Running, Falling and the Important Job of Mommy

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I have a dream. It’s reminecent of the Chariots of Fire triumphal entry. It’s of me crossing the finish line of a half-marathon. My three kiddos and hubby are waiting for me, arms raised and cheering as I sprint the thirteen miles like a bounding pup.

For a non-running type of person, this is about as big as my dream gets.

But even though I’m trying to reach my running goal by unofficially training with a few miles logged each week, my body is defiantly giving me the finger on this one. It’s not that I’m too achy, or injured or even a wuss -which I often am. The truth is I’m a little bit afraid.

Ok, I’m actually terrified to run.

On Sunday morning after a great workout, where I pushed myself and conquered a monster hill with the fifty lb stroller, I collapsed in the shower while holding the baby. One second I was on my feet and the next a freight train hit my head and I lost consciousness. I was aware of falling; of holding Kolby with a vice grip and then I heard in a far off place the thud of her bottom hitting the shower floor. I came to in a heap on my knees slumping over a hysterically crying Kolby.

Panic set in and all I could think about was watching Faith perform at church. It was Faith’s big day helping to lead worship in big church. No seizure or stupid loss of consciousness was going to stop me from watching my middle baby perform.

After drying off and getting us both dressed, I stumbled outside in shock and demanded my neighbors drive the baby and I to church. And then, only AFTER her performance did I let my husband take me to seek medical treatment.

(Thinking about that later, I can see how this might be a little irrational)

Despite the awfulness of it all, the baby (THANK GOD!) was unharmed and besides a few bruises on my knees and right forearm, which took the brunt of the blow, we are ok. After a slew of tests and a CT scan, my brain appears to be mostly normal –except for my usual social awkwardness, although I am on to some more rounds of tests with a cardiologist.

The doctor suggested I might want to add some water into my weekend regimen of coffee, tea, red wine, coffee, coffee and strenuous workout.

This makes sense unless you are a mother of three. I like water, I really do. I just forget to actually drink it.

When I called my mom from the hospital, her first response was hilarious. “Sam, you’ve finally done it.”

Me -“What did I do?”

Mom- “You’ve done too much.”

Me -‘Valid point mom. I’ll work on it.”

Now that I’m home and recovering, I realize the biggest problem (besides not having another episode) is that I’m slightly scarred (emotionally) from the experience.

I realized I have a tremendous fear of leaving my kids motherless. I mean let’s be honest here, who could love them like I do? Who would sing I love you forever to Kolby or get the knots out of Faith’s tangled locks or encourage my strapping son to dominate the football field with one look and our special sign?

Mommy is a very important job.

It was hard to get back in the shower today. I was scared. It was also hard to drive alone. I feel like a first timer quaking in my flip-flops at doing the most normal of things. And I didn’t want Tim to leave for work even though I knew he had to go.

Today I will be doing a lot of things with trepidation. And maybe, if I can work up the courage, I might take a walk.

And tomorrow or the next day, I’ll get back in the saddle, tighten my laces and try to run again and reach my dream.

I’ll just do it afraid.

And I’ll think about hearing “Go Mommy” at the finish line.

______________________________________________________________________________

On a side note, Tim received this e-mail last night from a lady I talked to in the waiting room at the hospital. It was so touching and a gentle reminder, no matter where we go or who we meet, God is always with us.

FYI…I’m Courtney in the scenario below. And Mary, I think you are cool not creepy!

Hi Tim,

This email is pretty random but I was so happy to have been able to track you down through Mariners Church.
We’ve actually never met but yesterday my mom and I sat beside you, your girls, and beautiful wife in the E.R. at Hoag…for a long long time. After you left, your wife and I began to chat a bit. (I believe her name is Courtney but forgive me if I’m wrong. Ever since we left Hoag last evening, I have had Courtney on my heart so strongly. I have been praying for her that her tests results came back with nothing abnormal, and yesterday’s episode proves to be a one time glitch.
It was so nice to pass the time with you guys. After spending just a short period of time with you, I felt pretty certain you were Christians. I love how the Lord’s shows himself in and through the lives of people we come in contact throughout our days. The family of Christ is an amazing thing!
I hope I’m not creeping you out by pretty much stalking you on google but I just really wanted to check and see how Courtney is doing.
I hope you and your family have an amazing Holy week, and celebration of our Risen King!
Love in Jesus
Mary

“Live the life God created you to live.”

