Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making bread and other tranquil things

I got one of those ideas in my head a couple weeks ago. I wanted to make bread. 

I could see myself quietly kneading the dough, rolling in the yeast, slowly, methodically, rhythmically. Connecting with an ancient tradition. It seemed so lovely.

Josh told me we had yeast, which I didn't think we had. It stressed me out a little to know that because that meant I really had no obstacles between me and the bread-making fantasy. 

Then I realized we had no flour because the weevils got to it. Which made me feel better.

Something about making things from scratch turns this girl a little nervous. I'm so afraid to mess it up. I'm afraid the moments in my head will turn into flour-covered disaster, with John careening through the house covered in white powder. And suddenly the walls and the furniture need to be cleaned. And the bread would be forgotten.

A moment made more tragic less by mess and more by disappointment.

So I went to the store and I bought more yeast. I told myself the old yeast might have gone bad. And I bought wheat flour since I believe that I am into that sort of thing, even though I drink Coke and eat candy bars. 

I put the molasses and the oil on the counter with the measuring cups. And then I waited some more. Bread-making required the perfect moment. I just needed to wait for it. 

Tonight my friends are coming for dinner. My friend who cooks with a Julia Child's cookbook, who knows how to poach an egg.

It's a good thing she is not judgmental. 

In my internet searchings, I found this short film from Kinfolk, the hipster crowd you secretly want to hang out with. They make everyday life look extravagantly beautiful with their aged film treatment and typography, the nearly-sedating music. It's nearly impossible to be stressed while watching this film. I realize the unidentified star of this film doesn't have a two year-old in the background who just lobbed his toothbrush into the toilet. 

But still, it's so peaceful, so slow. You can't rush, can't hyperventilate. Please enjoy this beautiful film and reconnect with slowness. 


the art of making bread from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

After viewing this, I did make my own bread. How could I not? John was down for a nap, and the house went quiet. I tuned in to the Album Leaf station on Pandora, lit a candle, and gave myself the hours. Here is the recipe I used, which is a video from All Recipes. It's pretty tranquil as well.

Here is the result of my process. I was proud. Not bad for a first-timer.



The recipe did make three loaves. I gave one way and gobbled up the rest with help from the boys. It's something I will certainly do again soon.



Monday, February 18, 2013

Why we need all five

I've been craving curry lately. Spicy things: salsa...that's all I can think of.

It's one of those times I wonder if I'm pregnant.  Oh, wait. I always do. 

As I sat finishing my Thai yellow curry this afternoon, skin sweating just a little, nose on the runny side, I thought about what this biological urge for spicy might mean. And it reminded me the Chinese already figured it out. 

Our bodies need five flavors to function, to maintain life flow and balance. I'm not sure what to make of their theory of qi and all that, but they're onto something with their approach to diet and health.

According to this article from PingMing Health, each of the five flavors in food impact a specific essential organ. I find this so fascinating. 


Heart – Bitter
Liver – Sour
Spleen – Sweet
Lung – Spicy
Kidney – Salty


The functions of each flavor are relatively vague, but the article goes into more detail for each element. I recommend you read it.


Sour flavour can calm the body.
Bitter flavour can clear heat.
Sweet flavour can tonify the body.
Spicy flavour can expel wind and cold from the body.
Salty flavour can help the body to dissolve stagnation.

[photo cred: landsofwisdom.com]
The article describes the path of each food and how cravings aid in diagnosis: 
"The famous ancient traditional Chinese medical text, Huangdi Neiing, records that after eating, sour flavoured foods goes to the liver first, bitter flavour goes to the heart first, sweet flavour go to the spleen first, spicy flavour goes to the lung first, and salty flavour goes to the kidney first. 
The organs try to balance themselves through your diet. When an organ is sick, the body can tell you what organ may be impaired through cravings for a particular taste.In the clinic, we consider the flavours as part of the traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis, to discover what organs may be in disorder. 
For example, my clients often complain of cravings for sweets, which usually indicates spleen deficiency, because the spleen organ likes sweets."
And of course, floaty philosopher that I am, I wonder what this tells us about our souls. How we stay in balanced in life. 

And maybe how sometimes, the adventures or relationships we crave reveal the imbalances and lacks in our "soul diet"

Sometimes life offers us the flavor. A death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, a hope or goal that fizzles on impact: these can send us reeling. And suddenly we're in a new flavored season, one of sour or bitter. 

