Happy Quaran-Easter!

Easter is the one of two holidays we host at our home (the other being Independence Day). That means our day wasn’t as impacted as most. We were still able to make babka and eat Polish sausages with hard-boiled eggs, horseradish, and beets. We still served mimosas for the adults and orange juice for the oldest. Easter eggs were hidden and found. We attended church (from our couch) and although we didn’t have the fancy, new Easter outfits, we raised our hands in worship and let ourselves be renewed in the promise of LIFE.

This has been my favorite day of quarantine so far. My Facebook feed is filled with proclamations of “He is Risen!” It’s filled with smiling families and fought for traditions. It’s happy. Devoid of political arguments and want-to-be researchers and hate. I do take some credit for that as I’ve been using my social media “Snooze” and “Unfollow” options liberally lately but I think today’s uplifting feed is more than weeding out the negatives. I think today we decided that we could be one body of Christ again.

I’m not saying we have to agree with each other to be one body of Christ. That wouldn’t be Biblical advice and if you heard it coming out my mouth, I would hope that you would take me aside into a one-on-one to point out my error (Matthew 18:15-17). But we should seek to show respect both to those who share our faith and those who don’t. We are members of mankind, after all. God seeks a relationship with all of us.

A lot of us feel that silence is too costly right now. Disagreeing and speaking that disagreement is critical to saving lives – or – freedoms. I get it (more than you know). That being said, can we agree to disagree with the understanding that we are the church? That the way we disagree is a reflection of Christ, the same Christ that died on the cross and rose again on Easter Sunday so that we can have eternal life?

We did good today, folks and I felt it in my soul. Let’s keep up the positive momentum. Let’s let love fill our feeds and friendships and families. Let’s keep our hearts set on Easter Sunday for as long as possible.


Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

Titus 3:1-10

NOTE: I also recognize that today was terribly lonely for some of us. My heart breaks over the pain that we’re experiencing collectively and as individuals. I know social media is a highlight reel and I am not advocating for masking our pain. Just for kindness. We could all use a little more kindness these days.

Currently Reading: Bandersnatch

Well, to be truthful, I’ve just finished the book. I had to wait until the very end to write this because it stretched me and I needed to know where it finished.

The title alone tells you that this book falls wildly outside of the ordinary. The author manifests a purposefully unconventional approach to Christianity and what it means to live out our unique faith walks. She encourages the reader to slough off the confines of conformity and allow the same space for others so we might all experience true relationship with each other and our Creator.

Bandersnatch is floral, which is my way of saying there is a poetic nature to the writing style that I don’t immediately cling to and there are also some points of theology which the author and I would likely disagree on, but it’s also beautiful in that it reminds the reader that Jesus pulled up a seat for each and every last one of us at His table, that He meets us where we are, and that all of us are a reflection of Him. Even those in the midst of the dark grip of addiction and destruction.

Some facts:

  1. I picked this book up in November of 2016.
  2. Erika Morrison, the author of this book, and I just so happen to be Facebook friends.
  3. As I have come to learn through these pages, she and I have very different personalities. Her call to action and mine look different – and, as she explains throughout her book, that’s a good thing.
  4. Erika and I have never actually met but I was introduced to her family long before Facebook ever matched us through stories of my husband’s childhood. Their families grew up together and I have had the divine advantage of being able to check in with Freddy from time to time while reading this book to confirm, “This is real?”
  5. And lastly this: It was planned that this book sat on my shelves for so long. I wouldn’t have finished reading it if I had started when I purchased it. I needed to learn a few things about myself first.

 

In Bandersnatch, Erika gives example after example of what it looks like to seek the face of God in the marginalized. She’s a feeler and she wraps up the poor and panhandling in her arms as if they were her biological family. Those of you who know me know that I had to put the book down and take deep breaths after reading about her desire for physical closeness with others throughout these pages.

I have a history of feeling condemned when challenged to get out and love people in a physical way. I am not a physical person. Even in high school, I had to be reminded when meeting new friends and family of my then boyfriend that “These people are huggers. Just go in and be the first to hug.” That coaching came from a place of understanding of who and how I am but over time I started to see forced interactions as personal failures.