Am I Pretty or Ugly? Little Girls, the Media and Self-Esteem…

The other night I spoke to a group of amazing young women at Fristers –a non-profit dedicated to equipping and empowering teen moms.

I talked on PURITY and that it’s never too late –which is clearly God’s sense of humor.  How I became the poster child for no sex before marriage is still a mystery to me?  I guess it’s one of those Saul/Paul miracles –you know the guy who used to persecute Christians and then became the champion of the Christian movement?  Jesus takes the most unlikely people, wrecks them with his love and grace, and then bamm…new outlook and spokesperson status.

Laughs aside, I love encouraging these gals.  I bought into the lie for way to many years that I was only as good as I looked and that my self-esteem was intertwined with my beauty.   As I looked out at the sea of young faces I knew these sweet girls had fallen for the same bucket of deception.

And it’s getting worse and worse.

I saw on the Today Show this morning that little girls are posting pictures and videos on Facebook  asking, “Am I pretty or ugly?” allowing strangers to rate their appearance and opening the door up for bullying and predators.

Why do our little girls and our teens and truthfully –most women believe we have so little to offer?

I think it’s because we are duped from the get-go (and cursed from a certain apple incident, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

One of the things I came across recently is that men control 95% of the media we consume. Only 5% of what women consume is actually directed by women. 

What?  That means I am letting men tell me how to be a woman?

And it’s not like these are Godly men who want the best for women.  These are corrupt men who are defining what you and I believe.  And it’s a 24/7 assault on our spirits. 

I am not a big feminist.  In fact I cringe at some of the rights women think they need to be equal with men.  I believe men and women are different –and that’s something to be celebrated (in the context of equality in God’s eyes). 

But let’s be honest here, it’s the media who is the biggest enemy of the female heart, not the politicians, or the religious right or the schmuck at the office who degrades you and tells you to cut up his steak. It’s the media who controls what is before our eyes and we keep watching and encouraging the exploitation.

Every time we turn into Jersey Shore, Sweet Home Alabama and Secret’s of an American Teenager we tell Hollywood to keep pumping out more BS.  I know, I know…it’s your secret little addiction and you are a grown up.  But what about the hordes of little girl’s out there who watch the same shows and believe they need to look like a Bachelor hottie to be loved and get a rose?

It’s the disturbing and relentless messages targeting our little girl’s hearts by defining their worth and value as objects and subsequently destroying the female spirit.

The media tells us women are only as good as we look, that it’s ok to  parade us around in bikini’s and sexualize us into a piece of meat.  They tell us the size of our boobs is more important than our intellect or our hearts.  They tell us it’s ok to give our bodies away over and over but then they come back and call us trash and whores after we do. 

The reality show craze has elevated toddlers dressed as pageant tarts into celebrities, its turned teen sex into an act as normal as brushing your teeth, they’ve twisted abortion into the smart girl’s ticket to success vs. a life wasted slaving over a child’s snotty nose, while ironically shaming the courageous girls who actually take responsibility for their actions and decide to have their babies.

In college they call it a walk of shame when a girl slinks back to her dorm in her heels and party dress the morning after a hook-up.  They call it a walk of fame for a guy.  They let us buy into a sick and twisted double standard regarding men and women and sex. 

Pornography is the new norm and men are being sucked in and women are left to compete with an airbrushed image that doesn’t speak but opens her mouth and takes it.

And that’s what women are supposed to compete with? 

I don’t think so.

And I confess I am one of the guilty parties who bought into this lie from the enemy of my soul – hook line and sinker.  Even worse I perpetuated it.  I allowed myself, for a long time, to become the it-girl of the media’s distorted lie. 

But not anymore…

The other night I was able to tell these girls the TRUTH about who God says they are.

children of God. made in HIS image.  worth dying for.  radically loved. cherished. treasured.  beautiful.

