Monday, December 19, 2011

Thoughts for My Em (On Being a Girl)

When I was in third grade I became an entrepreneur for a short time. My elementary school bookstore sold NFL pencils that the boys went crazy over. For some reason I was in possession of one of these pencils when some little boy said he'd give me a dollar for it. Cha-ching. I was no dummy. I knew I could march on down to that bookstore and buy ten pencils for that price. I took my dollar and matched it, buying a whole box of these coveted NFL pencils. Now, I can only assume since many of the boys in my class were already using these writing utensils, they knew that they could purchase them for a dime just down the hall. Being the shrewd businesswoman that I was though, by the end of the day my once full box of pencils was filled with over eleven dollars. Boys were literally throwing money at me. And yes, I see the grooming that very well could have happened in that moment had my life taken a different direction. My mom, who must have had visions of this, was horrified when I brought home my dirty money and toyed with the idea of calling these little boys' mothers. Thank goodness she spared me the humiliation and just explained that I probably shouldn't do that again. Whatever, lesson learned, boys are d.u.m.b.

Fast forward to my early years of high school. Every summer my four best friends and I would go to summer camp. At the end of one of our first weeks we all realized that all of our bank funds had been depleted. But, we really wanted to go on an ice cream cruise that night or at least have a pizza delivered to our cabin. One of us had the brilliant idea that we should just ask people to give us money. Maybe we could at least get the pizza. How we underestimated the power of charming smiles and the phrase, "God loves a cheerful giver." Yep. This was what we learned from our week at Christian camp. How to use God and charming smiles to manipulate boys. Putty in our hands. We made enough money for all of us to go on that ice cream cruise and get our pizza. Lesson learned. We possessed a ridiculous power to get boys to do what we wanted with very little effort.

I don't think I ever consciously processed this power that I held, but I do know that sometime during my high school years I did make a decision that I wasn't going to use people this way. I wasn't going to objectify myself to get something I wanted, whether that was possessions, relationships, or just my own way (I'm sure Matt would say I'm still a work in progress with that last one). I think it must have only been through the Holy Spirit's leading in my life. In some ways it cost me. I missed out on a slew of boyfriends, which at times felt like the worst thing in the world. Though in hindsight, I certainly didn't miss much. 

So here's what I want you to know, my Emma. You'll probably discover somewhere along the way that you can very easily manipulate the opposite sex to do what you want them to do. Resist the temptation, my dear. It's so not worth it. You see, you were created in the image of God, and the way of following Him looks different than what you'll hear from t.v., music, and even your friends. Even though Jesus was God, he set aside all his power to come to earth, serve the lowest of the low, and die a criminal's death at the hands of the powerful. He did this to defeat the powers of this world. He defeated the power of sin, so that we wouldn't have to be held captive by it. So we could know God. He defeated the power of death by his resurrection and ushered in a new way of life for those that follow him. He turned the world upside down. He didn't use people to achieve his end. I promise, using and manipulating people will only cause pain. Even when it comes to dumb boys. There will be times when you really like a boy, and there are certain ways you can act or things you can do to get him. To feel wanted. To feel loved. You are amazing and loved just as you are though my sweet, and any boy that fails to see that is not worth your heart. 

There will be times when men will try to have power over you because you are a woman. Sadly, I can almost guarantee it. There will be times when men will look at you as an object instead of a person stamped with the image of God. There will be times, I'm afraid, when you will feel small. Take heart in that this is not how God created things to be, and while He's in charge of our world, he has yet to set all things right. Someday he will though.

There's something I want you to know, my love. If you are a child of God, you do have power. You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, equipping you to live in a way that only He can do. Through His Spirit, you have the power to change the world. People may try to quiet your voice. I pray that you have the courage not to let them. But more importantly than how anyone else responds to you, I pray that God gives you the strength to find your voice and use it to love God and love others. Don't be taken in by the enticement of power. Just know that character is so important, and while it may not get you to the top, it will make it so you can peacefully lay your head down at night. Oh, and for the record, a woman of character does not mean a woman that keeps quiet. Yes, there are times to hold your tongue, but you are the type that has a voice. Use it my love. Use it. Surround yourself with all kinds of people, but make sure you have people close to you that will build you up in becoming the kind, strong, intelligent, and beautiful woman I know you are. I will always root for you. I will always have your back, and I will always understand those days when you feel like it's just not worth it to live like this. 

