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Monday, May 14, 2018

Stand Guard at the Door of Your Mind

Do I believe the following things:
1. Problems in life (suffering) are GIFTS. Challenging and sculpting my soul (sanctification).
2. Life is happening FOR ME, not TO ME, and I am responsible to build faith muscles by resistance training against trials.
3. I serve a good, TRUSTWORTHY, generous, life-giving, liberating, FULFILLING, joyful God.

I read through the following with a group of critical thinkers several weeks back and I can't stop thinking about it:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

32! People I EL-OHH-VEE-EEE my 30's!!!

I'm officially in the coolest club - those in their 30's!  Well, the other day I saw this on thefatjewish said a silent "that's so me," and thought I should rethink this sentiment, buuuut. still owning it.

I turn 32 on Saturday and have been processing the year.  Here's what I know:

>>>TIME MANAGEMENT matters. like a lot. Once you have a kid you realize you took all your time watching Homeland for granted. Not to mention those hours you lavishly got to go to a gym and shave your legs as slow as you wanted. My husband gave me the best gift of my life in which I'm calling "Rich and Famous Wednesdays." Every Wednesday I have a nanny which frees me up to go to the gym, drink a coffee by myself, not have anyone touch me, and then head to my friends swanky Weho office to work on my passion projects. It is the luxury of time which has been the best gift EVER.  Also, if you want to change how you think about your time :: READ THIS.

>>>MISCARRIAGE OF A BABY is way harder than I thought when I had talked to friends about this before. I'm welling up crying just typing it because losing that  baby really hurt. I know a million women go through it a year, but I miss that baby so much. I wanted that baby so much. Pain produces growth in your heart you didn't now you could though. I love my child and husband in a more precious way now. I look optimistically ahead thinking about how CRAZY blessed anyone who conceives is. It really is a miracle when you think of how easy it is for something to go wrong.

>>>LA IS AMAZING. I no longer find myself on Redfin searching for gorgeous homes in Colorado. I love this big life we've dreamed up and I have no desire to leave. (CAVEAT:  Emme's grandparents need a vacation home in Encinitas, can I get an amen??)

>>>PASSION is really important to me. For me, if I'm not meeting with my girlfriends to tell them what God recently told me, what new project I'm excited about, and what answered prayer I'm experiencing, WHAT IS THE WHOLE POINT?  I think I let myself get tired, plumpy, and dry as the desert. I read this book, started praying for my passion to return and I feel more myself than I have since I got preg.

>>>TRUMP RUINED MY GOP. But I don't even care.  Yeah, turns out I would rather vote for a President to take the race and poverty inequality in this country seriously rather than vote for the only person claiming Pro-Life. I had an interesting time at the California primary's listening to the rich elite GOP talk about how much they hated voting for him - but they did it. It's laughable to me to think about my parent's generation who value small government and low taxes who hate reality television have to vote for the host of The Apprentice.

>>>ORPHANS are wrecking my heart everywhere I look. Nick and I have had a rollercoaster of moments in which I think God is directing us to foster parenting. But because of my HUGE DOUBT and fear I'm not going to say anything more than we are in part 2 of training for Foster parenting. More on this later.

Finally, MY MARRIAGE to Nick feels like we have come to a steady stream of awesome. He still travels more than I like, and I get irrationally moody over nothing, but I now feel like we've mastered the small stuff. He just gets me. We don't have to work so hard at being sensitive and intuitive to each others needs. He's a fantastic dad, and the best supporter of me I could have dreamed up. I love overplayed country songs like this that make me cry at how much I love my man:

For my 32nd birthday wish - well duh, I'd like to finally win that HGTV dream home, but if I don't - yeah, I'd like another baby.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Drama, Drama, Drama

Have you ever witnessed a marital affair?  There's a reason day time Soap's always involve an affair - the drama is so obvious, so easy to predict, it's suspenseful! Supposedly, "About 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an affair at some point in some marriage "Monogamy Myth", says Therapist Peggy Vaugn.'s pretty common. But still, dramatic. It makes for a good story, so here's my story:

Growing up we had another family that was sort of like our godparents. We went to Jamaica, Maui, Lake Powell, every camping trip with them and their kids.  They're in most of my birthday photos from the age of 5 on. Our parents were really close and they were a safe relationship. My junior year of high school I was sitting in english class when a friend of mine told me she had been at a Rockies game and saw the mom making out with a guy who wasn't her husband. I remember being shocked but I think I had always known she hadn't been happy in her marriage. They had 3 kids so I think I felt sorry for them in my head.  Hard to remember now. That weekend at church someone else came to my parents and told them they had been at a Rockies game and witnessed the same thing. I overheard the conversation but it was sort of odd how we didn't really talk about it.  Anyway, things sort of progressed the way they do from there. To complicate things, this couple both worked for my parent's construction company - her as a bookkeeper and him as a project manager. I used to help file some days after school and one day I was in there and she came and tried to talk to me in my dad's office and said a lot of things but mostly this:  "Every family vacation we were on with your family I remember looking at your parents holding hands feeling jealous of your mom wishing it was me."  What I think she was trying to say was - "Hey young sheltered girl, feel compassion for me because I have been in a miserable marriage and when we were in fabulous places like Maui where I should have felt happy I coveted your parents marriage and happiness." but...what I heard was "I'm really weird, I married the first guy who asked and I would have had an affair with your dad or just about anyone who would rescue me from my bad marriage." That same week my parents let her go - not because she had an affair, not because she said that weird comment to me, but because a messy divorce is bad for business when played out a few desks away from each other. It was the last we ever spoke. Shame has an interesting power to make us hide from relationships we once loved.

Last month my dad had a liver transplant. Out of nowhere this woman reached out on facebook. I hadn't spoken to her in 16 years. She wrote, "Praying, love your family." Then while at the hospital she had asked someone to tell us she was praying and thinking of us. The whole miracle of the transplant had felt so pure, holy, and amazing that her name sort of hung in the air like an annoying stench.  Felt like satan had placed it there to try and steal a little bit of joy. Love my family? Deciding to care after 16 years of avoiding us?  I don't know, it didn't set right. I wrote her back and said I wasn't going to pretend like everything was "ok" and brush it all under the rug - there were hurt feelings and no we weren't "cool." It all just felt too little too late, like she got a guilty conscience because my dad was sick and because he had always been so good to her she felt she owed a courtesy prayer. All I really wanted to say was please go take your thoughts and prayers and shove em' where the sun don't shine! Does this make me bitter?  Sure sounds like it, doesn't it? 

Her facebook message reply turned into a straight Mean Girls saga - I was Regina George texting screengrabs to my cousin of her ridiculous defensive replies both of us laughing at the delusion. I had just miscarried a baby that week and all the hormones and anger came displaced like hot lava rage all over that miserable woman. I finally cut it off and told Jesus I was sorry for being an evil bitch and read this in my quiet time:
Enemy Strategy 9 - Heart
He (satan) uses every opportunity to keep old wounds fresh in mind, knowing that anger and hurt and bitterness and unforgiveness will continue to roll the damage forward. (Heb. 12:15)

I seriously don't even remember caring about that affair for years - why did I suddenly care now? The whole thing was ridiculous. I fell for it - I passed along more shame, unforgiveness, and anger rolling the damage forward. Yuck, I feel dirty just talking about it now. In retrospect, I should have just replied and said, "Thank you for your prayers." and then allowed myself to pray and feel compassion for a woman who had a bad marriage and made some tough choices.

BUT! also have to wonder why people expect their sin to not effect other people. Affairs are like bombs leaving shrapnel on everyone.  For me, I guess it just felt honest to be able to say - "no, actually you don't love us or you wouldn't have dumped us in your shame and running away." Anyone who knows me knows I always speak my mind especially when it comes to defending my family.  It often gets me into trouble, but there's some justice in feeling like you don't always have to be nice - the truth hurts. I gotta be honest in saying it felt so good to unload on her what I didn't know to say 16 years ago. It was the mean truth - I'm sure there was a nicer way to say it but I sure didn't say it nice. I feel mildly guilty, but still processing.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

life breathing generosity

Did you know you can give half of your liver to someone in order to save their life?  I sure didn't...until my dad collapsed the day after my husband's April 2015 birthday in LA and a doctor in the UCLA ER started detailing degenerative liver failure.  Now 10 months later I am witnessing a 1 in a million medical miracle orchestrated by God and it is rocking me to my core. 