After I spoke, the founder of Frister’s –Ali Woodard went around the room and had each girl take the microphone and claim her beauty.  Ali made the girl’s say out loud “I am beautiful.”

One by one, with giggles and sighs, some bold and some whispered out tremulously, the girls took a stand against the lie.

But one girl couldn’t do it.  She downright refused to accept she was anything but ugly.

She cried out, “It’s not true.  I can’t say it.  It’s a lie.”

And I stood at a distance and wept. 

What are we telling our girls?  This young lady chose life instead of killing her baby.  She has chosen to seek support and graduate from high school and pursue her dreams and be a loving mother.  But despite all of these things –inside she sees only shame and loathing and condemnation.  She sees ugly, not pretty.

Ali returned to the girl and worked with her.  It took a long time.  Finally she choked out in a small voice, “I am Beautiful.”

And I wanted to scream for all of the little girls and the big girls and the older women who don’t claim the beauty we have been given by God. 

In his image he created them.  Male and FEMALE he created them.

beautiful

  

Take some time today to tell the women in your life, especially the little ones –they are beautiful. 

Related Articles:

Beauty and Body Image in the Media

Statistics on Women in Media

 

Got Emotions?

There’s a knot where my emotions live.  If I think about the knot it makes me want to cry.  So every effort to write has been rather futile this last week.  I reach for inspiration and the knot is like a lump of noodles clogging my drain… I mean brain

I’m not that great at grieving.  If stuffing had a competitor at Thanksgiving it would be me.  Generally my emotions only leak out in intimate small group settings where I feel really safe –and then some sort of emotional dam opens and I break down from bottling emotions that have been pent-up for ages, like a fine wine gone bad with bitterness.  It’s a weepy snotty affair and I associate this with weakness. 

So the way I protect myself from emotional hijacking is to lead the group and be a great listener.  It’s a safer place –always being the strong one.

I realized the other day, after my third round of blisters from shingles in three months, something needs to give.  I don’t want to live in this guarded place of protecting myself from hurt.  All too often I stay subtlety detached, not wanting to get too close to people, because they might leave me or hurt me, so I hover at a healthy distance and inoculate myself from pain before it can catch me.

But it always finds me.  I can’t hide from life.  And if I’m honest, I hate this about myself.  I don’t want to miss out on passion and laughter and joy to avoid discomfort and devastation.

I married Mr. Fun who wears his emotions on his sleeve and experiences high highs and low lows.  And somehow I have allowed myself to live vicariously through his emotional life so don’t have to have my own.

I stand at a distance and remain the steady ship swimming through the churning seas.  One is not better than the other, but I recognize the two together don’t equal a whole.  Sometimes it’s just two broken pieces patched together and leaking.

I buy into the lie that I need to be the glue in my family.  I imagine I wouldn’t be getting shingles if I let myself unravel a little bit more.  I have become a secret control freak who only cries at other people’s stories.  

You know something’s out of whack when you’re friend has a miscarriage and you are so upset she has to console you.  This lovely friend came over last night to be there for me in my time of need and I remained dry eyed and stoic –where are my tears hiding?

So here’s my goal for the next few months –to let go and FEEL deeply.  To not hide behind the laughs but to live them, to stop minimizing, and to go to the dark places in life recognizing that even there I am not alone. 

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:11-12)

For all of you covert Type A’s hiding behind being nice and steady and secretly overwhelmed up to their eyeballs –care to join me in this adventure?

Side Effects, Katy Perry, and the Forbidden Fruit

My last post “Talk about Sex” generated some tremendous dialogue and initiated more questions than I have answers for.  Clearly I hit on a hot button by openly discussing why I talk about sex within the church community. 

What I hear people saying loud and clear is “we need this conversation and we need more of it.”

I hear you.

And since I’m not one to shy away from a tough debate, giddy up, let’s talk about this, in-depth and with radical honesty.

Before we begin though, I want to lay some ground rules.  There are many points I want to address on this “oh so sensitive topic” and I won’t be able to do it all within one post.  I would be glad to oblige if I didn’t have three kids, two jobs, ministry and a husband. 

