Heavy is…

There’s this book called “Heavy is a Hippopotamus.”  It’s this dusty old, bright orange book at the daycare that tries to explain the word “heavy” and the idea of weight to kids. Even though they continue to want to read it repetitively, because there’s a playfully illustrated picture of a hippo on the cover, the concepts lose them about halfway through. It’s a valiant effort, nonetheless. I’d like for there to be a psychological (or is it philosophical?) book that would explore the meaning of words like “heavy” in an emotional sort of being.

This morning I’m thinking about ISIS in Iraq. Heavy.

As I perused FB yesterday, I saw a couple posts about it, but chose to keep scrolling. Last night, I decided to watch a CNN interview and this morning I looked just a tiny bit more into it. Only a tiny bit is what I personally can handle. I stay away from most of the news. I shouldn’t, but I do. The moment I find out about ugliness in the world, I will obsess. It will haunt me. It really is pure evil. I know this kind of stuff goes on in the world but I’m so unbelievably sheltered to it that I’m still left with the thought process of I can’t believe this is happening! 

And so I was drawn to pray. About the Christians fleeing Mosul and those still there, unable to leave. The families being ravaged. And God, I wondered about You. I wondered like a kid wonders about the universe. I thought about armies of angels and the power of God being bigger, greater, stronger than all the ugly of this world. God can stop it, but yet He (seemingly) isn’t. ??!!?!?!

THIS is the sort of matter that doubt is made of. THIS is one of the foundations where people who choose to not believe in God stand on. I get it. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about it.

Just yesterday, I marveled at the patience of God. Working with toddlers who talk back to you (and by talk back, I mean scream at the top of their lungs in your face), will try to kick, slap and bite you all over not getting their own way, which seems righteous enough to them as they see it, made me thankful that I am not God. God is the ultimate definition of PATIENCE. This is in a way that I cannot fully comprehend. I’m grateful for it. I’m baffled and often made defiantly impatient by it. I know that I am that toddler to God at times.

Granted, and I say this with all sincere despair and depravity of the situation, I’m not beheading anyone. Like I said, I cannot grasp the mind of God fully.

Not to say God doesn’t do anything. This is to say, “Aslan is on the move.” I can’t see it. I don’t understand it. My toddler mind wants it to be a grandiose swifter (while still being slow in so many other areas.)

I prayed for JOY. Seems crazy. Seemed crazy at the moment I prayed for it in light of what else is happening right now at this second in time. I recognize what a privileged country, state, home, family, marriage, job, PLACE I’m in. I want to be aware of these things without obsessing into a deep pit of despair. Because how do you continue at an everyday’s privileged pace when this is the reality of what is going on elsewhere?? Then again what does a personal bereft black hole do for anyone? Rather, I pray that knowledge would propel me towards action. For someone who is so shotty at it, like myself, prayer is a good place to start. 

I am completely obsessed, lost and submerged in Maya Angelou today. Aren’t we (people) all these little walking story holders, waiting to bust at the dusty paper seams? I suppose there is grieving for all deaths, but there’s something about a life that has laid bare its heartbeat, the minute fibers of the road it has walked and breathed, that seems to make the entire earth sigh grievously.

tresses update

WEEK SIX (at the start)

“Am I still really doing this thing?” I think that about every two weeks. It’s turned into a stupid obsession, which I hate. To be fair, I think my hair was an obsession before, just in a much more subtle time consuming way. I just didn’t think about it. I don’t want to be this much into my hair. I hate how much I think about it and talk about it. I have to remind myself that, this is a process with the eventual result of not having to care much at all about it. I mean, among other materialistic things, that is a major goal.

When you think you understand a thing after thirty+ years of having it, only to realize that you don’t at all, it’s just weird. This is a girl’s plight. I don’t think I know any guy who would care this much about it and they shouldn’t. No one should, really. Count this as just another thing I feel like I should have gotten out of the way back around age thirteen and yet (tragically?) seem to be caught up in just now.

I used to brush my abuela’s hair when I was little. She would come to visit in the summertime and I didn’t speak any spanish. She didn’t speak any english. She would sit in front of me and hand me a brush and make the motion for me to brush her hair. Strange how brush strokes and fingertips and nearness connected us, where language couldn’t. Taking a brush to my hair today, reminded me of that. Her hair felt like this. 

This waxy but clean feeling in my hair is driving me mad. I go through moments of loving what’s going on with this hair to straight up hating it. All in the span of one day, I am a roller coaster of loving and loathing it. I have hope and cannot wait to stop this obsession. 