Primal beings that we are, we seek pleasure and avoid pain. We nearly always want sweet, or at least, we aim to avoid the bitter and the sour. But sometimes they come to us, and there is a balancing that happens. 

These moments of pain and sorrow are the ones that make us human. We stop doubting Jesus' humanity when we see his loneliness and fear in the garden of Eden, his compassion at the lost hearts of people  who had no one to care for them, his grief when his friends, Lazarus and John, died. 

His humanity is vibrantly on display maybe not as much in his laughter or statements of irony, but most in his aching. 

Pain makes us raw; reveals who we are. We stop propping up facades, and painful as it is, it's nice to let the fake go for a while. Maybe forever.

Then sometimes, we go in search of the missing flavors. We can feel our lives are missing the spicy, the adventures, the unexpected. Or the sweetness of companionship or feeling rightly fitted somewhere. 

And I think that says something about where we are and what we need. In other words, the experiences we seek reveal what is missing. Seems obvious, right? 

The problem arises when we try to forge the adventure ourselves, when we stop trusting in Someone who loves us more and out of fear of getting left out or being alone forever, we try to create the missing thing.

But it often feels empty when we do it ourselves. 

I don't know what else to say but this: He made you this way, made me this way. He wants me to taste all the flavors. Wants his life flow active in my veins and mind and spirit. He wants me to taste the sweet, to have the spicy of adventure and the alive of the sour and the bitter. It's all part of being human. 

And Jesus is there to remember with us in vivid color what it feels like to be fully alive, fully human, fully here. And he is fully with us. Always. 


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 7: Lindsey + Ryan (and the whole family)

Today is our last day of the Crazy For Love series. It's a story sent in by Lindsey, mom of two littles and the wife of Ryan. She lives her dream out at Beyond Motherhood, recording the moments of parenting two kids less than two years apart. I admit I don't know how she does it. 

She wanted to share a few of the things she loves about her family, and she couldn't pick just one of them. Read on for Lindsey's list of things she loves:


"These are the ones I love. My first and true love, Ryan. The patient man whose calm strength guides our family.  The little people who run wild with big smiles and never ending energy. 
Our daughter Sarah, who is full of curiosity, spunk, and a healthy dose of drama.  
Our little guy Andrew, whose smile can light up a room and who is a source of laughter and joy.  
This is my family. When I look into their eyes, I see purpose, futures, potential, and lots of love!"
This concludes our wild week of Crazy For Love stories
Thanks for reading. It's been so wonderful to hear from readers who have lives full of love, hasn't it? And it's been a great reminder to me to slow down and appreciate the beauty of my favorite people. I hope you've benefited from the stories as well.

Now it's our turn to be Crazy For Love, not just once a year or around the holidays, in everything, and especially in the small things. 

Let's live lives full, enjoying and soaking up the precious moments with our favorites. 

Soak them up, everyone. Soak them up.

{If you've missed a few of the stories, don't worry. Click here to read the entire series.}



Friday, February 15, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 6: Jessica + Ryan

Today's Crazy For Love story comes to us from the East Coast, and really, it started all the way across the ocean, in Madrid, Spain, just a few years ago. It's a love story from my friend, "Ica", also known and Jessica and the love of her life, Ryan. 

I remember when Ica was just getting to know Ryan, just letting herself fall in love, scary as it was. And we gushed across the miles, hoping the feeling was mutual. 

And boy, was it! 

It was a great day when they finally shared their "I like you too" feelings, and then the whole thing took off. These two are a pair I don't get to see often, but I thoroughly love it when I do. Their love for each other and for life is contagious. They know how to enjoy extravagance and simplicity, and how to make any old day fun and adventurous. 

So let me introduce to you: Ryan + Jessica.


Oh my gosh, these two. They are such a crack up. I like them a lot.

Jessica tells us the story of what she was looking for most in a mate, and the moment she found it in Ryan. Here it is:


I asked him, “Would you describe yourself as whimsical?”
It was the first time we walked together in the city where we eventually fell in love.

He looked slightly amused and confused and didn’t stifle the laugh as he replied “Hmmm, I don’t know how to respond to that, why do you ask?

I didn’t answer, I need not have asked in the first place. He was whimsical, I knew it. And this meant that he possessed one of the most important qualities I was looking for in a soul mate. Life became a little more intriguing.

