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An Interview With My Hubby

Here’s a relationship interview with my husband of 22 years that I’m trying to have while we watch “Modern Family” and he searches for hotels for us to stay for our upcoming family adventure to Australia next month (I’m desperate for blog material, so sue me…):

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20+ years with this guy! (Photo: Jessica Quadra, Barcelona, Spain)

20+ years with this guy! (Photo: Jessica Quadra, Barcelona, Spain)

Me: How come you can’t read my mind?

Him: (shakes head, laughs to self…keeps scrolling booking.com (booking dot yeah) while watching “Modern Family” (he’s a “multi-tasker”))

Me: So, I’m pretty desperate for material for my blog…can you help a sister out?

Him: (laughs out loud, like, “hahahahahaha” to my statement, not the funny thing Phil Dunphy said on MF)

Me: What do you think is the most stressful part of marriage?

Him: When your wife asks you questions when she’s trying to write stories…(laughs at his own hilarity…)

Me: (Waiting…)

Him: Um.

Me: I think it’s when you try to multi-task ME.

Him: Stressful? Listening but trying not to be a problem solver.

Me: Why is that hard for you?

Him: Uhhh, I have a PhD in engineering…I’m wired to solve problems.

Me: So why is listening hard for you?

Him: Listening isn’t hard for me, it’s the part about listening without trying to solve it.

Me: So, when did you realize I just wanted you to listen to me, not fix it? After you saw this video?

Him: Yep. Pretty much.

Him: Women want to engage in conversations within their relationship, but it’s almost impossible for a man to listen and not want to talk about solutions and the issues at hand.

Me: That’s pretty stereotypical. If I had a nail in my forehead, I’d want to figure out how the hell to get it out…

Me: Let’s try this again…what’s your favorite part of being married to MEEEEEEEEEE?

Him: (hahahahaahahahaha) What are you trying to accomplish?

Me: Nothing. I just have to write shit. That’s what Anne Lamott says and that’s what Micah J. Murray the blog master says, just write shit. It’s the act of writing that I’m practicing, whether it’s good or not, it’s just about writing…

Him: (With the cutest smile smeared across his face…) Why does it have to involve MEEEEEEE?

Well, I think that went seemingly…until next time…

If You Could Do ANYTHING…

ANYTHING at all, to make a lasting contribution to the world, regardless of experience or finances,

WHAT WOULD IT BE?

This simple question has generated some beautiful responses from people lately as I’ve asked old friends, new acquaintances, and total strangers, the words you just read.

And you should see how people’s faces light up at the question! As if for once they are given the chance to dream and think and believe and aspire outside their day to day.

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I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my feet, watching every step. Last year I hung out a car window and did not watch the ground but looked up to the tree tops in search of koalas. This picture came to mind when I wrote this post because of the limitless possibilities of the potential answers to the question, “If you could do ANYTHING…” Plus, the fresh air felt amazing!

The question of “What if?” has limitless outcomes and asking ourselves “What if?” whether, “What if I take a risk?” or “What if I never take the risk?” or any variance of the question, can at least re-shift our focus if we’ve been spinning our wheels in the same space for a while, or believe we’re at a dead end.

Some friends and I are using the information from the interviews and responses we are gathering to dream collectively about something we are launching soon and it’s all just kind of surreal and exciting and kind of scary all at once.

And I’m lovin’ it!

We would love to hear your heart and contribution to our research by sharing your answer in the comments? So, here it is again:

If you could do ANYTHING…ANYTHING at all, to make a lasting contribution to the world, regardless of experience or finances, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!

In Which I Tread Into Politics

Oh dear. The yelling on both sides is deafening.
Meanwhile, I’m over here, all, “Hey, I’m totally voting for Kid President!!!”

So, I am a grown adult. Like, I’ve been voting for 25 years now. Originally I registered with the same party my parents did, because, hullo? In my young mind, Reagan and my childhood were idyllic. Familiarity, the fact that voting was scary and bore weight and responsibility, and if my parents had identified with one party and I respected and loved them, well, that must mean I should vote the same, Doesn’t it?