You're so completely wonderful, my sweet, and I can't wait to see all that your future holds. You're incredible.  And in case you're wondering, this is what I think about as you nap. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Whaaat-Did I Really Just Post a Recipe?

I love sharing conversations with friends over coffee. Except I hate coffee. It's disgusting. I don't understand how people drink the stuff. I've tried so many times to acquire a taste, but it ain't happening. Since I don't want to miss out on the social aspect of coffee drinking, I've found ways to cope. If there's no hot chocolate or other sweet drink available, I do what I can to make sure the coffee tastes nothing like the black bitterness that it really is. When I saw my friend Heather had posted this recipe for peppermint mocha coffee creamer I had to try it. The great thing about Heather is that you can be sure that everything she makes is el natural. She has gone to great lengths to reform her kitchen as her family faces many, many food allergies. She's pretty much amazing. Plus, this recipe also doubles as straight-up hot chocolate, so you don't even need to taint it with coffee nastiness. Tonight I made these for friends, celebrating the many conversations shared over a drink and cultivated my kitchen in this third week of Advent with JOY at the anticipation of our Savior's birth. I even got Matt to join in on the fun. He totally sat in the kitchen and provided Christmas jams to keep my spirits up. Thanks, babe! Domesticity is tiring, you know.

Peppermint Mocha Creamer

{also makes an awesome hot cocoa recipe!}
2 cups of 1/2 and 1/2 (or 1 cup cream with 1 cup whole milk)
*can be substituted for an non-cow’s milk such as unsweetened almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, or coconut milk
3 tablespoons of cocoa
1/4 teaspon peppermint extract
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Let milk gradually come to a simmer from a medium heat in saucepan. Take care with almond milk, if it heats up too high or for too long the flavor changes.
Add the cocoa, peppermint extract, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well incorporated, about 2-3 minutes.
Funnel into storage jar and refrigerate. Lasts 2-3 weeks, keep refrigerated.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Occupy Mojave

My last post was about cultivating the space I've been given, and how I've been trying my hand at all these domestic activities that I normally shy away from. These thoughts sprang from a pretty dry spell. A few weeks ago I turned off my brain. For real. I flipped a switch and was done. I got annoyed at some things and closed my books, my Bible, my brain and my heart. It was my thirty second rebellious streak. I get them every so often. My drug of choice was Hobby Lobby. Ya'll the place is dangerous. I spent $400 as my way of sticking my middle finger to the world. Except it wasn't sticking it to the world. It was sticking it to no one but me. Funny how that usually works. So $375 worth of stuff went back to the store. Eh. Sometimes I can be quietly dramatic, which I've come to believe is the worst kind of drama. It eats at you and makes the world me-centric. It's not a healthy place to camp out.

Sometimes I just like camping though, you know? Wallowing, and wondering, and complaining is just a whole lot easier than stepping out. It's like the whole occupy whatever movement. At first I got it, I saw what they were saying, but there has to come a time when you make your point and just get back to the daily business at hand. Take a step. Even if it's small. Be oh so faithful with the now. Keep having the difficult conversations. Keep being challenged.

Keep. Cultivating.

I remember spewing out paper after paper during college about being a lifelong learner. I'm not sure how much of it I actually believed as I was writing it, but somewhere along the way it stuck. I don't want to settle for ignorance in the midst of abundance. There's hard work to be done that starts in our minds, as God transforms our hearts and then expresses it in our actions.

Ah, thankful that there's still life in the desert.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


What am I doing right now? Crafting.
What will I be doing later? Baking.
What have I been up to lately? Decorating. Well, this one I have to use very, very loosely. It's been more of a process of returning things but I'll get to that. On another day. Maybe.