Obviously the loving is winning out over the loathing, or I would have caved in to shampoo. So the PROS: WAY more body (volume) in my hair, without me even trying. Even though showering is quite the process, it’s the only process. My hair dries so much quicker than it ever has. When I’m not hating up on it, my hair is definitely smoother and softer. The best part – no product.

With the pro, comes the CONS: The waxy feeling. Could be hard water. Could be a part of transition. Whatever it is, it sucks. What was true of yesterday’s process, may not be true of today’s. Things that I thought were cool with my hair (as if it is it’s own entity) are not so even just two weeks later. That whole coconut milk + aloe vera thing? Can’t do it anymore. Unbelievably greasy hair the last two times I tried it. In fact, right now, I’m considering scratching it all and sticking to water only washing. Also, I broke down and bought a true boar bristle brush today. Finger-combing is nice and all, but I’m not sure I’m really working all the sebum down from the top of my head to the ends, plus it’s time consuming with the length of my hair. My hair feels so different from when I first started this thing, that maybe it can handle being actually brushed at this point? I don’t know. We’ll see. 

At this point, there’s one thing I know for sure. I can’t boldly state that I can follow one specific regimen over another. I really hope sooner rather than later, I will be able to. Hair is annoying to focus this much time and energy thinking about. 

Picture update:

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(taken today) While I’ve been steering clear of any blow dryer or iron of any sort for weeks now, I broke down and used the blow dryer with a diffuser two days ago and have been shocked at the extra body and lack of frizz still. It’s nice to know I can use it. Having wet hair on these cold days in the morning is not fun.

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All about the HAIR again

I’m at the start of my fourth week of this process. That whole “my hair is awesome and not at all greasy” is a thing of the past. It was a short lived perk that made it just past week one. After I wrote my week one post, the very next time I washed my hair with the baking soda + apple cider vinegar combo, I started to dread this whole transition phase I had read about. So, it’s official, I’m not one of the lucky ones that LOVES this no shampoo thing in a short period of time.

In desperate attempts for inspiration, almost every day, I did more casual research (aka googled the crap out of it) to remind myself that it would get better… eventually. Also, I was experiencing more hair than normal falling out in the shower. Not cool.

Before I started this, I had read a couple of blogs talking about the bad involved with using baking soda on your scalp/hair. There were only a handful of the nay-sayers in a sea of all the people PRO it, so I didn’t give it much weight and decided to forge ahead nonetheless. The hair falling out was enough to freak me out to look into it (google) some more. While most wouldn’t say that baking soda was the cause of my hair spazzing out like that, there was just too much (hair more prone to be over-dry/break through time, hair color lightening, PH balance issues with your scalp) that has made me leery enough to steer clear. I know. I only used it twice. I didn’t really give it a chance. But if I can find something to clean my hair without all that happening through time, why not.

I’ve officially nixed the baking soda and apple cider vinegar route. I found this amongst my searches and decided to give it a go. LOVE IT. I’ve used it three times so far. Definitely more of an investment (with the aloe, specifically) than the cheap ingredients before. I’m rationalizing that with washing much less, it will still be a big money saver in the end. Washing with Aloe and Coconut Milk has completely nixed out any need for the apple cider vinegar to detangle/condition. Also, it smells great!

That being said, my hair is still greasy like no other. It’s a different texture all together than what I’m used to. My husb swears that it doesn’t look greasy, regardless of how it feels. Here’s a couple photos to track progress:

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(this is the third day of no “washing”. i’ve been getting it wet every day.)

Another thing I’ve decided against is that whole brushing thing. Full disclosure though: I’ve never really spent any amount of time brushing my hair, ever. On top of more hair coming out than normal, I was noticing more baby hairs around my face. This was something I was hoping would completely stop, in steering clear of the flat iron. Seeing more was disheartening. I think it was a combo of that baking soda wash and brushing with a dense bristle brush. The whole point of brushing (or using a BBB) is to move sebum from the top of your scalp to the ends of your hair. I think I can do that just fine with basically finger combing my hair. Many people swear by that whole brushing thing. It just doesn’t do jack for my hair type. 

I feel like I’m relearning how to handle my hair. At this point, it feels strange and kinda wonderful, when it isn’t greasy. Everything I thought I understood about it, has completely changed. My hair tends to spiral more than haphazardly curl. My experience has been that, if I don’t leave my hair alone while it’s drying, bad Don-King-like things will happen. Now, the more I play with it after showering, the better it is. When I leave it alone, it feels frizzy and nasty greasy. When I finger comb it and continue to move it around while it dries, it feels soft and silky. Weird. It’s been a sort of retraining myself on how to deal with my own hair again. Also, haven’t used a curling iron since the second week in. There hasn’t been any need.