I know.  I know.  I need some cheese and crackers with my whine, but please be patient with me.

I also want this to be a two-way conversation, not a diatribe.  So play along.  Feel free to engage and comment.  I feel vaguely safe from all the haters out there who violently disagree with me, mainly because we are online and you can’t yell at me, but take it easy on the punctuation marks and the name-calling.  I have a list of alternative bad words if you need to be creative.

Ok…now we have some ground rules.  Here are some of the topics I want to cover.  If you have suggestions too, I am wide open.

  1. Waiting is HARD to do.  (Give me a REASON to be pure)
  2. How far is too far?
  3. Why does the church ignore singles?
  4. Why is sex important to God but not Sr. Pastor’s?
  5. The bumbling buffoon and the media (Counteracting the stereotype of the incompetent male)
  6. Wives –the ministry of intimacy.
  7. Talking about sex with our kids

 

Shall we begin?  Let’s start with “Waiting is HARD to do”…  And we’ll begin tomorrow. 

Totally lame right?  I lead you to begin a great conversation, and then I leave you hanging.  It’s sort of like what we do with our kids.  Every day they are bombarded with images of blatant sexuality.  The world says it looks good, feels good and it’s so easy to get.   

But then we –as good Christian church people tell our kids, “oh by the wait, just wait another twenty years for it.”

Your boner is bad.  Sex is wrong.  And for God’s sake, “do not touch yourself.”

And then my Jr. High kid turns on the radio and Katy Perry says, “Forget that nonsense. You won’t die if you take a bite of this yummy sexy hot red apple.”

Of course we might think twice if they showed us all the side effects of pre-marital sex… you know, like the disclaimers on the pharmaceutical ads?  “This drug will help you with your depression… could cause dementia, diarrhea, increased sensitivity to noise and loss of desire to do anything fun…” sounds awesome!  I’d rather be depressed.  (See 10 Worst Prescription Drug Side Effects to laugh your butt off)

Actual Side effects of sex before marriage include: Unwanted pregnancy, emotional scarring, abortion, HIV, HPV…which leads to ovarian cancer, genital warts, STD’s and the slow but gradual ripping apart of your soul, so that one day when you do find “the one,” you won’t actually be capable of emotionally connecting with a human anymore and porn on the internet and masturbation will be your “go to gal” instead of a real live complicated woman. 

Wow…that sounds appealing.

But what if I told you there was a good reason to wait?  And it was a compelling reason that doesn’t suck?

Would you wait for dinner if you knew you were having a filet mignon and sushi or would you go ahead and feast on Cheetos every night?  And never, ever be really satiated?

What about waiting for ten million dollars?  Would you work for five or ten years to collect a fortune or would you settle for a thousand bucks today?

But we’ll get to that tomorrow.  And maybe it will be worth the wait ♥

 

 

Talk About Sex

Yesterday, someone in my writing group suggested I write a lot about sex. 
 
Ummmmm guilty.  I actually mention sex in my blog posts six percent of the time.  I calculated this number for personal clarification or possibly because I was a tad bit defensive.
 
So, I think this “sex talk allegation” deserves a proper response.
 
I don’t talk about sex simply for shock value, because I want you to think my husband is a voracious horn-dog, or because I am a secret sex addict -as a woman in my group suggested.
 .

I talk about sex because I believe the church has done a really bad job in not talking about it. 

 

There.  I said it.  I think the church has screwed this one up (no pun intended).
 
We (the church) have let the world define sexuality and allowed it to be removed from its very creator.
 
We have let the world define sex in marriage as a chore and adultery as an epic romance.
 
We have let the world  polarize “sexy” into something perverted, unchristian and sinful. 
 
We have allowed marriage to become a business deal and sex to become a hobby.
 
There is a an epidemic of married women who are so exhausted from working full-time, raising kids and trying to be superwoman they are neglecting their husband’s sexual needs and justifying it all in the name of feminism. 
 
