Redefining Strength

Brash and fervorous;

Fictitious;

A muse for who lives inside her head;

Can I will her to come out;

To scream for me instead;

 

To be candid and raw;

Unapologetic;

Fear only known;

When it’s just foreign enough to be exciting;

 

Anger and strife and unkempt words;

Harsh and held so high;

Gorgeous without grace;

Marching through fire in solitude;

Born throwing fists before a simple compliment;

Inhuman, unfeeling, and always on top;

 

No one wants to paint a quiet leader;

But waves are not made with words;

No matter the amount of venom pouring from her tongue;

 

Woman and feminine;

Feminine and kind;

Kind and forgiving;

Forgiving and strong;

Strength does not scream the loudest;

Nor does it always have to whisper;

 

Passion manifested in every form;

She can lead;

Useful as she was made;

 

Vexation and recklessness are synonymous in nature;

There is more to strength than masculinity and aggravation;

Hone the skills you were given;

 

Boldness is not always loudness;

 

Standing firm in her beliefs;

Speaking with love;

Leading with intelligence.

 

Advertisements

Insecurities, Trials, and John 13:7

Thank God for a God that actually cares about our well-being.

“Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'” (John 13:7)

As we live in a culture obsessed with bodies – equally our own and each other’s – there will likely be many times in which it’ll become difficult to keep our opinions about ourselves in perspective.

Is it sometimes shallow? Maybe. Is it a challenge regardless? Absolutely. I, as does everyone else, struggle with insecurities about my personality and capabilities but that’s another topic for another day. Right now we’re focusing on the stuff that shouldn’t matter nearly as much, but does anyway: outward appearance.

After having relatively short hair for well over a year and being semi-overweight, I decided that I wanted neither of those things for myself ever again. I was convinced that if I was stick-skinny with hair that hit my waist, I would be considered “pretty.” My long thick hair acted as a shield to hide behind as well, so that was an added bonus.

When I achieved both the long hair and stick-skinny body, big shocker, I was still insecure. Sure I felt better about my appearance in some ways, but my attention just shifted from one set of insecurities to another.

On top of that, once I reached my goal it wasn’t enough. I needed more. It seemed counteractive to stop after all the time and effort I had put in, so I didn’t. I worked out for hours upon hours, kept a journal in which I made sure every bite throughout my day was accounted for, ate so little I got used to feeling dizzy and loved that I never felt hungry anymore. I made secret Pinterest boards of tiny girls with long hair as inspiration to keep pushing myself. I took notice of the sudden increase in positive attention I was receiving.

I haven’t touched my calorie-counting notebook in months. I still have it at hand, I know exactly where it is, but I haven’t touched it. I’ll get rid of it in due time when I know I won’t be tempted to simply start a new one.

The reason I’m mentioning some details of my problems with food is not to garner attention or sympathy of any kind. Dear Lord, this is not about me saying “Hey feel sorry for me even though I did this to myself!” I debated whether or not it was a good idea to share any personal information at all, but in the end I decided that it serves a purpose. I’ve learned a lot from it and while I’m only skirting over the details here, the lesson in the end is what’s worth sharing.

As Joyce Meyer says, “I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”

I’m at a point where I have gained weight because I’m actually eating consistently. Though sometimes I still tell people I have eaten when I haven’t. I’m finding myself comparing my body to the women on Instagram who have unnaturally contorted their bodies, no matter what size, to appear curvy in all the right places. With my slouchy posture and my bodies natural tendency to send all my fat to my belly and face, I often feel quite literally like the grossest person to walk the earth. But man, I can eat and actually enjoy it most of the time. I don’t panic anymore because I don’t have the time or energy to work out for 5 or more hours everyday. I don’t panic when I don’t get to work out at all, though granted I probably should move around more than I do now. I can think about things that actually matter and leave the house without looking “perfect” and be okay with it.

God did this thing to me that I absolutely hated, and I’m still not loving, but I am beyond grateful for. He took away all my crutches at once. He made me feel uglier and more insecure than I have ever felt.

I decided my hair wasn’t good enough anymore. That it desperately needed blonde highlights. So after my failed attempt and a 5 hour hair appointment in which they turned my long curls into an actual rat’s nest that I couldn’t run my fingers through, I had to cut my hair insanely short. And it was a bad cut. Really. Bad. Hair: gone.

I felt like God was pushing me to quit the job that kept me working out consistently (for reasons beyond just that). Also I was at home more often due to taking a break from school, which meant quicker access to food and more people to keep me accountable for how much I ate. Weight: gained.

As an added bonus, my acne came back and it hit me even harder than it did when I was 15. Face: irritated and scarred.