From what I’ve read, weeks four and five seem to a turning point for lots of ladies. Given the progress I’ve seen so far, I really can’t wait. 

 

 

three

THREE things I’ve enjoyed recently.

ONE. Objectified (documentary) by Gary Hustwit. The fun and beauty of design. The (tragic?) impermanence of the best dreamed up of creations. Landfills piled high with the next greatest thing, turned to yesterdays news a second after it’s materialized. The turn towards sustainability pairing with those dreams. Good stuff.

TWO. This: the liturgists (specifically the second song.) Chris and I went to one of Gungor’s Liturgist’s concert tour last night. I personally had no idea what I was in for. It just may have been the most beautiful “concert” I’ve ever been to. Perhaps a better way to state it is as, the most beautiful worship I’ve ever been a part of, really. It was borderline sacred. Lisa Gungor talked about her and her husband Michael visiting cathedrals and how the architecture was, in and of itself, intended to make your eyes rise upward. Step inside any old cathedral, and you’ll know it’s true. Even the priest is off to the side. He/She is not the biggest deal there. Well, they are not architecturally designed to be so, in any case. All the churches I’ve ever been a part of have had the pastor and worship band center stage, always. I’ve discussed with quite a few people how I don’t necessarily feel WORSHIP in a corporate way on a Sunday morning.

Likewise, any christian concert has the band center stage. When Gungor (the band) went behind a curtain to play and invited us to be a part of it all… well, I thought it was weird at first and then perfect. I felt worship there last night, with a whole bunch of other people. Unheard of for me.

THREE. Spring is almost here. An hour closer. Pretty soon it won’t have to be put in a Ball jar to enjoy. Can you feel it?

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Confessions (Obsessions) of Curly Hair

{CAVEAT: This post is all about hair. That’s it. I’ve never spent this many key strokes on this topic before, just lots and lots of time and money, unwritten.}

 

A week ago today, I asked the sweet lady cutting my hair what she thought about this whole “no-shampoo” (or its less than attractive affectionate name “no-poo”) thing. She stopped cutting and gave me a very serious “are you crazy?!” look. I’m honestly shocked she hadn’t heard of it before.

Years ago, back when I religiously blogged on LJ, I joined a community called Curly Gurls. Women, like myself, fed up with their curly tresses of non-conformability, took to this no shampoo approach and updated more than a political twitter feed during election time about it. From an outside perspective, it seemed like a cult following/support group all about HAIR. A wee bit vain, perhaps. Aren’t we all, though? I’d read their updates as a fascinated observer, never fully subscribing to their testimonials enough to take the plunge myself. 

I am a self admitted product junkie. No really, 

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This is current, not cumulative. If it’s out there, has a fun label and promising hair spun gold, I’d try it. It’s a ridiculous and expensive habit to OK for yourself. If left to its own devices, my hair is unruly and wild in a rabid sort of way. And so I have always seen this product overkill as a necessary evil.

When I was a little girl, I had beautiful, silky straight hair. Clearly, I romanticize it, not really recalling what it truly felt like. I’ve seen faded pictures, and that’s enough for me. Thirty three years later, generally speaking, I have tried everything to get back there on any given day. It’s fighting reality of what it has grown into ever since probably age eight or nine. Not to over-sensationalize it, but that’s a stupid long exhausting time to battle with something as silly as your own hair. In matters of vanity, as women (maybe men, also?) we are conditioned to thinking that it’s pretty standard to want what we don’t have rather than embrace what we do have. 

Anyway, I have been flat-ironing the crap out of my hair ever since high school. Winter, when everything is dry, is the worst for my over-processed hair. I’ve gotten into the habit, within the last handful and a half years, of not washing it every day. At max, I’ll wait three days before I can’t stand it. It’s helped but not entirely, as I’m still chained to that iron every day regardless. Every now and then, when I’m tired of it, I’ll let it do it’s natural thing with the help of at least three products to tame the beast. Did I mention, though necessity and smart marketing has me attracted to it, I loathe the feel of product in my hair? It’s a BIG reason why I steer clear from the curly route.