There is an alarming trend of married men who are so resentful of women emasculating them, they have turned to porn, football and work addictions to cope (only further isolating their wives by disengaging their hearts even more).
 
And the mere fact that a pastor’s wife openly discusses sex and (gasp) encourages it in marriage makes some people uncomfortable.
 
Just to be clear, my husband has a perfectly normal desire for intimacy.  He is a healthy male who loves and desires his wife.  And I am not always frisky.  In fact, I am usually exhausted, overwhelmed and sometimes play dead to get some sleep.
 
But when I let God whisper into my marriage…I am reminded that I chose this man and made a committment to care for his needs, not justify my own.  And I try to find, deep within me -in the dregs of my crusty heart, the extra effort to love my husband in a way he feels loved. 
 
I talk about sex because someone in the church needs to. 
 
So when a fellow writer insinuated I might be a sex addict yesterday because  I blogged about how my husband and I take vacations or “sexcations” without our children I just about fell over. 
 
Not everyone get’s my humor.  And not everyone has the luxury (or the misery) of knowing my heart behind the words I pen.  I write satire.  It’s supposed to make you laugh not analyze my neurosis.  And for the record, I’m pretty open about those too.
 
In all honesty, my husband and I didn’t have sex before we were married.  Maybe that’s why we like it now.  We have the security of knowing, without a doubt, we love each other for more than how we make each other feel.  I practically skipped down the aisle when I married this man because I knew he loved me for me and not for sex. 
 
I actually went to an SA (Sex and Love Addicts) meeting once.  My friend dragged me there because I was struggling to end a bad relationship.  After one very poignant and humiliating meeting, where I thought I was going to die, I drove home and broke up with the jack waggon.  Thank you SA for empowering me!
 
I make jokes about sex.  This is true.  And it’s possible it might be on my mind more than usual right now because I’m trying to get knocked up.  But the deeper message I want to communicate is we as the church need to reclaim sexuality as a good thing within the relationship of a committed marriage. 
 
And that’s why I talk about sex. 
 

Boots and Blog Sugar

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

So I went to a conference this last Sunday for mostly female bloggers with my writer friend/hero Dani called Blog Sugar. Strangely enough, one solo dude braved the dainty pink estrogen laden gala…not sure why???

But I had to erase my speculations because they weren’t uplifting or good and true and noble.  (They were snarky and bitchy and bad) and one of the things I learned was to be very careful what you put on the internet cloud.

(This is more difficult for some of us)

 Regardless, it was fun to network and scope out the ladies who were dressed to the nines and tens and maybe even elevens.  Seriously, I was in awe of their high fashion ensembles; the blown out hair, sparkly shoes and va va voom accessories. 

I had a small moment where I realized how little I think about fashion and maybe that’s bad and I should care more about my attire because I look rather dreadful a good fifty percent of the time. But caring requires effort, that maybe I’m not willing to give, except for an occasional party when I can pull my crap together.

 

Source: None via Samantha on Pinterest

 

I wore my new riding boots (not that I ride anything except for…right, hit delete now) which I was very excited about and a bright yellow necklace from Egypt my husband bought me on our honeymoon that can only be called a conversation piece.

So, I felt cute and confidant and for being a slightly socially awkward person, I fared as well as could be expected.  I learned some cool blogging tricks, made some new she-buddies, and ate way too many sweeties and got a tummy-ache.  It was awesome– in a girly, Princess of Genovia, Annie Banks sort of way. 

Source: None via Samantha on Pinterest

 

When I got home late in the evening, I spilled over with excitement to my husband and oldest son(who should have been in bed), about all the pretty women and the cotton candy and the decorations and how my new boots got many compliments.

My teenage son looked at me with a frown, “So let me get this straight, the conference was pretty and they liked your boots, but did they like your writing mom?”

 I glared back, steam rising from my nostrils. “Yes, no…it wasn’t like that.”

My husband and son fell over laughing.

 

And while I love my boys, they just don’t understand.  Blog Sugar was an experience different from the serious writing conferences I have attended in the past.  It was lovely and nurturing to the female soul and mostly, it just made me happy.

