Remember that our lives matter. Remember to be more human – to loved ones, neighbors, and strangers alike.

EUGENE CHO

robin-williams-cover-ftr

It feels awkward and even a bit inappropriate to be talking about ‘celebrity news’ when so much is going on around the world: Iraq, refugees in Syria, children stranded at borders, Michael Brown’s death and Ferguson, Ebola, Ukraine, and the list tragically goes on.

But then again, it feels appropriate because it’s another reminder of the fragility of our humanity.

By now, most of you know that Robin Williams past away today (August 11). His life ended way too short at the young age of 63 – apparently because of suicide. While this was news to me, Robin had been struggling with intense depression – especially as of late.

To be honest, I don’t get caught up too much on celebrity happenings mainly because there’s not much genuine connection. I don’t really know them personally. Make sense? Robin Williams’ death – on the other hand – just felt like a…

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Dance-The Secret Place

As some of you know, I often find myself dancing when I am in church. I started praise dancing when I was young-perhaps about ten. It is something that I stopped doing for a while, and then when I got to college going to a charismatic church in Kenosha it has been drawn out of me more. A friend once asked me what goes through my mind when I dance. Another friend has asked me why I dance. I often hear people say that dancing is fun. And it is very true. When I have been really stressed or not doing well, often times dancing makes me feel all the more better. But that is not why I get up and dance on Sunday mornings. For me, it’s so much more. It’s a way of praying, but at the same time it’s beyond that as well. When I dance, I hate that there are people watching me. I really do. Granted, I have never enjoyed such attention. Recently, a friend of mine wrote a song called, Secret Place. It’s about finding that one place of intimacy with God that is a place for just you and Him. In a lot of ways, that is what dancing is for me. It’s about being in that secret place with God where no one else is. It’s about declaring a love for Him that goes beyond my words. It’s about ushering in His presence in a way that I cannot express with lyrics. It is a psalm in itself; it is a most intimate prayer. It is where my heart and soul find the most freedom. It is where I can bring every care, every petition, every need into the throne room of God. It is where every fear I have and once had is faced, conquered, and melted away. It is where I am born; it is where I die. It is a language I long to learn; one that I long to teach others. This may seem overly romanticized, but this is what dancing is for me. It is my secret place. It is my loudest declaration. And I hope that someday, dear friend, that you will join me in finding your secret place and dancing before the Lord. 

Give More Hugs Daily

I vote we all take this as scientifically accurate. 🙂

But really though, as someone who has a love language of physical touch, whether I’m happy, sad, or neutral, hugs are a great way to communicate to me that you care. And they’re a great way to communicate in general and the world needs more people who hug as opposed to give handshakes or head nods to say hi, bye, I love you, I’ve missed you, I care about your well being, I’m glad we’re friends, I’m sorry for your loss, etc. (this is not to say other love languages or expressions of physical touch are less than. This is just a promotion to give more hugs) 🙂

Recovery From Perfectionism

Perfectionism says you’ll never, ever be good enough no matter how hard you try, but you should keep trying cuz why would you willingly accept less than perfect? Less than perfect is not THE BEST and you have to get THE BEST even though no one can. Yet you think you can. So when you can never get there, you start to get down on yourself. You start to feel worthless. You start to feel like you will never be good enough for yourself, for others. You start to feel like a failure even when you’ve done a kick butt job. Others around you will tell you to stop being so hard on yourself. But they don’t get it. They don’t understand. YOU NEED TO BE PERFECT!!!!! It’s engraved in your thinking you can’t just stop! No, it’s never that easy; never that simple; it’s always a process. It’s a process we need to start. Cuz if we don’t, we’ll stay in that pit of worthlessness and depression. We’ll stay in that feeling of thinking “we’re never good enough” or “we’re never enough, period.” If we don’t start, we’ll continue to miss the numerous successes that we’ve had and will have in life because we counted them as failures when they didn’t live up to an impossible or downright ridiculous standard. (Notice the words IMPOSSIBLE/RIDICULOUS STANDARD.) What if we replaced the word impossible with realistic? What if we stopped agonizing, obsessing and cringing at every single mistake? What if we started accepting our flaws and shortcomings? What if we started celebrating at bringing home an A or B instead of crying because it wasn’t an A+? Isn’t it better to love yourself for being human than hating yourself for not being God? 
(Thoughts from a recovering perfectionist. Do with them what you will.)

