If You’re a Bird, I’m a Bird

birdflyingFor this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you will eat, and not for your body, what you will wear. Is your life not more than food and your body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky, that they do not sow or reap or gather produce unto barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are? And who among you, by being anxious, is able to add one hour to his life span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not toil or spin, but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed like one of these. But if God dresses the grass of the field in this way, although it is here today and tomorrow is thrown in to the oven, will he not do so much more for you, you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What will we eat? Or What will we drink? Or What will we wear?” For the pagans seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father know that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom of righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6: 19-34

 

I would so encourage you to take a moment and read those words out loud to yourself. Let the truth of those words wash over you and soak it in.

A few weeks ago I read this passage out loud to a group I was leading and I was so convicted! I’d literally spent the last week fretting and worrying about provisions. There were several large things in my life that were suddenly in upheaval and uncertain. I went back and forth between being anxious and moping over my circumstances. Neither of these things accomplishes anything, in fact, as Newt Scamanader says “Worrying is suffering twice for the same thing.” I have referenced this before, but it has stuck with me and bears repeating, because I have not yet learned my lesson. It’s a process, just like all the things worthwhile in life.

As I have camped on these verses, the Lord has continued to work on this issue of worry that has so plagued me. He has lovingly brought revelation and shined light in the shadows where my worry has lurked. I realize now that my level of worry is directly linked to the level of control that I am seeking to maintain. A mentor told me that I was trying to do everything in my own power and that though I was managing it (barely) it was really heavy and not something I needed to be carrying. I try and maintain this façade of control that for some reason I keep thinking I have. The truth is, I really can’t control anything. But I keep trying, because apparently I’m no quitter. (*rolls eyes at self)

As I prayed through these revelations, the Lord gave me a beautiful picture of Him telling me to jump on His back and we ran across the FINISH LINE. It was such a great image of me carrying all my crap and Him carrying both of us. To me, that was both encouraging and convicting. Convicting because it is just plain rude of me to ask myself to carry all of that and strain my emotional, physical, and mental well-being. It was encouraging because Jesus was willing to meet me right where I am and carry all of it with no problem.  He was not phased. So grateful for those broad Carpenter’s shoulders!

This is all very new information for me, and will take me time to process through. My action items for this week? To be kinder to myself and not require so much. I am learning to have realistic expectations for others, it is time that I learn to have them for myself too. I am going to ask the Lord for continual grace as I release control; to pray that He will fill me with faith and that He will help me to trust that His Word is true, and He will provide. He is Jehovah-Jireh, my Provider and if He cares for the birds of the field, He cares for us too.

If you’re a bird, I’m a bird and He is going to provide for both of us.

 

Offense || Expectation

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Forgiveness.

That is something that I have thought about quite a bit recently. I remember listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley years ago and he said “Forgiveness is deciphering what someone took from you that you can never get back, and letting it go.” Or something along those lines. That always resonated with me, because so many things are not really tangible, but you still feel the loss. It could be a missed experience, the chance to grow up with a parent who ______ or who didn’t _____, something was done to you that can’t be changed and as a result you ______. It could be so many things, but it is figuring out what can’t get back in that situation that is key. However, there is another piece to this puzzle that I recently learned.

As I have processed through a lot of areas of unforgiveness in my own life, using this lens, I started asking myself: “Now wait, did that person actually wrong me? Do I need to ‘forgive them’ or is there something else going on? Was what they did intentionally to hurt me? Were they being unkind on purpose?” I realized that there was a pattern in all these “offenses” and when the only common denominator is you, sometimes you have to raise the white flag on yourself. A lot of the hurts I had been carrying around and nursing, feeling justified in my anger and general-upset were not intentional on the part of the other person. In fact the other parties involved were so unintentional that is what hurt the most!

Expectations yall, Expectations. That is what it boils down to. I have had so many expectations of people and when they are not met, I get hurt. I know, scripture tells us to put all of our expectations in the Lord, but these were things I did not realized were expectations. Things like, expecting to be treated a certain way, or to be valued a certain way by a certain person. I thought I had a right to certain relationships or experiences and expected those to unfold a specific way. The truth is, everyone is in different places in their maturity, relationships, ability to invest in others and their own expectations of a realtionship. I was carrying all these hurts because I was expecting people to meet me in ways that I thought were warranted, but it just led to more pain.

When I walked through my list, because yes I wrote it down, I realized that there were very few offenses that were legitimately founded. The rest were made up of my own misplaced expectations. This was eye-opening to say the least! And of course my justice heart rebelled because if I let it all go, then where was the justice in that? Where was the equalizer? They were still rude/mean/hurtful, so I was just supposed to let them get away with that?!?

Yes, Miriam, that is exactly what you are supposed to do. So I did. Just like that, it was so easy. No, of course it wasn’t that easy, but it is a process and something that I have been learning to ask myself when I feel those emotions rising up in me. The flip side of that, as I released these expectations is to stop trying to push people into a mold I think they should fit in and that freed up a lot of my time. I stopped trying to invest in relationships that were causing me hurt and causing the other party nothing because they had no idea the turmoil I was in. That is the other kicker to forgiveness/unforgiveness, expectations met or otherwise, I wonder how often the other party involved even has a clue. I’m guessing not as much as our petty hearts would like to think.

So that is where I am on this journey of forgiveness, releasing expectations and focusing on the relationships that bring life. As I have released the anger, and pulled them out by the very root, some of those very same relationships have improved. Because I am not looking at those relationships through the tangled lens of unforgiveness, I have no expectations, which has allowed me to set healthy boundaries. New roots are being planted, allowing for new growth and fresh blooms.

Power Anthems || Identity

poweranthemsPower anthems. You know them, the songs that get you energized, that give you that hit in the chest as if to say: “YES! You CAN do this!” Whatever your “this” is, those songs make you feel like you really can accomplish those things. I love music, and have a playlist for just about any mood. So naturally I have a playlist full of just those songs. My list includes Roar, and Rise by Katy Perry, Riser by Dierks Bentley, Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway, Girl on Fire by the one and only Alicia Keys, Stand by Rascal Flatts and of course Brave by Sara Bareilles. I also have my feistier list that is full of, well, feistier songs ;).  I used to draw strength from these songs, and felt like I could push through anything. Because I am a fighter, and a survivor. And therein lies my revelation from a few weeks ago.

I was jamming in my car, Katy Perry was blasting out Rise and I was prepared for that hit in my chest. But it never came. I listened to it and felt nothing. Dismayed, I flipped through my list and song after song, they did nothing for me. I immediately began wondering what was wrong with me. Maybe I was just really tired. Maybe I was just tired of the song and need something new. I was disappointed. Then I felt a small voice (read *Holy Spirit) prompt me to reflect a little more on the music. What was it about those power anthems that I loved? What were they all about?

Then it hit me: They are all about fighting, but more importantly, they are celebrating surviving something. And to survive something, means you have to identify as a victim of something. With great clarity I realized that though I have survived a lot in my life, I no longer identify as being a victim of those people or situations. I WAS a victim to pain and the sin of others, but I am NOT a victim anymore. And that’s why those songs don’t give me that hit in my chest that says “You can do anything because you have survived so much!” I am not a survivor because I am not a victim.

I am so grateful for this piece of healing that I have received and love how often He uses my love of music to teach me things. The Lord has been so very faithful to continue this sanctification process, and shift my identity from my past, to my present, in Him. I look forward to even more revelations of truth and healing!!!

The Day of Rest

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Spring Break. Two of my favorite words, especially when they are put together. I so appreciate the time to stop and just pause for a moment. School is hard. Living from deadline to dealing, wondering what you are forgetting is hard. Working so hard for grades that you aren’t sure about, because of professors who won’t tell you what they are looking for. You strive and strive, seeking that (sometimes) illusive “A.” Now, I have a week to pause and reflect on the last few months, see where growth has happened, or where I need to focus next.

I have a new, favorite school break tradition, and I say tradition because I have now done it twice, so it’s official. What I do is, I take a day off from everything. I get up, get dressed and just leave the house. I don’t have to make a single decision I don’t want to and I can do WHATEVER I WANT. It’s amazing. There is no telling where I may end up, or what I might do. Last time I had copious amounts of coffee, had coffee with a friend, hung at a bookstore, went to a movie and just all-around relaxed., ALL BY MYSELF. Introvert dream. It was so great, I decided to do it again for Spring Break.

This Day of Miriam has been great this time around too, Hurts doughnuts, an impulsive ear piercing, copious amounts of coffee, hysterical text thread with the fam reminiscing over old movies, FaceTime with Mom, blogging, and who knows what else because the day is not over yet!

I was discussing my new tradition with a friend of mine and she asked me if that wasn’t what I did every day because I don’t have any kids or a husband. If I want to go do something, can’t I? I was at first offended because not having kids or a husband does not mean that I do not have responsibilities and other people’s preferences to consider. Her narrow-minded view was offensive at first, then I thought about what she said and realized that the “getting to do whatever I want” is not the favorite part of my Personal Day. It is the intentionality (is that a word? It is now.) of forcing myself not to worry. I literally compartmentalize everything and only allow myself to think and feel happy thoughts. I am not allowed to worry about school, or money, or the weird squeaky noise my car is making. I refuse to let worry creep in. How sad is it that I have to set aside a day to not worry. Why can’t I do that every day? My adrenals and blood pressure would thank me for sure. It’s because #Controlidol, but seriously.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how much I worry. I worry about pretty much everything. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander says that he doesn’t worry because that is just suffering twice for the same thing. Truth bomb, Newt. Truth bomb. So what is the key to this illusive ability to not worry? For me, I think it is simply looking back at all the ways that the Lord has provided and trust that He will provide again. I may not always love the method of provision, but it WILL be there. It always has and He is not going to arbitrarily drop me on my ass. And that’s my musings for the day. I’m going to go find something else to do that also involves not worrying.

 A letter to my non-white friends

racial-reconcilliationDear friends,

I wanted to share with you some thoughts that are on my heart. This last election season was hard. The next four years are going to be hard. I just want to start a conversation with you, in the hopes that we can bring love, light, and honesty to the conversation. I know that this is such a sensitive topic, please know that I am writing this out of a place of love, conviction of my own blindness, and desire to learn more.

This week, Pastor Bridges preached on racial reconciliation in such a kind and eye-opening way. He pointed out that to even be able to consider racial reconciliation, we must first consider our own racial heritage and identity. We must, as white people, recognize the white transparency (the tendency to not think of norms as being “white”) with which we live our lives. He also pointed out that we are to embrace God’s perfect design for each of our lives. We do not need to feel guilty for being white. Indeed, to feel guilty for being white is as sinful as feeling superior because we are white. Both reject that God has a perfect design for each of us and we are created to be exactly whom He meant us to be. As we open our eyes to the things that are culturally ours as the majority, it allows us to look at other cultures norms and can help us love our brothers and sisters better. We are able to meet them where they are for a change and instead of asking them to conform to our “normal,” we can adjust to theirs in an all-inclusive way.

There are so many things that the majority takes for granted, and assume are the “norm” but really they are just the majority’s preference: which is white. Pastor Bridges asked us when the last time was that we as white people, even considered or thought about the color of our skin. For me, that happened earlier this week. I have been listening to the book Hidden Figures on audio during my commute and it has wrecked me. I have wept for the injustice and degradation of a people, based solely on the color of their skin. For my brothers and sisters who are not white, I have wept for you. I weep now, even as I write this. Your ancestors did not deserve this. You do not deserve this. Philippians 1:27 admonishes us to “lead your lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” The Gospel is love, graciously granted to we who deserve little but are given much. If we are each given so much, how can we not extend that same grace to those around us? If my life is to be lived in a manner worthy of the gospel, then everyone should be treated equally and I should stand up when they are not.

My question to you is, how can I, as a white woman, help love you better? What can I do to help you not feel marginalized? I understand marginalization only so far as being a plus-sized, left-handed, female allows me. How can I be sensitive to you? I acknowledge that racism is real, but I am uneducated in this and do not know how exactly it affects your daily life.  How specifically can I help you carry that burden? I love you, I see you, and I grieve for your pain as much as I understand it. I know this is a sensitive topic, but I have felt burdened to share my thoughts because you deserve better. Please help me understand and to help love you well, exactly how the Gospel has called me to do.

Love,

Miriam

 

PS: I snagged the photo from my church, The Village Church.

La La Land: a review

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Can we just stop for a minute and discuss the beauty of La La Land? If you like movies or musicals or Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone or entertainment in general, then you will like this movie. If you like all of them, you will LOVE this movie. I, of course, am the latter and felt both enchanted and nostalgic for the movies of my childhood (I was weird, I watched ALL the old movies when I was young. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to marry John Wayne or Gregory Peck when I grew up. Imagine my disappointment to discover the were both deceased. But I digress).

La La Land is the story of a pianist, passionate for jazz, falling for an aspiring actress. With nods to the old classics and inspiration from the likes of Singing in the Rain and Top Hat, I felt it stayed true to the style of the originals. It is quite the throwback to days gone by, with old-school cinematography and choreography but it is given a fresh, grounded feel with the mix of modern and old-school. Gosling and Stone remind me of Old Hollywood Glam couples like Hepburn and Tracy, Grace Kelly and Carey Grant, and Fred and Ginger. This is the third collaboration for the co-stars so the chemistry is on-point and natural. There is literally nothing about this movie not to love. If you haven’t seen, GO SEE IT!

Resolutions: More laundry, more coffee, more loving, more fun.

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A few highlights from my 31st year so far: Sweet friends to celebrate with, good coffee, New York, and the cutest little niece!

It’s New Years Eve Eve. That time when people look back and reflect on all the things they did/did not do, and make plans for the next year. I usually have this reflection time on my birthday instead of the new year, but since they are about half-way in between, I figured it was a good idea to pause and see where I am with my goals. I like to set private, personal, health, fun, and totally rando goals. This year for my 31st year of life I made a list of 31 things I wanted to do that were specifically geared towards activities and experiences. Some of them I have accomplished, but I have a lot to do before next August! Here a few of my goals that I set:

  1. Visit 12 NEW coffee shops (4 down, 8 to go!)
  2. Go to the DMA (scheduled for January 7!)
  3. Finish Gilmore Girls (still haven’t, don’t judge)
  4. Start a blog (obviously did that one)
  5. Have a Princes’ Bride 30th anniversary party! (details pending, it’s still a few months out!)
  6. Try 31 new things (I’ll have to think about that, not sure where I am on that list!)
  7. Go to the Dallas Farmers Market
  8. Finish STEPS at my church (well I completed the 13 weeks, but I’ve learned it’s never really “finished”)
  9. Read/listen to 30 books (1/3 of the way there and as soon as I pay my library fine it will increase exponentially :D)
  10. Go to NYC (done and done!!!!)
  11. Host a dinner party (haven’t done yet)
  12. Go blonde (working on it)
  13. Try paint balloon darts (where you put paint in balloons, pin them to canvas and then pop them with darts! I have no idea if I can even aim them, but I’m assuming yes)
  14. Day-trip to Waco!
  15. Finish Chuck (I’m so bad at finishing TV shows and Chuck is one of my absolute faves! But when I finish it there can never be more new episodes! See my dilemma here?)
  16. Go camping (and not get rained in and have to drive through a treacherous waterfall to get to safety).
  17. See a show on Broadway (OMG I DID THAT ONE!!! CHICAGO!!!!!)

Lists don’t have to be serious and that’s just a few of the goals I set. Mine this year has been more of an intention to not be boring and to try new things. With work and school, life is crazy and it is so easy for me to just keep doing the exact same thing over and over like a rat in a friggin wheel. And who wants to be boring?! Upon reflection, here are a few things I would like to add that aren’t necessarily tangible but are oh-so important:

  1. Be more kind to myself
  2. Release expectations
  3. Do my laundry more often. (I HATE laundry. Seriously, who is with me on this one?)
  4. Continue this journey of learning to walk in FREEDOM!
  5. Get to know Jesus better.
  6. Finally get that tattoo I’ve been threatening to
  7. Invest in other people
  8. Make my bed occasionally (not daily, let’s not get too crazy.)
  9. Be more intentional with relationships.
  10. Make healthier choices physically, mentally, spiritually, grammatically…

What are some goals that you have set? Let me know, I’d love ideas to add to my list! Love you awesome nerds and have a happy New Year!