So we spent many days together that hot, dry August in Madrid. We wandered about the deserted city- long meandering walks where we spoke of life, music, people and nonsense. We ate red velvet cake with summer berries and always kept our eyes peeled for the rarely seen Spanish squirrels. He rode the carousel with me and wholeheartedly agreed that we should ride the pigs instead of the horses, giving them names and voicing their animated pig conversations as we swirled around.

“I like you.”
“Why...?”
“Because you play my games.”

I am introverted, oh so introverted...happy as a little clam to be alone, drinking in the world around me and smiling at its peculiarities. But, here was someone who noticed those same peculiarities and wanted to smile with me. What great fun it was! I had never felt so completely free to share the ridiculous part of myself. And, even more than that, to know that it is appreciated and loved. 

He is a writer, a musician- an artist. He knows how to feel the fullness of life’s seriousness and has a beautiful way of expressing that which is solemn or even dark. This is one of the things I deeply admire about him. 
But...what do I love about him? I love that he is whimsical.

Do tell. Could two people be more whimsical than this. 


Happy Love Week, Month and Life to you both! And to all of us. Jessica, thank you for reminding us that playfulness, fun and friendship are what make relationships last. 
{We only have one more day in our Crazy For Love series, the story of sweet family of four. Stay tuned.}


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 5: Deb + Tom

{Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone}

Today is Day 5 of 7 in our Crazy for Love series.

I chose this Crazy For Love submission from Deb for Valentine's Day because I think this couple is an excellent example of what it means to love each other for life. And not just that. They let their love overflow into the lives of others. Many of my friends and I have benefited from Tom and Deb's fun-loving, playful, God-centered relationship. 

Let me introduce to you: Tom and Deb


Here's what Deb has to say about what she loves about Tom:

"We will have been married for 33 years in May and are still very best friends. We finish each other's sentences or often don't even need to talk because we know what each other is thinking. We are living out the One-ness of marriage and act as a unit in all that we do. God blessed us with each other and He knew exactly what He was doing! All His ways are good!"

Let's take that little bite of wisdom from their story and let it become our own. Thanks, Deb.

{Just because it's Valentine's Day doesn't mean the love stops tomorrow. Two more days of Crazy For Love stories coming your way. And then, we get to keep the Crazy Love on all year.}




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 4: Cris + TJ

Today's Crazy For Love story shows a determined kind of love. It's a love story between two Soldiers, which withstood the test of years of service to our country. Our submission is from Cris, who makes no fanfare of her and her husband's loyalty to our nation, but we can appreciate the strength of their love knowing the pressure and transition it withstood.

Here's to you, Cris and TJ. Thank you for your service to our country. We are grateful. May you have many more years together, enjoying each other's company. We hope your friendship only grows through the years.


Let me introduce to you our Crazy For Love story of the day: Cris and TJ. 

Here's what Cris has to say about her hubby and the love of her life, TJ:

"After 15 years of marriage, he still says please, thank you, excuse me, and I'm sorry. He brings me a towel every night when I forget and scrapes ice from my windshield in the winter. He cries during Grey's Anatomy and laughs during Big Bang Theory. He is my perfect match."

15 years? Isn't that awesome? I'm always inspired by couples who are still in love and admire each other after being married for several years. Thank you for sharing, Cris. 

{Stay tuned for daily Crazy For Love stories all week in celebration of Valentine's Day}



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 3: Faith + Joe

This is our third installment in the week-long Crazy For Love series. So much love, and we're not even half-way done. Valentine's Day is two days away. Plan something lovely for the ones you love. Don't take for granted how special they are to you.


Now without further ado, let me introduce to you: Faith and Joe

This story was sent in by Faith:

"I love Joe because he has been through everything with me and has stuck with me when every other guy I know would've left in a heartbeat. 

We've both endured difficulties in our lives but we've always come back to each other. We grew up through many transitions and saw each other grow up through high school and to college. 

We both have committed ourselves to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend and help each other grow in faith and love every day."



{Stay tuned for daily Crazy For Love stories all week in celebration of Valentine's Day}



Monday, February 11, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 2: Chris + Stephanie

This is day two of our celebration of love. I'm calling it Crazy For Love week. A little reminder to me and to all of us to love the ones we love.

Let me introduce Chris and Stephanie:

Chris sent in a few pictures of him and Stephanie through the years. You can tell they grew up, but then, they still look the same. Some very good genes you both have. 

