Saturday, April 30, 2011


Freedom, I realized, is a word I've been hearing and thinking a lot about lately, but hadn't really spent any time connecting the pieces.  Freedom is something we long for, we cling to.  Moments like this one (albeit a movie) speak to the core of our souls, because we long to be free. 

Ah... a moment. We had a similar one at our school for Veteran's day this year, when a local Vietnam vet spoke to our students, sharing his reflections and how, when he came home, he was spit on, and mocked, and made fun of.... but that what he cared most about, was this one thing- he stepped away from the podium, away from the microphone, flung his arms wide, shouted Freedom! And we all were moved.

Freedom is a powerful concept.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to share a short testimony at an evening for high school girls at church called, appropriately, Freedom Night.   There was worship, testimonies, a question panel, and a time of reflection, and a couple of beautiful ballet pieces to, mostly, Barlow Girl songs.  Topics included self-image, relationships, sexuality, and more.  It was intense, and so powerful.  I was asked to give a brief testimony (like 5 minutes) on self-image and my freedom from my struggles.  I was so freaked out about the whole time limit thing (I'm a talker), and there were so many components to my story, that I finally, about 30 minutes before I was supposed to arrive at the church, jotted down my thoughts, which, as I wrote, realized, although not necessarily a narrative, were my story.  A friend asked me to share those words on my blog, so here they are.

Insecurity.  Meaning I don't feel safe in my own skin.  Self image tied to self worth.  The video (referring to the Dove Evolution Video) says we have a distorted image of beauty.  I knew that, but didn't believe it.  Skinny people always taling about the tragedy of eating disorders.  Be quiet, skinny people.  I wasn't skinny, but I wasn't fat.  I wasn't ugly, but I wasn't beautiful.  What was my worth?  Always comparing myself to others, measuring myself.  I look better than her.. oh, but not as good as her.  I'm skinner than her... yuck, but fatter than her. 

All of these thoughts show some of my disordered thinmking, which lead to disordered behavior.  Should I eat today, after all I ate already?  Never good enough.  A perpetual obession.  No control.


I was made by The God who made the goregous mountains, the intricate beauty of flowers, the shimmery diamonds of the sea.  I am always in awe of his perfection.   He created ALL beautiful things.

And he created ME.

And more.  He LOVES me.

He who has all things in his hands



My big smile, my oversized my ribcage, my blueeyes, my doughy stomach. 

And if I am measuring myself by any other standar, if my worth is coming from anything, it ought to be that.

That I am loved and I was made THIS way, with THIS body and face, by THE ONE.

It doesn't mean sometimes I don't still compar myself, or that I don't have days I feel fat, or days where I forget, and put myself down because of how I look.

But then I remember.

If I let my identity, my worth, be based in anything else, I will me miserable.  I must make a choice, a daily choice, to remember.

I am NOT defined by the world's image of beauty, because I am FREE from those expectations.

I was made by a Master Artist, THE Master Artist of ALL things beautiful.

And He Loves Me.

So I am Beautiful.

And I am Free.

There's more to my thoughts on freedom. This morning I was praying for several people and the need for their freedom kept coming to my heart. We are held captive, the scripture says, and HE came to set us FREE.

"Fight, and you may die. Run, and you may live. At least a while." What kind of life is it when we are captives? Freedom does not come easily, I think. It requires persistence, dedication, perseverance, heartbreak, sweat, and tears.

Yet we crave it. We need it. And He offers it.

I claim that word today. May you also.

Monday, April 25, 2011


You know the expression, "A Case of the Mondays"?

Poor Mondays.  They have earned such a bad reputation over the years, purported to be the worst day of the week, the day work resumes, where fun ends.  Nobody seems to like Mondays. 

Yet, are they really any worse than any other day?  Sure, we like Wednesdays, because they are the "halfway" point of the work week... but if we're honest, we know that we still have two more days of work to come.  And Thursdays? Just awful, because they feel like Fridays, but aren't.  Sunday?  The day before the dreaded day.  How many Sundays have lost their sparkle because someone thought, "man, I have to go back to work tomorrow"? Even Saturdays, the best day, can be a challenge as we rush to do all the things we couldn't get done during the work week. 

What did Monday do, though, to deserve such a reputation?

Do we truly hate our jobs that much?  What a sad commentary on our society that our careers are viewed as the worst part of the week, particularly since we Americans spend a heck of a lot of time working.  In most of the Hispanic cultures, people work to live, not live to work, yet still manage to work with the spirit of "the fiesta" in their hearts. 

