Author: stephanie

Spring Cleaning: Detox Your Mind

Spring Cleaning: Detox Your Mind

  This week I had one of those days. You know the kind. Whether you’re a parent, spouse, single person, student, teacher, whoever, sometimes you just get sucked into a totally unhelpful loop in your head. These are the days that I really need to […]

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

  All the crazy rain we had yesterday is reminding me that it’s absolutely spring here in Southeast Pennsylvania. It was just hammering rain last night and crazy windy. Even though it’s no fun being out in it, I think we’ve finally turned the corner […]

8 Ways to Spring Clean Your Haircare

8 Ways to Spring Clean Your Haircare

 

Just a day late for my post today… I find myself not hitting my own deadlines with this blog. I mean they’re completely arbitrary deadlines, but it’s good to set and meet goals for yourself, right? I also like to let you in a little on how a blog works because it’s sometimes helpful to get an idea about the process in case anyone reading this  is thinking about starting or maintaining a blog.

 

I’ve been a little uninspired and struggling with content lately. I guess I love the look of pretty blog pictures but I seriously never find myself taking pictures or setting them up with the same motivation and energy as the writing. Which leads to a product I would like to improve upon. I’d also like to start working on a content calendar for myself so I can do little series like this one. Having posts that link to other posts is really fun and brings some content I hope is more engaging and fun to read!

 

That being said, here goes with this post!

 

On Tuesday, I began a little spring cleaning series with another post on Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Obsessed much? I just love Kondo and her philosophy so much!

 

 

 

 

Today, I want to tackle another aspect of spring cleaning: hair! I know it may seem like spring cleaning is all about the home, but it’s a great excuse to refresh other things in your life. As you can see from some of these pictures, I absolutely love changing my hair up with different colors and styles. I’m not big on styling my hair day to day (usually just straighten and maybe put in a ponytail), so I like to have fresh color and a nice cut to make it a little less boring.

 

Thankfully, my hair grows super fast, so I’m able to freshen things up frequently. I also take good care to keep the color and condition of my hair healthy.  Here are some of the things I do to give my hair a little refresh, and ensure that I’m doing everything in my power (and budget!) to keep it nice. These are just a few ideas…

 

 

 

 

+ clarifying shampoo

 

This is probably my #1 tip for a spring cleaning of your hair. I try to use a clarifying shampoo every Sunday, but if you’re not able to make the time to do this regularly, every few weeks or so work well too. Because I use it sporadically, I love using the high end Sunday Shampoo from Bumble & Bumble. I think it’s the best one on the market. It has such a nice lather and scent and really does a great job of cleansing my scalp. I also love AG’s Natural Balance Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo. ACV is such a great clarifying ingredient!

 

Here’s the thing: we expect our hair to do so much every day! We add a lot of product to keep it looking great: hairspray, dry shampoo, hair oils, serums, root boosters. All that stuff ends up gathering on your hair and your scalp and makes it harder for healthy hair to grow underneath. If you only wash your hair once a week or so and rely heavily on dry shampoo, this is an especially important step. That stuff can really gunk up the works! It can take a little bit of a toll on color. If you are using it less than once a week, try to use a clarifying shampoo at the tail end of fresh color so you give your color a little time to settle into each hair shaft.

 

 

 

 

+ no heat day or week

 

I have to admit, I use a blow dryer and flatiron pretty much every day. And I don’t go to the trouble of using a heat protectant spray. I have very fine hair, and a heat protectant really just weighs it down. Because of all this heat damage, the ends of my hair can get pretty damaged. If you’re doing some spring cleaning on your hair, try going without heat styling for a week! Embrace your natural texture and see what happens. There are also a few conditioners on the market that are specifically designed for no heat styles. If you’re like me and have crazy cowlicks around your hairline, even just blow drying the front and leaving the rest natural is a good effort. I find that laying off heat styling even just once a week makes a big difference in the condition of my hair.

 

 

+ wash hair every day for a week

 

I know the trend lately is to leave as many days as possible between washes to preserve the health and color of your hair. While dry shampoos do in a pinch, I think it’s just another product sitting on your scalp for two or three days. While those with very brittle and dry hair or textured hair might have to wait longer between washes, the average woman should try washing her hair every day for a week. I have a lot of friends who ask me why my hair grows super fast. I swear it’s because my scalp is very clean and daily shampoos help stimulate hair follicles and free up some space for new growth. It’s worth a try, right?