A very young Chris and Stephanie on their wedding day




Chris and Steph and their two darling girls, Zoe and Eden
Here's what Chris had to say about Stephanie:

"One of the many things I love about my wife is her ability to accomplish anything she desires. Most people think she is shy and reserved, which she normally is, but she is extremely intelligent and can work through any problem or fear or concern until the job is complete. She and others might be surprised by it, but I never doubt her. 
Oh ya, and she is an amazing cook. That can never hurt."
Bravo! You have to love this kind of support from a husband. Thanks, Chris. You're obviously an incredible husband. And your daughters are adorable too. But, you already know that. ;)


{Stay tuned for more Crazy For Love stories all week long}




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crazy For Love Day 1: Molly + Joshua




Let me introduce to you: Molly and Josh.


This is our first installment of Crazy For Love, sent in by Molly, who was one of the first ones to respond to the request for Crazy For Love stories. Her story is fun and inspiring, and I know you will love it too: 

"They say good things come to those who wait and as of now I couldn't agree more. I'm 25 and hadn't ever been in a relationship until this year. Joshua and I met online, long story short we both were coerced into and were leaving the site when he found me. We talked and talked for months before meeting. 

We happened to meet accidentally not on a day we intended but we were in the same place at the same time. I like to think God knew what he was doing. I knew the minute I saw him that there was something there but it wasn't until 3 months later that Josh asked me to dinner. 10 days after that he asked me to be his girlfriend and now here were are nearly 7 months later. 

Over these months the reasons I love Josh haven't changed much, though they've been added to and strengthened. I love that he found me beautiful before and after losing 25 pounds. I love that he wants nothing more than what makes me happy and lifts me up. I love that he uses words to uplift, encourage and strengthen me. I love that he recognizes my tender heart and protects it. I love his willingness to keep his word and his willingness to sacrifice himself and his time for others.  

Joshua is an active duty soldier in the Army stationed at Ft. Riley. Our first Valentines day together will be spent apart.  Honestly that's ok, because he's doing what he's committed to doing, being who he is called to be and I couldn't love him more for it. Besides, he makes me feel like every day is Valentines Day."

What  a cool, unique story, Molly. Thank you so much for sharing.



{Stay tuned for daily Crazy For Love stories all week in celebration of Valentine's Day}



Saturday, February 9, 2013

You're My Hubby and I Love It: 50 things I love about my man

It's been almost 6 years since I discovered Joshua Siders wasn't like any other man I'd ever been with. It was some day in May 2007 when he made me laugh, had an answer for every snarky remark I threw him, and I knew: I met my match. 

Since then, we got married, bought a house and a puppy, grew a baby and a planted a church. We've been through a million rough things together, along with all the good moments, but I wouldn't trade any of them because in tough times, I saw his strength, tenacity and love shine through. Here are just a few things I love more and more about Josh Siders:


In 2008, marriage day, in love {photo cred: saratafoyaphotography}

1. You give the best hugs
2. You still take me out for dates
3. Your laugh when you play with John is so comforting
4. You love to make me happy
5. You have a mystical ability to run a church
6. You can cook 
7. You do laundry
8. You fix broken things around the house
9. You're an intuitive counselor, even without formal training
10. You're an efficient time manager
11. You have big vision and,
12. You know how to take the small steps to make it happen
13. You are compassionate, but
14. You know when to lay down the law and you're not afraid of conflict
15. You know how to teach, preach and you care deeply that your people are engaged
16. You know what people need
17. You see the potential in people and want them to live up to it
18. You never forget important dates
19. You still say "I love you"
20. You are an incredible parent
21. You do things most dads (wouldn't or couldn't) do
22. You respect me as a woman and want to help extract every ounce of my calling
23. You believe in me
24. You think I'm smart and funny and you tell me
25. You are willing to serve in unseen ways
26. You can teach yourself almost anything
27. You persistently look for "the issue behind the issue"
28. You offer wisdom to anyone who will take it
29. You want to leave a legacy in our family and church
30. You know your life and calling aren't all about you
31. You love to see others succeed
32. You take good care of your stuff, even though it's only stuff
33. You are a pretty basic guy
34. You have good fashion sense
35. You always know how to make me laugh (unless I'm in labor)
36. You never judge me
37. You are willing to let me and others fail but won't leave us to figure it out alone
38. You are really good at playing with John 
39. You know how to have a good time, and you know how to get down to business
40. You say "Sorry" if you're wrong
41. You love Jesus and it's evident in how you love others 
42. You smell good. (No really, that's something I like because not everyone does.)
43. You are patient, even when I'm not
44. You are so, so, so consistent
45. You don't give up on people 
46. You forgive without holding back
47. You know how love me and John so well
48. You like me because of, and in spite of, all my idiosyncrasies
49. You are real
50. You are my favorite


2013, family picture day, still very much in love. and more so. 