I am busy.  (You know that.)  I don't like how busy I am, and I bit off more than I could figuratively chew this year, so I manage, but live a life in a state of perpetually behind.  And it's not my favorite.  I pretty much hate creating online curriculum every weekend, and look forward to the day (in a month!) when I am done with that.  I won't do it again next year, even if it means a paycut.  Grading piles up.  Meetings seem to take forever.

But I love my job, you know?  Because every day I get to hang out with some of tWhe coolest people in the world, I think.  These kids are the face of the future.  They are our next doctors, lawyers, presidents, politicians, heros, visionaries.  When given the chance to show who they are, they shine, and when given the chance to get out of the boxes we stick them in, they reveal that they care about others and the world.  Right now they want to be anything and everything, and they don't think about their future Mondays as they day they have to go back to their dreaded job.  They want their jobs to be something they LOVE.

Why have we lost that?  Even if our job is something that just pays the bills, it probably involves other people, and when there are people around, there is always worth, and joy can always be found.

To Mondays, a great day, I think. 

May we choose to pursue our endeavours today with joy, with passion, with zeal.  Let's not create another generation who thinks "a case of the Mondays" is a bad thing.  Instead, let's change that expression to mean that someone is excited to do what they are doing, that they are doing it with passion, and that they are inspiring others to do the same.

Oh, and to be truthful, what Monday isn't better when it's actually daylight when I leave the house?  What a joy it was to walk out my front door at 6:20, expecting darkness, and being greeted with light?  Oh, how I love Spring and Summer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Faithful to the End

I've been listening to this song on repeat every time I get in the car and alternating between singing my heart out and just being enveloped in every chord, every note, every word. 

In searching for a video with the song to show you, I came across this one of a young woman dancing to the song and was enthralled with another layer of depth.

Watch her passion.  Or close your eyes and just listen.  Or turn it up and dance yourself. 

Glory to the Righteous One.  HE is faithful to the end, He is faithul to my heart.

Song: Faithful to the End by Cory Asbury

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

He Is Faithful

Today looks a little like this.

 (This is from the Plaza de EspaƱa en Olviedo, Spain.... I haven't been to this particular plaza, but it reminds me of the church and plaza in the town I lived in.)

Oh no, you think.  The title, "He is Faithful"?  Pictures of a rainy day? What's wrong?

Absolutely nothing.  I LOVE rainy days. 

They speak to me, to the very core of my being.

And as I was on my way to work this morning, as I listened to a CD that a friend gave me, one of those songs came on.  You know, one of those songs, where the very chords and instrumentation seep into your heart and speak, where words are rendered nearly unnecessary.  But when you do hear them, it's complete.  You've been touched.

Yeah, one of those songs.

He is faithful, faithful to the end. 

They sang. 

I heard.

And like the drops of rain that fall, creating ripples that touch other ripples, I need to remind everyone. 

He is faithful, right unto the very End.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Ways #1: A Good Cup of Coffee

My quest into adulthood (now that I'm nearly 29, ha!) and living, as my friend Dawn calls it, the Good Life, includes searching for Little Ways to make every day feel like a day off. 

(Haven't read about this yet?  Go here to read why my blog is called Like a Day Off and here to read about the Little Ways series.)

If you've read me for a while now, you know that I love coffee.  A good cup of coffee is referenced several times in many posts, not even including the couple of posts completed dedicated to the Gingerbread Latte, my favorite around the holidays. 

Seriously, though, I love coffee.  I don't need the caffeinne; I just love the flavor, the aroma, the goodness and happiness I feel when I sip it.

But a GOOD cup of coffee, one to make that moment feel like a day off, requires a couple of things, in my book:

1. It's temperature needs to be the opposite of the weather.  If it's cold or even a little chilly, the coffee needs to be hot, warming you from the inside out.  If it's warm or hot outdoors, then a refreshing iced coffee is in order.  A GOOD cup of coffee is exactly what you need to feel warmer or cooler, as the case may be.

2. It needs to be enjoyed. A cup of coffee while getting for work is okay, and a cup while teaching is still lovely, but a GOOD cup of coffee needs to be savored.  To be enjoyed while reading a book or having conversation with a friend or even, sometimes, just sitting and simply being.

A GOOD cup of coffee can make any moment feel like a day off.  Too often we rush through our morning coffee or drink it while working, not even savoring the deliciousness it provides.  This morning I had the chance to sit with my sister for about 15 minutes at Starbucks and chat and really enjoy a cup of coffee, even though it was short.  And truthfully, it was wonderful.

What is your favorite coffee or beverage ritual?  How do you use it to create a moment of space in your day?