 

 

 

 

+ change your part

 

This is more of a style spring refresh than a hair health one. If you wear your hair parted to one side or the center every single day for years, your hair will start getting flatter over time as the growth pattern shifts in that direction. Whenever I want more bounce or volume, I just switch up my part and it’s like magic! It happens to be good for hair health too. Repetitive stress on hair is pretty damaging and can compromise the quality of your strands. Same goes for headbands or tight ponytails. You do that over and over for years, and your hair is fighting an uphill battle for growth and health.

 

 

 

 

+ hello gorgeous… hair

 

Speaking of a style change up, I have a Pinterest board all about hair called: hello gorgeous… hair. It’s where I pin all my favorite hair cuts and colors for future trips to the salon. Pictures are SO useful when discussing hair with your stylist. I love having a few different pictures for cut and color so my stylist can get a more exact idea of what I want. It’s also fun to imagine new shades or cuts before you attempt them. One thing I will mention: try using a finger to cover the model’s face. Sometimes I’ll see a girl with a cute button nose and a pretty, full face, and what I’m envying is her bone structure, not her hairdo. It’s easy to confuse that! I also look for models and celebs who have a similar look to mine. If I’m looking at pics of Lily Cole with her pretty, round, elvish face and peaches and cream complexion, I’m really going on a wild goose chase for hair that would transform me into her. Stay realistic, but keep your mind open for something new and fun.

 

 

+ trim the ends

 

This is for your hair health. Split ends do major damage to hair because they spread up the hair shaft as they age. When I don’t want to change my length at all, but I really want to freshen up my hair, I ask for a “dusting” off the ends. I’m also very clear about that with my stylist. If you’re looking to really enhance the health of your strands, an inch or two is a great way to do that. Plus a blunt crop is really hot this spring!

 

+ clean ingredients

 

Clean eating is very popular these days, as well as all environmentally friendly and green products. As we’re getting closer to Earth Day this month, it’s good to reexamine our household and personal care products to see what kind of impact they have on our world and our health. Haircare is no exception! I look for cruelty-free hair products, preferably fair trade or fair wage, and of course free of lab-made chemicals and ingredients. That being said, sometimes you can’t avoid artificial ingredients if your budget is tight. Buy the “cleanest” you can afford! Most inexpensive hair products are moving away from paragons and phthalates & you can find better-for-you products on the shelves of any store. It’s important to give hair some kind of breathing room to stay its healthiest and prettiest.

 

 

 

 

+ deep conditioner

 

I use a deep conditioner mask once a week after my clarifying shampoo. This has gone a long way toward keeping my hair healthy when I’ve used bleach, permanent straightening treatments, color, product, you name it. I love, love, love Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Mask and am a very loyal fan. If you want a budget hack with that, look at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. Because it’s a personal care product, any unused returns are not able to be sold in salons. That doesn’t mean they can’t be resold at discount chains. I’m able to save about half of the full priced cost this way. I also really like Aussie’s Three Minute Miracle treatment. The smell is delicious and I find it very effective! Not as effective as the Macadamia Oil product, but still good for the money. I can’t emphasize enough how important a deep conditioning treatment is to the longevity and health of your hair. It’s the one step that I never leave out of my haircare regime.

 

 

As you’re heading into spring cleaning, consider giving your hair a little makeover and freshening up your strands. Self care is healthcare, right? A little pampering will go a long way toward helping you attack all the spring cleaning tasks in your home with renewed energy.

 

 

Do you have any hair hacks or spring cleaning ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.