And someday, I aspire to have gazillions of readers and give motivating messages about just being yourself and using your blog for the greater good.  (Ok, what does that really mean people?  Not the good part, I grasped that despite my blonde hair, but all of the really successful writers say, “just be yourself” and the rest of us all scratch our heads dumbfounded because we are ourselves, it’s just they like you better)

Someday, when I am a famous novelist/blogger, I will give clarity to this statement. I’ll say, “Don’t suck, work hard, watch more Pink Panther, find your funny bone, take long walks and talk to Jesus…” Super clear, right? Actually what I think they mean when they say this is to find yourself, because many of us are still trying out and learning our voice and sometimes it takes us a while to figure it out.

In the mean-time, I think blogging rocks because it tells the unfolding story of people and we all need encouragement in our faith, an occasional slap in the face, and to our pee our pants laughing on a regular basis.

And that’s why I blog ♥

Helga the Cleaning Nazi

Seventy-four days ago I decided to be a good steward, get rid of our bi-monthly housekeeper, and try to shave off some rather unnecessary expenses from the budget.  Seventy-four days ago I realized I have some big issues, and seventy-four days ago (I now acknowledge), I became Helga the cleaning Nazi.

I blame it on my step-mom, a darling German woman who believes tidiness is sacred and dirt is of the devil.  I grew up in one of those homes-the kind where the living room was off limits-and if the mere trace of an errant footprint was spotted on the carpet, somehow frau-mama knew who had done it.  I rarely saw her without a broom-seriously, I think she slept with it.

One time my best friend in high school climbed in through the window and had a small but secret soiree when our family was out-of-town.  My friend cleaned up so well, none of us could tell the house had been violated, but my step-mom knew instantly, like one of those canine narcotic bloodhounds, she could smell the perpetrator and discern that her vacuum strokes on the carpet were millimeters off the usual pattern.  It was CSI, Bourne Identity, and Murder She Wrote all wrapped up in her calculating sweep of an eye and I was in serious awe of her super-power cleaning prowess.

But now here I am, years later, with a home full of mess-makers (i.e. my husband and three kiddos) trying to maintain the elusive façade of cleaning Holiness that was modeled to me in my tender and formative years. 

I have to be über clean like frau-mama. Right?  It’s my step-birth-right; my pseudo German legacy.

My husband pointed out that lately I have been muttering under my breath ferocious threats to the dust balls as I stroll around our home fixated on destroying suspicious specks with a Clorox wipey.  He says my obsession makes him feel like he can’t relax in his own home, because he might actually (gulp) mess it up. 

And if I’m really honest, he’s right. Sometimes when he walks in the door I just look at him and get mad. When he appears, it feels like he immediately starts creating havoc.  His backpack winds up on the floor and clothes too, his keys are dropped somewhere where he will never find them, cords are everywhere from iPhones, iPods, laptops and techie gear, cabinets are opened and never shut, dishes are left out,

And the best part is-he doesn’t even notice. I don’t know how, I mean it’s right there-this ginormous mess, like “how could you not see this?”  But he doesn’t. It’s like he’s blind to it.

And my kids do the same thing-all three of them.  It’s me against the dirt of the world and I’m so tired and it’s utterly exhausting being the only soldier in this battle, and I really, really…really miss my housekeeper, because she was my ally and I love her and I need her.

Because I miss being able to see a fully clean house (not half clean) and release it with a happy heart to get dirty again, because in the back of my mind I know it will be clean again in two weeks.  And I can still clean myself in between and then it will be really really clean. And cleanliness is next to Godliness-right?

Does anyone share my pain?

And does anyone have the number of a good cheap housekeeper? Because if I don’t get some help soon, the therapy alone for my cleaning neurosis will be more than the money I saved on getting rid of the help.

 

How to get old gracefully

 

“Did you see that woman over there?” my husband asked.

I turned my head and tried to subtly glance over to the woman he was referring to.  Her back was against me, but from behind she looked amazing.  Slim, toned and curvy in all the right places.  Then she turned her head and I gasped.