Passion

When you are passionate about something, it is not merely something that you care about. It is something that strikes you to the very core of your being. It is something that strikes you in the pit of who you are. When you are passionate about something, seeing it decimated causes cracks to form in your heart. Sometimes you get a mixture of white hot fury, sadness, and even joy. You become angry when people tell you to “chill out” or when they call your something “less than,” “not important,” or “not that big of a deal.” You can feel sadness and even pity because of those around you who cannot see its value, and deep down inside you cannot shake the thought that they are missing out. When you feel joy it can be because either you see other people around you start to get ahold of the untamed fire that’s been raging in your belly, or you start to see positive change happening in that thing you love so dearly. Passion is so powerful, because even if the emotions fade, you still hold the convictions of your thing, whatever it may be in the forefront of your mind and in the marrow of your bones. Even after the sun has gone down your mind will not let you stray from that conviction that holds you so tightly to what it is you do. Passion goes far beyond caring about something. You can care about something and not have a passion for it. E.g. I care about the fact that our education system in many ways fails its students. But I am not passionate about it. You don’t find me at the rally of every PTA meeting. You don’t find me in the classrooms teaching, to try to make a difference that way because that is not where my passion lies. Passion is like love. You don’t do it for the feelings; you’re not in it for the untamed fire. You do it because life without it isn’t much of a life. You do it because you’re driven to like a compulsion. You do it because it is your obsession in the core of your heart, and in the depths of your soul and mind. Passion is what pushes us forward despite the doubts and questions and fears.

A Fair Question

In many ways, I feel rather unqualified to give any type of relationship advice given the fact that I am now almost 23 years old and still single. However, I like to think that seeing so many failed marriages and relationships around me has given me some insight. So, perhaps you won’t write me off just yet, dearest reader? 

In college I was surrounded by girls who were in love with the idea of relationships and love. I wanted to slap all of them. I wanted to slap them because the way that they talked it made it seem like love/marriage/romance was this shiny toy that they had to have. So many people talking about “getting a ring by spring!” or meeting their future spouse at a conference. Whenever people around me start talking about this I never contribute to the conversation. It’s just not something that I like talking to a group of people about, even if I’ve known them for a couple years. It’s nothing personal. Just, not a me thing. But one thing that I’ve noticed and I feel bears some thinking about is the romantic way my friends, classmates, co-workers, and society in general through movies and books, etc. present love. I once heard it said that our society doesn’t love love. It loves the idea of love. I find this to be very true, and one question I feel is fair to ask is meant to challenge our mindset. Yes, part of being in love is going on romantic walks on the beach at sunset (if that’s your thing), going to the movies, a warm kiss at midnight, etc. But the part that is often swept under the rug is the fact that relationships are work. Relationships aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes there are cloudy days. Sometimes there are cyclones. When you’re in an intimate relationship (intimate as in one where you truly show who and what you are, not having sex), you’re going to find yourself in these cyclones. And you’re not always going to handle them with the grace of a ballerina. Sometimes, the cyclones bring out a side to you that you may prefer to keep hidden. As opposed to putting up a front or a mask to try to make yourself seem “perfect” to the person you are involved with, what if we tried something different? If you are single and thinking about being in a relationship with someone, here is a fair question to ask yourself before you ask them on the first date: can I share my demons with this person? I’m not saying share as in you’ll both have them. I’m saying share as in will you be honest and say there is this side of me, there are these dark things in my past that I’m not too proud of. Now, granted, it’s probably not a good idea to share all your skeletons on the first date. But it is a good idea to enter into a relationship knowing that there are going to be times when the side of you that you aren’t so proud of is going to come out. And it’s I think healthy to confront that right away lest you give yourself or your partner the idea that you will have this perfect relationship because the only thing you’ll ever have to worry about is the occasional white lie.

 

Disclaimer: In terms of the skeletons in our closets, one should always use discernment as far as when to share what. I’m not going to tell you what is or is not acceptable to be upfront and share right away. An example of when or what kinds of things would be talked about would be in the “boundaries” discussion. 