When this all happened, I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want people to see me, I didn’t want people to think I was okay with looking the way I did even though there was nothing I could do about it right away (and I didn’t even look bad, nor was it a big deal at all, but obviously my head was not in the rational thinking zone at the time). There was a lot of crying, some anger on my part, but thank God it happened because I learned firsthand about the difference between taking care of oneself and being obsessive.

I’ve never been satisfied with the way I look. I’ve had multiple drastic style changes, hair changes, makeup changes, weight changes, anything you can think of. I like to try new things because it’s fun, but mostly I do it because once I get an idea in my head I somehow convince myself that I need to do it or I won’t be complete. Which, obviously, is completely illogical. However, the insecure part of my brain convinces itself that that one change is what will make me feel better. Again, illogical, because it never works.

But God broke me of that mentality. Not only did he take away the things that made me feel “pretty” and comfortable so that I would be forced to appreciate the person He made me to be and stop freaking out about every insignificant and minor detail, but He also put people into my life who unknowingly helped a lot.

He gave me a close friend who supports me, talks about the way I look and dress positively, but would 100% kindly tell me the truth if prompted. She often greets me with an enthusiastic “You look so cute,” and looks for positives in the things I am insecure about.

He also gave me a boyfriend who doesn’t cater to my every whim. He loves me, he is kind, he does things for me, he compliments me often. He also recognizes that while he can encourage me, that’s all he can do. So many women look to their significant others to save them. To worship the ground they walk on and baby them every time they get a little bit down on themselves or knocked down by every little problem, but that only perpetuates an emotionally dependent attitude. I’m grateful that I was given a relationship in which we can support, love, comfort, and talk to each other about anything as a team, but at the end of the day we know we can’t change the negative things in one another. He can’t make me be less insecure and I don’t expect him to because that’s my problem I have to face. And in hindsight, I wouldn’t want a boyfriend who showers me with compliments solely to make me feel better because I know that every time he calls me beautiful, every time he hugs me tighter when I’m about to leave, every time he does anything romantic or kind or loving he wholeheartedly means it. Romanticism for the sake of romanticism has no real heart and I’m grateful that God gave me somebody who won’t coddle me.

So yeah, I’m not going to lie and turn this into some huge redemption story. I’m still insecure. Everyone is insecure to some degree. Confidence is just faking it until it doesn’t bother you anymore, but with God I was able to really put things into perspective and see how little the problems I have with myself matter. I still have moments throughout the day when I look in the mirror and I’m not happy with what’s looking back at me. I still have moments when I fail. I still have moments when I let my emotions get the best of me.

But they are moments. They will come and they will pass and we are given the strength to choose how we will respond to them and we can be forgiven when we mess up. I can choose to sit around and mope all day about the way I look, or I can get up and do something else or even go (healthily and within reason) do something about it.

God taking away what made me comfortable was what pushed me to realize how ridiculously caught up in myself I was, but I could have easily chosen to ignore it and feel sorry for myself instead. We are not made to be complacent bystanders, and God often puts us into situations and expects us to turn it into something positive and useful. Whether it is bettering ourselves or being able to relate to and help others with similar situations (or, more likely, both of those things simultaneously), there are no coincidences if you choose to look beyond only your feelings.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Living

Once woven into mine, these severed hands loved me then and they care for me now

But hands are not houses and houses only become homes if the people inside them bring inanimate things to life

A bedside lamp won’t just be a grey lamp with a white shade but a means of which to swallow every line Atticus Finch will speak past 3 a.m. when I’m feeling lost again

And my bed will no longer be the only place I can rest

I am cared for, I know, but love that was born without wings is a baby bird never taught to fly: jumping from twig walls and willing to die trying, so show him that wings are not evil extremities ready to steal him away

They are tools worthy of pride, capable of taking him anywhere his mind and body push him to go

And let him go there

This is the kind of heartache that camps out in the sun for so long it becomes dull, shriveled into nothing and obsolete

I can’t bring myself to throw it away; it’s become something to look at and remember that it once sustained entire lives

There are days to come when sleep will only appear because I am tired, and Joy will be sitting calmly at the foot of my bed waiting for me to wake up; get some rest and get back out of bed in the morning

Show me that it’s possible and I’ll tell them that I’ve seen it

We can be happy without metal chains slithering around all of our feet

You can love me if You want to, but I am prepared to embrace the entire universe regardless

To look at constellations like blueprints even if they don’t make sense yet; to build something out of the stardust anyway

I will live right here or in a thousand inhospitable places – anything You can imagine – and never hesitate to call it a home

Our home, full of life


 

Hopeless Wanderer – Mumford & Sons

OOTD: Nautical Inspired Look For Spring Weather

I’m not the type of person to enjoy cold or even cool weather. I mean I’m not completely insane. I get excited about cold fronts after having a long, torturously hot summer just as much as the next guy. This is Florida after all, so cold weather is rare and should be reveled as much as possible because it comes and goes in a flash.

