Affirmation 6/20/17

This world is hard. This life is hard. Yet, you continue. Not only that, but you are making it better. You make this world better. You make this life better, easier. You are remarkable. You are needed. You are wanted. You are loved.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 5/23/17

Things change. Things grow. Things move. Things breathe. Things pulse. Life is full of disappointments, but it’s also full of beautiful moments, big and small. Keep pulsing. Keep breathing. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep changing.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 3/28/17

Live your life. People won’t like it. Do it anyway. Pursue the things that further your strength and power and grace and happiness. Pursue the things that make you feel alive. Push yourself. People won’t like it. Do it anyway.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 9/20/16

Life is a lot. Life is a lot for one person to handle on their own. You’re not on your own. You’re not alone. You do not have to do this alone. Don’t let yourself believe that lie. Life is something we’re all doing. We’re all doing it together. You can do this. We can do this.

I’m glad you’re here.

Adventure in All Grown Up Now: Part I

Bossypants

Recently, I reread Tina Fey’s Bossypants during the day and Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes in the evening. Okay, truth is it was the first time I actually read Bossypants with my eyeballs. The first time I listened to it, read to me by Tina Fey. The point is they have a tendency to go hand-in-hand for me. Or maybe better said heart-and-head for me. Mostly, here’s why: On this reading of Bossypants something struck me. In the second chapter there’s a moment where Tina (we’re friends now. I can call her that), is talking about writing Mean Girls and attending one of Rosalind Wiseman’s workshops. A self-esteem and bullying workshop. She had everyone write down the moment they realized “they were a woman.” Tina (no, I’m not worthy) Fey talks about how so many of the women, most of the women, explained that their moment was largely when men started reacting to them. Indecently. In a real sexually harassy way.

It of course started my dumb brain churning. So I asked. I asked a lot of women to share their answer with me, so that I could, in turn, share that answer with you. I asked them more questions. I asked them 13 questions in total. (I think). I made myself answer them too. In retrospect, I’m a real monster. These were hard questions. Some people answered the questions and shared the answers with me, but asked that I not share them with you. I respect that. Some people answered every question. Some picked and chose. Some answered only the one question, which was all I truly insisted. If they chose to participate that they answer that one question. Like I said, they’re hard questions. And they’re personal questions. I still appreciate their willingness to share. Some people found it cathartic. I think some people are still afraid of me.

What that also means is that I didn’t think through how looooong this was going to be. I’m so sorry! I thought about doing a spotlight on each person. I thought about just posting it all at once. But I think it’s important. It’s important. They’re important. It’s important to me, at the very least, and I don’t want to take it lightly or gloss over anything. So I’m going to do this in a series. For me some of this was heartbreaking. Some of it was funny. All of it encouraged me. I hope it can offer you some of that as well.

Today, we’ll give you the introductions and the first few less terrifying questions, and we’ll work from there. I asked them all to include a photo and a 1-3 line bio, but I’m a dope so it was an afterthought, and I feel weird guessing at people’s lives or making them labor more. So I’m sorry to those of you who did labor over those (Meg). I believe I’ve kept everyone in the same order as well. So you can hopefully follow along. And thank you to everyone who I asked, who declined, who answered quietly. Thank you to Maria, Meg, Kristen G., Emily Y., Kristen K., Harmony, Ashley L., Courtney, Allison, Danee, Amber S., Rebekah, Emily L., Alex, Laura, Dana, Ashlee, Jessica, Amber F., Erica, Brett, and Allie. for sharing with all of us. (Apologies. Allie has just reminded me that I completely neglected her answers. Which was a stupid error. Please. Take the time to get to know her better as well!)

Ready?!

What is your favorite book of time, or did one ever change your life?

Maria: Tuesdays with Morrie was really impactful for me so much so that I still think about it years later. The idea of knowing you are going to die and walking through life with that perspective and what you leave behind.