What are your favorite things about your favorite people? Write them down and tell them. We all need a little encouragement, and why not take the month of Love to do it?

All this crazy love talk is inspired by #crazyforlove week here at the blog. If you want to share your Crazy For Love story with me, send it with a picture to scsiders@yahoo.com, for a chance to be featured here on the blog. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

You're Two and I Love It: 50 favorite things about my toddler


Everyone always talks about how toddler years are so hard. And I feel it. But there are so many precious, wonderful, adorable things that happen now, things that will end and never happen again: the way they're learning to talk, their tiny voices, the way they extract joy from the simplest experiences. There is so much to love. So in honor of the Love Month, I'm picking 50 of my favorite things about my toddler. Enjoy!


  1. You have giant, squishy cheeks
  2. Your main job in the world is to play
  3. You laugh at everything
  4. You don't judge me
  5. You give slobbery kisses
  6. You are still small enough to pick up if you are having a tantrum
  7. You have baby soft skin 
  8. You are turning into a little boy
  9. You approach the world with an enormous, contagious wonder
  10. You want to try out everything 
  11. You are still learning to talk and it's so cute
  12. You are getting smarter by the day
  13. You think cars and trucks are awesome and you shout them out when you see them
  14. You think I'm hilarious
  15. You don't make fun of my dancing
  16. You don't have personal space 
  17. You forget really easily 
  18. You are easily distracted from bad behavior
  19. You sleep 10 hours a night and take a 2-hour nap
  20. You're starting to become a little person
  21. You're still kind of a baby 
  22. You let me read you bedtime stories
  23. You still drink out of a sippy cup 
  24. You still sleep in a crib - but you can climb out
  25. You have the best giggle and it always makes me laugh 
  26. You wear big boy underwear with superheroes on it
  27. You don't think my breath stinks in the morning
  28. You like cuddling 
  29. You love people 
  30. Your haircut is terribly cute 
  31. You are so good-looking, I can't stop staring at you 
  32. You say "Hi" the cutest way possible
  33. You love being the center of attention 
  34. You are great with people 
  35. You are really fun to be around  
  36. You're hungry to learn
  37. You're curious
  38. You're a great dancer
  39. You always forgive me, even when I don't ask
  40. You are sad when I leave
  41. You are happy when I come home
  42. You blow kisses to anyone, except strange, weird people
  43. You love play and being happy
  44. You got the best of me and Josh
  45. You make sweatpants look adorable
  46. You think life is awesome
  47. You don't have shame about anything
  48. You don't live with regret
  49. You like yourself, the dog, your mom and dad, grandmas and grandpas, and all the other important people
  50. You know how to make other people happy 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The virtues of discomfort and how the world gets changed: a manifesto

If you want to change the world, you will never do it sitting down. Not there in that chair, all comfy and cozy. No, you don't care enough from that position. 

You will never be radical if you can’t embrace discomfort. 
You will be a safe, squishy slug no one is afraid of. You must hand over your World Changer title.

Comfort is you in control
It’s a place where you know what is best for you. 
Where you and I can be the gods of our own personal universes. 
See why it's so hard to give it up?

But being uncomfortable doesn’t mean you are unsafe, unprotected.
It usually means you are in search of truth, 
and the discomfort is the indicator you are closer. 

Discomfort is the ache we get when we grow, your guaranteed, without-a-doubt knowledge you are changing, evolving, becoming.

Your desire for comfort and feeling good could be the death of you. 
At least it wants to be the death of you. 

In fact, I would say discomfort is a good thing, and we can embrace it because we will always be safe. Really safe.

Safety is the place we live every day in the eyes and palm of a Father who loves us. 


[photo cred: www.armsaroundba.org]

Safety does not mean nothing bad ever happens
It does not mean our feelings never get hurt. 
Being safe does not mean we always get our way. 

But it means we are never alone
We can be in pain and uncomfortable and feel like we've never been here before 
and we never want to come back. 
But we can survive because we are with Someone.

We are not alone. 

Not alone is what makes danger okay. It's what makes discomfort bearable. 