Plus, a subliminal message at the time from my “community of faith” (not my parents), was implied, “You’re only a real Christian if you are a conservative Republican.”

Well, I sure as heck wanted to make sure I didn’t lose my way following Jesus on account of my earthly political affiliation…because that can happen, right?!??

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The years passed. One day at church I invited a couple of girls to meet at a coffee shop so we could get to know one another. It became an every Monday night date as we spent hours sharing our stories and what following Christ looked like for us. One of my friends shared about her journey of being a Jesus-follower and how it included loving people different than her.

“Of course,” I thought. “Of course you love people who are different from you…you are a Christian…that’s what Jesus modeled for us. I do, too.”

And then she told me she was a registered Democrat.

I was like, “Wait. What? How can you be a Democrat and a Christian?
What about the babies?”

She shared her heart about how she follows Jesus, not a political system where people are trying to set up laws in the land to influence people’s moral choices. “Only God can know our hearts,” she had said. She told us she doesn’t agree with killing people, babies or in wartime, but trusting in laws set up by a government cannot minister to the heart and soul of a person created in the image of God. That’s heart-to-heart work that has to be done in laying down our lives for others, not fighting through a system for our own rights at the expense of another.

And this made sense to me. It sounded Jesus-esque. It sounded like the Good News I remembered loving and pouring over ‘til late hours of the morning as a new believer and follower of Christ. It reminded me of the Red Letter Words in the New Testament, spoken by Jesus, rather than the human-tainted messages that had been filling up my head ever since.

I decided to explore what I believed, rather than only accepting what others and my circles of life, preached. I started paying attention more, not just to politics, the local news, and world happenings, but mostly to my heart and the pursuit of living a life that more closely reflected the Life of the One I claimed to follow…I started filtering ALL OF IT THROUGH THIS THING: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself…like a litmus test of fruit-bearing for myself, checking my heart with the way Jesus treated people, not buying into man’s political systems and polarizing camps.

I started paying attention to peoples’ stories rather than their stereotypes.”

I’ve been reminded of Daniel and his friends in Babylon, living as exiles because God allowed it, for years living there, yet not trying to change the system, but rather praying for the people there, praying for, and serving, the leadership, for their well-being as in Jeremiah 29:7, and reaping the benefits of what happens when you pray for your enemies.

A few months before my Mom died she said, “You are a hippie, aren’t you?” This she said with a smile and in love. Her words had life, the part about “hippie” that bears the Free Love of God, not the acid and bellbottoms.

I had just told her, “Mom, we are ALL souls, made in God’s image…every single one of us. How can we keep walking around labeling each other and boxing one another into stereotypes, trying to make laws and cast votes to feel better about our moral choices when God calls US ALL His beloved? That can’t be politicized! He showed us how to love radically. Jesus didn’t come through a political system then, and He’s not returning that way either.”

I don’t have all the answers, but I know my identity, value, worth, and eternal grace from God, are not found in a political system or by aligning myself with a political party. I identify as a child of God. People on both polar extremes of our political spectrum also do, as well as millions of those in between…and there isn’t a law in the land that can know the heart of a person, but there is a loving Creator who does, and He is big enough.

 

 

(photo credit: pixabay user/dweedon1)

Some Lies Die Hard: Brain Re-Train

Some lies die hard.

Some are bigger than others, and they go down deep and then take root and if we aren’t aware they can take up residency as if they were there from the beginning…part of who we are.

Time and attention and reiteration grow these lies, just like sun and water and oxygen and time grow healthy things.

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Lies cloud our vision, yet they’re so part of our normal we don’t know our vision is cloudy. When someone speaks the truth to us, shows us the light, are we even able to conceive it? Plus, we’ve taken the time to reinforce these messages to ourselves, that we’ve heard them so much, well, aren’t they true?