Meg: Harry Potter all the way. I have read the series over and over again, which is something I have never done with any other book. It gives me an escape during times of stress. I even listen to the musical scores from the movies when I need to focus. :)

Kristen G.: The 21 Balloons – I don’t know why, just loved it and launched my love of reading. I also want to add The Red Tent to influential books

Emily Y.: I don’t know if I have a favorite book of all time, but Atonement by Ian McEwan was really formative for me in high school. It’s a book about how misinterpreting the intentions of others can spiral out of control to the point of unraveling the lives of those around you. It’s about how things aren’t always what they seem at first, and how speaking with authority on things you don’t understand is hugely detrimental. These are really important lessons to learn, and I’m so glad this book opened up my eyes to these concepts while I was still young.

Kristen K.: HP. All of them.
Changed my life because Dumbledore.

Hayley: I was not a big reader as a kid. I loved books. I loved the idea of books. But reading was a huge struggle for me. It really is today still, but I have a little bit more will to do it than I did when I was tiny. The Chronicles of Narnia are key to my heart. Still. I read them every year, and still find myself getting lost, getting angry, getting hurt, laughing. It’s weird how it still pulls at me.

Ashley L.: Anne of Green Gables. I have always very much admired Anne’s spunk. She did things her own way, and she didn’t apologize for being herself, even though she dreamed of more.

Danee: Unbearable Lightness of Being. It is romantic and philosophical and poetic and sad. It grapples with all the big questions in life and gave me a new understanding of the difference between empathy and sympathy and why the former is so rare.

Amber S.: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster has been a story I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve read it. I’ve actually been staring it down pretty frequently this summer. Maybe it’s time for another read.

Rebekah: So many books have changed my life and perspective. I’ll mention one: Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. This novel-about a human colony on a distant, inhabited planet-beautifully explores the struggle to understand that thinks in a completely alien way: the underlying structure of the way the alien cultures think and the reality of their lives was mind blowing for me. This translates into my everyday life all the time. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation with someone and I’ll realize that the structure of their thinking and their fundamental beliefs about how the world works are so different from mine that we’re probably not understanding each-other. It’s my ongoing goal to try and learn how to communicate with my fellow humans in these situations.

Emily L.: Might sound cliche, but I would be lying if I didn’t honestly say the Bible. It has truly transformed and continues to transform my life. I have many other books that have spoken to me, but the Bible is the only one that continues to challenge and change me.

Alex: Brave New World was the first book that stuck with me to the point of losing sleep. I call it my favorite, but I’m not sure if it is my favorite for reasons other people would choose a favorite. I’ll just go with it changed me

Laura: I, like many people, love Harry Potter, but the book I would say changed my life is a YA best-seller that I will leave unnamed. I was reading it one day and thought, “This is a best-seller? It’s not even that good! I could do this. I bet I could do this.” So I started writing a novel.

Dana: Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
—>The Holy Spirit met me each time I opened this book, revealing truths to me about fear and freedom. It was filled with the echoes of “Amen”s straight down to the core of my soul.

Jessica: My favorite book as a kid was Island of the Blue Dolphins. After middle school I didn’t read much and haven’t really picked it back up. Nothing monumental

Amber F.: That’s a hard one- many books have influenced me but I’d say Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed has had the most impact in my adult life. It is a compilation of advice columns she wrote as Dear Sugar for The Rumpus

Erica: My favorite book changes all the damn time. Currently, it’s Sugar Run Road by Ed Ochester.

Brett: The first book that changed my life was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. But books keep changing my life daily. Another big hitter was Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, and more recently, The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

Allie:   Predictable as this is, the Harry Potter books are my favorite. They teach me virtues that I consider necessary for living a good life. A book that has changed my life is Beloved by Toni Morrison. The intersection of injustice and motherhood has helped me see the world in a new way.  

Who was your childhood best friend?

Maria: Oh dear…Caitlin Haller (Whitman) and Hayley Johnson

Meg: Krista Seaman. She was my neighbor, but we became more like sisters. I am honored to stand up next to her as she marries her partner next summer. We’re still quite close

Kristen G.: I would say that I didn’t have a dear, best friend of my heart until college. But, to answer your question, Joanne Nirella.