LET ME EXPLAIN...Once my dad got really bad (went on sick leave from work), was in crippling pain forcing him to visit the hospital a minimum of once a week I knew it was bad.  My strong dad who could once out-shovel any construction field laborer had lost over 120 pounds and was hardly recognizable.  I gripped my hands and prepared for the worst.  I have watched more than a dozen friends lose their fathers in the last decade. Most dads were doing life-changing God work, mentoring orphans, helping the poor, revitalizing Denver, and yet instantly their lives were taken. I expected the same, it just feels rational to prepare for the worst. Meanwhile I was WORKING MY BUTT off to pull together a miracle - emailing friends for prayers, organizing flights and appointments to cities that had the shortest donor lists for my mom and dad to get on, and helping them move into a home they could recover better in.

My prayers were of the entitled desperate kind:  "Dear God, He's got so much more He can do for you, please just let this trial be a testimony building thing?"  or "Dear God, I beg for your miraculous mercy that all can see your glory."  None of these prayers have any sort of deserving grace in them but that is exactly how God works.  In my head I kept thinking of this place - SYNERGY.   A low income housing community designed to create jobs and solutions for homeless families in Denver.  They were just about to have city approval and break ground when my dad got sick - this was my parents life long dream, how could God not want this to get done?  WHAT'S THE DAMN PLAN HERE GOD?  was my real thought behind every angry prayer.

Then, my mom and dad facetimed us through tears - someone anonymous has had a dream that God told them to give your dad a liver.  A vivid dream from a really godly person who isn't crazy just insanely obedient and generous.  Prove it God.  That's all I felt, yeah right.  After watching my brother go through the preliminary match process of liver donation only to be emotionally wrecked when he was denied the 1 in a million chance to donate I had my doubts.  Plus, I thought this Atlanta liver donor list had a chance. A few weeks later - GOD PROVED IT.  Yup, this insane dreamer was real.  A blood test, cat scan, surgeon interview, liver scan, and a million other tests and the donor was approved for surgery.  TEARS.  We've found out a few other things - this donor has children.  OMG now I'm bawling. Like a loving family and...CHILDREN!  Obviously the risk is too insane, who would do this?? Who's family would agree to this? And yet, this person still scheduled the surgery.  Even now as I type I have a pit in my stomach grip I feel it hard to breath.  God's grace is so lavish it is INSANE.  Did I mention this person is not related to us? I don't even know who this person is people!  INSANE.
My mom told me that this donor text that she feels giddy days before surgery - perhaps like the woman did before she poured perfume on Jesus's feet - like a bride preparing - ready for worship.
The crowns on this one's head...I tellya.

I've had 3 sermons that have changed my life drastically.
(1) Timothy Keller - The Struggle for Love.  I won't even try to sum it up.
(2) Lori Salierno - (the original sermon isn't available regarding Calcutta, India) but this is darn close "The Little Boy who Gave up His Lunch."
AND FINALLY THIS SERMON LISTEN TO NOW (especially before my mom makes me delete it!):
(3) Adele Funk (my mom) - REVELATION 12
...suffering summed up. (disregard the squirrel part at the beginning, we actually are crazy in my family)

We are no where near done learning what God wanted to teach myself, my dad, our family, whatever.  But now my dad can honestly look you in the eye and say - SUFFERING IS A BLESSING.  Never have I ever sensed the closeness of God as I have seen in his suffering.  My dad has countless stories of this closeness - a literal sense of God beside him. My mom's testimony has never been stronger. They have lived to tell the tale. My parents, much like Job, never cursed God.  And I have never been prouder. I guess I should add a disclaimer, that while we didn't lose my dad type of suffering as many of you know the pain of - he has felt intense pain and has had his faith tested.  It feels strange to talk of suffering knowing just how hard/bad the world is for some if not most. I guess I'm just trying to say we believe Matthew 5 more than ever - BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN, BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT. amen forever

WEDNESDAY - FEBRUARY 24, 2016 this amazing donor and my dad will enter surgery together and come home with half of each other's liver.  My mom said to rest assured both livers are Broncos fans (according to the donor) so we're ok. :)  I ask for your prayers for this insane person and her family - for quick healing, for painless recovery, for grace, and for a blessing from God that far outweighs our thanks. For my family that we won't miss out on what God is trying to tell us in that surgery room. For my dad that he will not reject this liver, that it will bring his death to life.