Except, just kidding! We’re nearing April, which usually means beach days, turning on the a.c. in your car for at least ten minutes before being brave enough to actually get inside, and sweating basically 24/7. But no. We’re coming to the end of another fun cool snap of weather, which means breaking out my long sleeves and tights after long assuming they could be forgotten about until sometime in November.

Cold weather makes me grumpy and cool weather just seems like it can’t make up it’s mind. I’m probably the only person on the planet who thoroughly enjoys feeling like the heat is suffocating me.

I don’t know.

But hey, I’m looking at the bright side. I get to wear cute outfits. Sure, it’s not the tank top and flip flops I’d prefer to be wearing, but it’s still fun.

IMG_4725.JPG

IMG_4719IMG_4709

Does anyone else share my lack of enthusiasm for cold weather? Someone please sympathize with me here.

The Greatest Poem Ever Written (Part Two)

I have a good friend who wrote me a birthday poem a year ago, so here I am returning the favor. Happy (now slightly belated) birthday The Ranting SBox! Here’s to more years of friendship, nerdy conversations, and bad poetry.

 

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I’ll start this one off

The same way as you.

 

Three years off putting up with my antics,

And somehow you’re still around.

True friends ’till the end.

You’re the coolest cat in town.

 

Last year you wrote me a birthday poem

And it won’t be soon forgotten

Because it was funny as hell

And the silliest present I’ve ever gotten.

 

So maybe I’m not as funny.

I don’t have great jokes!

But hey you’re 21 now;

How ’bout a rum and coke?

 

Yep that’s right,

We’re getting super old.

But we’ll never be too mature

To play Pokemon Go.

 

LOL just kidding.

I haven’t played since we went hunting

For rare Pokemon in Cityplace

And we both got basically nothing.

 

So here’s to a friend:

My eternal blogging buddy.

Someone who’s probably hung over by now…

I bet you’re feeling crummy.

 

Just drink some water, like you told me.

Get lots and lots of rest

And don’t become an alcoholic – you’re still in college.

You have to pass your tests!

 

Now get ready because I’m going to try to make you laugh:

A nose walks into a bar and asks for a drink.

The bartender says, “Sorry I can’t serve you. You’re already off your face.”

…Man I’m sorry; that joke really stinks.

 

I stole it from Comedy Central,

It wasn’t even mine.

I’m just a fraud.

Dirty, cheating, and lyin’.

 

Anyway I digress.

I’m just wishing you an awesome birthday,

That you got everything you wanted

And that’s really all I have to say.

 

Hooray!

 

Online Store Launch (officially, yay!)

If you’ve been in any sort of contact with me over the past 8 months or so, you’ll have heard about my plan to open up an eventual Etsy store to coincide with this blog. After countless design and product and vision changes, it is finally up and running with my first four products!

I chose to create two designs based on two bible verses that I find equally encouraging and impactful, yet still simple and encompasses who God is: 1 Corinthians 13:13 (“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”) and Isaiah 43:2 (“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”).

Both are available as prints in three sizes. You can also get 1 Corinthians 13:13 on a tee shirt, and the Isaiah 43:2 print is available on a tote bag. I’ve attached images below, but feel free to visit my Etsy as well!

www.etsy.com/shop/live3one 

Thanks for being so supportive and patient as I worked out all the kinks!

 

watersprint2watersteewaterstotewaterstoteandprint

Semi-Introverted Dilemma

At nine a.m. yesterday I woke to my mother peering anxiously in my doorway. I checked my phone: she had called me seconds prior. Considering I’ve slept through fire alarms and almost break-ins, I imagined she began walking up the stairs as she hit the call button, knowing that the gentle buzz of my phone under my pillow wouldn’t have much of an effect on this eternally heavy sleeper, try as she might. She made her way toward my curtains as I let out a disgruntled mumble of indecipherable words. Pulling them tightly together, she alerted me with gentle haste that there were men climbing their way to my windows to work on them. I didn’t know what “working on my windows” specifically entailed, but as I recognized the clatter of an extending ladder and gravelly voices yelling back and forth, I wrenched myself out of the comfort of my bed. I’d wanted to sleep in. I shouldn’t have stayed up so late, but I’ve been thinking that particular string of words for most of my life.

Today, the clatter and yelling escalated with the addition of what I’m assuming is some sort of very obnoxious drilling. I haven’t paid enough attention to think about it, just gotten through this time with my headphones on at near-full volume. My curtains are still closed now, giving my room a constant early morning vibe.

I love the warm rush of sunlight greeting my cool skin every morning. I love the way my room is transformed into a place full of life the moment the sun filters in. Like it’s ready for the day to begin, excited to start something. Anything. I love that both the daily grey sky and chilly air have finally given way to familiar warm breezes and the need for sunglasses until the sun goes to sleep.