And this is the truth of our existence. We just aren't ever alone. 
Father God put Jesus through the alone so we don't have to feel it ever again.

We no longer need to create our own safety; we are already there. 

So if you embrace discomfort, vulnerability and the pain of your own human existence, you will discover real truth, the gems and mysteries and hidden things of God and his creation.

And if you decide to give up your recliner and your right to the bubble wrap, 
you just might change the world.

“Happy am I to love a hungry life, 
and blessed am I to thirst. 
Disillusionment is a gift within; 
I am blessed among men.”


{Lyrics by Lovesick, by Misty Edwards}


Monday, February 4, 2013

The danger of safety

Word of warning: This post is about comfort. You may feel un-comfortable while reading.

Two weeks ago I wrote about living in between, about the unhappy space where I live, a place in which I have a dream, goal or destination floating somewhere in front of me, and yet I do nothing to move towards it.

This “ah-ha” led me to the conclusion my motivating values do not match my stated values, in that I am motivated by something other than what I claim to be.

For me, the values most true and evident in my life were fear, comfort and laziness. It was disheartening, to say the least, to realize these weak and powerless motives and desires were CEOs of my everyday existence. But ironically I’ve been too comfortable to change.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been acutely aware of my love for comfort, and believe me, I am uncomfortable now. I think God is pressing the issue.

Last week I talked with a Soldier who grew up in an urban area in the South where violence was the norm, where gunfire and other life-ending measures settled disputes on a regular basis. He lost his first friend at age seven.

He told me it is unfair so many people in the world controlled their access to global unrest and poverty with the click of a remote. If they wanted to, they can simply shut off the TV and ignore the problems, he mused. “But some of us live there, and we can’t ignore it.”

I immediately saw in the mirror the many nights I’ve read news of atrocities committed on our soil and abroad. I signed a petition, retweeted an article, shouted a call to action. And then I turned off the light and went to bed. Outside my house no gunfire echoed through the streets, no screaming for help, no sirens.

But perhaps what is worse than my love of comfort is the safety I pack around me makes me safe. Creates in me a preference for the moderate, for 70 degree temperatures and sunshine, for the indoors, for well-manicured everything. My desires for comfort and safety weaken my ability to innovate and increase my whininess. They strip me of change agent status. 

They make me “un-dangerous”.

Most of us want to know we are not in danger as we walk around, that we are not about to get robbed or shot. I think this should be a right for all humans, although it certainly isn’t a reality for a majority of the world.

But what about all the other convenience features of our lives: dishwashers and warm showers, functional cars, indoor plumbing, a closet just for shoes, a cup of coffee every morning?

We claim we cannot live without these amenities, and we loudly bellyache if it is ever required. The inability to live without the extras, the things beyond food, water, shelter and air, seems to be more a sign of a maladaptive state of being than a badge of success.


photo credit: www.wyndsongwrites.com

In our middle and upper-class American bubble today, we are snugly unaware, insulated, bubble wrapped from a hurting world that knows the feeling of a dirt floor in their bedroom, and wonders if they will have enough food to eat tomorrow.

The sound of war and pestilence are foreign to us. We simply shut off the television. We can close our laptops, safe from the dangers of the world. 

But the safety comes with a price. Now that we are safe from the world, the world is now safe from us. We are no longer dangerous.

Think about it. What life-changing invention ever came from a man on a couch who said, "Ah, this is great. I have everything I need. I am perfectly comfortable"? 

Looking back at great innovation, we don't see a trail of people without problems at the helm. We clearly see lack, a sense of something missing, as a creation motivation. Pain and hardship are excellent inventors themselves.   

So I’m here writing this, painfully aware of my comfort, and suddenly, very uncomfortable. 

I want to be dangerous again, but I'll admit I'm still terrified of what it will cost. Because I know that on a good day, it will cost my comfort. I will have to hand over my complacency. But it could cost me more.

Is being dangerous, being effective, being an envelope-pusher, a creator, an idea-generator, a problem-solver worth it? These people stand out on the edge near the issues. And the issues are inherently uncomfortable. They feel like world hunger and look like war orphans and widows. 

There's no room for complacency here. There is only work to be done, and room for people who will do it. 

Something to think about: 
What are you compromising so you can be comfortable? 

What ideas and innovation have you missed because you have to start our day with coffee and the news? 

What parts of God do we overlook because it takes discomfort to see it?