The No. 1 Thing Everyone Gets Wrong About The KonMari Method

The No. 1 Thing Everyone Gets Wrong About The KonMari Method

Long time no see! I decided to take last week off from blogging to celebrate the Easter season with my family and enjoy my son’s first birthday. It was time well spent and nice to take a step back from all the ordinary things in […]

March Favorites

March Favorites

  March was  a whirlwind punctuated by a seriously big snowstorm in the middle. It was teasing us with warmer temps and all the daffodils and crocuses started to bloom and then BAM, giant snowstorm! That’s ok though. We’re still at the very beginning of […]

What Bible Journaling Looks Like for Me

What Bible Journaling Looks Like for Me

 

For Christians, this week is Holy Week, the final week in Lent when we remember Jesus’ last week of humanity and all the good and bad that went with those seven days. When we think about Holy Week and Jesus’ journey, it’s sometimes hard to get a good handle on what happened. Of course the events are simple and Catholics can take a look at the Stations of the Cross for a timeline of those last moments. But a timeline doesn’t always fill in the emotional, personal, and spirtual side of things.

 

I attended Catholic schools for most of my life, and I often wondered what I was supposed to be feeling when we would do the Stations of the Cross and talk about Jesus and His atonement for us. Is this a sad thing? A victorious thing? Do I have to feel bad all week and not take joy in things? What would Jesus like me to feel and think and do right now? What is Jesus telling me this week?

 

If you don’t have a terribly strong connection to Jesus, like I didn’t at that age, it’s so hard to understand His message for us and the kinds of things He wants for us to get out of His story. If we don’t know who Jesus is to us, all of this spiritual stuff is that much harder. Sometimes we’re behaving like we have a deep connection, but that can often belie a faith that’s not all there. A faith that reflects just the very top layer of the true depths beneath that God intended for us to engage.

 

And that’s totally ok! We all grow at different paces and no spiritual biography is ever a linear one. I’ve found some ways to really get to know Jesus and interact with Him in my life I’d like to share if you’re trying to figure out just what the heck to do with yourself this week.

 

 

 

+ Bible Journaling

 

Supplies:

 

Bible you like

Pen/pencil

Highlighter

Journal

A little bit of time

 

 

Now this is MY list of supplies for my favorite way to interact with scripture, so the supplies might look different for you! I really enjoy reading the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. Of course I have Catholic bible editions saved on a Bible app I love (non-Catholics: we have a few extra books), but I like the readability of the NIV. I also like that it has simple language and very few footnotes. I am a very distractible reader, and like to have as little on the page as possible.

 

I love having a journaling Bible too. These are specially made for those who like to illuminate their Bible with all kinds of drawings, pulling out verses, washi tape, colored pencils, you name it. I just like the especially wide margins and pages that don’t bleed through. I tried decorating in the past and found it distracting for me. Others really like to use their Bibles this way!

 

In terms of highlighters, you can totally use whichever you like and color code the verses you discover. I have a pink and yellow highlighter. When I’m highlighting scripture, if God is talking it’s in yellow and if we’re talking it’s in pink. Super simple. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated unless you like complicated.

 

Now that the supplies are out of the way, how exactly do I make this work and how do I get to know God this way?

 

Through years and years and years of reading, I developed a method that works for me. Everyone interacts with scripture in their own way. This is just how it clicks best and a method I’ve been using for a long time.

 

The first thing I do is pick a book of the Bible that I’m feeling particularly drawn to at any given point in my journey. I let God help me out with that. Right now I’m slogging through Psalms, one chapter at a time, and have been for months. I’ve felt called to Isaiah recently, Exodus in the past, Romans, Acts, Luke, whichever book I feel like I’m drawn to at the moment.

 

Once I find a book, I stick with it, chapter by chapter, until I finish. Then I move on to the next book I discover.

 

I like to stick to a certain schedule and routine so I can make sure to have time set aside to dig in. Pretty much every Monday, I’ll pick up my Bible, turn to the chapter where I left off, and get started. You can try reading and journaling about a chapter every day, three times a week, once a month, every other month, whatever works with your lifestyle right now.

 

Once I block out that time, I start with Chapter 1 of my chosen book. I read through the chapter and highlight anything that sticks with me. It can be something I think God wants me to reflect on, something that I’m feeling, a verse I just can’t shake, a verse I don’t understand, however it strikes me. Once I get done reading and highlighting, I get to work on the journal part. And this is how I read every week. The next week it would be Chapter 2, and then Chapter 3, and so on.

 

I think it’s good to reflect on one chapter at a time, regardless of their length. It helps me to really think about what I’m reading and tease out every last bit of meaning I can find.