A lie can establish itself in our heads and hearts and even our senses, what we see and speak and hear ourselves, until we deep down believe what we perceive as reality to be truth.

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One example of how lies have gone deep for me is in my 43 ½ years of life, looking back on every single photo, or when I look in the mirror, I’m not able to see what’s there. I only see what I wish was there. For example, I’ve done yoga for 10 years and I also lift weights. When I’m in a routine and can see some muscles making their way to the surface, sometimes I’ll flex and check it out in the mirror…don’t tell me you’ve never…well, I’ll see my muscle definition and think, “Man, I wish my arm looked like that…”

Except I’m looking at my own fugging arm, you guys. Or, I’ll be doing a yoga move and see a leg muscle and think, “Huh, I wish my leg looked like that…”

What the hell?! That’s my own fugging leg, too! No one else’s leg is in my yoga routine!

And they are strong because I am strong and it’s really me…except I’m not able to see it.

The lies we tell ourselves are really where bullying starts. It begins with only us. We bully ourselves by telling ourselves lies about ourselves that just aren’t true…and then we reinforce them every time we make a mistake, “Man, you’re so stupid! Gah, can’t you get anything right?! You are so fat…too skinny, too awkward, too slow, not this enough, not that enough…”

So, what is true? What is the filter we were designed to view life through? What is the new filter I’ve replaced the faulty one with?

In the beginning, God made them in His image and He said it was GOOD…”

There’s a cheesy little saying that goes like this: “God made me and He doesn’t make junk.” It’s hokey as all get out, catchy, and annoying, but the truthful foundation of the statement is, when God made us, He said it was GOOD. Period.

And that’s the kind of truth I want to water, expose to the light, feed, and nurture…that’s the kind of truth that must dig deep and take root for the GOOD life to spread…it’s the kind of truth we need to believe about ourselves and it’s the same truth Jesus modeled for us to believe about others.

(photo credits: pixabay user/StockSnap, and Stephanie Gullifer)

For The Love, JUST WRITE!

The practice is to simply write. Just write. Sit down and write stuff. And when you can’t think of anything to write, write about how you can’t think of anything to write…write about that

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I haven’t written every day in a row for 31 days since our son Noah was in the hospital. That season of our lives was depth-charged with adrenaline to find answers, superhuman powers to find a cure, and 5 months of sleepless love-filled nights watching him breathe, soaking in his smell, praying prayers and pouring tears and breathing in those moments knowing life is short…life is priceless.

It was more than adrenaline. It was turbo.

Thing is, in a body at least, adrenaline runs out and you tire.

Ridiculous a thing like challenging myself to write everyday could resurrect these feelings and sensations all these years later, but that’s how some of these entries have been for me…wanting to convey my heart, longing not to be misunderstood, hoping to encourage others on their own journeys who will read along.

For me, writing is so woven into who I am, it’s something I do in my head and heart all the time, all day long, so typing it out is a first step of expressing it, then hitting “publish” and letting others read it, even by choice, takes it to another level for my heart.

It’s like I’m letting you get to know me, but what I would love even more is the chance to get to know YOU.

The whole thing leaves me with what Brené Brown labels a “vulnerability hangover.”

I’ll let her explain:

 

Yesterday on the Facebook page where some blogging friends rally to encourage one another and learn from each other, I wrote: “I’m out. This is the second sentence I’ve written today.”

I was ready to check out. It was a weird feeling because the disciplined practice of writing hasn’t been that bad, though draining, but has shown me how, if I make it my own person “day job,” I could actually write the books and curriculums I want to write, by sheer dedication.

And if anything, maybe that very thing is what is supposed to come of all this gut-wrenching writing.

(photo credit: pixabay user/StockSnap)

Have You Ever Felt Labeled?

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That Time I Got Botox In My Forehead Because I Thought My Thighs Were Fat…

…and other totally rational choices and decisions I have made.

Obviously.