I’ve been told I’m intimidating more than once which I am sure comes from my standoff demeanor in uncharted situations. And, let’s be honest, also for my wide-eyed, open mouthed glares at people who aren’t. I don’t hate you – I just really don’t want to be hugged by you.

There is this small group of women that I’ve fallen deeply in love with. We call ourselves the tribe and I was just able to remark this past Thursday that while I was initially so drawn to them by our similarities, I am now so deeply committed to them through our differences. Lord help me, I have huggers in that group. These women squeeze me until I squirm and they know full well that my stiff-as-a-board response has nothing to do with my measure of love for them.

And I think, in perhaps an unexpected way, this is what the author is really asking of me. To be my authentic, non-hugging self and to let my own authenticity provide space for others to be theirs. So, no, I don’t think I will be going out downtown to wrap my arms around a stranger anytime soon but I am starting to envision what my form of love looks like for strangers. Is it coming along side someone to teach life skills? Is it asking more stories and making more conversation for the sake of knowing God through the people around me?

Whatever it looks like, it has to be my own method of madness. Not someone else’s. I also know that there is a place for the feelers and a place for me at the table. We’ll break bread and drink wine together and when it’s time to leave, I’ll go in the for the handshake and they’ll go in for the hug.

An Enneagram? Sounds painful.

Last night, one of my very closest friends introduced me to the Enneagram (which is a fancy way of saying that she’s just cleared my schedule and given me my next time suck).

I love personality quizzes, categorizations, or as Wikipedia tells me “models of human psyche.” It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows my affection for the self-help aisle bookstores that these things speak to me. Myers-Briggs? INFJ. 5 Strengths? Relator, Strategic, Learner, Input, Intellection.

Enneagram? 1.

Now, I’ve taken these over the course of several years and I haven’t done much (read: “any”) analysis into what they all mean together, but I’m pretty sure they all mean that I’m a pretty difficult person to live with. You could ask my husband but I think I can speak for him on this one.

Do you know why I love these models so much?

  1. I know that I am not alone.
    • Someone has my base personality nailed. And it’s prevalent enough in this world to write a book about, or several!
    • I interact with a lot of people who quite frankly aren’t a lot like me. That’s not a bad thing but it can feel isolating sometimes. Reading through these lets me know that I’m okay. I have things I need to work on, sure, but I’m not a complete enigma to the entire human population. To some, definitely, but not all.
  2. I can see what I need to work on.
    • When I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 a while back, it blew my mind. Did you know that people with strong but unbridled strategic minds can come off as negative naysayers? Of course you did. But guess what. I didn’t. I had been really struggling with certain coworkers of mine because there were major roadblocks down the path we were headed in a particular project. Yet anytime I brought up concerns, I was shut down. Do you know why? (Again, yes, you probably do). It was the how not the what I was communicating that was causing the issue. Once I learned that, I was able to re-approach the topic and look back in history to see the same patterns popping up again and again. (I still struggle with this, by the way. I’ve become somewhat accustomed to letting people know right off the bat that I’m not the most eloquent person they’ll ever meet but I will always be honest with them).
  3. I learn how to love my people better.
    • If you’ve taken the time to read through all of the personality traits with which I identify, you’re probably gathering that I’m not the most easy going person. I need a lot of time alone to decompress. I have a pretty unwavering view of right and wrong that I have been known to inappropriately apply to others (shocker, I know). If you’re looking for a spontaneous adventure partner or someone to break the rules with, I’m not your girl. But I am open to learning, always. I’m open to seeing how my strengths can become my flaws and how my structured approach to the people I love can be stifling.
    • I’m also incredibly loyal. I am devoted and love to walk side-by-side with my people toward a common goal. I can get behind the passions of others and rally the troops in support. I support growth and development of others; I’m a cheerleader for good. I can help with that project, that goal, that new habit.
    • I’m somewhat obsessed with growth and development and I use that to learn ways to better my relationships with others.