 

When I was 16, I read through the whole Bible in a year. That was a sprint, with a real structure and milestones. Now that I’m older, I like to have a more leisurely pace so I can really invest in God’s word. I’m happy and proud of that accomplishment, but I find I’m drawn to scripture in a different way right now.

 

After highlighting, I open my journal and copy down the highlighted verse that most impacted me on the top of my journal page. I also like to date that page, so I can kind of look back on it in the future and have a better idea of what was happening in my life at that moment.

 

The act of copying verses really helps sink them into my heart. I think the physical act of writing, one letter at a time, helps me focus, quiets my mind, and allows the words to be written on my heart a little bit better.

 

After I copy the verse and date the page, I start the journal entry as a letter to whichever member of the Trinity I’m feeling that day and with whatever term of endearment I feel like using. Some days it’s “Father God,” other days “Abba,” other days, “Jesus.” It changes depending on where I am in my journey and Who I feel most comfortable approaching. I’ve been blessed with a real desire in my heart to connect with the Father, so that’s Who has been getting my attention most lately.

 

Once I address the journal entry/letter, I let everything free flow out of my heart and on to the page. Some days I begin by writing about the verse I copied, what I think about it, how it struck me, maybe asking God how I can apply that to my life.

 

Some days I launch into the nitty gritty of my day. I can talk about how frustrating traffic was, how I’m losing my patience with my family, how I’m tired of being tired all the time. Those are the concrete, daily life entries that need to be said so I can get that all out of the way.

 

I like to think about the mundane letters as a way to spill out everything so I can focus on God, like the Israelites did at the Temple. Sacrifice things that matter to your daily life so you can focus on the Presence of God in His Temple. I don’t think those words are wasted and believe that if they are important to us, they’re important to Him.

 

Some days I ask lots and lots of questions, some polite and some not so polite, some things that are burning on my heart and are frustrations, and some things that I’m genuinely curious about.

 

Other days, I might just rage and rage at God. I might take out all my thunderous anger on Him because He’s the only one Who can take it. And the only One who can take it away.

 

I think the last category of entries is when I just get lost in His Presence and write any words or phrases or images He puts on my heart. I might thank Him, praise Him, whatever. Those are the best entries! I love resting in His Glory and seeing and hearing things that are altogether supernatural. I’m not the kind of person who embraces a charismatic vibe, but the mystic thing really speaks to me. It’s such a joyful way to connect to God on another level.

 

I think the most important thing of all is to approach this as honestly and authentically as possible. Vulnerability is key. Whatever words I have on my heart, whatever feelings, whatever paths my mind takes me, I lay it all down at His throne. It’s hard at first to be fully vulnerable, but some practice and habit really help break down those barriers. It makes His heart joyful when we set it all at His feet and allow Him to lift away our burdens.

 

And that’s it! Little by little, week by week, verse by verse, year by year, I get to work my way through God’s heart. I get to have a better idea of what He asks of me, what He speaks to me and over me, and how He wants me to live this life. He gives us such a simple gospel. It’s good to strip away all the academic stuff, the translations and interpretations, the official pronouncements of scripture, and just pasture a little in His garden. Those things are great and important, but if they’re not engaging our hearts, then I think maybe we’re not getting the fullness of His Word.

 

It’s in this way that I fell head over heels in love with God. It’s just that simple. I read and read and interacted and poured over and savored and engaged in His Word, and I just fell so hard for the Man at the center of this story. My love for the Father just took off when I started seeing Who He really is in the Hebrew Scriptures, how He was speaking to us, to me, all along. And Holy Spirit just kept writing on my heart as I was reading, copying, and journaling His Word. The words of Jesus that came from His earthly walk endear me to His Heart and help me understand Him better.

 

It’s something that has really had the greatest impact on my faith, and it’s not complicated at all!

 

Some people out there really connect with God in the rituals of their faith. Some connect through repetitive or meditative prayer practices. Some interact with God out in the world, through lakes, and streams, and oceans. Some use music to allow Him to speak to their hearts. Some hear Him clearly in service to others or championing the forgotten. I find Him, clearly and sweetly, speaking to me through His Word. It’s a good thing to try out all of these things. It’s even better to find the one that speaks to you in the words you need to hear and practice it often.