Emily Y.: I’ve never really had just one best friend. That’s not really how I have ever functioned. But Rose Walters is probably the one I remember most from elementary school.

Kristen K.: My cousin Kate.

Hayley: Maria Bowersock(see above). The way friends are when you’re small. Sleepovers. Birthday parties. Lasting embarrassing pictures and fashion mistakes. Dreaming of the future. Giggling in matching Little Mermaid sleeping bags. We stayed close through high school. College happened, but we’re still friends. I think to a degree you never lose that person. Not really.

Ashley L.: I’ve never had a true “best friend.” I’ve made some close friends throughout the years, some of which I am still close with, but never a “bosom friend,” as Anne would say. Growing up as an only child, I learned to entertain myself, so I guess you could say that I was my own best friend growing up.

Courtney: My childhood best friend (or at least, the first best friend I can remember) was Alex Knupp. We met each other in elementary school and became fast friends. Going over to her house was a treat for me because she lived out in the country and had a barn that was filled with baby kitties. I remember one time I visited her house, I was able to hold a kitten that had been born that week. It was so tiny and small – I had never seen such a small, baby animal before then. The year after we became friends, she told me she was transferring to a new school and I was devastated. We promised we would write to each other and we did – we were pen pals for years both through snail mail and now email. I still have some of the letters she wrote me- you know, saying the normal “School is ok…” “I have a tennis championship coming up I am excited about!” “My sister is driving me crazy…!” Small little memories… Now, she pops up in my News Feed and I see her life unfold. She just had a baby a month or so ago. I should drop a line and say hello.

Allison: My best friend since I was 12 years old is Dawn. She was kind to me when a group of girls I was friends with suddenly decided that they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. That’s middle school for ya. Dawn and I rode the same bus and she reached out to me to sit with her, knowing that I had been ostracized. We’ve been fast friends ever since! We egged on each other’s sense of humor and had a million inside jokes. It kept us going through the awfulness of middle school and high school. We had a running gag that we did for a few years where we faked each other’s secret admirers for Valentine’s Day. I wrote her a letter that detailed how I first fell in love with her. I saw her running to the bus and trip in fall in mud, and she laughed at herself and just got right back up and got on the bus (this is all a lie of course!). My friendship with Dawn taught me that it is okay to laugh at myself and have self-confidence. Even though we have moved apart and don’t talk as much, we still have a soulful connection that is quite strong.

Amber S.: There was a small group of us all through elementary school. Sara and I shared the same birthday (she’s an hour or two older). April always had awesome slumber parties. Kelsey’s parents were friends with mine.

Emily L.: I had many at various times, but the one I had for the longest amount of time was Jennifer Berry

Alex: My childhood best friend was Shawn Flynn; a person, not unlike myself that was perfectly happy not fitting into gender roles and beating the boys at their own games. Shawn and I are still friends to this day, though not as close as we once were.

Laura: My childhood best friend was Sarah- a girl who went along with all of my schemes and got everything I ever wanted. Seriously- cookies for lunch, a puppy, a horse, you name it.

Dana: Hands down, Rebekah Nimtz. So much can be said about this beautiful woman. But I will be brief, laying down the basics. I remember first seeing her on the slide at recess in third grade, a year before our divine friendship would begin. It’s probably the most beautiful love story of my life to date. :) I remember seeing her and knowing we were kindred spirits. How did I know? Pretty sure is was a Jesus thing. She became a part of my life at just the right time (my parent’s divorce). She brought a calm and peace that carried me through some very difficult, lonely times. Hmmm…she may not even know that. But I thank God for her every day. She was Jesus to me. And don’t even get me started on her family!

Ashlee: Stephanie Rutan was my childhood best friend. We bonded over big glasses and bead lizards. She and I remained friends all through high school. We moved through all the typical teenage phases together. We followed all the rules together, and then broke them all. We went through our first boyfriends and break ups. We became distant throughout college, with only a few visits here and there. I am so glad that after college she and I reconnected. We were able to make up for lost time so quickly. There is something so beautiful about being known and deeply loved by someone who knew and loved you in middle school. Becoming distant during such formative college years has made this new phase of our friendship such a beautiful thing.