So yes, I’m probably a pretty difficult person to live with (I am) but aren’t we all, in our own way? And although my husband would probably look at me and shake his head emphatically “Yes!” if you asked him, he also continues to happily sign up for the long haul with me again and again.

What’s your type?

Life has been a little hectic lately.

Life has been a little hectic lately. In the last 7 weeks or so, I have worked in inordinate amount of overtime. Do you still call it overtime when you’re a salaried employee? Not just a few late nights here and there or a few early meetings but multiple days’ worth of time. Leading up to our project launch, I was in the office for a 14 hour Saturday backed up to a 17 hour Sunday and back in by 7:30am on Monday (but only because I slept through the 6:00am scheduled start).

I have never before and hope to never again experience the kind of exhausted, not-enough-eye-drops-in-the-world, mental/physical/emotion strain of that kind of timeline for a project launch. Take it from me, you should never attempt to launch before you’ve completed your mock launch activities.

But my project team and I did it. We’d been preparing for an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software implementation. We were already using a previous version of the same software but instead of looking at this change as an upgrade, we pulled out all of the data that had been erroneously entered over the past several years and sifted it out. We remapped table keys. Restructured business processes. Rewrote code and reports and work instructions. And despite a few misses that we’ve worked to clean up over the last two weeks, this project has been considered an overall organizational success!

But can we zoom out a little?

I’m exhausted. Still, almost two weeks later. My husband, who pulled all of the weight of family life during this period, is now fighting off his first illness of Autumn. My house is full of tiny fruit flies from a misplaced can that wasn’t properly recycled during my usual cleaning routine because, well, there was no routine. I worked out this past Saturday (taking it slow) and it nearly killed me. Fast forward half a week and I pulled a muscle playing with my daughter; my body is wrecked. And my beautiful little girl wants “Momma, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Momma. Did you hear me calling you, Mom?”

We’re all a little drained from the chaos. And to be honest, there’s no way we all would’ve made it without these things right here:

  • My Tribe
    • Friends who continue to pour into me when I go dark. Friends who continue to text or Snap without a response. Friends who send flowers to work for encouragement.
  • My Husband
    • Who allowed our roles not just to flip flop, but to completely shift onto him. Who put his career behind mine for a period. Who bit his tongue – a lot. And who continued to encourage me even if he felt like I should be waving the white flag.
  • God
    • For putting those people in my life. For continually tapping me on the shoulder with scripture or songs about being a light or a door for others to experience his goodness. For keeping me from completely morphing into a troll at the workplace.
  • Whole30
    • For categorically denying my desire to stress eat. For minimizing the impact of skipped meals, small meals, or late meals on my system. For giving me the energy that I needed to make it through a 17 hour shift at all, let alone without getting sick immediately following. For giving me something else to commit to when the project felt all consuming. For teaching me ways to cope without food.

So really, this post is a gratitude post for those things that kept me going. At work, we passed the project launch, cleaned up the few misses, and we’ve already started sliding back to normal. But me? I’m changed. I’m exhausted and more experienced and more filled with gratitude. It took overtime and high stress and looming deadlines to remind me that my focus is really on people, and that includes me.

Thank you, tribe and Freddy, and God, and Whole30, for shaping me during this time. For showing me grace. And for teaching me about my priorities and the balance that leads me to my best me.

Without you, I am a lesser me.

A Mile A Day: Day 14

I’m playing catch up after this amazing weekend!

Tonight’s mile was a run/walk to get back in time to tuck my sweet babe into bed.

It was preceded by a mother’s day brunch surrounded by my husband, father, brother-in-law, and three of the most important mothers in my life: my mother, mother-in-law, and sister.

My girlfriend came over to prep for my next adventure: Whole30 starting this Tuesday, on May 16th. We shopped for ingredients and made a fairly modest mess in my kitchen using my brand-new-all-the-bells-and-whistles food processor! What a breeze prep was with that thing! I’m obsessed.

And now I am catching up and winding down, looking forward to what this week will bring!