 

Take my Bible journaling practice for what it is: a favorite practice in a simple faith. I really encourage you to try it for yourself. And don’t give up after a month or so. Really stick to it for a solid block of time! I firmly believe that your heart will never be the same again. And that’s really what Holy Week is all about: interacting with God on a day by day basis, letting Him speak to our hearts, and letting Him tell His story over and over so we can find a fresh outpouring of His love in every moment of our lives.

 

 

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.

 

 

DIY Fabric Freshener

DIY Fabric Freshener

  I don’t know about you, but I love finding natural, DIY alternatives to store-bought cleaning products. Even though so many cleaning products do make a difference in how clean and sweet-smelling my house is, I like to have alternatives that don’t effect my baby […]

Taking Pride in Everything You Do

Taking Pride in Everything You Do

  There’s something special about Japan. I taught English in very rural Japan years ago, but something has always stuck with me about the lifestyle of the Japanese that is really special. Anyone who pays attention to the Japanese for any length of time sees […]

When Language Leaves People Out

When Language Leaves People Out

 

In religious studies, religions can be loosely categorized as universalizing faiths and ethnic faiths. Ethnic faiths are for a specific people in a specific time and specific place. Shintoism and Judaism are good examples. Shintoism doesn’t go around looking for followers, trying to appeal to everyone. Nope. It’s for Japanese people by Japanese people. In Judaism, it’s a big challenge to convert  because this rich faith is so bound up in its people, shared heritage, and language.

 

Universalizing faiths are based on values and ideas intended to be spread & shared & appeal to everyone (or hope to). Buddhism, Christianity, Islam. These faiths are adaptable to individuals & cultures that stretch far beyond their geographic or ethnic origins.

 

Sometimes these universalizing faiths can get so caught up in their own little “in groups” and “out groups” that they leave people out: the seekers, the skeptics, the discouraged, and the eagerly interested.

 

In my own experience, I see some ways that Christianity can get bogged down by local flavor so much that it stops being relevant in our time and place. Am I talking about the theology? No. There is so much good and faithful theology in Christian tradition and it’s totally not my job to rewrite it. I’m a practitioner not a theologian.

 

It’s the approach.

 

While some in the Catholic faith are TOTALLY FREAKED OUT by Pope Francis because they might think he’s trying to rewrite a few thousand years of history, it’s more a softening of language than a softening of the message. He puts things in layman’s terms because he’s speaking to laymen. He’s talking to people who feel really left out, disenfranchised, and alienated by all the Catholic culture instead of the Catholic faith. And wow. That’s such a brave thing to do.

 

It’s also an idea that Jesus and the early church were all about. Peter & Paul had rock solid faith & theology but they looked to translate it into the culture & time where they lived. In Acts 17, Paul talked to the Greeks by starting with philosophy (to the philosopher crowd) and the pantheon of gods (to the non-Christian religious crowd). He acknowledged their great faith and wasn’t there to prove a point, alienate them, or put down their beliefs. He was proclaiming the Gospel in language and a cultural identity they would understand. Paul also talked to Jewish audiences in synagogues in words they would get without ever straying from the Gospel. So this inclusive language idea is nothing new.

 

I’m going to be really real here. There are countless times in my life where I’ve felt alienated and left out by my faith. It’s often unintended and done in a truly ignorant/innocent way. Sometimes it’s targeted though. And that hurts.

 

I must not be the only one who feels this way. I come from a pretty out there perspective & think of things in unique and unorthodox ways. When I talk to people around me who come from all different kinds of backgrounds & perspectives, I’ve heard this kind of alienation too. A confusion. An exclusion.

 

The thing that makes me saddest is that it’s often unspoken & so many well-meaning people have no idea they’re leaving people out. For the well-meaning of us, how do we stay true to the heart of our faith & be approachable & inclusive & kind in our style? I’d like to lay out a few examples when I’ve felt a little bit of friction and distance to hopefully get you thinking about ways you could lighten up a little. I hope they’re useful!

 

As always, I’m in no way flawless. These are reminders to myself to always keep it real and to always speak to others in love. Here goes…

 

 

+ Christianese 

 

This portmanteau of Christian and “ese,” meaning a lingo or special language, is so common I’m not the first one to mention it. It often manifests as comforting language that is either really vague & general or so specific and niche that only the most “in” members of a faith get.

