Good Morning Sunshine :)

I was in the doctor’s office last week for an annual wellness visit. My doctor was running behind which is usually my opportunity to get caught up on all the style and gossip magazines…the ones that talk about fashion, and makeup, and clothes and all that really fun stuff. The particular magazine I picked up was about all the latest fashions and trends. Seeing as I how I don’t receive theses magazines at home, I thought it a good opportunity to bone-up on my fashion sense.

Thumbing through my magazine I happened to come upon an article chronicling the morning routines of three busy, successful females. Each of the women provided, in detail, what they did in the morning to get themselves started. One was a venture capitalist, another a global fashionista and the third an entrepreneur of a flavored-water company. All the women appeared beautiful, intelligent and accomplished in their own right. All of them got up early…between 5:15 to 7 am. (one lady gets up at 6:05 because she hates the snooze button and 6 am seems too early…ergo..6:05 am) Each of them performed some activity to wake up their brain…exercise, meditation, walking, etc. They all had very healthy breakfast habits: hot water with ginger and lemon (to detox), Greek yogurt, lattes, eggs, toast, grapefruit, or smoothie. Further still, their morning beauty habits made me jealous: vitamin E body scrub, face washes I can’t pronounce, lotion exfoliators I can’t pronounce, sun screen, age repair serums, mineral frizzy shine serums for hair, regenerating firming lift oil, plumping mascara, brilliant gloss for the lips and much, much more. In the end, between the beauty/hair treatments, morning exercise/meditation and light breakfast, each lady made it out the door between 8 and 8:50 am.

I’m quite envious of these ladies…here’s my morning routine:

7 am – Hit the snooze button. I believe in the snooze button and I believe it has a place in my life.

7:09 am – Get up. Get kiddo up. This usually requires an explanation (sometimes an argument) that contrary to his internal clock it is in fact time to get out of bed. (PS…remind kiddo that when he washes his hair in the shower he is to wash all of his hair not just the front half of his cranium)

7:11 – Turn off exterior house lights. They don’t go off automatically and those bulbs are expensive to replace.

7:11 – Start hollering for Oswald (8 year old English bulldog) that it is time to get up. He’s old and he’s a bulldog = stubborn.

7:15  – Now that Oswald is in an upright position begin wiping all his wrinkles…around nose, eyes, mouth, ears etc.  Once his face is clean, pull (and I do mean pull) dog into laundry room to begin eating his breakfast.

7:18 – Get kiddo’s bed made and holler into the bathroom to remind him that ALL his hair must be washed.

7:20 – Make kiddo’s breakfast (equates to heating up frozen pancakes), pack his lunch. Holler to hubby to see if he needs lunch today or if he wants toast for breakfast.

7:30 – Explain to my son that he better kick it into high gear because he needs to feed his cat. Then turn around and hug and kiss hubby out the door.

7:35 – Make my bed. Get out of my pajamas. Put on some walking clothes

7:40 – Let Oswald outside, fill up his water bowl and follow it up with a quick “Son, what is taking so long? You’ve still got to brush your teeth?!?”

7:45 – Let Oswald inside and perform the most loathsome task of the morning. (For any of you English bulldog owners this will come as no surprise. However if you have the pleasure of owning a pet without a corkscrew tail, this will seem a bit over the top. Rest assured it is quite necessary) After Oswald has finished his morning constitution, I pull out a hemorrhoid wipe and proceed to wipe my English bulldogs butt and tail. I am not joking. If I don’t perform this task he takes on the smell of dead, rotting fish.

7:50 – Scrub my hands. Check my hair in the reflection of the microwave. Holler to my son…”Time to go!”

We head out the door and walk to school. It’s a 1.2 mile walk. We talk about everything. Video games, his friends, what he read in his devotions that morning…nothing is off limits. I walk him up to the school… hug, kiss and watch him walk through the doors. I then walk for the next hour or so around our neighborhood; finally making it back to my house to a bowl of raisin bran, cup of coffee and then a shower.

There isn’t any lemon, ginger water to detoxify my system, although it does sound like a good idea. I’ve no fancy face scrubs. I don’t meditate to focus…but I do read my Bible to stay grounded and hopeful. I feed little mouths and wipe wrinkles…and butts. My morning is a far cry from the three ladies in the magazine, but I’m equally as successful, accomplished and as beautiful as they are. My morning is not fancy…it’s controlled chaos and it happens to be full of grace.

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Oswald…his usual pose.