Here's to the Little Ways!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Five- Minute Friday

Okay, it's going to be a two-post day.  I had already written my post on "What I'd Really Tell you Over Coffee" to link up with the Girls over at Home Sanctuary when I saw Lisa's Five-Minute Friday topic, "If You Met Me."  I didn't think just linking to my long post would be fair, so I'm double-posting today. 

You should read both. :)

If You Met Me.....


You would see that, while I'm not old, I'm starting to have crinkley-wrinkleys around my eyes and mouth, and that I like them, because they are from smiling.  I love to laugh and smile and be happy, all of which happen from spending time with people. 

You would find out how much I love teaching, and how I feel like it's my ministry, even though it's not "Ministry."  If I could teach a class just about life, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I love talking with students about their lives and learning with them the tools to live successfully (not the world's definition of success, by the way) and joyfully.  That's why I teach leadership and life skills in Student Council and why I love pow-wows and tangents about the World and life in Spanish.

You would know that I love Husband, and that we are working on being our grown-up selves and learning from the One, and that we're excited about the growth and stretching He's having us do.  And that we're going to start trying to have kids and that it's scary (see other post from today).

And you'd know that I'm busy, but that I hate the word busy, because it means almost nothing in today's society.  And that I am working on trying to find balance and margin.


That was fun.  I'll have to remember 5-Minute Fridays from now on!

What I'd Really Tell You Over Coffee

Sipping on a now cooling cup of coffee, listening to a mix on Pandora, and being thankful it's Friday.  Some weeks, although not bad ones, just seem to last longer.  This has been one of them...

I wrote last Friday a quick post about Student Council elections and telling students they did or did not make it... it was definitely not fun to see the absolute dejection on some of their faces.  And we're not done - this week was regular class officer elections, so I'll get to, as I told Husband this morning, crush some more students' hopes today.  Fun!  But the good news is, it's high school, and it's character building, right?  (Tell that to them, see if it makes a difference....)  Truthfully though, it will be exciting to get to see who I'll have in class next year, thus beginning the awkward limbo of finishing this year well and looking forward to the future.

Before I go into anything serious, I should tell you I have an addiction, and a pretty big one, at that. It almost rivals my love for Gingerbread Lattes..... I eagerly anticipate the arrival of these bags of goodness each year, and everyone knows it - I got facebook posts and text messages from college friends about how the purple bags were back in the holiday aisle.
Mmmm..  Delicious.  Cadbury Mini Eggs, my favorite Easter candy.

I've eaten a few so far.... umm, yes, I mean a few bags.  To be fair, Husband has helped me quite a bit - but I believe we've gone through 5 bags....... (and I have two more hidden away for later).  Oh Cadbury Mini Eggs, how I love thee.

And on to the more serious things.

Are you ready for this?  It's kind of big.  I'm a little bit surprised at myself for even thinking about blogging it, but then I figured, so few people read this anyway, what's the difference?  Husband and I have decided that we are no longer going to skirt around the issue of kids.  For several months we've been in the "we're not trying but we're not not trying" phase of life, and it's been nice.  No pressure, no worries.  But over Spring Break and some more in-depth conversations, we decided it's time to be committed. 

We're going to start trying to have kids.

Shoot, I'm stressed just typing those eight words.

It's a little intimidating, to be sure, for a lot of reasons.  I mean, we're only just really trying to step into our grown-up selves.  Kids?  Are we nuts?  I love sleeping.  Am I ready to not do that?  (I know, right, how silly is that?  I'm worried about sleep?) I have to work a full -time job (not just have to - want to - I LOVE my job).  How will I do that and still be there a lot?  (And sleep, when will I sleep?)  And I teach high school - I see what these kids go through!  Will we be able to prepare them to live in this world and to do it while loving God?  (I'll be awake at night wondering if they are making good choices....)  I could write for hours all the big things this decision implies, but that would be borrowing a lot of trouble, and I'm not even pregnant.

But, a friend of mine, who isn't even a Christian, told it to me straight a while back.  "If good people," she said (insert "people who really love God"), "don't have children, then there isn't any hope for the future."  And I know that God is with us, and if He wants us to be parents, He'll allow it, and He'll walk through parenthood with us.  So deep breaths, Beth.

While I'm being honest, I am going to tell you another truth.  (You may not want to read this part - I'm going to be a little blunt and write something my mother definitely would not think I should blog about.) 

Seriously, you might want to skip it, I'm just saying.  It's not bad, it's just very real and very non-talked about it public circles.

Did you know that in order to have children naturally, you have to have sex?  It's true, in case you didn't know.  And that becomes an issue for me, if I'm being real.  I have some residual emotional issues left over from a time of life that wasn't so good, and I have an incredibly low libido, and while I like being close to my husband and making him happy, I don't love sex.  And I don't desire it.  And I could go forever without it. 