{The topics of discomfort, waiting and the ability to change the world are eating me up this week. At least one more post is coming on this topic. Perhaps more. I am uncomfortable now. Thanks, God.}

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Five tenets of a pro-life advocate

[This post is published at Live Action News.]

In Portland, Oregon, in 1981, just eight short years after Roe vs. Wade passed, I was born to two fervent pro-life activists. 

Our home was the headquarters of traditional yet uncompromising pro-life advocacy. My father and his friend vigilantly interviewed those running for office and published the Voter's Guide for Oregon Right to Life. My mother and her friends stood outside of local abortion clinics, attempting to make contact with women to help them see the value of the lives in their wombs. Then they threw them baby showers.

In high school and college, I wanted my turn fighting on the balance beam of life and death. But in my college town, there was (thankfully) no abortion clinic to protest. Where did I belong?

Then a troubling new theme emerged, which forced a new bent to my activism. I began to meet women who went through with abortion, but not because it was their choice. They were forced, one by an abusive boyfriend and another by unsupportive parents. 

The polarized abortion movements offered them no options either. They were either supposed to embrace with pride their right to an abortion, or slink into the shadows as a new accusation of "Murderer" hung over their heads. How are these real choices? 

During college I studied social work, and after a few years in the field, my advocacy continues to evolve. Today I find myself among one of the highest-stress populations: military families. Social workers are thoroughly trained to swallow personal opinions. But I know lives are stake here. 

In my work today, these five beliefs and actions serve as my guide:

1. I believe "Every woman wants to raise her child". I realize this is not true in every circumstance, but this is the belief I operate under when talking with women sitting on the fence of abortion, adoption, or raising her child. The stories I've heard about women having abortions were nearly all out of fear and lack of options. But what if she had options? What if she felt supported? I believe in these conditions, most women want to raise their own child. 

Read the rest at Live Action News

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Living In Between

When you say you want something, but you do nothing to attain it, what is that called?
Laziness?
Lack of vision?
Poor discipline?
Self-esteem issues?
Lying?
Fear of commitment?

It's something. I don't know what to call it, but I can tell you how it feels. It's miserable.

It's living "in between".

This is my relationship with many things in my life, loose fitting goals strung out in front of me. I read them like a menu: Should I do this or not? And then I choose not to order.

It's bothered me more and more lately that so much of my life is lived in the space between. With finances, with relationships, with God, with fitness and health. I choose not to choose.

And then that is my choice. This strange, icky, in between place where I feel compelled to do something, and yet repelled by it at the same time.

I want to spend more time with God. Why don't I?
I want to focus more on my family. Why don't I?
I want to write three times a week on my blog. Why don't I?
I want to be in shape physically? Why aren't I?

I talked to my friends about this phenomenon last week. My friend Kerry called it something like "competing values". I have a value to love God, but I also value something else more, or else I would spend the time with him that I want.

I have a value for health and fitness. But I value something else more, or else I would be fit.

This is the painful part. Peering under the boulders of inertia to see what my values truly are.

And do you want to know what mine are?

I think nearly every time I looked, I saw laziness, fear or a desire for comfort.

Really? These three things are shaping my life and destiny? Planning my days and moments?

Really? It's so disappointing. Our actions display our true values better than anything else we do. But how often do we stop to evaluate how well our actions actually match our values? I rarely do.

Instead, I made peace with the discomfort of in between. Why? I guess it's obvious by now: because it was too uncomfortable to change.

We all do it.

But if you're fortunate, if you're very, very lucky or blessed or divinely favored, something will happen and you will become uncomfortable again. A cosmic event, tiny or giant, will come along like an undertoe and sweep you up and you will just have to go with it. You will be forced to change, to adapt, to see yourself as you truly are.

But only if you're lucky.

And yet, the thing we need most, the discomfort, is what our comfortable selves spend our lives avoiding. Strange, isn't it?

I started asking for help a while ago, sending up loud, pleading prayers, recognizing my helplessness to make real, significant change.

For as progressive as the human race is, we truly are so limited in managing our own hearts and behaviors. We need help.

I don't like asking for help. I don't like discomfort. But even more than these, the thought that laziness, fear and a motivation for comfort are directing my life with more strength than God's calling on my life, that is too painful to ignore.

I'm making changes. They start with an acknowledgement I'm no good at self-help, a repentance for living without intention. And they're followed by one of Anne Lamott's favorite prayers: "Help!"

And then I try again.

[Photo credit: www.artisamerica.org]