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I Am Retouched “Untouched” Perfection

Couple of weeks ago a picture surfaced of Cindy Crawford. In of itself this is no biggie as Cindy is/was a supermodel and remains active in the public eye. She has appeared on many runways, countless magazine covers and even starred in her own workout videos. The unusual nature of this event lies in the perfection…or lack of perfection in these photographs. Supposedly the photos were ‘leaked’ prior to any photographic touch-up of the body, clothing or face. Cindy is standing in this sort of “I’m-just-stretching-my-back” pose wearing a black bra and underwear. She’s sporting a cool looking black fedora, some sweet earrings and wearing a black-feathered Cruella DeVille type coat…or maybe its a robe. At any rate, she looks awesome. Makeup, expression on her face…it all looks sexy. More compelling is that the photo shows her tummy NOT as a tight, flat midsection but instead a “I’ve had a couple of babies” midsection. Further still, regardless of how Cindy’s tummy (AND thighs) were not a perfect, plastic, Hollywood-ized expectation, the expression on her face shows that she really doesn’t care. She’s acting FLY. Appearing more than comfortable in her own skin, she acts sexy.

The “leak” of this photograph to social  media and news outlets caused quite the stir. I had friends on my Facebook & Twitter pages posting and tweeting the photo and congratulating Cindy for being “brave.” Brave…I guess because it takes a lot of guts to appear as your normal self and not your ‘pretend’ self in front of bunches of people.

So that was a couple of weeks ago. Fast forward to today, March 2nd. The photos now are being claimed to be retouched so that they appear untouched. You follow? In other words, the photographer of the original photos states that the pictures were stolen and were retouched (altered) to appear that they were untouched … untouched suggesting the real (untouched) Cindy Crawford is like the rest of us…not perfect; blemished. To further support  the “nonsense”  that Cindy’s tummy does NOT look like cottage cheese, Cindy’s husband tweeted a photo of her in a swimsuit looking amazing…like a supermodel.

The most interesting part in this story is not Cindy Crawford…it’s us, me and you. We saw what we thought was a person willing to be uniquely herself  in front of everyone regardless of wrinkle or age. We are drawn to that…at least, I know I’m drawn it. Realness. Vulnerability. Not fake.

That being said I have decided, and you are welcome to participate with me, that I am going to be retouched “untouched” perfection. I don’t plan on limiting it to just my sassy, sexy looks. I’m going full tilt. Home, mommy and wife…I’m all in. My ‘not-a-supermodel’ tummy will be the least of my retouched, untouchables. For that matter, my house is just sometimes going to NOT look like it’s out of Architectural Digest. On occasion my husband and I might NOT agree on everything. Further, I MIGHT loose my temper with my son. And you know Vogue magazine, it’ll have nothing on me, because I’m going to act like I’m smokin’-hot regardless of whether or not I’ve done my 35 burpees.

So here’s to us. The hot mess that we are…the retouched “untouched” perfection that is you and me.

…And that is all we need to be.

“Good Morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.” said Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:28 MSG)

Let Go and Let God…***middle finger***

I think if I hear the phrase “let go and let God” again I will have to flip that person the bird. Truly. I detest that saying. I’m in a bit of a sour mood…grumpy actually…as I’ve been coming to terms with slowing my life down from recent MS news. New spot on MRI. Re-MRI in the spring and in the meantime take care. If more new spots at next MRI, than I’ll have to start taking a new drug that will have not-so-fun side-effects. I’m not dying…(that’s good news)…but, this isn’t fun.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last several weeks being pretty PO-ed with myself for being bitter. I shouldn’t be bitter. Again, I’m not dying. My son is happy and healthy. Hubby is gainfully employed and even my dog has remained healthy.

It can be tough learning to walk a different pace. Just because you are living a slower pace doesn’t mean that all of the sudden you are living in perpetual vacation. It’s a balance. A balance between life and moments of pause. Finding what that balance looks like is aggravating. Some days are perfectly balanced with activity. Others with downtime. Some days I want to be active, but I just can’t seem to find my gumption.

The phrase ‘Let Go & Let God’ means that I let go of my internal struggles and let God take over. Fabulous. Why hadn’t I thought of that? The truth is that there is no reality behind the phrase ‘Let Go & Let God.’  I fight and fight…and fight. And, no matter how many times I try to let go…the struggle is still there. It is unrealistic for me to ignore the situation, to not be afraid, to not be disappointed and to not fight. The burden remains.

All that being said, I can still hope. Not hope in my situation but in a Savior. My situation can have either a positive or negative outcome. Flip a coin and sure hope that my MRIs look good, but there is simply no guarantee. But I know that in Christ my hope is safe regardless of circumstance. The burden acts almost as a catalyst moving me closer until I am a whisper away from the mouth of my Savior and finally, I can hear Him. The voices that keep screaming frustration in my head begin to silent. My situation remains unchanged, but His presence brings peace and the burden becomes lighter because I no longer carry it alone.