Thank you prayer warriors - we could have never endured it without your meals, love, support, prayers, and videos. :)

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

I like the security of a dad hug

My Dad holding Emme giving her the security of love he always has given me

I'm going to bed tonight wishing I could wake up and go meet my dad for breakfast at Sunrise Sunset in Lakewood for a cheesy potato skillet and a hug.  You know the hug - the dad sort of hug that bear hug grabs you and smells like childhood nostalgia (in my case mens Ralph Lauren cologne that comes in the green bottle) and makes you feel like the world will work itself out.  Actually, much more than that - I swear that hug makes me feel like like everything I'm doing is pretty great. Secure.

I talked to my brother tonight about another dad of his friends who is fighting to stay alive. A great man, a great dad.  I asked him what he'd tell him if he could visit him tonight and he said he would just tell him thank you for always believing in me.  For thinking that he was important, athletic, and was going to do something great in the world.  Isn't that what dads have the capability of making us feel?  Their pride and belief in us makes us feel like we really can do anything. Secure enough to try.

Since becoming a mom these days blur into months and I started to wonder if all this baby talk is the best use of my potential and time.  Around month two, my dad called me and said,
I can't tell you how many times I think of that and feel instantly more at peace.  I'm so sad my dad doesn't live a few miles across town, but I'm so thankful I feel so secure in that love.  I hope Emme feels that secure in how much Nick loves her.  I hope my dad knows what a great dad he is to me.  If you're able to - go hug your dad today.  When they're gone, I wonder if the world will feel as secure as it does while they're here?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I like HEALED women who know what damaged looks like

I’m sorry I saw 50 Shades of Grey.  I’ve been processing for the last 5 days and saying things to other people like, “I was just an ignorant fool, I had no idea that movie was about pedophilia and molestation,” or “What is wrong with me, I think I was just a tired mom desperate for a girls night.”  Bottom Line:  I WAS AN IDIOT!

…I said I was sorry to my man for opening my heart to that insanity.  My husband forgave me but I really hope my daughter never ever finds out I filled my mind with that smut as I was trying to form a worldview for her as I raised her.  I hope my mom doesn't creep on my facebook and find out I went because she raised me better than that - and my dad protected me from that nonsense.  I've done my upbringing wrong.  

After processing here’s my final thoughts and I’ll try and keep it brief since everyone else like Relevant Magazine has explained it much better than I.  I went to college.  There I spent enough time with drunk girls crying to realize about all of us were damaged, and more than 2 out of 10 of my friends had been sexually abused or emotionally messed up by men in some way.  So here we are – a society of damaged women expected to have a healthy worldview on how sex, intimacy, and relationships get portrayed in media and in our lives.  Do you blame any of us damaged women for running to see a film to “figure it out?”  These educated, smart, beautiful women are confused because – we’re all 50 shades of F*$#’d up.  For me, it comes down to the same points we make about Human Trafficking – you can’t heal girls who’ve been trafficked – but you sure can fight the battle of men who are purchasing these women.  You can start by educating women and men to live whole and healed lives. 

I hope women who liked that movie pursue healing of their hearts.  I feel deep compassion for anyone who identified with that film.  I cried this week thinking about how many women I know who’ve been molested.  Objectified. Confused.  Damaged.  At one point, my friend leaned over and said to me, “We’re supposed to see molestation as sexy now?” That’s the point I woke up and realized I should be walking out of that flick. 

Final thing – please talk to anyone you know who saw this movie.  Find out their story and how you can be a part of their healing.  We’re a damaged people, lets try and heal.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

i like parenting books (sort of)

When I started telling close friends I was pregnant – my circle of friends were all thrilled I’d joined the “club,” a secret society where you’re permitted to gush and whine about all things those of us without children don’t understand – from nipple pain, after birth side effects, to sleep deprivation nightmares, once you get pregnant these subjects are no longer off limits.  WELCOME TO THE CLUB.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving having friends without filters who pour out the most intimate of details and learnings on parenting, although it is making me realize how I don’t know anything about what I thought I knew. In an effort to get to know this whole parenting thing I’m stocked up on books. 