Jessica: I had a few good friends growing up but they all ended badly so my looking back version of the relationship is skewed. I don’t have any “life long” friends.

Amber F.: Elizabeth

Erica: Heather Baldridge

Brett: I don’t have just one best friend from childhood. I made friends easily as a kid and had many of them. My mom used to joke that I could make a friend in the bathroom. One time, I did.

Allie: Kristen Koenig (her maiden name) and I became friends in third grade, based mostly on the fact that we loved Point of Grace and were over-achievers and teachers’ pets. Apparently that was enough, because we stuck it out through middle school, high school, and were in each other’s weddings. 

When you were small what did you want to be?

Maria: A teacher

Meg: I wanted to be a lot of things, but I think I wanted to be a teacher the most. Some of the closest relationships I have had in life have been with educators. One of my college professors actually married my husband and I. I guess from an early age I felt like if I could be that difference for one student, I will have honored my previous teachers. Does that make sense?

Kristen G.: Teacher. But that’s all I knew :)

Emily Y.: A Pediatrician.

Kristen K.: At age 7 I decided to be an actor because I was shy in real life, but not shy on stage. This is still true.

Hayley: A mermaid.
Reality set in eventually. Sort of. Explorer, teacher, abandoned in the jungle, a fairy, a lost boy, a newsboy. Then I learned about acting.

Ashley L.: I had all the usual little girl dreams, including a figure skater, ballerina, actress, and singer, but I finally settled down and told my parents that I just wanted to be a professional. It didn’t matter what occupation it was, as long as I was a professional. For awhile in elementary school, there was a waitress at Pizza Hut that I really liked, so I wanted to be a professional pizza waitress.

Allison: When I was a kid I wanted to be one of three things: A ballet dancer, a singer, or a counselor. I have since abandoned the first two dreams, but it is quite possible I will become a therapist one day. I plan to apply to a Social Work grad program next fall.

Danee: A librarian. I loved the idea of being surrounded by books and I thought librarians must get to read all day. Instead, I became a perpetual student, and haven’t had nearly as much time to read for fun as I thought that would afford me.

Amber S.: A meteorologist. Then an accountant. What a weird kid.

Rebekah: A missionary and a scientist.

Emily L.: Many things-a teacher, waitress, mom, brain surgeon.

Alex: Happy. Being a queer kid growing up in the Bible Belt of Missouri during the 90s wasn’t fun. This isn’t to say I had a horrible life. It just means I was aware before I could articulate the details that I was different. I grew up watching my brother be called a ‘fag’ for the smallest things that had nothing to do with his orientation. If my straight brother was attacked I was certain this was what would happen to me as a person that was different. I knew that my lack of heteronormative behavior resigned me to suffer at the hands of others if I was authentic. Thankfully the world is changing and my parents did/do a great job of supporting me and attempting to understand.

Laura: A boy. Or a dog. Or (more realistically) a veterinarian.

Dana: I desired to be an artist of every possible facet. It’s the first thing I can recall. I think the artisan in me has flourished each day ever since.

Ashlee: I can’t remember wanting to be anything other than a teacher. I really wanted to be a truck driver, but my parents quickly discouraged that dream!

Jessica: When I was small I wanted to be an archeologist.

Amber F.: A teacher

Erica: A police officer. They rescued me many times from some serious home situations. I respected them, a lot.

Brett: I always wanted to be an author. Before that, I wanted to be a bird.

Allie: My young career ambitions stemmed from my involvement in Science Olympiad (yes, big nerd). In middle school I wanted to be an astronomer, but I often got the terminology mixed up and would say astrologer. Then I wanted to get into forensic chemistry. 
If you could have one super power, what would you want?

Maria: To fly!

Meg: FLIGHT! I would love to fly. I often dream that I can :)

Kristen G.: To be “ready” in the morning with the snap of my fingers. Showered, hair done, etc

Emily Y.: MEAT VISION. No, just kidding. That’s actually kind of gross. This question is hard, because I want to say something like invisibility or flying or reading minds, but if I was a witch in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world, I could do all these things if I worked hard enough or studied enough, probably.
I think I would like my super power would be to be Hermione Granger.