Not too long after my mid-life crisis, ahem, I mean, after we had our “bonus” child at an “advanced age,” I turned 40. I’ve never feared aging or the number attached to it, but realized, too, I had spent a lot of precious time at war with myself. As a result, God and I had a few words. His were, “Adrienne, I love you. It’s time to start loving yourself.”

Thing is, as long as my memory served me, I hadn’t ever been my biggest fan. Never “good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, disciplined enough…never enough: whatever.” But, I figured since God made me and not the other way around, maybe there was something He wanted me to know deep down inside…like all the years I’d preached and ministered to other women about how much God loved them exactly as they were was something I was supposed to believe myself? 

Like, just being born and existing was enough…simply because God made me.

Part of learning to love myself was to spend time soaking in God’s truth over me, what He said about me, rather than all the lies I had believed about the worth and value of my soul as it related to the beauty industry.

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It’s shallow to admit, but authenticity is an aim and practice of mine, so, there you go…all of my teenage years I spent hours upon hours looking through TEEN and SEVENTEEN magazines, truly believing how I looked merited even more hours of my time and mental capacity.

Some lies die hard. 

During this time of exploring what it meant to love myself, I started a separate blog called, “Confessions of a 2nd Grade Closet Eater.” It helped me to compartmentalize my head and writings there, apart from blogging other stuff. Well, it was over on “Confessions” that I had a personal epiphany. God showed me the moment when I was a kid where my journey of self-loathing was birthed…and that, out of fear. You can read all about it here.

And fear still creeps…it’s all around us everyday. And lies swirl. They are ours for the taking…or not. We don’t have to believe.

I don’t have to believe! Most lies I don’t believe anymore. I don’t base my value and worth on whether I’m 5, 10, or whatever amount of pounds off my healthy, comfortable weight.

There’s miraculously more to me than whether my jeans fit nicely or not.
Plus, there’s yoga pants, holla!

But, I have days like just a few weeks ago when I bought 4 cute tables…you know, for the house we don’t even have because I wanted to purge and be free of stuff…but I couldn’t afford NOT to buy them. You know what I’m sayin’? But this, all because I was getting too far ahead of God’s plan and I wanted to know what will happen at the end of this “Graveswold” season…so I bought tables…duh. Wanna buy a table? 

And then there was that time a few years ago when a friend mentioned she had free botox and I was so busy looking down, inwardly, at my own thighs, rather than up and out and around me at this beautiful life, that I endured painful pricks in my forehead…because paralyzing the muscles in my forehead would obviously make my thighs stronger faster than actual lunges and deep squats…duh.

Or what about the time I bought Frye boots because my mom died? Or that thing on the end-cap in Target, because it was on sale…or when I “rewarded” myself with a sweet treat because, by golly, my jeans fit again? WTF?! Or that time I tried to fill my longing with any number of things other than just sitting with the pain, the fear, the unknown, and letting God and I wrestle with it a bit…knowing deep down, He’s my Source. 

I can try to rationalize why I’ve made some of the irrational choices I’ve made over the years. And I can beat myself up about them. Now I can even raise my eyebrows at some of my choices. (get it? get it?) Or, I can accept that some days are harder than others…every day requires intention and mindfulness…each and every day is new and a gift from God, and one more day to live out of loving myself.

…..

(photo: pixabay user, Ben_Kerckx)

(*This post is part of a 31 Day Writing Challenge I’ve taken on to exercise the art that I love. If you are just joining, you can catch up on this “31 Days” page. Also, just for fun, Dayspring is offering a $500 shopping spree to readers of those participating. THAT’S YOU!!! Starting October 15, running through the 31st, you can enter here each day for the giveaway…watch for the button, and good luck!)