 

If someone around me is in the grip of sorrow & despair, I don’t know that saying “well, all things work together for good” or “Jesus take the wheel” are very helpful. The first is scriptural, sure, but am I saying it because it’s easy and a reflex? Or are we in the middle of looking in the Bible for answers & really digging in? I could also say “well, offer it up” or ask someone to think of “salvation” and “the last things” or even “eschatology” and leave a lot of people going “huh?”

 

Those things are great. They are true and solid. But if you’re coming from a non-Christian upbringing or a community that doesn’t trade in theological discourse, it can really bury the message. I try to speak in language anybody can understand and it’s more helpful than you think. I believe my faith IS universal so why not seek to make it sound like that? To a grieving friend I can just listen. I can be there. And if a conversation opens up I can talk about things in plain language, with thought and heart.

 

 

 

 

 

+ the not so subtle dig

 

There’s a time to be a little blunt in faith matters and there’s a way to put it that calls people out on their stuff without putting them down. When I bailed on church for years, one day my priest looked me right in the eye and said, “We’re here Saturday afternoon and four times on Sunday. We’re here in three languages. You don’t have an excuse.” Whoa. That hit me in the gut and was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. This direct message came from love & a desire for shepherding. Plus, my priest knew me & knew what I needed to hear. That’s great & the mark of a healthy back and forth relationship!

 

What hurts is when a Christian speaker, author, or friend calls you out on who you are, not what you do. Calling me selfish for this or saying I should be ashamed of myself or I’m failing isn’t super helpful. That language is specifically exclusive and doesn’t lead me to repentance. It leads me to feeling really distanced and hurt. Words matter. I try not to let my words get in the way of a really good message. I try not to call strangers out harshly or I don’t call them out at all. Maybe they’re strangers to the faith because they’re hurt and people have used barbed language to subdue their behavior & get them in line. So, I try to be real & lighten it up.

 

 

 

+ doom and gloom

 

Are we in the end times? Maybe. But even Jesus doesn’t know the day or hour when this planet comes crashing down. So, l do my best to not dwell on it. Focusing solely on pain, suffering, torment, long-suffering-endurance-until-blessed-heaven is a really easy way to get people to tune out and not hear our message of hope. Pope John Paul II said “we are an Easter people and alleluia is our song.” Heck yeah it is! That kind of language makes me want to love harder, live better, and spread the good news. And it’s good news for a reason.

 

Jesus talked a lot about the kingdom of God but most of the time it was the kingdom of here and now. Not the kingdom of the end times or even the end of our lives. I don’t hear Him saying, “Life is suffering. We toil until we die. If we’re good and holy enough, maybe someday you can get to heaven where we can play harps with angels!” No way. He said “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and He told people to love and appreciate and hang out with Him here and now. He wants to partner with us and build us up in joy. Not scare us into obedience. He also doesn’t tend to deal in doom and gloom. Because He absolutely never despairs. Never, not once. If my language is that much of a downer, maybe I’m slip-sliding into despair. And that’s a sad place where nobody wants to live. Come into the light! Let our language reflect hope and spread goodness and love.

 

 

 

+ saints and rosaries and scapulars 

 

Yes, I am a Catholic. I love my faith. I’m a better person for it. But do I really dig into Catholic culture sometimes and forget there are other people on the planet? Yeah, probably. There is a time and place for talking about super-specific-to-your-faith things. If I’m a Mormon & the first things out of my mouth are garments and endowments and recommends and funeral potatoes, people outside of this really specific faith just get lost in the weeds.

 

Of course, if someone directly asks, “what specifically has helped you in your faith? What are some things I can do?” I might mention the Divine Mercy Chaplet because it’s like the greatest thing ever, but it’s never my lead in. I try to be mindful of really specific faith practices when talking to civilians. I also try to be aware when I’m falling more into the trappings of my faith than the guts and glory of it.

