Monday, June 26, 2017

What God Has Done For Me

Our rector, Robert Fruehwirth, challenged us to craft one sentence to describe how God has impacted us personally. I’ve been pondering that. God has done so much in my life, it’s difficult to boil it all down into one sentence. I had my first experience with God when I was just 9 years old. Ever since then, my relationship with God has been as real and powerful to me as my relationships with people. God got me through the horrors of junior high. God kept me sane during the stresses of high school and college. God patiently guided me to end my engagement to a man I would’ve been desperately unhappy with as a husband. In my mid-20’s, God guided me through the complete dissolution of my persona and ego, and brought me forth as a different and much happier person. God has guided my career path step by step, speaking in the inaudible and unmistakable voice, fulfilling the promise in Isaiah to always be at my right hand, telling me where to go. God gave me a miracle when I was 30. I have sought wisdom, and God has answered, just as promised in James. Not that I’m some kind of wise guru, but I do have much greater insight than I would without my faith.

But throughout it all, God has been guiding me into one powerful fruit of the Spirit: love. 

Love for my enemies. Love for tyrants, oppressors, abusers. Love for perpetual victims, back-stabbers, and gossipers. And not that whole “love the sinner, hate the sin,” kind of love either. More of a “there but for the grace of God go I” kind of love. A love that acknowledges and understands that I am a tyrant, an oppressor, an abuser, a perpetual victim, a back-stabber, a gossip. A love that is deep enough to forgive myself each day and step back into God’s grace.

So what has God done for me? God has given me the strength and humility to love each and every life on this planet.

A post like this is always a risk. I feel timid to share it. Because everyone who knows me knows a time that I have NOT been loving. I am not perfect, and I have not loved all others as myself. And I haven’t always loved myself either. I don’t post this to be holier than thou, because I’m not. On the other hand, I want to share this, because the ability to love each and every person in the world is a great gift. It’s painful. It’s difficult. It’s heart breaking. And it constantly forces me to confront my own sinfulness. Sometimes I go too far and get taken advantage of. Sometimes I set a bad boundary, and hurt someone else. The only thing that makes it bearable is God’s grace. I know that every second, I can repent and turn to God and be washed clean. And that I will have the strength from that grace and forgiveness to turn and ask for forgiveness.

So, what has God done for you?

Friday, June 23, 2017

My Summer Fix!

Well, Stitch Fix has done it again! They sent me another fabulous Fix that captures my style perfectly.
Stitch Fix is a shopping service that sends you 5 items of clothing (including shoes and accessories) once a month, once a quarter, or whenever you schedule a Fix. You tell them your style preferences and sizes, and pay a $20 styling fee for each Fix. That fee is applied to the price of whatever you keep, so if you send everything back, you only pay $20. All shipping is free. In addition, they brilliantly give you a 25% discount off the total price if you purchase all 5 items. And don’t worry about being pregnant or plus sized, or male. They serve all humans!

My last Fix was very pretty, but I ended up only keeping two items. For this fix I was hoping for some dresses, especially a maxi dress, and I got exactly that.

First, the Loveappella Aleicia Knit Maxi Dress.

This dress is everything a summer dress should be. 

It feels like wearing a nightgown. It has short sleeves and is floor length, which makes it a great option for days when you haven't shaved in a while. And I love the color and pattern, especially the paisley at the the bottom. I predict that I will wear this dress way too often for true fashion. Price $74, size Medium

Second, the Collective Concepts Suri Dress.

This blue floral dress is so much fun! 

I’m not a fan of the hi-low hemline, but this hemline is more like a shirt tail, being slightly shorter at the sides. I like that it has that modern effect of the uneven hemline without being so trendy. Plus it flares out when I spin, and when I wear it, I want to spin! I think it needs a belt, and was surprised that it didn’t come with a belt or even belt loops. I tried four different belts with it. Which one do you think is the best? Price $78, size Medium.

Third, a gorgeous Renee C Elvira Lace Pencil Skirt. 

I love me a good pencil skirt, and this one is delightfully stretchy. Plus the blue lace overlay is beautiful and elegant without being stuffy. I am wearing the waist a bit higher than I normally do, because I like the hem of my skirts to fall just beneath my knee. I paired it with a white sleeveless top which I tucked in, although normally I don’t tuck. For hanging out I can add my Kelly green cardigan, and for more formal events I can wear my pretty white lace blazer. Definitely another keeper. Price $54, size Medium.

I also got two blouses which I like, but I’m not sure if I LOVE them.

The first blouse is a Black Tape Carliton Reversible Blouse in black, size Medium, $54. I must confess, I don’t see how this is reversible. When I turn it inside out, the tag shows on the back. Should I be turning it back to front? Also, this shirt means no bra. I could wear a strapless bra, but I find those uncomfortable and not flattering. Ever since breastfeeding, I need some lift, y’all. I’m torn on the whole non bra thing. I like to be "free" when I’m doing hot gardening work in the summer. But out in public? The saving grace is that this is a black top, so it’s not super obvious that I’m letting it all hang out. And the neckline is high enough that when I lean forward there isn’t any indecent exposure.