When You Meet a Blogger in Real Life

“I love Jesus. I love writing. I love people.” – Micah J. Murray

 

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(photo: Micah J. Murray’s “Clumsy Bloggers’ Workshop”)

 

Yesterday I got to meet Micah. Micah hosts a priceless course on-line called, “Clumsy Bloggers Workshop” and I happen to be taking it, you know, to learn how to actually blog after all these years. (click on the picture above to learn more.) My family and I went to the Twin Cities over the weekend to see family while I had a few meetings. I emailed ahead to see if we could set up a time when he could “show me” blog stuff (I’m a visual/kinetic learner) and I could pick his brain a little. It ended up being my whole crew along for the lesson, as well as eating some great tacos from a shop down on Central, and his boys and my little guy striking up friendship over silly string and Legos.

Part of the course includes a private Facebook page where the rest of the gang enrolled in the workshop can bounce ideas off one another, ask questions, cheer one another on, and let off steam and drop occasional curses…it’s so liberating! It’s become a space I love “going to” everyday to read and be inspired and challenged in this THING I love so much…and hate all at once: writing. To be honest with you, I thought I was just signing up to learn blogging stuff, but the course and community and the act of writing again has brought about more of a personal renaissance…and that was unexpected.

You guys, I want to tell you a few things I learned about Micah J. Murray…he loves Jesus. He loves writing and sharing the art with others. And he really loves people…specifically, you guys, he said he loves his “Clumsy Bloggers.” How special are we?! He enjoys helping us find our words and voices. And it’s inspiring to see all the bloggers in our group that are finding their mojo because Micah is doing what he loves and is good at…reminds me of Victor Frankel’s, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” that I read this summer.

I wanted to encourage you all that Micah’s the real deal. It’s difficult to tell sometimes on social media if a person is authentic in what they portray for others to perceive. Not so with him…he is legit, no doubt. He’s not only a smarty in all things blogging, like mind-blowing brainiac-ish, but he’s also got heart that backs his work…and wears it on his sleeve, literally…ask him to blog about his newest ink based on one of his motto’s, “Love Trumps Fear.” It’s pretty cool.

So, press on, keep writing, and if you are a person who has considered taking up blogging or setting up your own website, Micah is a real live person cheering who will cheer you on. And in the on-line world, this just TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY MATTERS.

Peacemaking: A Lifestyle of Bridge-Building

 

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I like peace. I’m a huge fan of it. We even named one of our kids “Peace”. I’m not naive to think it doesn’t take work, but I’m also not such a pessimist to believe it isn’t possible…building a bridge is a complex process, but engineers have shown us for years, it’s not an impossible feat to bridge a gap.

 

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“Peacemaking is the mission of God and central to our vocation as followers of Christ.” – Jon Huckins

And, “Conflict is not the problem…it’s our inability to navigate conflict transformatively.”

“The Problem: Peacemaking has been disintegrated from our understanding of who God is,
what God has done in Christ, and what He is doing here and now.” – TGIP

This weekend I was in the Twin Cities, soaking in the colors, enjoying some time with family, and meeting up with new and old friends, two of which I’d like to share about in this post.

Jer Swigart and Jon Huckins have become brothers to my peacemaker’s heart. These guys started The Global Immersion Project. The mission of TGIP makes my heart skip a beat. These guys foster safe spaces around the table for seeming “enemies” to come together and hear one another’s stories. In the Middle East they gather Christians, Muslims, and Jews, to learn from one another…there are no weapons, just a common meal and the sharing of hearts. They are actively involved in the refugee crisis, too, building relationships on the ground. Jon and Jer are the real deal and, in my personal opinion, the content of their message is something everyone needs to hear.

It was humbling to be part of an initiative they facilitated at Woodland Hills Church this weekend, sponsored by Pastor Greg Boyd. When Jason and I lived in Minneapolis years ago, we went to WHC and loved the community and teaching, there, so this gathering of peacemakers and Dr. Boyd sharing was just a tad epic for my peacemaker mind: BLOWN.