Happy Mother’s Day

 

A Mile A Day: Day 13

Saturday.

What. a. day!

In the morning, I took the birthday bicycle to the bike shop to get properly fitted. The surprise gift from my husband was essentially a big gift card; he arranged for me to come try out a few models before completing the deal and although I loved the matte black, I ended up with a steely blue that fits oh-so-right and keeps the pressure off my bogus right knee.

We celebrated the fitting at a delicious Bosnian restaurant. It’s that’s been on my list for a while so the impromptu stop was a very welcome food break. After a splitting some gyro-styled fries and a spicy gyro sandwich, we headed home in time for some relaxation and my daily mile.

That’s when the fun really began.

It was date night. My birthday date night, to be exact. And despite asking Freddy to pick anything for our date night except going out to eat, he told me a few weeks ago that we were going out to eat.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the news. In fact, every single one of my friends heard about it leading up to the night (a reminder that I need to quit running my mouth about minor things). But by the time the evening rolled around, I was just excited for sunshine with my beau!

We started driving and he told me he had pushed back our reservation largely because I love chatting with our babysitter and we talked through the first reservation. He was so cool and collected about it. “No worries. We have plenty of time now. What do you say to grabbing a drink before dinner?”

Sounds great!

We pulled up to a cider mill that I had mentioned earlier in the week. There were some white table cloths at the stand up tables outside, white and turquoise balloons, and a beautifully set long table so I turned to Fred and said, “Are you sure they’re open? It looks like they’re having a private party.”

“It does looks like that. They’re open though.”

“It’s okay,” I told him. “A guy just walked out in a tank top and shorts and he does not looked dressed up. Oh, the open sign is out. We’re good!”

We walked up the steps toward the door and I swear I saw my sister’s reflection through the glass. My sister happens to live over 2 hours away and was currently in a southern state in the US so my mind went racing into how that person looked so much like my sister and then how that person was my sister and why would my sister be here without telling…

SURPRISE!

My sister, my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law, my parents, my friends from college, my friends from church, Freddy and my friends, my people. They were lined up in front of the bar with party hats and noise makers for me!

I had a quick thought that I might burst into tears and Kim-Kardashian-ugly-cry in front of everyone but the fear of being ridiculed for life was enough to keep me semi-locked up. And if I had gotten to have drinks or dinner surrounded by my people, it would have been enough…but it was so much more!

That beautiful, long table that was filled with place settings? In each napkin was a menu, pre-selected with the most delicious foods. At the top of the menu was written “Happy birthday, Megan!”

I celebrated my 30th with friends and family under the sun, drinking delicious cider and eating delicious food, and being overwhelmed with these people’s love for me and my love for them.

Birthday_Couple

Thank you.

Thank you to my wonderfully planned husband who surpassed all expectations and loved on me in such a tangible way this week and weekend. Thank you to family who traveled from opposite ends of the state or even from several states away just to spend the evening with me. Thank you to my dear friends who mingled and meshed over donuts and prosciutto, apples and blue cheese, bratwurst and hot mustard, spring hash, and banana cream pie. And thank you to those of you who wished you could have been there in more than spirit. You are so deeply loved.

A Mile A Day: Day 4

I loved today’s walk. Loved. it.

You know those Fall days when your body is warm and your nose never gets cold but your cheeks feel like perfectly frozen muscles on your face? They’re cool to the touch long after you come inside but the chill never permeates anything else?

That was today’s Spring weather.

And the sunset was full of purples, pinks, and blues up to a yellow divider. I’m telling you. There is something about this Spring!

And you know what else was great? Taking that walk alongside this handsome boy:

WinstonAge5

He’s the best.

We recently took home a beautifully brindled puppy that we just couldn’t keep in an attempt to give Winston more attention. (More about that on a different day)

Long story short: You can’t make up for a lack of attention by distracting from it.

Our brindled pup has been happily re-homed but we also knew we couldn’t keep taking this stud for granted. Now Winston and I are tackling 30 together! We’re getting out. We’re marveling at creation. We’re moving. (Doesn’t he look healthy?)