Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunscreen and Living from Conviction

Dipping my finger into my 10oz jar of home made sunscreen, I give thanks for how well it as worked over this summers hottest and sunniest months.

Layering it onto my arm, the group around me looks at the situation inquisitively. I hold my breath... What do I say this time? What are they going to say? Choosing to own my alternative choices with value and confidence, I answer their questions with new authority.

"It's homemade sunscreen."

The questions in sue. I respond to them in order: "I make it with essential oils, coconut oil, Shea butter and bees wax. I don't really know what SPF it is, but I use it on my baby and she's never had anything close to a burn. Yes, I make it for all of the reasons that you listed. It saves money. I don't like the chemicals. No, I'm not trying to be 'hipster'. Yes, I make my own deoterant and toothpaste."

A year ago I would have just brushed away the situation and changed subjects. How unfortunate. If I truly value homemade sunscreen for "all of the reasons listed," then why can't I be proud of it and why am I too timid to share it? If I really think it's important to live slower, more natural, less wasteful, less to toxic, less disconnected lives, then why can't I live that life with confidence?

For years I lived with self righteousness. For years I lived privately. Now I'm hoping for a balance. A grace filled and messy balance. It feels nice.

It's intimidating to be convicted. To believe in something. To walk out in that believe.

It's easier to not steward the convictions. To compartmentalize my beliefs. To live a good and comfortable life.

But, that's not really a life worth living, so I take the risk. I dive in. I choose to walk confidently in who I am... Because, even if I do not have the most refined apologetics, I live my life with conviction and with intention. So I choose to press in and to be vulnerable enough with my values that I might face opposition and have opportunities to learn along the way. But I'm free to live convicted while not living perfectly. After all, my identity and personal value is not in what I do and why. I love out of identity and value, not for it... Or at least that's how I'm trying I live.

Here is my homemade sunscreen receipt if you would like (it hardly takes any time and lasts all summer!!):

Shea butter (the more pure the better)
Bees wax pellets
Coconut oil
Jojoba oil
Essential oils based off of your desired purpose for the sunscreen (I use mine as a bug/tick replant as well as a post-sun lotion)
• lavendar (heals skin)
• melecula (keeps ticks and other bugs away)
• raspberry seed oil (natural chemical blocker, AKA it has SPF)
• carrot seed oil (natural chemical blocker, AKA it has SPF)

Make a double broiler using a medium sized pot and a glass bowl that can sit inside of the pot enough to be surrounded by water but not enough that water can get into the bowl.

Fill pot with water, but not so much that it can flood into the bowl.
Add bowl.
Pour into bowl 1/8 cup pellets, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup Shea butter, 2 table spoons jojoba oil. Stir until melted and consistency of sour cream (add more of oils to make smoother consistency, add more of pellets to make thicker, to your liking).

After the mixture is the desired consistency, let sit to cool for 10 minuets. Then add essential oils, 10-20 drops of each. Stir and pour into the container(s) in which you plan to store your sunscreen.

Use as though you would use any sunscreen. It is water resistant due to the bees wax, but let it soak into skin for at least 10 minuets before getting into the water. Reapply every 2 hours (more or less depending on activity level and water exposure). Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cookie Grace

Colossians 1:6... The gospel is bearing fruit and growing through out the whole world - just as it has among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God's grace.

I continue to be quickened to a faint whispering of the Fruit of the Spirit. You know, the Fruit every Sunday school student colors pictures of and memorized songs of. The passage in Galatians that every Jr. High youth kid is encouraged to memorize. And church going adults refer to in-between gasps of expressed disappointment in themselves.

Not too long ago I heard a message about fruit only coming from trees with roots. That fruit is a result of a healthy tree with a healthy root system. That the fruit are symptoms of the state of the tree... Good or bad.

Then somewhere along any conversation revolved around the FOTS, someone always refers to the fig tree that Jesus cursed. What's that about? We speculate it's something to do with bearing bad fruit, or not bearing fruit. Or maybe Jesus just had a thing against figs. Or it was just a parable... Or maybe.... Or maybe....

What I find most compelling and less referred to is the part in Colossians where it says that "the gospel bears fruit just as it has among you as soon as you understood true grace."

Now we could dissect the exegesis in this passage but even short of that scholarship, it's apparent that the gospel is bearing fruit in the recipients of this letter as soon as they learned about true grace. Fruit came from them after they encountered true grace.

Fascinating little study of a cute little passage. But what's that got to do with anything?

It certainly stands out to me just in that the writer doesn't just call it "grace," but "true grace." As though a distinction must be made. As though there is less than true grace. As though less than true grace doesn't actually allow the gospel to bear global fruit. Interesting.

As I reflect on my life, I'm not so sure I've ever born fruit because, let's face it, I can hardly accept or give basic grace, none-the-less true grace. I'm not even sure what that means.

People know me as sweet and nice and all sorts of things that are not always true of my motives. In reality, I'm over come by a lack of grace for myself. Which only leaves a lack of grace to share. I judge others as I judge myself... It's only fair. And it's awful! It truly is. If people only knew the times I think to myself that they just need to get over it and get it together. If people only knew the times I told myself that.

But apparently no fruit comes from that. So, here I sit, again. A mess. And it seems just right this time. If I'm to accomplish this TRUE grace thing and produce some fruit, I'd better get over myself get some grace up in her'!

Or maybe that's not the point.

Oh, I'm so bad at this.

Maybe that's where I should start.

I used to call it cookie grace. It was my form of potty training for the graceless. I was so bad at offering myself grace that I would intentionally do bad thing so I could sit in the imperfection and deal with it. Weird. Stay with me.

The history of Cookie Grace goes like this: at 20 years old, 5'6" and 110lbs, I was very much a vegetarian that didn't buy Jamba Juice because it came in styrophome. I felt guilty every time I'd take a vacation because I thought my time, money and fossil fuels could be better spent. I made sure to not sleep in because I felt that would be irresponsible with my time, and I'd eventually have to face some punishment for such things. I sat on every justice comity, half because my heart authentically burns for justice, and half because I believed I'd be condemned if I didn't. I labeled myself a Freegane because Shane Claiborne and I both agreed that people are starving around the world, so I'll buy sustainable vegan food and I'll eat whatever is free (or maybe that was just what it took to be a vegetarian on a college budget). And the list of guilt based low carbon footprint living goes on.

I have since recovered, but I now believe that I also struggled with athletics anorexia... Where I always ate my 2,000 calories, but I was constantly training for a marathon, so I burned more than I ate. I felt bad eating more because people were, once again, starving.

Aside from the above eating and socially motivated ideologies, I banned sugars from my diet. Why not?

So, here I sat (or ran), a long, skinny, bag of bones.

So eating cookies didn't happen often. First of all, the sugar was probably GMO, which is bad. The chocolate chips were probably not fair trade and were shipped from far away, which is bad. And the carbs didn't add value to my nutritional make up, which is bad. So why would I waste my time (which is also bad)?

And this cookie grace began. Though I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

In general, I tried to reduce my carbon footprint in all ways possible. I was calculated with my finances. I tried to keep my schedule perfectly set out. I tried to calculate everything and not hurt anyone. Buddah would be proud... Aside from the stress.

If I ever fell off of my perfect band wagon, catastrophe would hit and instant turmoil would overcome me. One Jamba Juice would throw me into a fit of anxiety. Seriously, I needed a sozo.

I knew I was far from where God created me to be. So I decided that when things were going "perfect" I'd buy a cookie to throw it all off. Just for kicks and giggles.

In hind sight, I was young. Let's just say that. But there is something to be said about Cookie Grace. I mean, what if I didn't have to be perfect all of the time?! Or what if I didn't have to be perfect ever? Or what if my best isn't perfect any ways (that's a shocker!!) Or, even better, what if perfect wasn't even a daily concern?.

Cookie Grace is far from True Grace, let me tell you. Honestly, it's quite redo lupus. But it came out of an acknowledgement that I was missing something. That there was some type of grace that I wasn't walking in, and that not walking in that grace was worse than reducing my negative impact on all of the starving children in Africa. I'm not sure I really believe that in my heart, but now I know it in my mind. Grace is important. After all, it's by grace that we are saved.

By grace we are saved. So, inversely, we are not saved unless we experience grace.

This gives me a vision of a bunch of type A personalities hanging out in Hell while the type B's sit in Heaven. That's horrible hermeneutics, but it's so contrary to what I've been trained to believe that the imagery has some value for me.

By grace we are saved. Bearing fruit to the world comes after accepting True Grace.

So, what does that look like? What does that mean?

I've tried to force grace on myself. It looked messy. I need grace for my broken efforts.

I tried to not accept grace, which lead my to anti-depressants and house of counseling.

So here I sit. And this time I'm going to stop trying. I am going to choose to be messy. I am going to let Father God encounter me in new ways, that my story may be re-written. I'm going to let Him journey with me on this lesson of grace. Maybe that's what True Grace looks like.

Maybe not.

But I do know this, I've never before been in a place like this. A place where it's ok to care about justice and sustainability and to also drink a Jamba Juice every now and again. And, at the same time, it's also ok to choose to not drive somewhere for vacation because I don't want to emit the gas fumes.

A place where God can share His heart with me with out me freaking out. A place where I can see the brokenness of the world and then look inside and see how broken I am. A place where I can trust that it's not my responsibility to fight brokenness, while at the same time being bold enough to stand for wholeness. A place where I can hear the rhythms of the supernatural with in the natural while, at the same time, missing many of those rhythms. A place where I can trust God to be God. A place where I can partner with the Omnipresent and sin at the same time. Not because I choose to do whatever I want, but because that's the beautiful dance found between Creator and creation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Beginnings

Well, here I am again... "Ready to blog with consistency." I've been here before, I tell myself. Whats different? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Maybe it's just part of the journey.

 It's funny, because I realize that part of the reason I didn't blog with consistency before was because I didn't think people would follow it. "What a waste of time", I reasoned.

And maybe it is. But the strange thing is that I don't care anymore. And that's how everything has changed.

My journey has been one of strength. One of accomplishment. One of independence. I could do it all and if it not, no one could say I didn't try. From the time I was in middle school I would save all of my money to buy flights to spend my summers in Orange County with family. When I was 14 I raised funds to spend two weeks in Mexico. When I was 16 I raised money to spend 11 days in Spain and two weeks in D.C... all with a broken clavicle. When I was 17 I re-shingled the roof of our home in the nights after school during a frosty November. I moved 3,000 miles away and went to college in Boston of my own efforts and funding when I was 18. At 19 moved to New Zealand for 5 months and never once called home. I traveled to 4 different continents of my own fund raising by the time I was 20. I held countless leadership positions in college and even in High School. When I was 22 I had trained for 3 marathons, graduated college and gotten married.

I was raised, like any good American, to pull myself up by my own boot straps, but my efforts have only disappointed over the past four years.

Graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in schools loans during the Recessions, I was only able to land either a barista job or a support funded non-profit job of my dreams. I took the barista job because at least I would be able to keep myself from going into forbearance. I applied to volunteer with a bunch of justice and sustainable development related NP's (maybe that way I could kinda use my college degree)... literally non of them returned my countless emails and calls (weird... I was experienced and offering to donate my time). That same month I got a running related stress fracture after running my third 18 mile run in 6 weeks. Four months later I got adrenal fatigue, mono and about 6 rounds of strep through out the next 6 months, and struggled with chronic exhaustion and illness over the next 2 years. The harder I tried the worse it got. Not only did all of my efforts not work, but they'd actually got me to where I was.

In the middle of this I got married, which may have been the only good thing going for me.

Two years into this confusion, I was crying out to God, asking why He has put so much in my heart if this is going to be my life.... rejection, disappointment and illness. He told me that if I wanted to steward all that He has out in my heart, that I need to support someone else who is living their passions. That I can't just land where I want to be with out the journey and with out serving. So I volunteered to do some secretary work for Nathan Edwardson at the Stirring as he planned for an up and coming conference. It wasn't even on a topic that I had passion for... Granted, it was a cause that I cared about and was able to support from my heart and with authentic energy. But I was a little disgruntled and, to be honest, I mostly just did the tasks with a deep dissatisfaction.

In hind sight, I wasn't ready for Him to up and say it straight out, but more than serving, I was being called to not put my value in the results of my efforts... I was being called to be present. I was being called to enjoy the journey. To be beautiful. To be a daughter. To be enjoyed. To enjoy.... just for the hell of it. I was being called into my true identity... Away from everything that used to give myself identity and value. I was being called to be the women I was created to be... Inclusive of, but not defined by, the passions and my capacities.

It was in the middle of working for this conference that I had a dream, like I often do. Sparing the details, in the dream I was offered a choice to leave my job as a Starbucks shift supervisor in training for assistant manager, for something that I cared about but that wasn't in my plans or in line with my goals. In the dream God said it would be good. He said it was my choice. The dream regarded becoming a midwife and doula and birthing babies, which has been more than symbolic, as I have helped birth lots of visions in this new season.... I guess vision birthing should be my job title because that's exactly what I have been doing now working as Nate's PA and the Office Manager at the Stirring.

That night I told God that I was willing to do whatever He was putting before me. He asked me if I was willing to put the burnings of my heart on a shelf for now. I said I was willing, even though none of it made sense. I chose to trust. The next morning I received a call from Nate that he wanted to hire me as the new Office Manager at the Stirring... A position I didn't even apply for.

It's funny that I find myself where I am at. I love it!

I never wanted to work at a church and I never thought I'd be doing work as a office administrator. Still in the middle of this season, I don't know what exactly is happening, but I have learned that God wastes nothing. And He cares more about the passions in my heart than even I do... After all, He gave me those passions.

If nothing else, this season has been about healing. But I cannot reduce this season to just one thing. It's a chapter in my journey. I'm forever grateful.

I cannot say what tomorrow will look like, but I do know that it's no longer about what I do or don't do. I acknowledge and choose to no longer partner with the lies that tell me I am only as good as what I do. The lies that continually tell me that I'm never enough and never can do enough and that I need to be affirmed to be of value. The lies that tell me that I am not doing enough and that I will never be good enough. The lies that prevent me from deeper healing because it's not ok to be vulnerable. I call out the lies that, among many other things, tell me I should not blog because I won't be good enough. Even deeper, I call out the lies that tell me that I can't blog unless it achieves something. The lies that prevent me from greatness because I'm too occupied by trying to be great and trying to derive my value from what I do.

So here I am again. And yes, every thing is different... At least my motives are different. And, yes, maybe my blog is disorganized and not helpful and my vulnerability is rejected. But this is my choice to step into my real identity. To do things that give me life. To live out of value rather than for value. Call it an exercise of discovery and healing.
 Maybe it will wane and die as soon as I've healed through enough of my baggage to move on. Maybe it will thrive. Either way, I don't care anymore. It might be messy, but here it is. Here I am.