Kristen K.: Pee money. The more water I drink the more money I have.

Hayley: Adoptive muscle memory. That’s the ability do a thing after you’ve seen someone do a thing.

Ashley L.: If I could have any superpower, I would want the ability to transport myself anywhere with the flick of a finger.

Danee: To control my dreams. I love being able to see and speak to my deceased relatives in my dreams. It always feels so real and so comforting. I wish I could visit them every night!

Amber S: Teleportation, for sure, if that’s a super power. The ability to instantly be in the middle of a quiet forest, or in a busy city, or at that cafe for the perfect cup of coffee.

Rebekah: Long-distance teleportation

Emily L.: Difficult question because I feel like many super powers aren’t applicable in every day life(I’m practical like that), but I guess the power to transport anywhere quickly would be most convenient

Alex: Does being Sylar count as one or is that cheating? Too bad.

Laura: Teleportation. Seriously. Could you imagine? “I’m spending the afternoon in Italy…”  :)

Dana: Am I allowed to say that I don’t think I’d want one? After careful consideration, I think this would probably be best. I first thought I’d love the power of healing at my fingertips. But then, I’m not God. And the weight of that kind of responsibility–I don’t know if I could rule that gift wisely. I think the humility of such a power would wear off, and my ego would get in the way. So…
Maybe flight. I’d like to fly.

Ashlee: Being able to talk to and understand animals. God, I want to know what Izzo is thinking.

Jessica: If i had a super power I would want to know what other people are really thinking.

Amber F.: Invisibility

Erica: The power to make anyone feel better

Brett: The power of invisibility. I know I would get into lots of trouble though.

Allie:  It’s a toss up between time travel and teleportation. 

What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

Maria: walk in the boys locker room while they were all naked (total accident of course!) ha but seriously, going to my parents funeral and walking in the hospital to see my brother in a coma after a plane crash. Never been so scared in my life.

Meg: This last year, I watched my godmother be taken off life support. I knew it was the right thing to do, and she would have been glad to know she was surrounded by those who loved her, but it was maybe the scariest moment of my life. I’m still trying to pinpoint how life exists without her.

Kristen G.: I don’t know. Can’t think of a thing. What does that mean?

Emily Y.: Interviews for PA school. You put everything about yourself that “matters” on an application. They see everything you have worked so hard for your whole life. GPA, GRE scores, a personal essay about what matters to you. Then you go in and they evaluate you. On paper, by how you look, by how you speak, byy what you say. And the whole time you are just hoping and praying that the picture they get of you is how you actually are…but you know it won’t be, because that’s not possible. You spend a TON of money on this process. And then you wait and wait and wait and hope someone likes you enough to invite you to go to school to live out your dream. SO MUCH is riding on that process. I mean, I’m good at interviews, and I really don’t mind doing them. I do well in them. My interviews for PA school were no different. But when I stopped to think about the weight of each one, I was totally overwhelmed. I was thinking, “If you screw this up, you have to pick a different dream.” That’s scary.

Kristen K.: Everything.

Hayley: Tell people in my life that I love and need the truth about the things that have happened to me. Not because I believed they wouldn’t love me, but because it’s so scary to say out loud. Still is. Reactions are scary.

Ashley L.: Whenever I have to drive at night while it’s pouring down rain, it’s the scariest thing ever. I have literally cried and prayed, “Jesus, take the wheel” during a bad weather driving experience. Other than that, I would say cutting my long hair into a pixie cut back in 2011. I was used to having my hair to hide behind, so that was scary. Plus, I was worried that I would look like a little boy.