One book in particular – BabyWise – has been given to me 6 times.  Yes, six different friends ranging from different socio-economic backgrounds with varying beliefs in God have all recommended this as the GO-TO GUIDE.  I devoured it the moment I got it only to be hit with a backlash of controversy.  My mother quite literally begged me not to follow this book given its controversial status – apparently babies have died from dehydration due to its strict scheduling of feedings causing them to lose their publisher as they are now self-published.  More than that, my mom, who ONCE loved the book tried to do a study on it for new moms at our church back in her fertile years and women told her they would leave the church if she did this study.  Apparently, the book is banned at mega church Grace Chapel for having the same effect.  At dinner one night, one of my husbands friends told me – this is the best parenting book out there, but people will hate you and judge you as a mean parent if you do this.  UM. YIKES.  Needless to say, I’m still a big BabyWise believer – don’t hate.  And once Nick actually reads the book we may follow it “loosely” once we decide it’s time to get regimented for sleep schedules.

Now, my favorite book – Bringing up Bebe.  This author is funny and it reads as more of a cautionary tale than a “how-to,” which makes you trust and like her more.  Pamela Druckerman is a American mother living in France bringing up her children in Paris, French Paradise - the land of free daycares (and preschools), baby foodies, and women who value wearing their skinny jeans three months after their birth.  This was my first “ah-ha” moment for life as we know it.  I think what I’m really looking for in all these books is – How do I still be “ME” and my marriage be “US” after I have this baby?  Basically it addresses my real fears (outside of WILL I EVER SLEEP AGAIN) – Will my husband still think I’m sexy and mysterious?  Am I a bad mom if I want to go back to work?  Will I be lonely spending so much time with this baby I love so much?  Am I going to expect Nick to share 50/50 of this with me as a feminist, or will I just nag him to help me all the time?  The answers are lengthy and psychological in this wonderful memoir/cultural study and I have begged everyone to read it so I can talk about it more, but here’s basically my 3 take-aways:
·      (1)  “Le Pause” – Walter Mischel is a French-born, Stanford educated Psychologist who is most known for devising “the marshmallow test” in the 1960’s where children are tested on their ability to delay themselves from INSTANT GRATIFICATION.  The assumption is this – that children who are taught delayed gratification from infancy (pausing before feeding, picking them up, etc.) actually does make them calmer whereas middle-class American kids, who are in general more used to getting what they want right away, go to pieces under stress.  Basically – try and WAIT to assess your babies needs before instantly trying to “fix” a screaming child.  Sometimes, they’re just shifting sleep patterns, use your intuition rather than a rulebook.
·      (2)  BE GIFTED - “We Americans assign ourselves the job of pushing, stimulating, and carrying our kids from one developmental stage to the next.  The better we are at parenting, we think, the faster our kids will develop.”  I mean of course I want my baby to be gifted and play the violin by age 4, but lets be honest, it probably has little to do with me.  French parents are less motivated by guilt to be a good parent and push and thus as a culture are comfortable putting their children in daycare to socialize their babies (a skill they view as more valuable than giftedness).  It feels like perspective at least to recognize that maybe its not the end of the world if I don’t obsess over getting my kid in drum circles from the moment they’re born.
·      (3)  SEXY BACK - “For American women, the role of mom is very segmented, very absolute, When they wear the mom ‘hat’ they wear the mom clothes.  When they’re sexy, they’re totally sexy.  And the kids can see only the ‘mom’ part.  In France the ‘mom’ and ‘woman’ roles ideally are fused.  At any given time, you can see both.”   I haven’t even decided if and when I will go back to work, but just thinking about it makes me feel SO GUILTY!  I am having this baby so I can love it, so why in the world would I choose to love myself more by going back to work – a career that has taken four years of college, and some painful assistant gigs that were WAY HARDER than pregnancy!!!!  Will I really delight in wearing yoga pants and a baby forever?!  Can I wear both hats?  Apparently, in France, this is somewhat of a non-issue.  Identity’s are “ideally fused,” – how liberating does that sound?!  PERSPECTIVE.  (although I still feel guilty, so give me some time to work this out).

All in all, my reading has me concluding that more than anything – I chose my husband and I want to be an incredible wife because he is so awesome.  I want us to remain so in love post-baby and really that is more important to me than if this baby sleeps through the night.  For that reason, I’m just really on this educational journey to try and rid the control-freak in me that thinks I can makes lists and data that will chart a successful family.  The books guide perspective – but my new prayers are changing my heart to strive for FREEDOM rather than a laundry list of guilt.  I just hope I can get there before the baby comes so I can truly DELIGHT in her and she can bring our family joy rather than self-inflicted guilt and pressure to be a good mom.  FREEDOM CHANT COMMENCE NOW.

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