertow let go and the smooth tide finally rolled in.  Except for Landon who had to work, we all got to be together as family and "re-group". We were able to go out on the lake and just try and have some fun together again. Unfortunately, a storm like this can really create a disruption in not only our physical lives but also spiritually.  Each member in our family was spiritually affected in very different ways.

Each day was and continues to be hard and each day the pain feels brand new because this sort of pain isn't a pain that turns numb after a while. As an aunt, I only experience a part of what Lindsey, Damon, and all the other parents out there who have been through a tragedy like this- and I know, the pain stays real, raw, and fresh. Every morning when you wake up, you feel it. When you go to sleep, you feel it. When Lindsey and Damon hold Collins, they wonder what kind of a big sister should would have been. When other babies are being born, the desire to celebrate is stung by the memory of their own loss. When they go to bed, they hope when they wake up the next morning, it will all just have been a bad nightmare.  It hurts. I have to watch Lindsey go through and wrack her brain about what could have been done differently. Seen Damon try and support Lindsey as a strong supportive husband but so heart-broken over the fact that he had to give up his first son.  This is a storm. And this is our storm.

But here is the thing. Although we were all caught in this big storm-

Lindsey and Damon who's faith and spirit were rocked the hardest did not waverer one bit.

This past weekend Lindsey was talking about a book she said had read before Grayson was born and how it challenged her to give her children to Jesus. She said "I did. I promised God he could have my children and He actually took him."

Just like my prayer to focus on The Calmer of the storm instead of the storm before the storm every came...God will challenge us.  He will hold us to our professions and to our words.  When I think of Lindsey and Damon, I think of Luke 16:10: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much...". Over the past couple of years, I have seen Lindsey's faith grow stronger and stronger. As a big sister, I have always looked up to her but seeing her steadfast faith through this storm has been absolutely incredible, admirable, and humbling. She is the strongest person I know and God has created her this way.  She always has been. He sees her strength and by taking her and Damon through this storm, He is only strengthening her by making both of them more dependent on Him. And I think I know why and I think this could be why, you, reading this, have gone through the storms of your life. 

Because God is doing and will continue to do incredible things through each and everyone of His children as long as we are faithful in both the little and the big.  God is using Lindsey and Damon and their storm for the glory of their kingdom in ways that none of us could ever imagine.  Although we can't see it now in the midst of this storm, we will be able to look back and see a beautiful sunset stretching across the sky, over the waves, and know that the Creator has it all under control.  He always has had in under control and He always will. 

Lindsey and Damon have fully managed to do exactly what I prayed for. They have focused on The Calmer of the storm instead of the storm- something very few people could handle with as much grace, understanding, and peace as both Damon and Lindsey have. I am honored and humbled to be a part of their family and to watch them on this journey. 

I only hope that as you have read this and as I have witnessed, that when God brings storms into our lives, that we will be as faithful, steadfast, and trusting and Lindsey, Damon, and my whole entire family has been. Because you know why? Because God is always up to something and my desire is to be a part of that something because whatever it may is going to be oh so good. I don't want to miss out. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"We didn't have this 'green' thing back then..."

So I know after a long period of time, this post is not that exciting. However, my Uncle Rod sent this to my dad who in turn sent it to me and I found it pretty insightful.

I myself get pretty sick of this whole "green generation" thing...gah, even the picture above annoys me... not because it is bad but because everyone who does not "go green" outwardly is viewed as bad or like they have a scarlet letter hanging around their neck.... Read on. And the ending remarks...just typical of my Uncle Rod. I love him. :)

Being Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty (this is something I strongly encourage you NOT to do because nowadays there are way too many toxins things in our water included traces of mercury and fluoride) instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person...

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

I can see both sides of the fence- but I think this side is often hid under the passion turned pride of our generation. Just some thoughts.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Bachelorette Party

So I don't know how many of you know this, but my older sister Abby is getting married! Oh yeah...gettin' hitched. And can I just ask why it is that every time I tell people that, they all say "why aren't you stopping her?"

I mean, people. Marriage is and can be a good, happy thing. And then they go to validate my singleness like I have a golden star hanging above my head. "You are doing it the right way."  What? Living only for myself, doing what I want to do, and failing to commit to love someone else for the rest of my life? 

Pssshh...whatevs. She is getting married and I am so very happy for her (even though her fiance can drive me nuts! Love you, Trent!).  I will get there one day. 

Anyway, last weekend, we had her bachelorette party in Memphis. It was nine girls and I must admit, I was dreading the weekend because big groups of girls out on the town,  having a good time, can really make my blood pressure rise and I start freaking out. 