Her face looked like the crypt-keeper.  Pale and taught ghostly white skin was interrupted by strangely exaggerated eyes turned up at the corners.  Her lips were huge and plumped full and it was obvious she had undergone multiple cosmetic procedures to the point of resembling a freakish Michael Jackson wannabe.

I shuddered. Tim smiled at me, “I’m glad you aren’t’ afraid of aging and you would never do anything drastic like that.”

“Hey now,” I said.  “She looks pretty good for a hundred.”

Tim laughed and walked off to lift weights.  But the scary lady didn’t leave my mind.

I secretly stole a few more glances and then thought about my own insecurities regarding getting old. Certainly it’s inevitable and a natural part of life, so why the resistance, the flat-out denial by some folks to step up to the plate and surrender to gravity?

There are certain parts of getting older which I adore. My emotions no longer rule my heart, wisdom has snuck up on me after a multitude of hard knock lessons, and I have an appreciation for relationships and life, like never before.  I have more confidence in my identity, my voice and don’t really care if people like me or even agree with me anymore.

But the parts I don’t like are the parts which resonate with the plastic gym lady. I want to be pretty and in a world and culture that reveres youth, looking old and haggard is less desirable.  I don’t like the weird little age spots appearing on my body, the aches and pains that seem to appear out of the blue after thirty-five, and my metabolism, which is getting slower by the day. These things make me long for my eternal body.

One component of aging that sometimes makes it easier or harder depending on the season, is the personal expectations or goals I place on myself for age thresholds. 

 Twenty-five-married and college degree-√

 Thirty five-have kids-√

Forty-be a successful writer (working on that one)

Fifty-five-grandma-TBD

As I hit the birthdays with my goals checked off, I feel better about myself.  But the year I hit thirty-three and found myself a divorced, single mom, getting older didn’t feel so good.  In fact, the ache was deep and I felt somehow inadequate.  Happy Birthday didn’t feel so happy that year.

I hear the pain in my friends voices when another year passes by without a husband or a child. It’s the same hurt-another year slipping by and another reminder of unfulfilled dreams.

Isaiah once said, “The flowers fade and the grass withers, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

I know in life there will be good years and not so good years, but the years will come, no matter how I try to halt the ravages of too much sun and the gravitational pull on my behind.

But when I keep an eternal perspective and focus my eyes on the road before me, ageing isn’t such a scary place.  If anything, it’s just one step closer to Jesus.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

sexual harrassment

It started in my very first job.   At least once a week, the owner of the almost billion dollar corporation I worked for, would walk up to me and drop his pencil very obviously in front of me. It was his little running joke.

“Oops, I seem to have lost my pencil.  Can you grab that for me Sam?”

Mr. CEO would start drooling and giggling as he waited for me to bend down and pick it up, hoping for a glimpse of either leg or cleavage as I was forced to bend over awkwardly in heels. 

Then there was the vice president (also from the same sleazy tech company) who approached me at the office Christmas party and talked to me about my ministry aspirations.

“Sam, I hear you are in seminary getting your masters in theology,” Mr. VP asked with an inebriated smile.

“Yes Sir, I am.”I replied.

“Wow, that’s hot.  I think we could have a religious experience together.  You could tie me up and make me say Oh God over and over.” Mr. VP raises his arms in the air and demonstrated how he would like to be tied up.

I weakly smiled at him and ran as fast as my heels could carry me to HR.  

But yesterday, oh yesterday, took the cake.  This time the comment was launched not from my own place of business, which is refreshingly drama free, but it came from a client.  And therein lays the dilemma.  You can tell a boss to go climb a tree, and threaten to report him, but how do you tell the client he’s an A-Hole?

I walked in to Mr. Client’s office with my boss for an impromptu conversation after a previous meeting nearby.  This customer was not one of my accounts, so I had zero context for the meeting and decided to keep my mouth shut and watch their interaction.  As we stood to leave, Mr. Client turned to me and launched his bomb.

“You certainly contributed to the conversation.  So, is this what you do all day?  Do you drive your boss around and let him sit in the backseat and make calls.  Is that your job?”  He dangled his keys in front of my nose as he leered at me and insinuated that I was my boss’s very personal assistant and valet.