And that won't work, if I want to have kids.  And it won't work even if I don't want to have kids, because I'm learning that sex is pretty dang vital in a healthy marriage.   I've read a couple of great books on the topic, but nothing has really changed.  Right now, though, I'm reading the book Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Lehman because a friend who empathizes with me recommended it. It's intense. I mean, intense.  And scary, and blunt, and full of things that you don't normally read in a Christian book.  And it's challenging me to think about sex differently and to think about being with Husband differently, to try things I've not done, to work towards things I've not yet experienced in three years of marriage.....

Hoo-eee, can't believe I'm typing this.  I'd talk to you about it over coffee, sure, but umm... right now I can't see your face and gauge how you're responding.  Let me sip my coffee here and imagine we're best friends and you are sitting across from me sipping your coffee and nodding that you understand.

That's about all the "real" I can throw out for now.  I'll have to garner up a little more courage another day.

Can I just say this?  It's a bit scary to be real, but I can't help it right now.  It's who I am, and this is what is on my heart.  God has been growing me a lot recently, and this week, these have been some of the thoughts.  I don't ever want to not share what God has been saying, because I don't ever want to come close to shutting Him out or ignoring Him.  And I'm excited.  I haven't felt so stretched and good in a long time. 

I like it.

Happy Friday, friends.  May your weekends be restful, blessed, and beautiful.

Participating in our weekly Coffee Company Blog Hop over at Home Sanctuary.

Editor's Note:  Just so you know, I was never abused or mistreated sexually in any way in my childhood or at any time - in fact, I think my parents raised me with a pretty healthy view of sex.  When I referenced some residual emotional issues, they are the result of my own willful disobedience during a dark time of life, nothing else.  I think we as women come to the marriage bed with a variety of issues, some worse than others, and while it sex a BIG struggle for me, I would never want to minimalize the true issues that come from abuse or indicate that I have overcome something like that, because the women who have done so are worthy of my respect and admiration.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A New Back Yard

I've mentioned before that we live in a townhome.  I like it almost all of the time, although sometimes I desperately wish I was not connected to my neighbors - or at least, not these neighbors - and recently I've been frustrated with our HOA - their maintenance people killed all the perennial plants and flowers I'd planted by over-prunning and stomping on and not caring about them and recently lobbed off several beautiful and healthy branches off the tree in our yard, leaving it scarred and bare.  But I digress.

One thing that we loved at first was that, while the other townhomes had cement slabs outside the backdoor and, usually, dirt, (although there are some that I've seen - yes - that means I've peered over fences - that are lovely, with patios and grass), we had a deck covering the entire space.   It wasn't the nicest deck, but we enjoy grilling on it and sitting out there on warm summer evenings.  We had plans to sand and refinish it, make it nice.

Enter Ginny, the wonder puppy. No yard means we have to walk her every time she needs to go out.  We don't mind letting her go in our tiny front yard occasionally, but it's not the best for when she has to go "big potty," as a friend of mine in college called it.  Let's face it, in a townhome community, who wants to see dog poop on a tiny little plot of grass?  So we have to walk her all the time.  Our deck?  Not so wonderful now.

So I proposed tearing out the deck, putting in a patio and a small plot of grass, and, surprisingly, Husband agreed.  I imagined we would start this project later, but not Husband.  Weeks ago I came home one day to see a few planks torn out - Husband's typical rash beginning of a project. 

Yesterday he finally got around to part two.... and my sister Becca pitched in.  

I guess we're on our way.  Wish us luck - summer is a-coming!

Friday, April 1, 2011


I have to tell the students who ran for Executive Council (basically our top Council- Student Body Presdident, etc.) who won and who did not win today after school.  And it's no April Fool's joke to them. 

I just finished counting the votes and now know who I'll be spending excessive amounts of time with next year.... and also know who is going to be absolutely crushed when I tell them.  Boo, that's my least favorite part.

Normally I can encourage them by saying that we really need strong Seniors on Senior Class Council, and normally the people who don't make Exec do make Senior.... but I can't say that confidently this year because there will be 12 people running for 6 slots.  This is a record for us, I think.  I can't remember ever having more than 8 or 9 people running for a class Council.  It's good, and exciting, because we're doing something right that people want to be a part of......

But I hate telling people they lost.  I lost StuCo elections when I was in high school, first when I ran my sophomore year for Junior Council, and then when I ran to be on Exec.  Fortunately I still made Senior Secretary, but I remember how awful I felt those first few days between the two elections. 


After we get all the elections over, I can be excited for who will be on Council next year.  Until then, I hate this part.  And that is not an April Fool's Day joke, either.
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