We, me and you, were never designed to fight our struggles all alone. We were meant to give our struggles over to God, but not in a vacuum. Not without dialogue. Not without relationship. Not without the constant going back and forth conversation that takes place between a kid and her dad.

Reality check: continuing to believe that God will become the manager of our problems if we only “let go” is a lie. Recognizing that our problems are an opportunity to be drawn into relationship is pure grace.

The Box

I grew up going to church every Sunday (mornings and most evenings), most Wednesdays and never missed Good Friday. My dad’s vocation was as a pastor. He was in the pastorate up until I was about 5 years old. After leaving the pastorate, and for several years, he would speak occasionally at various churches & sat on the board of deacons for several churches. I knew the in’s and out’s of church; the do’s and dont’s; the “thou shalt” and the “thou shalt not’s”. I wore black patton Mary-Janes and fought my mother every Sunday morning as she would use a torture instrument to curl my hair. I hated (still do) tights and panty-hose. One time I got kicked out of church choir for not spitting out my gum after we’d been told to empty our mouths of all gum prior to practice. I had just put in a fresh wad of orange Hubba Bubba and, as my mother generally didn’t let us chew gum, I wasn’t about to waste my fresh, new wad of gum on stupid, choir practice. Needless to say, I got kicked out and spent the hour wandering the halls of the church.

As time went by and I moved into college, I developed a love-hate relationship with church. I truly hated the condemnation I felt each time I walked in, but for whatever reason I always felt desperate to go. After I got married I thought hanging out with friends from my church would help. Not. The girls in my group were all stay-at-home moms with kids and I was still a working professional without a child. I was desperate for anyone in the group to talk to me. I would try picking up conversations with various ladies within the group but it just didn’t work.

I later determined that I enjoyed my non-Christian friends way more than my Christian “friends”. My non-Christian friends accepted me for me. No judgement. Just happy to have me there. I found that I much preferred going to meet friends at the local bar where…”everybody knew my name.”

I really hate how the church has crammed God into a box of self-prescribed do’s an dont’s. Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t go to this movie. Don’t go to that movie. No dancing. No caffeine. Really? Where is that in scripture? Does no one remember in Genesis that the only person on the entire Earth that God felt worth saving was Noah…a wine-maker? Or even more thought provoking, Jesus turned water into wine…and not just swill. He made the good stuff. I have been in churches where they are convinced that drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is a sin. Because as we all know…”thou shall not smoke Marlboro’s!” Smoking is not healthy for you. Period. That’s it. You’re not going to hell because you are a smoker. Furthermore, scripture makes it clear not to get drunk. Drunk people are dumb and do dumb stuff. However, Christ said that He himself will not drink from the fruit of the vine until we are all together in Heaven. Whoa. Christ drink of the fruit of the vine..wine…fermented drink!

Church, these days, has become the “box” where we can meet God…however, we better have ourselves cleaned up and holy before we go. No. No. No…a thousand times No. Church is a place to worship but it isn’t the only place to worship. Is God at church? I think He is at quite a few churches however, I’ve been to a few “Churches of the Deep Freeze” where it is debatable. Christ died to bridge the gap between us and our Heavenly Father. When He died the veil was torn so that through Him we can pray to the Father.

If in fact God can only be met at “the Box” (Church), then it would make Christ’s death and resurrection a moot point. Either Christ was truly the Son of God, the most perfect sacrifice, the High Priest…or He was the most tragic figure in human history. We have a perfect High Priest…The High Priest…who makes it possible to enter into the presence of God anywhere, anytime no matter how deep or dirty the moment. (Romans 8:38-39 “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. MSG) Further still, you don’t need to be at church to hear God speak to you. If you did, that would mean He is not the omnipotent being that scripture describes. It would mean not only that He has physical limitations but that Christ’s death and resurrection was not enough to completely tear down that veil.

In the end, we are incapable of making ourselves holy. We cannot do enough deeds or donate enough money. Our sacrifice was paid on the cross. Church isn’t going to make us holy. Church affords the ability to enjoy fellowship with others who are like-minded…not judgmental. Church should always be a place where anyone can go and be accepted free of judgement at any point in their lives. All of us have fallen short. That’s what the Cross did. It leveled the playing field…all of us, every person in the history of mankind needed redemption. It made it impossible for one human to make themselves out to be more important than another.

In the end, Paul said that although we have the right to do anything, not all things are beneficial. (1 Corinthians 10:23) We enjoy an enormous amount of freedom in Christ. God made clear in scripture where the sin boundaries are. All of us have fallen short of God’s glory …and whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, all of us are living by grace.