Friday night Greg Boyd laid the foundation for peace through the lens of biblical scripture and a peacemaking Christ. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised because I’m familiar with the heart of his teaching, but I was kind of blown away to hear these truths from a Christian pastor in America because the trend of some church leaders and pastors, in my personal experience, has been leaning more and more towards fear, the end of the world, and American nationalism lately rather than the Kingdom of God, His love over us, and the call to live and love our enemies and neighbors like Christ did and modeled for us to do. 

I guess it was just a breath of fresh air…

The funny thing is, Jer and Jon were encouraged by it, too…because, not only do they facilitate these incredible spaces where people gather to hear the hearts of others, but usually, first, they have to be the ones who lay out the biblical call for peacemaking, even in churches, where love is supposed to be preached.

I came away from the weekend with a few treasures:

  • deepened friendships and new ones
  • a free burrito bowl from the generous couple, Adam and Bri from Des Moines, who paid for mine ahead of me
  • renewed passion for building bridges of peace with women, personally and vocationally, wherever God leads
  • my eyes, heart, and hands to be open to everyday peacemaking, whether to neighbors, strangers, family, or friends
  • encouragement to stop trying to please others or care what this or that group thinks…it’s not my job to make everyone happy…and that making peace makes waves.

 

(photo credits: Foundry and Unsplash, pixabay)

 

What Really “Killed” Adam and Eve in the Garden?

 

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“Temptation”, photo credit: Adrienne Graves

The Garden was a much bigger story than an apple eaten, eyes opened, and disobedience. Too much to unpack in a blog post, but this is something that’s been on my heart for years, so I would love to share some of it here. Please read this realizing this is my opinion. You may think differently. I feel as though this is revelation God has given me over the years of studying the Garden, especially in light of Christ’s Good News and the practice of empathy. Consider reading the rest through that filter…

God told them not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because if they did, they would surely die. The Snake slips in and says, “You won’t die…you’ll be like God, able to see and know everything…” And, in their initial experience, they didn’t die. They were still standing there, buck naked, just like God made them, in the Garden, alive. Yet, it was at that moment their eyes were open to see from a different perspective…God’s perspective. 

So, if they didn’t die, what do you think happened, then? 

Well, I do believe they began to die, but slow and drawn out…like over years and decades and centuries. This was the moment doubt crept in, questioning God and if what He said and did was really Good or not…doubt that God really had their best in mind, told them the truth or not…a seed planted to wonder whether God really loved them if He said they would die from the experience, yet there they were. The Enemy of their hearts, the one who is set on stealing, killing, and destroying God’s Good creation, God’s very heart, threw out juicy bait, and they took it…not just the bite, but the choice to question and the decision to themselves be the judges.

Their eyes were opened to their nakedness, which was still Good, that had not changed, yet, they judged it wasn’t good at all but something to cover up. Except God had said it was…so, who was right? Adam and Eve, or God?

I don’t think the only lesson in this story is about the fall and how we are all sinners, or just about disobedience.

This was about a loving Father’s heart sharing a consequence of what could happen if they made a particular choice, one He longed for them not to make, but not a Master Puppeteer to make the choice for them…think “Love and Logic” for all you parents out there. 

God knew they would be overwhelmed with the weight, the burden, of knowing between good and evil, discerning right and wrong, but mostly, the idea that it was their responsibility to judge themselves and others based on whatever criteria seemed right. He knew that yoke was slavery, and would, indeed, lead to their most certain death.

We wield this judgment at others and ourselves, every day. We are the ones killing each other with judgment, pointing fingers, valuing one life more worthy than another, attempts to bring justice through the systems of man…and it’s all broken.

Jesus came to share the GOOD NEWS…news His yoke was easy, His burden light. News He was the Light of the World, exposing the darkness and lies of the Enemy. His life was lived among those deemed “sinners” and “unclean” and “irreligious” by the pious ones, the self-appointed holy ones. Jesus knew they were too dead to see that God made man in His image and said it was GOOD.

I believe this is part of the most certain death Christ saved us from…a burdensome life of slowly killing others, and ourselves, through the lens of judgment. He came to reconcile us all back to a Garden relationship like the one God originally intended.