Anger surged deep within my spirit and I bit my tongue until it bled.  I glared at him, thought about the consequences of telling him off, and then stomped out the door. 

The problem with harassment is it goes hand in hand with the feeling of entrapment.  It feels like you are screwed however you approach the situation.  If you make a big deal about it and go for the jugular, you lose credibility in your field and become one of those red flag people.   Or conversely, if you ignore it, the situation can escalate and lead to bigger problems.

With my first company, I documented and reported the incidents with the temporary HR person, who was then replaced by a more appropriate candidate who looked the other way at the corporate bigwig’s mischief. It goes without saying that certain companies are experts in managing their image, no matter how debaucherous it is.

I often wonder how many of these incidents go unreported in the workplace and I imagine women, and yes… even men have to figure out appropriate boundaries with inappropriate people every day.  I also presume that until more people call attention to this issue, jerks like the one I encountered yesterday will continue to be unchecked power-hungry JACKWAGONS (and yes…that felt good to vent).

I take some delight in pondering the perfect comeback to drop on this guy if I should happen to cross his path again.  Or, I guess I could simply mention his name and company on the internet.  (Just saying…)

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

My husband bought me a very special swimsuit for our honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean-one very hot yellow polka dot bikini.  It has cute little strings that tie on my hips and I feel like a sassy and mischievous gal when I squeeze into it.  Now, I am not claiming to be a supermodel, but my husband clearly expressed his approval with a large goofy smile whenever I dug those polka-dots out of the drawer. 

That is, until we started a church and all of a sudden he became very concerned with covering up his wife’s bodacious bosom and abdominals.  Apparently pastor’s wives should wear modest and conservative (translation-old lady) tank suits.  But, what’s a girl to do when her mammary offering turns even the ugly tank into a sexy piece of spandex?

The truth is I don’t have a modest bod!  I am, shall we say…curvy.  Every summer we hit the bathing suit store and my husband hopes I will find an appropriate suit to hide my bosum and every year he leaves frustrated.  At this point, I am relegated to a t-shirt for all church events, because the ta ta’s have gone underground.  Apparently, I am somehow less spiritual in my wanton state of voluptuousness. (Heeee)

If I have painted a picture of immodesty, I have been misleading.  In general, my dress is very conservative and unassuming.  My daily wardrobe is professional and streamlined.  I don’t want my clothes to ever distract from the message, but I also conversely, don’t feel a need to hide my body as something to be ashamed of. 

Modesty is a confusing road to navigate to begin with.  I want to be fashionable and express myself with clothes.  But, I also understand the premise of not tempting men (deeply visual creatures), who apparently have a nerve that runs from their eyes to their loins.  But when the same men who tell me to cover up walk around with their shirts off at the pool it seems like a serious double standard.  At the very least, let me wear the tank suit without a burka.

Not so long ago, I remember a day when the folks in high school ministry used to call my husband a Ken-doll because his body looked like a sculpted piece of art.  And I don’t recall him hiding those luscious biceps to protect the eyes of women behind a t-shirt (Praise the Lord)).  To his benefit, he does wear one now at church baptisms and pool events, so I can’t argue that he asks me to do something he is not willing to do. 

As a pastor’s wife, I want to be above reproach, but as a woman I also want to have the freedom to wear a bikini when the congregant’s eyes aren’t boring a hole into my choice of swimwear.  So for now, I will compromise with tanks and a t-shirt for all church events near water, and I’ll let the bikini out of the drawer for vacations alone with my honey (hubba hubba).

This is where I think the church has ambiguity and difficulty encapsulating the problem of lust, modesty and male/female interaction.  Is the answer to pornography shrouding women?  Do our daughters need to be dressed like the Amish for our boys to not treat them like sexual objects?  Is there some sort of middle ground regarding modesty for women and personal responsibility for men? 

Maybe someday we can move beyond the superficial and allow a modest two piece bathing suit on a woman to not cause a stir.  Because isn’t it all just a fig leaf to God?

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