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Archive for the ‘good question’ Category

When I was around 11 or 12 years old, in my childhood living room, my dad taught my brother and I how to protect our faces and deliver a hefty punch, in case we ever got into a fight. (This knowledge was only to be used against meanies, of course). (Which it has, if you must know). Later, in college, I had a punching bag in my room that I frequently used to assuage my frustrated feelings and rattle the hallways of our poor old house. I’ve never been afraid of a fight, even though I consider myself a dreamy/artsy type, hence why the title quote made me smile this week.

I’ve been thinking about dreaming lately, and the fight that it takes to turn a dream into a plan. It’s said that planners marry dreamers, which is definitely true in my life. I’m the spontaneous and overly casual dreamer – I don’t measure when I cook and keeping track of my keys is my biggest daily challenge.  Adam, the planner, makes a carefully printed out and detailed spreadsheet for work-outs, vacations and Big Life Decisions, while I tend to only worry about such silly details 10 minutes before we’re about to embark upon said adventure, at which point I realize that I maybe should have thought this through.

Being with Adam reminds me that I’m not a planner. Honestly, I’m in awe of someone who is so rarely rattled. So, if I’m honest about my own short-comings, I’m completely shocked that my business is thriving. I very nearly break out in stress-related hives every tax season, I have done my fair share of blowing by opportunities and I often make dumb choices. Basically, I’m me and I never realized that I could actually be good at things. I’ve always expected much more from myself, and when I didn’t deliver, I would assume that was just how it was. Punching something, in my mind, only helped me feel better – little did I know that very fight in my heart, and that mere strong-willed determination might be enough to overcome my failures.

I know now that a bit of grit goes a long way, and a good pummeling only makes me stronger. A few tough brawls have taught me that although I’m rejoicing in my momentary success, hard times are just around the corner. That’s what boxing lessons with my dad taught me, anyway, and it hasn’t been disproven yet – don’t ever turn around on your adversary, don’t ever assume you’re safe – fight until you know you’ve won.

As much as I’ve wanted to give up sometimes, I’m glad I’ve learned the art of hunting down my dreams and giving them a stern beating. I have a new, personal goal to achieve and it will take a lot of clobbering to overcome. Luckily for me, I have a deadly right hook.

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I call Adam, tearfully.

Me: “I have a tale of woe. Do you want to hear it?”

Him: “Sure.”

Me, spilling out Tale of Woe with much gesticulation and, well, woe.

Him, calmly and kindly and not hysterically at all: “We’ll figure it out. We’ll see what they say. It’s OK, it’ll be fine.”

***

Why can’t I ever react calmly and not hysterically and more like my wise Hubs?!

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I GOT A REQUEST! You, my people, as much as I love you all, are not always forthcoming when I ask for suggestions and advice, HOWEVER, the lovely Elanor asked me to go searching for hooks for her and her daughter’s aprons, I was all over it.

See, my people? You ask, I give. That’s me, I’m a giver.

Alrighty, then, on to the shopping!

Since the request was for a kitchen-related hook… this lovely number from Anthropologie would be darling:

anthropologie silverware key rack wall hookRight? Silverware? Kitchens? Aprons? It all fits the theme and it makes me want to just dance with happiness! (It’s $40, but think about all the bending of spoons that you won’t have to do!)

Speaking of the whole DIY route, check out these starfish hangars from Etsy, or this KILLER lightbulb from Apartment Therapy, below:

DIY wall hangarsBut you don’t want DIY, do you? This is a shopping blog-post after all. Let’s buy stuff!

I actually own a couple of these babies. In my bower, I used them for towels in my itty-bitty bathroom. Since I moved in here with Adam over two years ago, it’s very normal that these are still stashed next to my dresser instead of hung up somewhere being cute. Nothing like a blog to shame somebody into a little home improvement! Anyhoodle, they’re from Pier One and totes adorbs and only $14.95!

pier one wall hangarsOf course, I also love these from Live Wire Farm. I am a woodsy kinda girl, and these make me want to grow tomatoes and make giant cauldrons of soup for a boisterous family of hungry boys.

handmade wooden hooksSpeaking of being woodsy, I’m also an unabashed cowgirl. These might be overkill for an apron, but who says you can’t brand your kitchen? $18 each from Sundance (and they can be personalized! Extra snazzy.)

brand wall hooksOK, and this one from benfloeter on Etsy was just too kitschy and fun to pass up. You know how I love me some facial hair, so why not put it on my wall?! If it’s good enough to kiss, it’s good enough to hang aprons on, I always say.

moustache key hookAgain, too big for aprons, I know. BUT SO CLASSY. This looks like something from a grown-up house, and I likes it. (Also, it’s priced like something from a grown-up house, but nevermind that. $89.95 from Plow and Hearth.)

mirrored wall hookOK, these last couple I couldn’t get pictures for. But Soda Fountain hooks! Puhleeeeze buy dem. Also, Anthro’s slightly tattered little sister, Urban Outfitters, has a couple of cuties too. (And they have flowers. Bonus!)

Oh, and one last one. This doesn’t work for anything I was entrusted to find, but it is beeeeeyooooootifull. It’s a ski rack. An antique, honest-to-goodness ski rack. I don’t even ski and I think this is the most amazing thing I have ever wanted to spend my entire grocery budget on. Oh, Eddie Bauer, you are a sassy, woodsy, flannel-clad vixen.

ski rack coat rackOk, peeps, it’s all you all over again. What would you like me to shop for next?! I will breathlessly awaiting your suggestions, as will my credit cards.

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So, Adam and I are in the beginning stages of beginning a beginner’s group of married folk at our church. (Because we’re beginners, too, you know. January 2009! Holla!) I get very fired up about marriage, and I’ve written about marriage and relationships and all the mess and beauty of it a lot on Ye Olde Blog.  But I have yet to write a definitive “why” for how it gets me fired up.

Since we’re being asked quite often why we want to start this ministry and what it’s about, I figured it was about time to get my thoughts on paper. (Since I am a Christian, and this is my personal assignment to myself for my church, I’m going to mention God. Sorry if you’re squeamish, but I promise I won’t waggle my finger under your nose if you’re not sure about Him. We can still be friends.)

I think I began realizing how needed this ministry was when we got engaged. I was working in the world of Manly Men and got regularly teased (“First marriage? I’ll give it three years.”) or given advice (“You need a pre-nup.” “You’re getting married way too young, are you kidding me?” “Why don’t you just move in together and try it out first?”). I knew that this feedback was largely tongue-in-cheek or genuinely concerned and not meant to be hurtful, but after a while I wanted to scream, “Marriage is a good thing! How have we forgotten this?!”

Which I think is what bothers me most about today’s view of marriage. We have forgotten that it’s a good thing, and we don’t champion it like we should. In her book, “Committed – a skeptic makes peace with marriage” Elizabeth Gilbert refers to the ne’er-do-well heterosexual American couples who don’t care about marriage anymore and just flit around from relationship to relationship being skeptical of the whole institution and avoiding commitment in general. Her solution is to open marriage up to those who do appreciate it and want in – same-sex couples. While I’m not sure that her logic stands, it’s an interesting argument and one that needs to be taken seriously.

Why have so many young heterosexual couples become the ne’er-do-wells that Gilbert refers to? Why has marriage lost its sheen? More importantly, does it even matter?

I hold that it does. I firmly believe that one man and one woman are meant to marry for life, and that as such we are called to be living pictures of Christ and the Church. (The Church meaning collective Christians, not one church or denomination. Just so we’re clear.) Even though the Apostle Paul waxed eloquent on singleness, it’s not the kind of singleness we think of today. Paul’s singleness was a celibate, serious affair – not the “don’t marry, just party” style we roll with now.

I think that marriage gets a bad rap because, deep down,we are upset by how spoiled it has become. We throw zingers back and forth about pre-nups and age and maturity because we are tired of seeing God’s beautiful picture of love and relationship spoiled time and again.

I’m hoping and praying that this ministry can be a small part of changing that.

I want this new venture to be a safe haven for those excited about their marriages and for those who need help getting excited. I want us to compete with the world in the most incredible way – while so many search for love in hook-ups, we should be a warm, welcoming, living and breathing example of how God’s power makes the impossible possible – how two screwed-up, selfish people can become a beacon of hope to a desperate world. We don’t have all the answers, but we have a God who works in spite of our imperfections and gives us grace to move forward in love.

I get excited when I talk about marriage. I know that God has huge plans for this courageous generation of happily married folk who are swimming against the tide of pop culture. I know that we hold an incredible truth in our relationships, and I know that these marriages can change the world.

Our mission statement (as of this moment on my little soap-box) is to champion these marriages, to give hope to those who are trying to figure the whole relationship thing out and embrace the calling that God gives every married couple  – to love and honor each other as He does us. That’s not a big deal at all, is it?

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Remember that one time when I got published? In a book? (I mean, it was no big thang. Just kidding. I’m ECSTATIC.)

Well, I got interviewed about said published piece, and you get to read about it…. and that’s really all I have to say this morning. (Which lack of creativity brings me to my next point – since this blog has devolved into tired rants and incoherent ramblings and flagrant self-promotion, I’m accepting new blog ideas. Ask me anything. Really. I need y’all.)

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I’m in a new Bible study, that I’ve mentioned before. It’s really great. The gals in it are sweet, sincere, funny and wise, and I love seeing girls of all ages come together. Mandy and I go together to it, which rocks because we have the best conversations ever in the parking garage after, and she makes funny faces in the slow “close your eyes and think” parts.

But I have a frustration. It’s not anything to do with these women in particular, but more with Christendom in general, and our unwillingness to discuss, lest it be seen as fractionalizing or distrust.

We were talking about the concept of God loving in a Song of Song-y way, the idea that He delights over us and knows us intimately and all that.  Which I can totally get behind – I’m not positive that God intended Song of Songs to be a letter to us as much as a picture of marriage, but I guess it doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is, Jesus knows you better than your spouse even could and loves you intimately anyway. Great. If he was supposed to know everything and yet I was able to pull a fast one, that doesn’t say much for Him, does it? So I think if we believe in Omniscience, we can roll with the concept of Lover Jesus, right?

However, we kept pulling out this verse: “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14) Which everyone was insisting that we use to think about what we would want God to “speak tenderly” to us.  So in our moment of silence and reflection, I, Squeaky Wheel Extraordinaire, could not think about any kind of Divine sweet nothings, but rather am wondering why He had to drag me out to the desert to tell me this stuff, anyway. I mean, there is such a thing as candlelight and good pasta, and it’s worked to get stuff said in my relationships, ifyaknowwaddamean.

So anyways, everybody’s talking about all the great things that they want God to say, and I have to pipe up and ask this Squeaky Wheel question. Does God only speak through pain? Even further, does He will bad things to happen that we might listen more closely? I can’t imagine worshiping a God who wills Evil to take its toll, so why do such things happen? If they’re just a sweet nothing device than maybe I’d rather keep my health and leave the pleasantries for heaven, right?

Now please understand. I believe that God is good. And I’m under no illusions that I’m supposed to or even able to figure this all out. But I do want to have the discussion. So after I throw all this out there, our leader says to me, “But Dani, what do you want God to say to you in this?” Of course I have no idea. So she tries again. “What do you want to ask of God?” At this point I’m a little bothered, so I perhaps unwisely blurt out, “I want to know why I’m in the effin’ desert!” Which luckily everybody thought was funny. Whew.

But seriously. Why? I know that our leader was not trying to stifle debate, but this happens all too often in Christian circles, with any mystery being shrugged off as “the wisdom of God is wiser than ours” or some other vague Biblical reference to explain why we don’t know what we don’t know. And it’s OK not to know. But it’s not OK, (at least in my mind) to not be curious.

For example, going back to the desert thing. I’m in love with my fella. Heart and soul, body and mind, I’m as head-over-heels as a wife can get. HOWEVER, if he did something sort of hurtful, or took me somewhere scary, I would need an explanation before the Sweet Nothings could really work in his favor. Right ladies? Your fella is driving you out into the middle of nowhere and runs out of gas. He can’t immediately turn to you and start the hubbahubba-iloveyou business right? You know he’s a good guy, you love him, but you also need an explanation. You need a way out, you need some reassurance. Then maybe you can chat away the night until the tow truck comes and it’ll be a great story for the grandkids.

So I guess that’s what I’m asking about with regards to God. I know it’s not the same, but if we’re going to draw comparisons to Him as a lover, then we are sort of stuck thinking about him in the only way we know how, as a human love.

But anyways. As I read more of Hosea and think about it more, I think I’m OK with the desert. I understand that the “she” of Hosea had wandered away from God in sin, and was taken to the desert to repent. I also know, that, as C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world” and that He uses deserts in our lives to give us clarity and hope. I also know that the desert could be not a bad thing at all, but kind of like going on a camping trip with your Hubby – you know, in the zip-together sleeping bag kind of way.

So there’s a lot of ways to go with this, and now that I’ve spent 900 words and nobody is still reading, I’ll end with the Earth-shattering revelation that I don’t get any of it. Probably will never get even a fraction. But I still want to. I want to be curious. I want to strive for wisdom. I want to get all of these generations represented here to chime in, to tell me to calm down my foolish 26-year-old self. I want to know, and I want to discuss and I want to flex my muscles. I don’t want to be content with not asking… then where will my mind go when my time in desert comes back around? It’s like voting based on whether or not the candidate is good-looking – how can I believe in something unless I know what’s behind it?

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Cowardly Lion: Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?
All: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again! Huh?

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately, since finding this lovely blog devoted to it: Incourage

And I’ve decided that I’ve been thinking about courage all wrong. It’s not one thing, like being tidy or Facing Down Very Bad Things in Large and Courageous Ways. It’s about every little decision I make, every tiny movement toward courage or fear.

As an introvert, it takes courage to extend friendship and trust that it will be returned.

As a writer, it takes courage to believe that I can get published, that all these countless “gigs” will one day add up to something.

As a teacher, it takes courage to study for certification and care about helping my kids learn to ride.

As a wife, a friend, a daughter, a human, it takes courage to love deeply.

As a person, I am shaped by either courage or its absence.

After all, who wants to be a “ricot”?

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