However, it was Abby's big weekend and I sucked it up. Plus, Molly and Kat were there to so at least I would always have back up. 

The road trip there was purrty dang good. Windows down, 90's Hits list playing on Pandora...aahhhh, road trips.  Us three were perfectly happy and content. But that can't be said for the others. You see, we drove separately. The others road in two vehicles and it was a person in each who delayed their trip causing a lot bigger delay than they imagined. Before they left town, Abby decided she really needed fake eyelashes because well, she is Abby and she is the bell of the ball. Lindsey, the other sister, needed Sonic, because she is addicted to their happy hour beverages. (Yes, the addiction runs in the family).  This caused about a 20 minute gap which caused them to get stuck behind a GI-normous wreck involving semi-s and cars, and fatalities. 

Their delay lasted them 2.5 hours!! So it took them almost 4 hours to get to Memphis. A trip which should normally take about 2 hours. Whew. I am glad I have addressed my sonic addiction and that fake eyelashes are not necessary for a good night out. :) 

Meanwhile, once we got there, Molly, Kat, and I checked-in:

Pssshh...who are those two bums?

And then we went to check out the local pool in case we wanted to have a pool party.

Definitely pool party environment, right? Even if our only guest would be the sweet maid Rose who took our picture. I think she thought we were nuts.

Anyways....we proceeded to hang out. I worked out and the girls got ready until everyone else arrived. Then we went out to go get seats at a restaurant for dinner. We went to 152 on Beale Street.

 That's us. And we got to hear this really cool band called Irish Red. Check out their logo.

Pretty sweet, huh?

Then, after dinner....we went out and walked around. 
It was my first time out on Beale Street so we started the walk out right with what is called a "Big Ass Beer."  I can't help it. The trio can't help it. We like beer.

Oh and apparantly being with like 9 really dressed up, pretty girls is like walking around with signs on your head saying look at us.  We were literally out on Beale street for about 1 minute when two different girls came up saying, "so my friend thinks you are really hot..." to which I responded..."then you can tell him to come and tell me that...".  Bad idea though. Because one did, and then he wouldn't leave. Like literally.

All of us girls were trying to just move and on and keep walking but he kept following. So a bouncer at one of the places noticed and asked if he was bothering us. We said yes and he said, okay, come in here and follow this girl. So all of us, like a little line of ants when into this bar/restaurant and before we knew it, she lead us through like three back doors and three different restaurants and walked us out to the top of Beale Street. We had our own personalized escape route! It was awesome..

Then, we ran into a bachelors party who wanted us to "ice" their groom with a Smirnoff. Here is Abby and him and their big, ginormous, really gross tasting drinks. (Don't worry, Abby did not drink all of that!)

After walking around for quite a while, we decided it was time to go dance. We went back to 152 and got our groove on for a while. Three different levels to dance on, three different levels of fun. We chose level 3. Duh.

Here we are dancing. :) Could ya tell?

Then we decided it was time to go to this place called Raiford's. Now, Kathrine had told me all about this place and I was just like ya, ya,, dance...good time...whatevs. But NO. I was very wrong. This place was amazing. You walk in and they have this white fog over the whole place so it is not dark inside at all, but kinda blurry. And the best part is, they play all old music...aka good music..aka the kind of music I really like to dance too. I loved this place. They have teeny-tiny dance floor with a drum set on it that anyone and everyone is welcome to play. See: Here is Abby's best friend
Candace jamming away. She was actually pretty good. :)

OH! And also, I think I found my soul mate there. I don't know his name but at one point during the night he caught my eye because he was singing every word to every song like I was and he was pretty darn cute. So in the middle of dancing with some random guy who I had no idea who he was, I went over to him and I said: "You! Why are you not out here on the floor dancing?! You know every word. Get out here."

So he did. And we dance for like an hour and 1/2 singing all different sorts of songs to each other from Tina Turner to Micheal Jackson to The Police. It was awesome. But I didn't even get his name. So he is that kinda soul of the mysterious ones. But I was so excited because when I was looking through pictures, I realized I got snap shot of him. That is right. He is in the picture above. Here, let me zoom in for you:

There he is!! The guy with the glasses not the other guys. (Eeek!) My soul mate who I don't even know the name of! I was dancing with him at that point too but you can't see me. Oh wellz. Probably for the best.

