Monthly Archives: August 2015

8th Sip

KINDNESS> 

Somewhere between the ages of 10 and 13, I attended a women’s Bible study covering the topic of marriage. It was one of those Wednesday night studies where the chosen book provided detailed and insightful commentary into a prominent, Biblical, female character and was typically written by a prominent, female, religious author. Keep in mind that I probably wasn’t even fully pubescent yet. That being the case, I’ve always known that being a wife and mother was all I wanted out of life. So I was the token child that wanted to grow up before her time, and it was cute that I was there. I sensed the general attitude of “Bless her heart,” and “How sweet…she has hope in her eyes,” but I knew they meant well. I could also see that the light had gone out of the eyes of many a woman in that circle, and it terrified me. This is worth noting: I had known many of these women for a number of years. I was observant. I knew their husbands; I knew their children; I knew enough of their own personal struggles, personalities, and tendencies to appreciate and silently respect their weariness. My naivety didn’t cloud my sensitivity.

I don’t remember what Biblical woman they were studying or how the topic arose, but I vividly remember the discussion that particular night pertaining to the difficulties of marriage and the conflicts that arise in any relationship… arguments, disrespect, misunderstandings, etc. Every wife had a personal tidbit to share, an anecdote, a piece of advice, and they all had their own opinions. It felt like a support group. “Hi, my name is _____, and my husband and I fight.”

The air drastically changed when one of the women timidly broke her silence and said, “My husband and I never fight. I don’t remember a time when he’s ever spoken to me angrily or in a disrespectful manner. We’re generally very peaceful.” It was like she’d spoken blasphemy. Immediately, women started passively attacking her, insinuating that maybe she and her husband didn’t actually have a healthy relationship, much less any relationship at all. How could that possibly be? To be married and have never fought? Something must be wrong with her. Or with them. Or she must be implying that she’s better than the rest, that she’s better at marriage. Of course that could never be. It blew over rather quickly in the name of Christian charity, but I saw every sideways glance, every look of feigned compassion. The damage had been done. Passive, cold shoulders had been turned her way, judgements had been made, and lines were drawn. I truly don’t have many memories of this woman in church much after that (which may or may not be accurate, but I know without a doubt that she remembers this exchange more clearly than I).

I have to admit that even in my inexperienced, hopefully romantic heart, I felt a twinge of disbelief at her statement. How dare she admit to marital happiness in the midst of the obvious pain being discussed around her? I almost felt sad for her, that in some way she must not be experiencing true marriage. She must be lonely to have never had a fight with her husband. It just didn’t make SENSE. I’d grown up in a beautiful home with two parents that love the Lord and love each other. We’d never been given reason to doubt their commitment, and yet I and my siblings knew that even THEY weren’t immune.

I’m married now. It’s been a little over one year since I married Matt. Everyone says the first year is the hardest. We often look at each other and think, “If THIS is the hardest, then this is really nice.” We’ve had our moments, it’s true. But even in the hardest, most heated and emotional arguments, there’s been no yelling, no slamming of doors, no stomping off, no name calling… but even for all of that, there have managed to be some hurt feelings, because there simply is no way for two people who were once strangers to live in the same house without there being some form of misunderstanding. We have had to do some heavy analyzing, some heavy talking, and some heavy forgiving. I don’t know that I would ever speak up in a Bible study and say that we have never fought, that we’ve never once said an unkind word or spoken out of hurt. But I do know that every day Matt and I make conscious, poignant, hard, real, decisions to not respond to each other in ways we would have previously. In our own ways, we’ve “been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.” We’ve had the gift of learning a lot about our own mistakes and tendencies before being thrown into the ring together, and it has benefited our relationship. I’m sure there’s a wise woman leaning back in her chair, nodding her head saying, “Their time will come.” And we know it will. We’re not afraid to disagree, and we know better than we thought possible that it’s not about thinking alike; it’s about thinking together.

I’ve recently seen a marriage close to me go through fire. Hell. They went through hell. They went through an experience that I’ve honestly never personally seen a couple survive. They’ve come out stronger. They know this is due to utmost humility and total submission to the Lord and His will. They’ve experienced nights of absolute heartbreak, unbelievable pain, and unprecedented confusion that left both of them stripped down to shreds of bone, desperately trying to heal and rebuild. They gave themselves over to the Lord and asked Him to change their hearts. Not the heart of their spouse, but their OWN heart. And it didn’t happen at the same time. They did away with the myth that you wait for the other person to be sorry first to apologize. There was no punishing. No groveling. No performance. So I’ve seen that marriage is hard. I’ve experienced that marriage is hard. But I also know that nothing is insurmountable. (For the sake of political correctness, which seems to be necessary because someone will undoubtedly jump in with their exception to the rule, let me just say that there are obvious marriage/relationship situations which are not healthy and in which God has provided ways of escape, and it does take two to tango. But there is no shame in that, only grace.)

In reality, my point here is less about marriage. It’s actually not even about marriage at all. Everything I’ve just said is to somehow and insufficiently “prove” to whoever reads this that I have grounds and experience to voice an opinion on this matter in the first place. Which, I offer, is exactly and ironically the problem.

What happened that night at the Bible study was appalling. I was so taken aback and shocked. I’ve never before mentioned it to anyone, but I’ve thought about it often. If I am truly honest with myself, it’s the reason I’m not attending the women’s Bible study I just bought a book for (and am loving). As I voice this for the first time, it’s also the reason I never attended hall worship in college if I could help it. As selfish and immature as my reasons behind that may have been, and of which I am well aware, the point is that WE ARE SO UNKIND TO EACH OTHER. It is a human problem that spreads across denominations and cultures. Vulnerability is attacked rather than commended. If someone opens up, we judge rather than rejoice. We determine someone else’s worth based on our own inconsistencies, and often the things that bother us most in others are the things we need to address in ourselves. This is a heavy concept.

I came across an unpublished, unedited article written by Elisabeth Elliot on her website, and it’s one of the most beautiful depictions of marriage I’ve ever read. It’s titled, Marriage: A Revolution and a Revelation. It’s hardly a romantic name, but it is compelling and hopeful. That woman—thanks to my precious mother who spent countless hours reading to us, playing audiobooks on cross-country drives, and praying endlessly over her children—has long fanned my flame of what it means to be a Godly woman. Everything else comes after that. She has shaped my view of feminism, a concept that seems like a moot point to me in light of what it means to be a leader, a servant, a human being created and saved by the God of the universe. I highly, highly recommend it as she states many things about marriage in an undeniably beautiful, humble, commanding and convicting manner. But what prompted me to write this today was the firm belief that we as Christians MUST BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. It’s as simple as that. Yet, it is the HARDEST thing we are called to do. We were told that to love our neighbor as ourselves is one of the most encompassing commandments. It sounds like child play, and yet we find it nearly impossible to do on a daily basis as human beings. God knows that this requires complete selflessness. He knows that it is only possible when stemming from a relationship with Him. That that kind of love and forgiveness doesn’t exist apart from him. This is the beautiful reality… in telling us to love one another, He directly reveals our need for Him in its deepest, rawest sense.

In closing, a simple excerpt from the article by Elisabeth Elliot:

“In the mercy of God a still small voice broke through my anger–Love gives up itself. I knew then that I was every whit as sinful as my husband. I needed grace. I slid out of bed, tiptoed to another room and opened my Bible. Providentially ’it fell’ on that clear-as-crystal passage in I Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Those were hard words to swallow. But what about him? I said to myself. The Spirit of God broke through my self-pitying armor, prompting me to replace the word love with my name:
‘Elisabeth is patient, Elisabeth is kind. She does not envy, does not boast . . . keeps no record of wrongs.’ 
I could go no further. Each statement was a lie, and God was speaking unequivocally.”

Copyright 2010, Elisabeth Elliot, All rights reserved. Page 17-18
Marriage: A Revolution and a Revelation, by Elisabeth Elliot

LINK:
Marriage: A Revolution and a Revelation

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7th Sip

INSTAGRAM> 

As my love for photography has grown over the last few years (Instagram being my current, artistic outlet of choice), I’ve often toyed with the idea of taking advantage of the readily available venues through which I could share my love for photography in a more tangible, less technologically bound way.

I love combining aesthetics, minimalism, and landscapes, and have chosen some of my favorite scenes over the years that leave me feeling peaceful, uplifted, inspired, and humbled. They can now be ordered in the form of prints (canvas, metal, framed, post cards, etc.), totes, iPhone cases, pillows, and more at Instaprints.com.

As much as I love the real benefits and convenience of social media, I truly value the palpable aspect of art. So, without further ado, here’s to warm corners, meaningfully filled spaces, and stories worth telling.

Copy and Paste URL:
http://instaprints.com/profiles/emilybeth-beacham.html 

6th Sip

MY BROTHER> 

About a month ago, I woke up with the strong urge to pick my brother’s brain. I knew it would be well worth my while (as well as yours). I typed like a mad woman to try to keep up with him, and we both decided to keep it unedited so that the emotion of his answers come through. This is virtually verbatim.

His frequent absolutism is gracefully balanced by an ability to recognize and take responsibility for his own flaws, as you will see towards the end. He is one of the most principled, black-and-white guys I’ve ever met. He’s the logical piece to what is a largely emotional puzzle of a family. And I think that’s a beautiful combination.

Disclaimer: he knew his answers were going to be posted on my blog, so there was no sisterly conniving or trickery on my part. I appreciate his candid responses.

My Brother, on His 17th Birthday

An Interview

1. Why do you like movies like “Aloha,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and “About Time?” (Three movies that didn’t get incredible reviews or draw large crowds)

Because they literally are like how people actually are. It shows relationships between people that are normal that I experience every day for myself. Relationships that aren’t always perfect. I hate Disney relationships. I actually loathe them. You know what I hate the most? Happily ever after. I can’t stand it. Movies like that portray real, life love. I can’t say that it’s love from God, but I can say it’s as close to what I’ve experienced as it gets, whatever that means to you. The love that you see in those movies, like in About Time. When I think about that movie and the relationships in that movie, I don’t even think about him and Rachel McAdams. I think about him and his sister. When he goes back in time to save her from the car accident, it literally makes me cry every time. And in Aloha, the love between him… not even just the love, but the relationship that he has with Rachel McAdam’s husband… that in the end, even though things have been completely screwed up, they show that you can literally get through everything. Oh, my goodness, I love Walter Mitty. I loved that movie because it literally made you feel like the real world was cool. It made you feel… that movie, THAT’S why everybody hated it! Everyone hated it, Emily Beth! Because it wasn’t about something out of this world, it was the exact opposite. It was taking you OUT of your daydreams, and saying that you don’t have to have otherworldly, Narnia like experiences. Even though Narnia is cool, it just shows you the beauty in real life. That’s why I loved that movie.

2. What are a few things that leave you feeling satisfied?

Probably doing something nice for someone else. Especially mom. Like, doing the dishes for her and she didn’t know I was gonna do it? That’s the most satisfying thing ever. She’s so surprised and thankful, and it’s such a satisfying experiencing. Doing something out of your way or out of your comfort zone for someone else, that’s satisfying. Another thing, which is a little less cerebral, but summiting a mountain.

3. Based on observation, what makes marriage hard?

The fact that you think everything is going to perfect and you have high, high expectation, and even thought you say for better or for worse, you never think worse will actually happen. You shouldn’t lower your expectations, but you have to be a realist in marriage. You can’t have unrealistic expectations on the other person. But I also know from experience that I know you can get through anything, divorce is never the only option.

I think that what makes marriage difficult, is seeing your mistakes… well, that goes with parenting. But I feel like they should go hand in hand. No offense, but I feel like you’ve really been married until you’ve had kids. Because you haven’t had a chance, at this point, all you need to think about is the other person. You don’t have that child to come in your way.

You’re constantly trying to be trusting of whether the other person is gaining or losing commitment, K? Because obviously, even if you’re not in a tough spot, you’re always subconsciously thinking, “Am I getting closer to this person, or farther from this person?” You’re always wondering if the relationship is going in a good direction. Even if they’re not asking this questions consciously, if they come to the conclusion that you’re NOT getting closer, what are you going to do about that in marriage? Okay, so our family is very open. But I’m less that way, I internalize a lot of things. I personally feel like sometimes even after I talked to someone, openly and honestly, I still don’t feel like I let anything go. It’s still internalized. Sometimes I feel like talking makes things worse for me… which obviously isn’t the right thing to say, because you have to talk about things. But for me, my observation is that a lot of couples just stop talking about things, and they start growing a part. “How was work today, honey?” “Oh, good,” and then they have their perfect little dinner, and they stop being one unit, and they eventually grow apart. Okay, you can be married your entire life and have a beautiful marriage and never have kids. But it’s no doubt in my mind that surviving having children will bring you closer together. Divorced people never talk to each other again. Divorced PARENTS often times end up getting back together. Because the kids are like the glue. There is now like a permanent thing holding them together. I could be completely wrong. But I think having children can keep people together. Divorce is sometimes the necessary option, but I don’t think it’s the good option. The struggle with being married and with children, is that you can no longer be selfish. You can’t just be your own little cocoon of happiness, you know what I mean? You have to look out for so many other variables in your relationship. Which is a healthy thing if you can make it through it, because it will strengthen your relationship so much. The struggles of BEING married, are what make you a better married couple.

4. What makes marriage worth it?

I can just imagine being married, Emily Beth. Like really, all I want to be is a husband. I want to be a husband so bad. I don’t even want to date a girl. I don’t feel like dating is even healthy. I’ve had so many chances to make bad decisions in that area. Even though I’ve done so many other bad things, I can NOT, I feel like that is a cardinal sin. I want, I think marriage, okay. I’m not going to lose my virginity till I’m married. Honestly, I’ve been out. I can say that I’ve been out in the world. I’ve experienced a lot of things. But I don’t even want that experience that. I get sick to my stomach thinking about doing that before marriage. There is no way. I’m not even going to kiss girls for fun, I haven’t even held hands with a girl yet.

That being said, I want to save that for marriage. I think being with a person, and not all marriages are healthy, but what I think makes marriage worth it, is being with someone that you can share all of your woes with. You can come home to someone and say, “I had a really hard day.” But I know that when I get married, she’s not just going to be family to me, she’s going to be my best friend. Just having that, regardless of whether you have kids, having that friendship and closeness and a relationship with each other… I don’t know, I could go on about this for a long time. But I think that’s what makes marriage worth it. Some people think that’s creepy, to be with one person. Like it’s creepy that you would want to bind yourself to one person. A lot of my friends don’t even believe in marriage any more. But I can’t think of anything better. Obviously, it’s a choice you’re both making. You just want to spend the rest of your life together. That makes me so happy. I feel like that makes marriage worth it, because you can… it just… Marriage is what bwings us together today! Marriage is worth it! Because I saw Marley and Me. And I know that had “nothing” to do with marriage, but it DID! It had so much to do with marriage, and relationships, and having kids, and they weren’t planning for all this stuff, but them having a dog, and living in the country, and him having a solid job… that’s what makes marriage worth it to me. It’s helps you thrive. It doesn’t help you be the person you want to be, it helps make you the person you SHOULD be. It makes you feel less entitled and makes you think about the other person all the time. Not just your spouse, but children too if you have them. I think marriage is definitely worth it.

5. What are your favorite things about being the only boy in a family with three sisters?

I have no competition, you know, physically. But I just love that I can, like, it’s given me so much better skills with other women. Like I just notice how so many guys are disrespectful of girls, ALL the time. You guys have taught me how to respect and how to be, and I know that I’m not always perfect, but you guys have literally made me who I am and I think you so much for that. I wouldn’t have chosen a different set of siblings, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I want to emphasis this less. I don’t want to say I love having three sisters because you’ve made me good with the girls. That’s now what I mean. I’m not scratching that just cause it sounds bad. It’s partly true, but I need to emphasize that way less.

You guys are like the kindest people. Women are just so kind. Depending on how they’re raised. Mom has infused into you guys so much kindness. That’s not something a guy is just naturally born with. Guys are more rough and tough and try to bring home the bacon. But you guys are just so kind. I’ve figured out that you guys can show me true, unconditional love. Even though we fight all the time, like I just got off the phone with Chelsea, and we were having the most amazing conversation. She was telling me about her day and about guy stuff, and we were just having the best conversation. You guys have trusted me so much. I can count on you guys to be there for me. You guys as sisters have been so good to me. I just hear stories of brothers all the time beating each other up, and like they’re my friends, right? But I can’t say that I would want a brother. You guys have been everything I ever wanted. I just want you guys to know that you’re the best thing in the world and I love you guys so much. I can be a jerk, but you guys are always there for me and I just love you so much.

6. What are your least favorite things about it?

I have like four mothers. That’s about it. I will expand on that. It is frustrating, you know, getting the same lectures over and over again. Because honestly I know what you guys are going to say. Every time I do something wrong and one of you is about to tell me what I did was wrong, I already know I shouldn’t have done it. I know what you’ll say already. And in the moment I’ll say I don’t want to hear it. But I’ve found, Emily Beth, that even though I do know what you’re going to say, it’s important for me to hear it anyway. It reinstates in me what is right and wrong. You can only do so many wrong things before you start feeling like they’re not wrong anymore. You can’t do wrong things and not have your conscience tainted. This is turning into a good thing, I don’t even know. Having you guys, even though you’re like 4 mothers to me, including mom, even though you guys are kind of hard on me when I make mistakes and I’m belligerent in the moment and try to shut you guys down, like , “I understand, I understand,” even though it’s the hardest, it’s the biggest upside. There is no downside to having you guys. And for that to be a downside, is like a selfish thing in itself anyway. I mean, to not want to take take your advice is a bad thing. The wise man listens to counsel. I can’t remember the verse, but mom has said it to me like a hundred times, but I know the gist of it. It’s important. That’s what I have to say about that.

7. Why do you believe in God?

Because I cannot, cannot possibly think of any way for this world to have come to be. There’s no other answer. Evolution doesn’t cut it, it doesn’t work. Even if I wasn’t the greatest Christian, I would never be able to deny in my life that He wasn’t real, because of personal experience in my life of seeing Him work. There’s no way He’s not real.

I feel like I could never, it’s just about, like, it does have a lot to do though, even if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t be able to deny that there wasn’t a God. But to be a Christian means you have to believe in Him and have a relationship. If you don’t believe in a God that’s good enough and worthy enough to be followed, then you don’t even have a God to believe in. Even if you believe in God and his grace, and you’re not following Him, then I don’t think you fully understand how much he loves you. As I’m saying this to you, I’m telling myself. Because I’ve kind of thought that, I’ll be able to do all of this stuff and say that I know that there is a God because I’m not in danger. I’ve kind of thought of myself as being invincible in my walk with Christ. Like, I may not be following Him the best right now, but I know He’s real, so I’m good. But I really believe that if you’re not following Him, you don’t believe in a God that’s good enough to be followed. And you DON’T believe in the true God. That’s logic, right? I believe in God, because I know that… I can say that I believe in God because there is no way this world could have come to be through evolution and I know there’s only one explanation in my mind and that’s God. But to truly believe that there is a God, you have to have a personal relationship with him. And if you don’t have a personal relationship with him, then you don’t truly believe in him.

8. Why do you believe in Jesus?

There are people that believe in God that don’t believe in Jesus. But, I think that you either… okay, I hate, this is another thing that I can’t stand in people. And I value people that don’t ride the fence. PICK A SIDE. I want you to be hot or cold! I can’t stand lukewarm people! And I’m thinking about this right now, saying, “Have I been like that?” And I can honestly say I’ve believed in a God my whole life, but when I was disobeying him, I was deliberately doing it. And I know that sounds bad, but I wasn’t justifying it. You’re either 100% in, or 100% out. And if you believe in God, then you should believe in the Bible. It’s literally his story. If you believe in God, and you believe in the Bible, then you should believe in Jesus. You have to accept it at face value. You can’t just pick and choose. Either it’s 100% right, or 100% wrong. You can’t take a formula and say, “I don’t like this plus sign, so I’m going to make it a minus sign,” and have it still equal the same thing. Even though they’re the trinity, they’re one and the same. It sounds cheesy to say that because I believe in God, I believe in Jesus. But on the other hand, what do you honestly have? They’re all tied together. Either you believe the whole thing, or your accept none of it. You can’t pick and choose.

9. What career do you want to be successful in?

I want to be successful in aviation. I really want to be a bush pilot and I’ve been talking to a friend’s dad, and the more and more I talk to him, the more it’s looking like it could really happen. He has huge connections in Alaska and he says he could set me up with an instructor. After I get my private pilot, all I have to do is get my hours and then later my commercial. After I get those, he could give me a recommendation to work for an airline in Alaska, and I could be a bush pilot up there. That’s literally my dream, I’m getting butterflies in my stomach right now! You don’t even understand! I just want to get in a Cessna 132 and take off, fly all sideways the entire way, and land on a little dirt strip. And I know I can. I was thinking like, “Why would they ever hire me?” But connections are everything, and this guy could recommend me for a job. If I had business for a major in college, I could be saving up my hours in college, and by the time I graduate, I could eventually start my own aviation business. What if I like own my own airline, Emily Beth? That is all I want to do. That is my dream. I know that puts a lot of other things on hold, like if I had a girlfriend. What, I’d be in Alaska flying? But I think it would really be a good thing for me. Honestly, everybody wants to have money. But I don’t feel the need to just try to become a billionaire. I just don’t have the need. I’m doing fine right now, with all the stuff I have in my room. I’m perfectly happy. So to be making money doing my job, it doesn’t even have to be a lot of money. But doing something I love, I can’t imagine something I want to do more than flying a plane. And it doesn’t even have to be aviation, I think that everyone should do the career that they WANT to do, not the career that they want to do for MONEY. People that seek our money are way less happy than people that people that are doing jobs that they love. All day every day, you’ll be happier if you’re doing what you love.

10. Is this career different than a job you feel like you would be good at, or are qualified for based on your strengths or personality?

Nope! It literally matches everything about my strengths, personality, and about everything I want to do. It’s literally the trifecta, Emily Beth! It’s perfect for me…. Mom’s gonna kill me. Hey, I would rather die in a plane crash than from cancer when a nuclear bomb goes off somewhere in America cause Russia had a fit.

11. How should girls respond when we receive compliments?

I’m gonna start with how a girl shouldn’t take a compliment. She shouldn’t shoot it down or disagree with the compliment. For instance, “You have a pretty voice.” She replies, “No I don’t!” And because, there is a because, you always know that they have a good voice, and they’re really just fishing for more of a compliment or a secondary compliment. People think it’s modesty… there’s no such thing as modesty. It doesn’t exist. I have been really selfish when I say I don’t have a really good voice. I will say, that I don’t enjoy singing. I really just don’t.  But. Girls should respond to receiving a compliment with two words. Thank you. It doesn’t have to be thank you, but anything that means the same thing. If it’s a sincere compliment, obviously you’ll be able to tell if it’s sarcastic, but any sincere compliment should be met with gratitude, straight up. It makes the complimenter feel satisfied about complimenting them. If you compliment a girl and she fishes for another compliment you’re like, “Yuck, why did I even compliment her. Trying to convince them, in front of other people, is so dumb. So you should definitely, definitely meet any compliment with straight up gratitude and thanks.

12. If you were a famous, A-list movie star, do you think you would get tired of fans wanting to get their picture taken with you?

Yes. I would get tired of it in a week, probably. But it would be selfish of me. Don’t choose the career of being an actor if you’re not willing to take a picture with a fan. You shouldn’t be an actor if you’re not willing to be nice to your fans. You know what I mean? What’s the point of being an actor. They’re the whole point. I personally think acting is a horrible career, I would never do it. And kid actors, man. I love movies, but literally thinking about the whole acting thing makes me sick to my stomach. Because it’s kinda like playing with fire. You know what I mean? You can get a little bit of warmth and that’s good, but you get too close and it’s going to burn you. I’m not talking about your fans, I’m talking about you as an actor. I don’t think it’s a healthy thing1) to be always portraying yourself as someone else, and 2) no matter how modest you think you can be, it’s gonna get to your head. It always does. It’s impossible for compliments not to go to your head, Emily Beth. It’s impossible.

13. Do you think in that situation that it is inevitable to become jaded? In the context of the question above?

I will say that it’s very hard, in that situation, to not become jaded. I think it’s possible, but very hard. How can I know, I’m not an actor… I’ve never experience this. It seems like, the actors, after a while when the compliment start going to their heads and they start to think more of themselves, they start to be less kind to their fans. It’s especially hard for child actors or celebrities. Justin Bieber is jaded. That’s just an example. I don’t think it’s inevitable. This is a very hard question, Emily Beth.

14. What are some of the greatest struggles of motherhood?

Watching your kids grow up and no longer needing you in the same way that they did when they were young. At first, all you want is for your children to be more independent. You don’t want to have to wake up every 2 hours to feed them or change their diapers 3 times a day. You want them to be less dependent. But as they grow up, you realize that all you want is for them to rely on you and to need you. This is just from my observation. Like when you got married. Obviously she’s so happy for you, but you no longer need her. Now when you keep in touch, it’s not exactly because you need it, it’s because you want it. But it’s inevitable that your children will grow up and not need you. A mother’s fear is that if you tell your children all of your mistakes, they will use you as an excuse to make those mistakes themselves. But I can honestly say that any mistake I’ve ever made was purely my own poor decision.

Mom’s also just want their children to be happy. And children can be SO UNGRATEFUL. We don’t think about how hard our parents work. That’s the struggle of motherhood. Not being thanked or appreciated enough. Sometimes you’re going to feel all alone because you’ll do all of these things with your kids and they’ll be like, “Thanks Mom,” and then run off with their friends. But I just hope mom knows that I just couldn’t be more thankful. You know?

15. What are some of the greatest struggles of fatherhood?

Being brought out of your comfort zone so much. Like so much. You have what you’re used to as a guy, like what you know, and how life normally is for you, and it gets changed so drastically and literally you can’t be selfish at all and be a good father. Any guy that had like any sense of wanting to hold on to his, not his “manhood,” but you know what I mean… that is a struggle. That would be a struggle for me. Completely, COMPLETELY be there and be the father than I, or any guy, needs to be.

I think it’s different from motherhood because it, it doesn’t come easier to them, the struggle is just as hard, they have to drag themselves out of bed. The struggle is real every day. But I think they’re able to focus more. Like a mother would usually be the one to step up in a situation and care for a baby or child and I feel like that doesn’t happen a lot of the time with the husbands. Really all I know how to say is that mothers are awesome. Okay, the difference between motherhood and fatherhood is that if motherhood is come about through marriage and the right way, it should mature you a lot. But I have a feeling that father’s don’t gain the same maturity that a mother does right when she has her child until several years later. The second a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she has to start making decisions that change her life. But that happens later for a guy. He doesn’t have to be as plugged in as the woman does. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, that’s a bad thing. But it takes a lot more maturing for a guy. Fathers feel less physically and emotionally attached for obvious reasons. But bottom line, mothers are AWESOME.

16. If you could say one thing to your grandchildren, what would it be?

The less you talk, the more people think you know. I’m pretty young still though, so that wouldn’t necessarily be what I actually say to them when I am a grandparent. It’s still good advice, but I haven’t learned everything there is to learn yet. I’d still probably add that in though.

Keep true friends close. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Never try to be someone you’re not.

17. What do you value most?

Integrity. Honestly, I would value a stripper being honest with me about being a stripper than some guy, I don’t even know how to say this, just, people can’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Fake people irk me. I guess I just really value integrity. I don’t really know how to say this. For instance. I have a friend that acts like a goody-two-shoes around everyone he thinks that matters to, but as long as he gets around other guys, he’s a totally different thing. I can’t pretend to be someone that I’m not. Respect is different than pretending to be a certain way to impress someone. My friends like that, I respect them and they know I’m a nice, respectful guy. But I don’t buddy up to them. I’m pretty sure they know how I feel about them. I’m not a perfect guy, but I AM nice to everyone. I really try to be nice to everyone. Everyone. I can’t stand two-faced people. I’m going to be nice to someone no matter how hot they are, or how popular they are or aren’t, or anything like that.

These guys, earlier in the year, wouldn’t even associate with me, because they weren’t sure if I would even be cool or not. But as soon as they realized I was kind of “in,” they were all buddy-buddy. But I know that if I weren’t friends with the right people, they wouldn’t give me the time of day. People that give others the time of day, no matter who they are, is something I value so much.

That being said, I’m not just going to hang out with a drunkard because he’s just who he is and is straight up, that’s not what I mean. But it valuable to be who you are, and to be kind, no matter who it is.

I’ve also chosen friends that accept me for the way I am, and I don’t feel like I have to be a different person around them. I know that if I give someone a hug that isn’t the “coolest” kid, they’re going to totally be on board and not think any more or less of me because they’re just nice, kind people.

18. How do you feel about the fact that it’s often true that the things that bother us most, are often things that we struggle with ourselves?

I think that’s VERY true. I think about that every time I have a conversation like this. I can’t stand people that are fake, and I for SURE have struggled with that. I’ve had experiences in my life where I learned my lesson. Times when I’ve picked out the coolest people in a crowd, and tried to be just like them… bullied people, been terrible… then I saw myself for who I was and it was disgusting to me, so when I made the choice to not be like that, they all seriously turned on me and it was the worst time of my life. I was so bullied.  But honestly, I was so mean. I was so fake. I would say I’d done stuff I’ve never seen before just to be cool with those guys. I didn’t want to be bullied, so I‘d bully others with them. So then in a way, I feel like I’ve already learned my lesson with that. So yes, I do believe that you hate the things that you struggle with the most.

19. Is love everything?

I will say love is the most important thing. I won’t say it’s everything, though. And I could be completely wrong, honestly. But I think that love, mixed with integrity and faith, is everything.

(Told my brother these were beautiful responses… His reply: “I don’t know about that, but I do know that they were completely honest. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that’s what I believe. I love you.”)

5th Sip  

FINDING MYSELF> 

My entire life I have heard that at around age twenty-two you wake up one day and realize that you’ve finally figured out who you are. Well, that happened to me.

I didn’t even know I was on a journey to “find myself,” a term that’s always made me cringe anyways. It’s not even that all of a sudden I am a totally different person. I feel like I am more “me” than I have ever been. Actually, I feel like I did when I was 12. In my childhood innocence, I was much wiser at 12 than I was at 18. The only difference now is that I have a few more years of experience on my side. Let me tell you, ages 14 to 20 are ROUGH years. At least they were for me. Although truly good years, they were laced with heartbreak after self-inflicted heartbreak, procrastination of Olympic caliber, and my mother NEVER understood me. Ever. I was just sure of it. (Disclaimer: I was SO wrong!)

I’ve never been much of a wayward soul. I’ve always had at least some sense of where I came from, what I wanted out of life, and what I believed and why. But between puberty goggles, senioritis, and young love, I definitely lost bits of myself along the way.

I don’t know what changed, and I don’t know why, but something has clicked this week and I’m so thankful. It’s the second time in my life where I know without a shadow of a doubt that God reached into my soul in spite of myself and rewired my circuits. What grace. I know there are scientific explanations for this phenomenon as well, but even that points back to His design.

I’ll just list 5 of those re-wired circuits:

1. My fashion sense called a meeting to regroup. The last few years I’ve been going through this “try to be boho-chic” phase, partly induced by the fact that I now live on a tropical island teaming with free-spirited surfers, yogis, and middle-eastern-inspired hippies. I wanted to rock “shag and free” so badly, but as you might be able to tell from my excessive use of quotation marks in this post, I’m more than a little bit over cliche’s. (P.S. For all of you boho, yogi hippies, I am in no way calling you a cliche! Some people are truly wired that way, and thankfully we are not all clones and robots. However, the cliche became ME when I was trying to be YOU, because there simply are and were aspects of you that I found inspiring.) Here is my point. If you’d have asked me when I was 12 what my fashion style was, I’d have used words like classy, semi-professional, and relaxed. Even if at that point I was still running around in overall’s and muck boots. The reality is that I never stopped using those words to describe myself, but there was some sort of disconnect between my psyche and my closet. In the end, my 12-year-old self was right. If I could live in a Boden or an Ann Taylor catalog, I’d be thrilled. (Side note: Why is it SO EXPENSIVE to dress like that?! Thank goodness for the occasional gold mine finds at TJ Max and Ross!)

2. I unfollowed 300+ people on Instagram. Don’t worry, I didn’t unfollow any of you! To be perfectly candid, a lot of it was for moral quality control to eliminate accounts that represent lifestyles and worldviews that were slowly eating my soul rather than satisfying and uplifting it. My Instagram feed has become a much more beautiful and peaceful place as a result.

3. I desire contentment and spiritual strength more than ever. My own pride has become painfully evident to me over the last few weeks. I am also watching the world fall apart and have an overwhelming and intense desire to be led to and rooted in the Rock that is higher than I. Also, my dehydrated heart has been begging to be bathed in music. Peaceful music. I’ve really been enjoying Andrew Peterson, Chris Rice, Paul Baloche, Matt Maher, Laura Story, Audrey Assad, and Steven Curtis Chapman lately. Music that connects me to the Source. On that note, I was in a frenzy trying to turn on my curling iron this morning when I realized it wasn’t plugged in (i.e. connected). I had a real aha moment. A heavy and beautiful epiphany.

4. I want a baby!? We’ll just leave it at that… no surprise to anyone who knows me. But I also am deeply jealous of my sleep, so I’ll just keep enjoying that current luxury.

5. I chopped my hair off! I remember just agonizing over my short hair as a kid, willing my hair to grow faster or to be thicker, all to no avail. It wasn’t until I turned 20 that I was finally able to achieve the long locks I’d always dreamed of, and was able to fulfill my lifelong dream of having long hair for my wedding. But part of the awakening happened when I realized that 1) I was no longer wearing my hair, it was wearing me, and 2) that while I truly loved having long hair, I was subconsciously trying to satisfy some unspoken standard I had placed on myself as to who I thought I should be. If time lasts, I’m sure I’ll have long hair again someday. But I don’t want to be unhappy in my own skin anymore. And I want every cell in my body to live only for Christ.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Philippians 3:12 ESV

4th Sip  

FEAR> 

As (roughly) seen on my Facebook feed, just to list a few:

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. 2 patients dead, 7 infected from superbug bacteria. Potentially 50 more affected.

Measles outbreak at Disney Land.

Tom DeLonge. Phone taps, UFOs, and why Aliens are bigger than Jesus.

21 Christians beheaded by ISIS.

Man walks around Paris as Jew for 10 hours. Disturbing reactions.

Mars One. Proposed 1-way trip to Mars. 100 candidates (i.e. aspiring “colonists”). 

What can I say? Reality chills me to the bone every time I log on. Suffocates me. 

I’m sitting in my breezy island home. Birds are chirping outside and the sun is setting with a perfect, sherbet fade. Everything is quiet. My husband loves me, my house is clean, my stomach is full, I have a job, my shower and toilet work beautifully, there’s a grapefruit tree in the backyard dropping massive grapefruits practically onto my doorstep. And the world is coming apart at the seams. Cognitive dissonance on that kind of level is actually impressive. It’s like watching an action movie trailer where entire buildings and cities are crumbling in slow motion. 

The most hopeful headline I’ve seen in a while was on an article quoting Franklin Graham.

One day ISIS will bow to Jesus.

Was really thankful for that perspective.

I’m not afraid to die. Although I’m terrified of suffering, I’m already no stranger to pain and heartbreak. The past year has managed to bring me and the people closest to me the greatest happiness possible and the greatest hurt possible at the same time. But I know what I believe and why, and I know in Whom I have believed. And if I must suffer, let it be for my faith. 

It just crossed my mind that simply writing this publicly could put me on a hit list somewhere, and if that’s the case, so be it. 

The reality is that the specific group responsible for the current religious and social terror is no more sinful than I. And the end of the day, I am in their same boat. Who am I, that I should be saved? Chilling. And simultaneously the most beautiful thing in the known world. 

3rd Sip  

MARRIAGE> 

I’ve been married for a whole six months, so naturally I’m an expert. Not. Not at all. But here are a few things I’ve gleaned thus far that have been meaningful to me, and I’m writing them down if for no other reason than to remind myself:

1.       It’s not just about him being on my team, it is equally about me being on his team. That means that I don’t get offended when I think he could have worded something more tactfully. It means I choose to see the value in the words he took the time to say rather than miss the point and create a problem where there is none. It means being humble.

2.       We can never let the dynamics of other marriages affect how we interact with each other. The chances of finding another couple that interacts exactly the same way we do are 0, and inevitably, there will be those two friends who communicate differently. This can be a positive or a negative thing. If a couple interacts beautifully with each other, envy can creep in and the comparison game will kill a relationship faster than you can blink. If they interact negatively, those habits can be easily picked up and you’ll hear them coming out of your own mouth a few days down the road. Please hear me: this is NOT a recommendation to isolate. This does not mean to judge other relationships. This purely means we must make conscious, purposeful choices about how we treat each other, privately and publically.

3.       I need to use my words. There is no relationship without communication, and unless I’m communicating, whatever negative emotion I may be feeling is not his problem, it’s mine. So I can’t superimpose my frustration onto him when I haven’t even taken the time to explain myself. Also, communicating my feelings to him doesn’t then put them in his court. I am responsible for how I feel and how I react to those emotions.

4.       On that note, his God-given, male-driven desire to want to offer suggestions to fix my said problem is not a dismissive tactic to make the issue go away. That being said, of course he would love for the problem to go away. But that motivation is not selfish on his part, it is loving and protective. And I need to proactively reward and appreciate that in him.

5.       Love breeds love. Love, love, love. Love leads to joy, joy leads to peace, peace leads to patience. Patience leads to kindness, kindness to goodness, goodness to faithfulness, faithfulness to gentleness, and gentleness to self-control. It all begins with love. That doesn’t even mean that if love is not there, the rest mean nothing. It means that if love is not there, the rest will be nonexistent. It’s interesting to me that forgiveness isn’t on that list. This implies to me that the fact that my husband and I will fail each other is inevitable. No surprise given the world we live in. But how we treat each other in moments of failure is not dictated by the state of the current world, but rather by the Next.

6.       I am not capable of loving without it coming from God. There is no love without God. And the heaviness of that statement is that it applies even to those who don’t acknowledge His existence, which is unbelievably beautiful to me.

No epic conclusion. Just a few things I don’t want to forget.

2nd Sip  

MEDIOCRITY> 

After sleeping the majority of my day off from work recently, my husband Matt roused me from the couch to go do basketball drills with him at the courts just in time to come back and watch the Clippers beat the Trailblazers for the second time. Mid-game, I was struck by the magnitude of their athletic skill and freshly reminded of my lack thereof. The only sport I have ever been good at is figure skating, but it’s been years since I’ve been in a situation where I could skate consistently. Even then, I was never the most motivated in practice, nor the most competitive or athletic, and honestly I was scared of taking the risks necessary to master more complicated versions of moves. However, I love skating with every fiber of my being and I truly enjoy it in a way I enjoy few other things on this earth.

With all of this on my mind, I offhandedly made the comment to Matt, “Sometimes I feel like I’m mediocre at a lot of things and not really good at anything.” I honestly don’t know what I expected him to say, but his response floored me. I wish I could remember word for word because it was truly inspired, but I’ll do my best at conveying the gist. He had come across that sentiment before, personally and second-hand, and came to realize that it was a failed philosophy.

You see, my husband was a pro surfer for years. He has been one of the top 1,000 surfers in the world in terms of career success and opportunity, but the percentage of separation between him and the current elite in the sport is massive. That in no way diminishes his skill, passion, or purpose. He has seen the mediocre identity permanently stunt other’s goals and watched the comparison game steal their joy.

In reality, even the players in the NBA realize their game is a little worse than someone else’s. They’re all really only good at one thing. So they live their whole life knowing that someone is better than them, with the exception of maybe two guys in the history of the sport. They put themselves at risk way more than the average person in pursuit of that one thing. They suffer embarrassment with mistakes like air balls, even though they’re at the very top of their game, and they have to listen to the entire stadium scream, “Air ball!” in disapproval. Yet they work through all of this as professionals at the top of their game, potentially suffering way more embarrassment than others who say they’re not going to pursue something at all on the basis of being less than perfect.

Take artists, for example. There are always going to be better artists who are “better” than other artists, whatever “better” means. There will always be someone who’s better, technically speaking, minus a couple savants. So we have to ask ourselves: Do I still want to express something that is in me? Something innate and God-given?

Matt somehow put all of the clichés I’ve ever heard about success and talent into the most amazing grouping of wisdom I’ve heard in a good while, and I truly needed it. I’ve been feeling intense inadequacy lately (purely self-inflicted in light of being married to the kindest, most affirming man I know), and it had manifested itself in mild anxiety and escapism, hence the chronic sleeping. Earlier I had been browsing Pinterest for “Quotes on Success” and came across an article entitled, “The Truth about Perfectionism: It’s Procrastination in Disguise. Here’s How to Overcome It,” and had been hit with sudden clarity as to why I felt like my perfectionism was constantly battling my procrastination, and vice versa. I was struck by the fact that it’s not a quirky part of my personality I want to embrace for the sake of free-spirited creativity. I don’t have a non-competitive personality. I just don’t like feeling incompetent.

I don’t believe that success at its core is a subjective concept. But I do believe there are essential objective goals. I want to be successful. I want to be valuable, dependable, and competent. I even want others to recognize those things in me. But I don’t want my <span “background-color:=”” rgba(255,=”” 255,=”” 0)”=””>worth to be determined by those traits. Maybe none of this is new to you. In reality, the concepts aren’t new to me either. But something clicked inside of me as I listened to Matt share his kind and sincere perspective.

At that point, I didn’t even give a thought to what had brought on the urge to floor-skate like I did when I was 6. But two minutes later, Matt walked in the living room to see me doing spins on our hard wood floor, and he understood.