The second blouse is a feminine Brixon Ivy Alessandria Crochet Bib Lace Top, size Medium, $54. It has a built in undershirt with nice snaps to hold the undershirt straps in place. I have a good sense for how this will work because I have another Brixon Ivy shirt with built in undershirt. This blouse is a bit lower cut than I normally go for, but I added a pretty turquoise necklace and I think it looks good. The lace is soft and very elastic. It will dress up shorts very nicely, and it’s a good piece for the summer because it covers my arms when I’m in an AC icebox.

So, what to keep and what to send back!

The two dresses and the skirt are 100% keepers. That brings my subtotal to $206, less the styling fee of $20, for a total of $186. I really like the white lace blouse, which brings the total to $230. But if I keep the black blouse too, then I’ll get a discount. The subtotal would be $314, minus the 25% discount of $78.50 and the styling fee of $20, for a grand total of $215.50. In other words, if I keep both blouses, I spend less money! I’m definitely leaning towards keeping all 5. The black blouse is a little out of my comfort zone, but it’s good to try new things!

So, do you need a Fix now? Use my referral link!

Also, if I did decide to return anything, I would simply put it inside the provided mailing bag and place it in my mailbox. Simple!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Are You Willing to be Wrong?

Are you willing to be wrong? 

Not wrong like bad, or failed, or screwed up, or wicked. Just wrong as in a mistake. I bet you aren't. I know I'm not. One of the things we cling to the tightest is being right. We believe that when a person is right, they are good, and when a person is wrong, they are evil.We may know this isn't always true, but that gut response is part of what keeps us desperately clinging to being right, all the time.

We’ve all felt the sting of injustice. We’ve all experienced consequences or punishment that was unjust, and that’s another reason why it’s so difficult to let go of being right. Because if you let go of being right, then maybe whatever happened to you wasn’t unjust after all!

When I was a kid, I was in the school’s gifted and talented program. This meant that I had to leave my home class room and go to the gifted room periodically. The schedule wasn’t in sync with the rest of the school, for whatever reason, which meant that I was responsible for watching the clock and leaving my room on my own initiative. No one came and got me, no one reminded me, and our gifted time came out of our regular class time. Looking back, it was a pretty screwed up system!

So one of these days, I lost track of the time. I was in third grade, working on an assignment, when I suddenly realized that I was late to the gifted time! I hurriedly put my things away and rushed to the classroom. The gifted teacher called me to her desk.

“Why are you late?” she asked.

“I, um, I didn’t know what time it was.”

“Don’t give me an excuse. Tell me why you are late.”

“I wasn’t watching the clock…”

“No excuses. Tell me the reason.”

“Umm, I don’t know. I, uh, I forgot?”

I was utterly baffled. I didn’t know what she wanted. I tried to explain what had happened, but she brushed my explanation aside. In the end, apparently she wanted me to say that I had forgotten the class, which I had. She didn’t want to hear justifications or excuses.

You may not like her method (and I still feel the sting of anger about this story), but she had a point. I had made a mistake and was in the wrong.

I’m not really sure what she was trying to do. What she did was make the gifted class a place I hated to be.

But I was just doing what I had learned how to do: hide the fact that I was in the wrong.

Because it doesn’t matter what kind of parenting methods you use, or what religion you grew up with, or how your parents modeled conflict resolution. Raising a child means telling that child s/he is wrong about something, and enforcing the consequences of mistakes. Everyone learns that mistakes and wrongness equal unpleasant experiences. So we shy away from admitting our mistakes. We justify our actions.

Admitting we’re wrong, at its most basic level, opens us up to potential suffering. On top of that, there are layers of morality: is our wrongness a sin? There are social concerns: is our wrongness going to embarrass us? There are remembered injustices: if I’m wrong about this, did I deserve all the bad things that happened to me? We grow up thinking that if we are right in what we do and say, we can avoid pain.

But clinging to being right all the time does nothing to keep us safe from pain. 

In our struggle to be right, or at least appear right, we destroy relationships. We fail to find compromises. We lose the ability to understand different points of view. We demonize those who are different from us (Facebook politics, anyone?).

Being right all the time also destroys us personally. We must constantly assess our actions and justify them. When we make a mistake, we worry about how to hide it, fix it, or justify it. When we are publicly wrong, we suffer from humiliation and often our self esteem falls because it is so conditional. We seek out affirmation from others of our rightness instead of finding our identity in ourselves.

Release of being right is one step on the path to wisdom and wholeness. And I could be wrong about that, and that's OK.