So Raiford's was a blast. I want to go back so bad but it wasn't the end of the night yet.  Our friend Clark, who the Trio met in Florida a couple summers ago lives in Memphis. He came out and met us and then invited us all back to his apartment. And check out the view from his apartment downtown:

That's right. His apartment looked right over the Redbirds Field. I would love love love that. I would never ever ever leave my apartment during baseball season. We just sat and threw rocks off the roof and prayed no one would fall. :) And we didn't. Eventually we all made it safe and sound back to the hotel. 

Then Sunday, we made the trip home back to the LR. The weekend was an overall success, so much fun and now starting today the rest of the wedding festivities begin! 

I hope you guys have a great weekend and for those of you who care, I am really going to try and better at blogging. Life gets in the way. (excuses, I know).

Ciao bellas!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Power of Words

"You is kind.  You is smart.  And you is important."

If you are wondering why I am calling you kind and smart and important, don't worry; I am not. However, I am now wondering why you haven't seen the movie The Help yet, because that quote is from that movie. And yes, it is a very good movie.

A quick recap for those of you who haven't seen the film:  Back in the day in the 1960's, when the racial divide was at its height, typical southern prestigious women had African American maids, who they called the help. In the film, one of the characters named Aibileen, serves as the help for a typical American husband, wife, and child. The wife is everything but kind and appreciative towards Aibileen but Aibileen works to form a motherly bond with their child, showing her more love and affection that both her mother and father combined. Everyday and when in times of emotional stress: Abilileen repeats those words to the little girl. She looks her right in the eyes and says in a slow, serious yet kind and soft voice, "You is kind. You is smart. And You is important."

Watching the movie, I knew that was an important part of the film but I based it on the fact that it was just something that Aibileen did for the child to show her love and care for her. (Which, in and of itself is enough.) However, just recently I realized how important those words were for that little girl to hear.

While on a run the other day, I was listening to a sermon by my old youth pastor, Jerrod Rumley, and during his talk he mentioned how whenever Cooper, his eldest son of 5, gets into trouble, as parents they simple say "Rumley's are not that way. Rumley's are kind." or "Rumley's are patient." or "Rumley's are forgiving."

When I heard this, I was reminded of the words that Aibileen spoke to that little girl and I got to thinking. Now is that little girl really smart? and does she really understand the meaning of the word important or what it means to be kind? No. Probably not. And neither does Cooper really, BUT the thing that sticks out to me is the power of those words and the effect they will have on the rest of these children's lives.

Words are so powerful and I think most of us underestimate the power of them way to often. I don't mean hateful words. We all, especially us girls, know the power of a hateful word and what it can do to our soul.  I am referring to the power of positive and meaningful words that can form you into who you want to be and who are suppose to be.

Unfortunately, not all of us were raised with a maid as amazing as Aibileen nor with parents as wise as Jerrod and Jen Rumley. But what if we decided to take the power of words seriously? What if everyday, you and I woke up and said, or in my case, write down statements of truth about who we are and who we want to be.

So for example. A little application here:       I have not been known to be the kindest, most gentle girl out there.   This is something I have always wanted to work on and has been a big struggle of mine.

One of my statements would then be, like the little girl: I am kind. There is something about saying it or writing it down that makes you want to live it whether you fully believe it or not. I realized that while I was running and I literally said to myself "I am kind".

Discipline is another one of my struggles. So now, I can wake up and write down: I am kind. I am disciplined. And for a third: I am others-focused. (Lord knows I need to work on that one. I should maybe repeat that one three times alone.)

I strongly believe there is power in saying those things and they will make a difference over time in your life and how you act on a daily basis.

Also, you don't need to just keep the power of words for yourself. NEVER underestimate the power you have to make somebody be a better person through the use of words. Friends that you know struggle in a certain area, say to them the opposite of what they probably think or believe about themselves. To some of my friends I would say: You are worthy of love. You are strong.  You are important. You are capable. You are focused. You are a great dad. You are a great mom.  I don't know...just find that something and you say it to them. I have realized that I have had the privilege of being surround by amazing people in my life and I am just now realizing how their words have formed me into who I am. It took some digging but I realized that who I am, has everything to do with the important people who poured into me. It took one old friend from high school who I was really never that close too, writing a message to me on Facebook, telling me she loved my blog, to keep blogging.  One person. She has helped me believe that I am a good writer.

I want to encourage you to try it. If you have limiting beliefs about yourself, you will always be limited to keep being just the way you are. Erase those beliefs and start believing in the power of words and use them for good. Let them run through you and let them change you.

I take back what I said at the beginning of the post. this is me, now saying to you:

You IS kind.

You IS smart.

And you IS important.

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