Guilt and Shame

The past couple of days I have battled with lust, and lost. Not in a huge way, but still, I lost. Whenever this happens I am so ridden with guilt, and that guilt hinders me. It will keep me from praying, keep me from reaching out, and/or keep me from praying for my future relationship and eventual marriage. I had a revelation today. Just because I lose a battle it doesn’t mean I stop fighting. Guilt/shame are partners in crime with lust. It’s like lust is the mob boss and guilt and shame are the flunkies that are around to make sure the job is finished. Their job is to keep me down if I’ve been knocked down. They’re around to keep me distracted from this battle and the others that go on around me that need my attention. And that’s how Satan traps us. Or rather, how he keeps us trapped. It’s like when you’re playing football, and in the middle of the season you’re playing, you drop a crucial pass and your team has lost the game, and a few days or weeks later, you’re still so upset about it that you’re moping when you’re at practice, and you’re so afraid of screwing up again that you fail to take the time to practice. You stop believing in yourself. You fail to look at it and learn from the mistake. You fail to truly move on because you’re stuck in the past; stuck in that one mistake. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m saying all this not to say, “oh, it’s okay. You know what, you’re forgiven, okay. Calm down it’s all right.” I’m saying it’s important to forgive yourself; to give yourself grace, and just because temptation is not around for the moment, it does not mean that the fight is over. You lost one battle. Get up. Dust yourself off, and get ready for the next round. Tell guilt and shame to get out the door. Did you hear me? I said, “TELL SHAME AND GUILT TO GET THE HECK OUTTA HERE!!!” Don’t let them hold you down any more! Don’t let them win. Don’t let them keep you from the fight! If you stay in that hole, tell me something, will you ever truly achieve what you’re fighting for?

Burned Out

I had a bit of a revelation tonight. I was reflecting on my time at Carthage, and comparing it to my time now. And I took a minute and asked myself a very important question: do I miss InterVarsity? This question came with mixed emotions. I think I’ve finally gotten to a point where I can honestly say I’ve been able to let go. Considering this was one of my greatest challenges leaving college, I’m rather pleased that I can say this. What I’ve decided is that while I do miss being heavily involved in a ministry and mentoring people and such, I am grateful to be on a break. My senior year, I did a lot in terms of IV, in terms of school, in terms of well, life. I was constantly pouring so much out, and even though I had a small group that I went to, even though I went to church most Sundays and prayed and had quiet time most everyday, I still burned out. I still exerted much more than what was being put in. I was constantly going in five different directions at once, and even though I absolutely loved what I was doing, it was too much all at one time. And in the end, I burned out. And I stayed burned out. And my friends and classmates burned out. And they all stayed burned out. In a previous post I talked about wanting to be involved in full time ministry. That desire still remains. But what I’ve realized tonight is just how much I have lacked balance in my life. I’ve realized that this time I’ve had these past several months has been a time for me to rest, recharge, and to see the importance of being filled/poured into as well as pour out. I’ve been learning to not go in five different directions at once, and to put more value on just spending time alone. This time has reinforced for me just how important it is to have accountability in my life and also to have someone who can and is willing to meet one-on-one with me and pour into me. I’ve  had a wonderful time of rest and introspection. I almost don’t want it to end. But alas, I find myself wanting to find ways to get more involved in the lives of the people around me. I find myself wanting to find ways to pour out and to sow the see I’ve received. At the same time, there is so much caution. My next step is to find how to do this without burning myself out again. So, yeah, that’s where I’m at. Cheers!

Some Honest Thoughts About Modesty

It’s not like me to do stuff like this, but I’ve just gotta get this one off my chest.

Recently I came across an article entitled Sincerely, One of Many Girls Who Care. The article starts off as an apology letter to men for the immodesty of women today (or to put it bluntly, slut shaming). When I first started reading through this, I thought “okay, let’s see where she goes with this.” The blogger writes about the temptations that men face on a day to day basis from the way women are dressed when they’re on the beach to the ads of half naked women plastered across internet screens and TV commercials. After talking about how hard men have it, she goes on to encourage the male population to keep resisting temptation. She shares encouraging words as well as scripture, and ends with a big thank you to men who are striving for purity. While I appreciate the sentiment behind her writing this article, and while I do greatly appreciate, respect, love, and care for men who are striving for purity and I also encourage them to keep pursuing God seeking holiness, I hate this blog post. I hate it because it is one of many sources that I have found that takes modesty and turns it into something that only women need to practice, and more so, something that women need to practice for men. (I feel it important to disclose that the remainder of this blog is going to be talking about modesty; not so much the blog post mentioned above.) While I do see the well intent behind this, at the end of the day I find this viewpoint (in particular the second one) to be quite harmful. Here’s why:

1) Saying that women need to be modest to help men out adds to the tired and harmful excuse of “boys will be boys.” By saying that women need to be modest for men it is suggesting that men have no control over themselves or how they react to a woman. By taking accountability away from men in this aspect, one gives excuse or pardon to men for how they treat and act towards women from how they look at them or talk to them to what they do physically. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young woman is dressed for a day at the beach. A couple of men take notice of the fact that she is wearing a bikini. They start whistling and making rude comments. She is with her sister who shrugs and says, “boys will be boys,” and her mother who says, “if you don’t want them to make comments, you shouldn’t dress that way.” She is doing nothing provocative. She merely put on a swimsuit to hang out on the beach with her family and maybe even get a tan in the process. Yet her mother calls her immodest and the blame is put on her for the rudeness of a few men who are more than capable of not doing this. Sound familiar? How about this one: a young teenage girl wearing shorts that come to her knees, a blouse with two tank tops, and a pair of sneakers walks by. She happens to be a little larger and her cloths fit around her snuggly. A teenage boy watches her walk by and is staring at her buttocks. His mom, noticing this runs up to the girl and begins to scold her for being so immodest. She then returns to her son and they both walk away. Notice how in this scenario and many real life experiences the young man is not disciplined or spoken to about this. No, he is just an innocent victim here. And now the young woman is blamed for the action of said man, when she had absolutely no control over it. Which brings us to our next point.

2) We (largely in Christian and other religious communities) put pressure on young women to dress modestly for the sake of men. How about taking the time to explain to young men not to objectify young women? How about taking the time to explain to our men from the time that they are teenagers that women are not sexual objects? How about teaching them to value and respect women? How about explaining to them that no matter what happens, they are responsible for their own actions. And, while we’re at it, how about explaining to them that they are not entitled to a woman’s body in any way shape or form, no matter what the circumstances.

3) Saying that women should be modest for men puts it in women’s heads to spend too much time worrying what other men think of them. When girls are teenagers, do we not tell them not to worry about what boys may think of them? Do we not tell them that what a boy thinks of them is irrelevant to the fact that they are beautiful and that their self worth should not be measured by what a guy thinks of them? Why then do we turn around with this rule of women should help out men by putting it back into their heads what males could be thinking about them while they’re wearing x, y, or z?

4) Making women dress so “as not to arouse men” perpetuates rape culture. Rape culture is defined as “a concept that links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate and even condone rape.” ** Now, I can go on for another few paragraphs or even pages about rape culture, and explaining how our society has become so much like it. I do think it somewhat necessary to get my point across on the matter, so below I will post a few links explaining. For now I will say that rape culture is prevalent where we live because often times the conversations that we have with our children when they are older is that men are extremely sexual and women aren’t. That men expect sex and ladies, if you don’t want to give it up, don’t do this, this, or that. Don’t wear skirts that are too short even if you have leggings on underneath. Don’t go out alone at night unless you’re carrying pepper spray. Don’t lead a man on. Don’t flirt. Don’t do this or don’t do that because otherwise you are asking for it. I personally, would like to see that conversation change. I personally would love it if the prevailing narrative was not “hey women, don’t get raped” and if it instead was, “hey, we should stop bringing up our boys to expect or even demand sex.” What if we did that? What if we talked to our boys about entitlement? What if we spread a message of love, appreciation and respect for our young women? What if we stopped treating women like they are a temptatious curse that needs to be bottled up and hidden away?

5) I do not believe that women should be modest for men. I believe that women can put into practice modesty for themselves. I believe that modesty is so much more than what a woman wears. It’s about how she acts in what she wears. We as women, more often than not are force fed this sexualized image of what a woman should dress, act, and be like. But we are so much more than sexual beings. One of the deepest longings of my heart is for we as women (and for men too) to see ourselves as such. As being made for more than ogling, sexual metaphors, and physical pleasure. Women are strong, powerful, and beautifully made in His image. When did we start disregarding that for a cheap sexualized icon?

If you’re still with me here, I have listed five main reasons for why I think women being modest for men is a harmful rule. But as I think about modesty, I find myself asking a very big question: is modesty simply something women can do, or is it something for men to practice as well? To be honest, that is potentially a blog post for another day. (mostly because I’m getting tired but also because that is something to chew on a bit more.) With that in mind, I think I will bring this post to a close. Have a good night dear reader and friend.

 

** P.s. If you wish to learn more about rape culture, here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture