An Open Letter to My 16-Year Old Self

16 candles

Teenage years.  UGH.  No amount of money could convince me to go back there.

Unless it was over a million dollars….. Which I would promptly invest in Yahoo.  Then go hide under a rock during highschool, become a genius, and emerge a semi-functional billionaire adult.

Let’s face it, there’s no solid ground under your feet when you’re a youngster.  Everything is shifting, constantly. Hourly, daily, weekly.  Friend groups, facial acne patterns, curfew rules, personality traits, and just about everything is a fluid concept at that time in your life.

7 things I would say to my former-awkward self:

1. NOBODY. FREAKIN. CARES.  They’re not looking at you.  They’re not counting the pimples on your face.  They’re just counting their own in the mirror, worried about what everyone else is thinking.  They are, however, gauging a general vibe of confidence.  If they sense a crack, they’re going in for the kill to divert the attention from their own pizza-face.

2.  SHUT YOUR MOUTH.  You don’t know anything.  You hear me?  A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  Sorry, but it’s true.  You have guts for days, kid, I’ll give you that, but you don’t know squat about yourself, people, or the relationship between the two.  That’ll change.  Just shut up and listen for… about 5-10 years.

3.  SMILE.  People pay attention to people who smile.  It’s the single most easy way to get noticed, in a good way.

4.  READ YOUR BIBLE.  In order to get to know God better, you must spend time with Him.  There are only 2 ways of doing that.  Prayer is the easiest.  So sit down, and build a habit of uncovering all that He gave us through His Word.  It will never return void.

5. THAT BOY, HE DOESN’T REALLY LOVE YOU. But your Creator does, and He, in fact, invented everything about you that’s cool to begin with.  Don’t waste all that you’ve been given on Captain Cool-Car.

6. SCHOOL IS IMPORTANT.  The purpose of homework is not so much to teach you something specific that you’ll use daily in adult life, but it’s teaching you how to LEARN.  How to absorb information.  And it’s building discipline that you will most certainly need in any area of life.

7. CALM DOWN.  When you’re little, (and I don’t mean just in stature, but also in maturity,) you’re closer to the ground, so small things seem big.  Huge, even.  GINORMOUS!  Don’t freak out.  It’s only huge to you, AND remember that everything is changing hourly anyway, so just wait. It’ll go away. And if it doesn’t, wait another hour.

Advertisements

5 Things You Should Never Say to a Large-chested Woman

Large bra

I am well endowed.  Have been since I first sprouted in middle school.  When my mom took me to get my first bra, my Dad joked that we were going to buy an “over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder.”  He didn’t know the unfortunate truth of that statement that was to come.

I get that women everywhere want large breasts.  Actually, I take that back.  Women don’t REEEEALLY want large breasts.  They think they do.  Because somewhere, some guy told them bigger was better.  Or they heard it on TV.  Or a movie.  They read it in a magazine.  They think they want to be big because it results in more attention, desire, and ultimately, approval, love and acceptance.

I’m not exactly a fan of my D-cups.  They’re not horrible, but they are just…. way too big.  They make my back hurt, they get in the way of just about everything from playing guitar to scrubbing the shower, and they nearly give me a concussion every time I go jogging.  It amuses me to no end how women assume that I love them, and that if they had them, they would love them too.

But you know what happens when  you assume.

It makes an ASS out of U and ME.

5 Things You Should Never Say to a Large-Chested Woman:

1.  “They’re just…..so….BIG.”  If she loves them, well then, you’re single-handedly helping to fuel this cultural lie that highly-sexualized bodies are the only way to get noticed.  Surely, there’s something else you could compliment her on?  And if she doesn’t love them, well, then you’ve just pointed out the pimple.

2. “Oh, stop it, you could totally go bra-less.”  Umm, HAVE YOU SEEN THEM?  No.  Bra-less isn’t an option, but thanks for not taking me at my word, and reminding me that I’m doomed to live in a “chestity belt” for ever and ever.

3. “Can I feel them?”  Man or woman, this is never appropriate.  I don’t care if we’re best friends.  They’re mine.  And my husband’s.  And he doesn’t like when other people use his toys.

4. “Bend…….AND SNAP!”  This kind of vulgar behavior repulses me.  Especially when you consider the fact that I spend more time playing them down than I do buying shoes.

5. “My boobs are so small!”  I would gladly switch with you, if I could.  So thanks.  For that.  Can we talk about your awesome cheek bones too?  And then bond over a mani-pedi?

 

 

 

 

The Project-Friend

A new friend of mine asked me recently if I had picked them as a “project friend.” I knew immediately what that meant, I’ve just never been asked that question before, point blank.

 

The “project friend”: a person one takes on for an undisclosed amount of time to guide them through, convict them of, and teach them things that they genuinely couldn’t receive anywhere else.  (*sarcasm)

 

The “project-friender”: a person who frequently chooses to surround themselves with people who they perceive to need their help, and proceed to give their help throughout the relationship.

Project friender

 

 

Everyone loves a good project friend.  

Rephrase, us first-born, type-A personalities love a good project friend.  We get to boss them, pinch them, squeeze them, and watch them grow.  And sometimes, just SOMETIMES, we stay friends.

 

I’m a fixer.  It’s what I do for a living.  Think Olivia Pope of ABC’s “Scandal”, with a slightly less-fabulous tan. People pay me to boss them around, essentially.  To tell them what’s wrong with the situation, and tell them what needs to be done to fix it.  I give advice, compel people to action, and challenge them to find what’s buried deep down within them.  How on earth does one keep that from permeating other areas of life?

 

Wrong question, lady.  OF COURSE it’s going to seep through the cracks of one’s professional upstairs floor and end up all over the living room couch, but you can certainly control who sits on the couch, can’t you?

 

The right question is, how do you view your friends as peers?  Equals?  With each of you bringing to the table strengths and weaknesses that build, sharpen, and encourage each other?  The right question is how do you do this for at least PART of the time.

 

Well, to start off with, ask the Father to SHOW you their worth. He gave His son to be murdered in their place, (and, need I remind you, your place as well) so I’m fairly certain that they mean a great deal to Him.  What, that isn’t good enough for you?

 

There will be times when advice is needed of course, and God will put you in front of them, with the experience to give the advice, at that moment.  Everyone is messed up, each in our own ways, and to varying degrees.  You might need the advice next.

 

Another right question: WHEN DO YOU SHUT UP?  Just because you have great advice to give (whose advice doesn’t sound perfect in their own heads, right?) might not necessarily mean that you need to deliver it yet, or ever.

 

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7  ESV

 

It’s God who gives our words fruit, meaning, and a responsibility. Our advice is useless, unless God, in His infinite power, makes it effective.  And so often, I myself become gravely convicted, taught, or encouraged myself through the giving of advice, whether it goes on to “help” the other person or not.

 

When my friend asked me this question, my reaction was so strong, I had to take a break from the conversation.  WHY?

 

Hellooooo conviction.  I do have a tendency to fix my friends.  And what else is that skill than using your friends to make yourself seem or feel more relevant/powerful/important?

 

It’s PRIDE.  At its simplest, and yet its deepest.  As if I couldn’t possibly learn anything from this clearly inferior person.

 

Think back, to “that person” or “those people” in your life, who have been the most influential.  Was this person or these people trying to fix you, change you, judge you?  Not usually.

 

It was the person who was THERE FOR YOU.  Just… there.  Listening, giving advice when asked, and being open to what God was showing THEM through the experience.

 

That’s the kind of friend I want to be.  That’s the kind of friend I’ve asked God to turn me into.  That’s the kind of friend that I, just a few days ago, realized I am nothing like.  Yet.

 

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

no_strings_attached (2)

What is love?  “Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.”  Cue head banging.  (If you’re too young to remember this, here:)

 

Some maintain that love is an emotion.  Or that love is an ability.  Or that love is a verb.

 

I belong in the “love is an action” camp.  Think about it, to act in love IS to love. After actors get paid to kiss each other, fake intimacy, and act as though they’re in love, often, it turns into the real thing. They start dating, they get married, they cheat on their current spouse with their co-star. So what’s the difference, I wonder.  Between acting love, and feeling it.

 

I used to be a professional Ballroom Dancer.  Yes, I KNOW.  It’s just as glamorous as it sounds.  And in that industry, it’s extremely commonplace for dance partners to fall in love.  I fell in love with my dance partner, and 2½ years later, he became my husband.  That’s popular too. For dance partners to get married.  (And about 3 years later, to get divorced. Hence why I USED to be a professional dancer.  I’m still married, FYI.)  When playing up the sexuality of the Rumba or Cha Cha, you’re stepping through the actions of a couple in love, or in lust.  Maybe it’s more love -as in the heartfelt affection- when you dance the Waltz.

 

And as if by some sort of pre-meditated inside joke, every movie about one-night-stands or cheap and meaningless sex ends with the characters falling in love. The moral of the story is always that when you ACT in love, the body can’t can’t tell the difference. Two people who behave as though they’re experiencing love, end up experiencing  just that.

 

So there’s this photographer who puts random people together in intimate poses before taking their picture.

 These strangers who get thrown together to pose as couples, fathers, daughters, Aunts, or Grandmothers end up feeling affection for the random person that they’re hugging in the picture.

 

The “Love Dare,” as described in the book and movie “Fireproof” is the concept of acting out love whether or not you receive any in return. Eventually, the giver (and receiver) of this display of affection is powerless against the stream of emotion.  And often, in the beginning, it’s only an ACT of affection, that later morphs into actuality.

 

I’m definitely not the world’s foremost authority on this subject, but I can most certainly tell you one thing: never easier is love received in my heart, than when it’s created in my heart first.  And never easier is it created in my heart, than when it’s created in my hands first.  It’s easy to stop acting, but I want an award nomination.

 

Love is an ACTion.  Better make it an Oscar-worthy performance.

 

Please. Don’t. Leave. Me.

Child crying

When I was 8, we lived on a 20-acre farm.  Not a working farm, more like a wannabe farm.  We had chickens, and a garden, but other than that, the farm served no real purpose except for secluding us from the rest of the world. Not exactly sure why we lived there, I’ll have to ask my parents about that one day.

 

I am the oldest of 7 kids, and we were all homeschooled at the time.  My Dad, a Contemporary Christian singer, built a working recording studio in what used to be the chicken house. He called it “Hen House Productions.”

 

Even at 8, I had major abandonment issues.  Not really sure why, but for whatever reason, there was always this fear that people would forget about me.  Leave me behind.

 

The worst of these moments I remember like it was last week.  This story makes me cry, TO THIS DAY.  I have tissues at the ready as I type.

 

My Dad had invited me on a “date.”  Which, when I was eight, looked more like a trip to McDonald’s or the video store.  BUT, for a homeschooled girl with a phobia of being left out of the loop, it was the epitome of excitement and importance.  Papa wanted to be… WITH ME.  Alone.  Just me.

 

The day finally arrived, I put on my best calico, and presented myself to Papa in the driveway.  He told me to meet him at the bottom of the hill by the mailbox.  He had to drive the half-mile down the hen-house studio to get something.  He would pick me up on the curb.

 

I grabbed my “purse” which was full of quarters -about 5 dollars worth- and strutted down the long gravel driveway, awaiting my Prince Charming at the mailbox.  After what felt like ages (to an 8-year-old) I saw the family vehicle coming down the road from the hen house.  I flashed a smile and waved.  “Here he is!” I thought.

 

My Dad, a talented practical jokester, decided to pretend that he couldn’t see me, keep going, and stop 10 feet down the drive.  To this day, neither him nor I are sure why he thought it would be a good idea, but, nevertheless it was the plan he carried out.

 

As I stood there, striking a pose to impress my date, my worst nightmare unfolded.  The car passed me up, and the driver, looking straight ahead, seemed oblivious to my frantic waving.  He neared closer, and I waved with more desperation.  The car passed me, and I, knowing that I had been forgotten, reacted in utter terror.  Screams escaped my lips, tears began to flow, my hands began beating on the back side of the car as it swept past me.  It was imperative that I get Papa’a attention.  I CANNOT BE LEFT BEHIND.

 

By the time my Dad had caught on to my anguish, it was far too late.  The damage had been done.  He stopped a little short of his originally-planned 10 feet, and I frantically threw open the passenger door and climbed in before he could get away.  By this time, my small 8-year-old frame had been taken over by waves of tears and despair.  I was hysterical.

 

Even now as I write this, I’m affected by the memory.  And today, I’m far more secure in the fact that my Heavenly Father will never leave me behind.  That He will never forget about me, nor forsake me.  That He, too, desires time with me, just me.

Today, my fear of abandonment manifests itself very differently. There are less tears, less desperation.  But if I text you, and you don’t text back… heaven help you.

 

 

ON DREAMS….and Miley Cyrus

I dream.  Alot.  Every night.  And often -a little too often- my dreams come true.  Once, I met a guy in my dream the night before I ACTUALLY met him.  Another time, I dreamed that a co-worker was going to receive flowers from her boyfriend…for the first time ever.  It totally happened.

Miley Cyrus

Miley. Freakin. Cyrus.  I’m overwhelmed by sadness for this girl.  It’s reminiscent of something I felt years ago after waking up from a dream I had about Hayley Williams.  (Lead singer for the Rock band Paramore.)

I spent some time with Hayley personally, right as the band was getting big.  She was sweet, genuine, level-headed, and eccentric. Still a teenager.  This dream occurred years before half the band left, claiming that the fun-but-quirky Christian kid they knew, had changed.  Irreconcilable differences.  I had no idea of the relational difficulties she would end up having, or that topless pictures of her would end up online.

To me, she was just the creative, Christian girl trying to make it in the big, bad world of Rock music.

So in my dream one night, I went to a party at Hayley’s house.  And I brought my dog.  You know how in dreams, things are never as they would be in real life.  Things that would be strange in reality, are normal in a dream, and vice versa.

Well, in the dream, her house was a sort of multi-level wigwam.  Strange right?  But I had my dog with me, at a party.  Not weird to my dream-consciousness.

As it became clear that people didn’t like the presence of my dog, (she’s not purse-sized) I stepped outside for some air.  On the front lawn, I saw an incredibly large, majestic, white bird flying in circles over Hayley’s house.  Curious.

Don’t know why THAT was curious, but me bringing the dog wasn’t.

Not 5 minutes later Hayley came storming out, her finger in my face.  “Get your bird away from my house.”

I was stunned, and sought desperately to clear up the misunderstanding.  “Hayley, it’s not my bird.  I swear!”

“Just get it out of here,” she insisted.  “It’s not welcome here.”  She turned and went back inside, slamming the door. (Do wigwams have doors?)

I awoke from this dream, and was immediately overcome with sadness for Hayley.  I began praying for her, without even knowing why, or what I was asking for.

In the months after, she began popping up more and more in the media.  Drugs, bad boyfriends, topless photo scandal… then: two of the band members left, stating that Hayley never saw them as equals, but viewed the band as the “Hayley show.”

Had my dream outlined the spiritually decent of a starlet?  The white bird.  Did it represent the Holy Spirit?  Why was I convicted to pray for her after waking up from this awkward-party dream?

It’s the same thing with Miley.  Although I didn’t dream about her, I feel the same type of sadness, or disturbance, if you will.  In my spirit.  This girl is hurting beyond belief.  And I find it interesting that most of Pop culture experienced sadness at her behavior as well.  People who are, for the most part, pro-”twerking” and not against public grinding during a musical performance.  We are disheartened, seeing much of ourselves in her, albeit a younger version. In our own ways, we too stripped down to our skivvies and pranced around, wearing a neon sign that said “look at me!  Love me!  Take me seriously!”

Even those of us who remained fully clothed did that, in some way or another.  We’re all sad for her.  Because deep down we know that in effort to prove that she is an adult, she did nothing but act like a child.  Lost and hurt.

The suitcases

There’s a suitcase that exists for all of us.  To us, it’s a plain, black suitcase with nothing to draw attention to itself.  It’s un-decorated, unassuming, and uninteresting.  To US.

 

To everyone else, it’s a cross between a disco ball and a hurricane.  Impossible to ignore, and leaving a wake of destruction in its path, discriminating against no one.

 

Our baggage.  For some of us it’s little more than a carry-on piece, a backpack perhaps.  Easy to carry.  For others, a convoy of box-trunks, tied to our ankles, with a one-way ticket to the BOTTOM.

Vintage Suitcases

 

For us “normal people” who are right in between, it’s a large roller-bag.  Large, but easily transported, always strolling faithfully behind us.  When stationary, it’s easy to forget that it’s back there.  And even in motion, it seems easy at first. The wheels provide little resistance to our destination, but the weight begins to tug at our shoulders after a while.

 

When we’re in a hurry, it slows us down, like those vivid dreams where our running only happens in slow motion.

 

Some co-inhabitants of the world insist on chopping the wheels off their bags, and dragging them on the floor.  Like a 2-year old trying trying desperately to display their protest at having to carry their own bag. Others, pull out the space bags, vacuum cleaner, and try to condense theirs to fit into a fanny-pack. (Which, in case you were just born, went out of style back in the 80’s.)

 

Our baggage is annoying, but utterly necessary.  In the airport, but in life as well.  Maybe you’re a baggage hoarder.  You compartmentalize the junk, but periodically pull one small section out, examine it, react to it, over-dramatize it, then set it back in its place, and seal it securely. A baggage hoarder: you have no need for it anymore, but you still keep it in its “special spot.”

 

Or perhaps you’ve given yourself a mental lobotomy in order to make it through.  Like locking away your tools before you were done painting your living room.  “Hey, I needed those.”  Sure, painting your living room might not be the most enjoyable of tasks, but burying the paint brush doesn’t erase the need for a fresh coat.

 

I have dealt with a large chunk of my crap, but this hasn’t erased its presence in my life. My husband is beginning to deal with his, and half the time isn’t even aware that it affects him.  “It’s not manly to deal with baggage,” most men believe.

 

Couldn’t be further from the truth.  Your true masculinity is often trapped by layers of stuffage that’s been building up for years.  Baggage comes with guilt, shame, fear, and passivity…for men.

Shame

For women, it’s served well-done with a side of low self-worth, shame, depression, and dysfunctional relationships.

Woman crying

DON’T DO IT.  Don’t invite these things in.  Don’t invite them in to stay awhile.  Give them to God.  Even if you don’t know WHAT your crap is, like a dream that begins to fade into nothing more than wisps of an idea as soon as you wake up.  God knows.  He will take it, (in His time) and heal it.  He will give you a scar to remind you.  He will create forgiveness in your heart, which once bore resentment.

 

I’m living proof that this can, and will continue to happen.  And let me tell you, living life ALIVE is way better than living life mostly-dead.