Courtney: Went to the movie theatre to see Wolfman. Duh

Allison: This is a tough question for me. I have always had great difficulty with anxiety and fear. Growing up and through my early twenties even, there were many scenarios that seemed like they were the scariest thing I have ever done. I let fear and anxiety rule my life. In the last 10 years or so, I have been working harder than ever to face my fears and do the things that I am scared of. When I was living in Chicago, I worked at a job that terrified and tortured me on a psychological level for longer than I probably should have. I stayed because I was working with a therapist who encouraged me to push through and because I couldn’t find another job! But I survived and it’s over. I look back on that and I think “if I can do that, I can do anything.”

Danee: I once decided to move to Muncie, Indiana for grad school and within one week, I packed all my belongings in my Toyota Tercel and drove to Indiana with no idea what to expect and no place to live. It was terrifying, and ultimately that decision changed the course of my life in really incredible ways. The most incredible of which was leading me to my partner and my other half.

Amber S.: Anything that involves standing up for myself is absolutely petrifying to me. There have been quite a few moments of that recently that have left me in a constant state of stressful uncertainty.

Rebekah: Stand up for myself during my divorce.

Emily L.: I do tend to shy away from scary things the older I get, but the most recent thing I can think of that I willingly did that was scary was give birth naturally to my children.

Alex: I think the scariest thing for me was being authentic. I spent years lying about the most basic things and having to construct a world where my life made sense in order to survive. There are many people in real physical danger due to their orientation and gender identity on a daily basis but mine was far less physical danger and more the fear of ultimate rejection and disappointing those I loved. Even with people I knew had accepted other LGBT people I always felt I was going to be the exception to their acceptance. Living honestly is hard, especially when the world wants to silence your voice.

Laura: Have a baby.

Dana: Speak my mind. Open my heart. To ones who were entirely capable of destroying both. But in that, there came a great freedom. It continues to make me brave each day. And bold.

Jessica: The scariest thing I’ve ever done was quitting my teaching job when I had no plan. I just knew that I needed to do something different to keep my sanity so I just did it.

Amber F.: Hmm, another hard one. I play it pretty safe, but I’d say getting married and then 15 years later getting divorced.

Erica: Applying for grad school. And actually GOING to grad school.

Brett: I fell off a cliff when I was 18.

Allie: Parenting has been the scariest long-term thing, but I didn’t know it would be this scary when I started. Besides that, I did a six-month youth ministry internship that terrified me. I woke up almost every day scared of what I had to do, even though it was pretty normal stuff for someone in that field. Walking up to high school students I didn’t know during their lunch hour and starting a conversation, learning a culture I was unfamiliar with, and believing I had something to offer on a team of people I respected were just a few of the things that scared me. I left that time of my life feeling like I could do anything because I had to face small but real fears every day. I don’t often feel that confident anymore, and I also think I haven’t pushed myself to risk in that way in a long time. I’m sure there’s a connection. 
What, without fail, makes you cry?

Maria: Wanting to walk in my parents home again and all to feel “normal”

Meg: When people do genuine good deeds. It chokes me up every time and reminds me that humanity still exists.

Kristen G.: Children being hurt – abused – neglected

Emily Y.: Seeing videos of people suffer.

Kristen K.: Little boys who resemble the blonde haired, blue sunken eyed little brother of mine.

Hayley: Strong sibling relationships. In real life. In media. When sisters can’t survive without each other. When one sibling calls another as everything falls apart or comes together. Sobfest.
Xander saving Willow.
Hedwig’s death.

Ashley L.: The song “It is well with my soul.” Listening to it is hard enough, and I can’t sing it all the way through without getting visibly choked up and teary.
So I just remembered another thing that always makes me emotional and choked up…and this one is dumb. The Michael Jackson song from Free Willy. So embarrassing.

Danee: Thinking about all the things my dad has missed out on since he died. I’d say more, but I don’t have any tissues around right now.

Amber S.: I’m not sure if there’s anything that makes me cry every time, but I’d say the one thing I cry about most often is being limited/constricted by life in the city. I grew up spending any day above 50 outside in gardens and barns and my body yearns for that like I never imagined possible.

Rebekah: George Kirk in the opening sequence of the Star Trek reboot

Emily L.: I’m not sure there is an automated cry with me. I tend to be all over the place. Usually something with children growing up or not getting the chance to grow up makes me teary eyed or more recently in my pregnancy induced, hormonal state, I almost always cry during worship on Sunday morning.

Alex: Tons. Some less heavy than others.
-Mufasa dying. Well Simba crying and cuddling after.
-Dawson’s Creek, when Mitch dies or Jen is leaving the video message.
-Grace. From Christ or even just a human whom I have failed in some way reaching out despite the pain to reconcile.
-The mere thought of living a day on this earth without any one of three people. Like panic attack crying if I genuinely think about it. Hopefully we all die in a really fast and easy way together.
-The act of someone harming anyone else. Emotional, physically, sexually, financially, etc. it breaks my heart to watch others have their light stolen.

Laura: Anything to do with military. Particularly all those videos of kids crying and pets rejoicing when their parents come home from deployment. I have no idea why- I never had any personal experience with this. But I cry every single time. Veterans in a parade, my grandpa’s WWII photo album, you name it, I cry at it. And I’m not really a crier.

Dana: Oh my.
Just so many things.
-watching a father love his daughter
-when my soul is beyond satiated in the presence of my Holy Father
-forgiveness
-sweet, unexpected reunions; not even my personal ones. If every day was like the first five minutes of Love Actually? My eyes would be swollen with tears.
-seeing a strong man cry
-AND…the occasional love song that says all the right things. Like–right now–the song “Marry Me” by Train?

Ashlee: Any time they move that bus on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Because I am approaching the end of my twenties, I cry when I work through family of origin issues.

Jessica: The special occasion cards/notes my husband writes always always make me cry

Amber F.: Thinking of my Papa (my mother’s father). He was my “person” and he died 5 years ago.

Erica: Thinking about my childhood dog, Heidi. She changed me.

Brett: My go-to TV shows. The ones that allow me to fall in love with the characters and feel close to them: The West Wing, Californication, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, I’ll stop now so you’re not reading for 2 months.

Allie:  Women and men, boys and girls knowing themselves and finding freedom from gender stereotypes. I recently sobbed while watching the commercial about what it means to run and throw “like a girl.”

Adventure in Pride Goeth Away in the Fall

Autumn is my favorite season. Hands down. That’s true of almost everyone I know, though, with some combination of Summer and Spring in there at second place. Me? Winter kicks it at second place. When everything about the World seems dead on the outside. We look at the World and perceive the Cold from the warmth of our homes. Winter really though is just honest living. It’s life showcasing its Death and Brokenness. Winter is the world saying, “Here I am. This is what I look like without any show. This is me. This is all I have. I’m naked branches. I’m hard ground. I’m brown grass. I’m still, matte water. What you’re seeing is exactly who I am, but I’m going to keep trying and keep living.” How is Winter anything other than beautiful and honest?

Right now, though, I’m Autumn. I’m making a colorful show of my Pain and Failings and the tiny things that make me Me. The tiny things that make feel like I haven’t failed completely. Not yet. But as Autumn rolls in every year it’s only a matter of time before the Winds of Life come in and shake my Leaves from me leaving me cold and bare to the World. It’s a real knock to my already shaky Pride. The funny thing is that it does happen in a semi-seasonal pattern. My Pride takes a hit every year around the same time. Mid-Autumn sets in, and my Heart wanders. I find myself distracted from Life’s greater Purposes and get wrapped up in Pettiness and Pride.

As to my Pride, I’ve a funny sense of it. I present a comedic Pride. A sort of this-is-me-saying-how-awesome-I-am-for-a-laugh-knowing-full-well-I-don’t-remotely-believe-that-and-I-can-see-you-don’t-either Pride. While the rest of my actual Pride looks a lot more like me doing the best I can just to keep myself together. A silly goal. That’s not my job. I’m not meant to hold the World together. That’s a job for Christ made possible through his blood. As Life’s struggles pull at me and tear away any sense of self I have, Christ’s blood pours into the cracks and reminds me that Darkness is not my identity. In fact, the Darkness that I so often let define me is the very thing I should be running from. Christ has given us a beautiful opportunity to step into the Light, naked as Winter.