But when the sun finally came out of hiding, I unintentionally dove into it. I don’t often  like keeping my curtains closed, that sad hermit-feeling of being closed off to the rest of civilization. I don’t like staying in one place for too long, the walls of my bedroom seeming to shrink by the second. I don’t like living in my own head for too long either, but that’s a little harder to get away from.

It’s frustrating being an introvert who can’t stand to be alone for too long. And being alone for two days, shut off from the world, has been a challenge I’m adjusting to.

I used to avoid social gatherings like the plague, but I’ve since taught myself how to turn on my outgoing switch when I need it. There was a time when I was addicted to that sort of thing: the way I could adapt to any social event. It was a game only I knew I was playing. My newfound party trick was actually talking to people instead of hiding in the corner or not going at all, and it wore me out like you wouldn’t believe. I was constantly drained, running on fumes 99% of the time, but I was tired of the version of myself who read books alone in her room or stared emptily at the walls. I spent my whole life being that person. The discovery that I could transform into whoever I wanted was a challenge I had never been brave enough to explore until, suddenly, I let go and just did it.

I was in a constant state of busyness, filling my schedule with friends and jobs and bible studies and any new thing I could possibly try. Every minute of every day was accounted for. That in and of itself isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I realized my intentions were wrong when I found myself in a situation with one particular unplanned evening all to myself. Somehow the night had gone unnoticed, left completely blank on my calendar. I sat in the breakroom at work that morning texting friend after friend after friend, fingers frantically asking for anybody to spend time with me. The panic of going back to who I had always been built up with every rejection and I didn’t know what to do with the sinking fear residing in the pit of my stomach. It was foreign to me, a deafening pounding in my ears that yearned for someone else to quiet down because I was tired of doing it myself.

Looking back I think I was afraid of getting addicted to being alone again. I wasn’t ready for the excitement of new people, new activities, new experiences to die down yet because if I spent too much time alone I thought I might have permanently retreated back into my turtle-shell state of living. I don’t like being closed off to the rest of the world, but it’s an easy trap to fall into.

That’s when I learned about the difference between wanting to be alone and hiding. Wanting to be alone and being lonely. Wanting to be alone and using my introvertedness as an excuse.

I’ve been realizing lately that when you put yourself in an unhealthy situation, sometimes God lets you live in it for a while to make you realize the importance of it. To remember it for longer than to get out of just one single situation. He also has a tendency to take away the things that you use as a crutch. Friendships and busyness quickly became a crutch for me so it came to a screeching halt out of nowhere, something beyond my control, and I was forced to reflect on myself.

So now I’m here, quite some time later and thankfully past that weird phase of life, but the confusing push and pull of whether or not to socialize still hangs over me from time to time.

I could have gone out last night with a group of new people I don’t know very well. Maybe after a day of going crazy from working at home all day, it would have been good for me. It wouldn’t have been a waste of time; I could have gotten something out of the experience. But lately I’ve realized that it isn’t just people (generally speaking) I like to spend time with; it’s certain people. It’s those who don’t so easily make me feel drained. The ones who I can spend hours upon hours with and still feel happy and full of life. That’s not to say I should only ever do that simply because it’s what I like, but I simultaneously feel like I get a lot more out of being in the presence of someone I am comfortable with and I feel like I have more to give in return.

I will likely never be the kind of person who helps people, who talks about God, who does anything very useful in the type of changing environment that requires talking to a lot of different people. I have an appreciation for the people who can connect with others in that way, but I know I thrive with deep personal one-on-one connections and that’s what I am seeking to make the most of. I will try new things, I will put myself in other environments, but I won’t try to be somebody I can’t be because that would be a waste of who God made me to be.

Life is a balancing act. Socialize, but make time for yourself so you have enough to give back when you are around people. Go where you are comfortable because you can thrive there, but don’t close yourself off to new possibilities.

This is starting to sound like a motivational speech, as many of my rants tend to do. My point is that sometimes God puts you in uncomfortable situations to teach you an important lesson, but we are living in a generation that tells you you have to constantly do things that scare you. Yes that’s true to a certain extent because trying new things and making connections and other things of the like can often lead to figuring out who you are, what you are good at, etc., but you don’t have to live every second of your life moving so quickly that you don’t take time to reflect on any of it.

Doing what scares you doesn’t mean wasting time in places you don’t think you belong. It doesn’t mean you have to do things you don’t take much of an interest in or that won’t add something to either your or someone else’s lives. Unless you believe there is a legitimate purpose for doing said things, “living life to the fullest” does not look exactly the same for any two people. Simply go where you believe you are lead to go.