Here's the thing. I want to cultivate the space I've been given to bless my family and friends. One of my former students recently inspired me with this thought through her grad school application essay. She talked about the symbiotic relationship between an environment and it's inhabitants. Built spaces with intentional designs are usually found in thriving environments. What is one thing you can do if you want to revitalize a neighborhood? Build a playground. Plant flowers. Watch how people grow as their space is cultivated. Some of the most healthy places are those filled with art, music, and beauty. You know, the gravy of life.

So here's the thing, I will never be Suzy Homemaker. Not me, don't want to, won't do it. However, I am committed to serving my family and anyone that enters into our space. Yup. Serving them. As my husband is committed to serving us as well. It will probably take a lifetime to flush out exactly what this means, but I know we are both committed to learning to put the other person first and willing to extend grace to each other as we figure it out. I truly want to be purposeful about this for everyone that walks through our door.

So how does this happen?

Who knows, but it's a nice thought.


I'm still in the process of thinking it through. Here's what I have so far though. The best relationships are fostered through time, commitment, and hard work, but there also must be lots of room for laughter and playfulness. So it is with the space I have to cultivate these relationships. I want to work hard to make it an environment that encourages growth. I want to be intentional. I want to work hard with what I've been given. I have to keep it simple though. I'm easily overwhelmed in these areas. And when I get overwhelmed I shut down. I mean, like serious hairballs in the shower shutdown. Got the visual? Great. So I'm just going to continue to give it a go. We'll see. I'm sure there will be lots of failures, but it's all in the journey, baby.

So here goes...

I want our home to be a place where people feel welcome. Whenever. As I've said before, I miss the days of running down the hall to share a bit of time together. I want our place to be warm, welcoming. And dangit, I want to finish it. One. Project. At. A. Time. Moving into a new place, decorating it, moving out a year later and then moving back in almost another year later is annoying. And great. We were able to get so many upgrades, but mustering up the motivation to start over with a completely different color palette while trying not to spend a lot of money and figuring out a style that we can both agree on has been tough. So, I've avoided it and used it as an excuse not to open our house to people. So lame. Done with that. In the next couple months I will finish my downstairs though. At least fill in the picture frames with blonde haired children that resemble us instead of the muy bonita chicas that currently hang on our walls. Photo shoot on Thursday. Check.

I want the things that leave our home to come from our hearts. I want to give in meaningful ways. If I give a gift, I want it to make the receiver feel loved. And I want my children to be generous. We very clearly saw our lack of success in this area a few nights ago when Matt offered to let one of Em's friends borrow a movie. She threw a royal fit. I mean, with fist pumping and screeching. It was pretty bad, but obviously the concept of a cheerful giver doesn't come naturally to a three-year-old. It doesn't come naturally to me, but this is a huge area that God has been pressing on my heart. It's our job as parents to instill this in our children. I also want to be intentional about what I support with my money. I'm debating staying away from the mall for a while. My problem is that I'm generally content with what I have. Until I enter the mall and see all the things I don't have. What can I say, I love pretty things! This in itself isn't bad, but it's when I start feeling dissatisfied and want more that it becomes an issue. And I don't want to give to big corporations that exploit others so I can save a few bucks to look pretty. Intentional living folks- being accountable for what we know!

I realize I digressed quite a bit, but well, it's late and I've been crafting all day. Love this new excuse. Looking forward to diving into what it means to cultivate my environment in order to build up those around us.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

One Thing I Know

As I pack up her clothes for the passing of another season,
In a flurry to clean up the mess of another day,
I pause for another moment
Thinking of all the hours she spent in those silly dresses,
How much she loved wearing them while I cringed
At her lack of style.
But next season they'll be too small
And will stay in the attic for another time,
For another little girl.
And I'll remember this very minute
Because one thing I know,
The minutes that seem to pass so slowly 
Will quickly turn into years
Making me miss the simplicity of my 3-year old's tutus.