 

I like to keep it simple. Going to mass. Participating in sacraments. Serving people. If quoting saints and collecting miraculous medals ever takes my eyes of the simple gospel, then I have to really think about where my heart is. Those things are SO COOL and helpful and holy but they’re not all there is to my faith. TLC said it best “don’t go chasing waterfalls.” Or crying statues. I must keep my language and practice loving and simple and let that specific stuff be an invitation for digging deeper, not leaving people out.

 

 

+ missing the point

 

Is the point of my faith to win an argument? To bolster a political platform? To tell my friends and family to get in line or else? To frighten kids? To preach the religion of me and what I think? This is something I think about a lot. I can let myself become way bigger and more important than God and His relentless reckless awesome love for us. Sometimes I have to take a step back from talking about faith to really remember who I am, Who I live for, and what I’m doing here.

 

If what I’m doing and saying leaves anyone out of the kingdom maybe I need to re-examine my message. Because there is only one message in my heart. It’s “You matter. You are loved. You are heard and known. You are worthy and have dignity. You are wanted and desired by the God of the universe. Personally and individually. Yes, you.” I really have to lead with that. If it takes me shutting up for awhile in conversations about religion or politics or culture, maybe that’s a good thing. Because Jesus was a great listener and listening is an act of love.

 

 

 

 

 

+ shaming people who aren’t us

 

 

Yeah, there can be a specific look and feel for members of any faith. That could look like modest clothing, skin that’s never seen a tattoo needle, a heteronormative lifestyle (look it up), or “positive and encouraging” light rock on the radio. That’s cool! Being a little vanilla isn’t bad at all. It’s kind of sweet and different and admirable. But it doesn’t excuse us from hanging out with people who look and feel and act totally differently.

 

I say this because it’s a particular sting I’ve felt over and over. I have a lot of things about me that are WAY out of the sweet little Catholic girl package. My background, my choices, my DNA. Not a lot of it fits. If you know me personally, you know what I’m talking about. And my friends and loved ones? Lots of tattoos and piercings and rainbow bumper stickers.

 

There’s a time and place for theological differences and theological truths. Of course there is. Is that time always now? And what about people who are really different but it doesn’t show? Hidden sin, maybe a hidden desire, or a hidden diagnosis. Are we mindful, always mindful, of our audience? Do we know or just assume?

 

Jesus hung out with some pretty unusual people: samaritans, tax collectors, hookers , the physically unclean, the  differently abled, adulterers… He loved every last inch of them and died out of love for each and every one. His love knows no limit and knows no voting record or gender or hair color or fandom. And that’s a statement of fact. He IS love.

 

We are each called to obedience and repentance and a turning toward righteousness, but leading with that leaves a lot of people hurt and confused and left out. I’ve done my fair share of hurting and leaving people out. If that’s you, I’m sincerely sorry. I’m learning and making mistakes but I don’t have an excuse. I’ve assumed people are like me a lot and have said some pretty tone deaf and hurtful things in the past (Shame is an Ugly Word). But I’m working on it.

 

I’ve also been a target from time to time. And that sucks. Don’t assume I’m like you because I go to mass every Sunday and carry a holy card in my wallet. (It’s Michael the Archangel if you’re wondering. I need a tough saint for my life.) Let’s listen, ask questions, celebrate the diversity of humans and of God’s kingdom. We should stand in awe of the fact that God can love when we can’t. “The faithful” aren’t just one thing. And loving people leads them on all kinds of faith adventures and good challenges than they could never imagine. Judging just shuts them down.

 

You know why I’m going to the trouble of saying these things? Because God put it in my heart to be a little bit unusual. To feel left out a lot. To feel like I belong on the island of misfit toys. To not really fit in any community. He gave me that gift to help me speak to lots of different people and love lots of different people. If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, let that compassion lead you to bring other people into your circle of friends and loved ones. Be grateful you’re one of the weirdos.

 

If what I’m saying convicts you because you’re part of the in crowd, cool. Let’s talk. I love you too. God loves you more. I’m gonna mess up the message but He never will. Learn to lead with love and let everything else follow.

 

 

We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song. Let’s tell absolutely everyone this good news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On The Menu: Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs

On The Menu: Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs

  Easter is just around the corner and it’s my favorite time of year to make deviled eggs. I mean, they’re always a win at any party, but Easter is a great excuse to make good use of all those hard boiled eggs!   I […]