About two weeks ago, I read a post from a friendquaintance who put her no shampoo testimonial out there. I couldn’t help but pay attention. After reading it and seeing photo documentation of a woman so close to home, it lit a small fire under me. I’m not gonna lie; it helped that her hair truly did/does look amazing. It’s no longer some sort of far away, infomercial-like cult following. It’s from someone who I trust to be sincere about it all. 

I’m brand new at it (less than a week, really) but I’m literally jaw dropping shocked by it. Everything that I’ve read on it, talks about this awkward transitional period that sucks and to invest in large sunglasses and powers of invisibility because there’s no way you’ll want to brave the public off of traditional shampoo and conditioner. Everyone will know you are going through withdrawal and it won’t be pretty. I was nervous and geared up for this to take place. I even warned my coworker. Maybe it’s too early in the process, but I haven’t had too many issues (oil slick or straw like hair) yet. There was a tiny frizz on the day I washed with baking soda/water mixture, but I didn’t look like Don King, so that was a plus. 

I’m writing this because as I am prone to do, I researched this topic pretty extensively before jumping in. There are not a ton of no shampoo girls out there with my hair type, writing about it. Not every question I had was answered. It’s impossible. Nevertheless, those that I did find were super interesting, especially if they had photo documentation from the very beginning of their hair journey. There were a few that had posts documenting a year out. Also, they all used acronyms like it was their own no-poo secret language. ACV, BS, WO ??? In short, I’d be thrilled if someone googling it, found this post amidst the others and found themselves inspired to be freed from a time consuming, expensive product junkie habit, like myself. Seriously, my husband and I are looking forward to the money and time saved on this venture. It’s a worthwhile topic.

This probably isn’t the best photo to document my hair looking its best this week, but it’s pretty good considering it was washed Wednesday morning and has been slept on twice since then. Taken this morning:

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It’s curliest the first day after washing and progressively gets less and less in the days following. Makes sense. 

My chronological journey thus far:

  1. First things first. Hair Cut. No need to go into this thing with dry split ends.
  2. {Day ONE} Purchased a cheap Silicone Free shampoo to use one time only in order to rid my hair of everything unnaturally there. I was convinced my hair would be over dry, so on top of the Apple Cider Vinegar concoction (2 TBSP ACV + 1 1/2 C water) I also mixed up this: (2 egg yolks + 2 TBSP olive oil + 1 C water) and put it on my hair after washing with shampoo. My hair went from tangled to too oily within seconds, so I washed just my roots again with the shampoo. Rinsed everything out and then sprayed the length of my hair, avoiding the roots, with the ACV mix. Left on for a minute or so and then rinsed again. Parted and combed my hair with a wide tooth comb while it was still soaking wet. Squeezed most of the water out of it and used a pair of cotton shorts (Everyone says use a long sleeve cotton shirt, but the shorts were the first thing I grabbed. They were cotton, so whatever. They worked.) to lightly squeeze my hair with and dry a bit more. Let it air dry with no product. Definitely freaked a little when I thought I saw frizz as some pieces dried before others, but once all was mostly dry, it was easy enough to just twirl individual pieces into curls. Overall, hair felt lighter and cleaner than it had in a long time.
  3. {Day TWO} Used a curling iron on the front pieces. It literally took all of maybe five minutes and held all day long. My hair had definition and felt great with no product. Zero frizz.
  4. {Day THREE} Probably could have held out longer, but I was itching (though, not literally) to use the Baking Soda concoction (2 TBSP BS + 1 C water). I used all the hot water this morning (I’m glad my husband loves me) trying to figure out if I had used not enough or too much of this stuff. It’s pre-mixed in a condiment squirt bottle and applied at just the roots. You’re supposed to massage it in until it feels “slippery”. Do I use half of it? All of it? A quarter of it? I don’t know. I probably ended up using a little less than half. Spent a bit of time obsessing over whether or not I had rinsed it all out sufficiently enough. Sprayed on my ACV mix. It’s kind of amazing how this stuff detangles and conditions your hair. Of all the products I felt most leech-like-dependent on, conditioner was my BFF. Did the whole cotton shorts drying thing again. Apologized to husband for his upcoming cold shower. Throughout the day, my hair definitely felt drier than it did the last time. I put it up in a loose bun for about an hour or so just to help it relax a bit. For future reference, a little under a half of that BS mix was too much. 
  5.  {Day FOUR} Curling iron on a few little pieces. Once again, it held some beautiful definition all day long sans any product. It should be mentioned that this is some feat given that I work with 2-3 year olds all day long currently. My hair no longer feels too dry. Also, it looks very shiny. Not greasy at all. No frizz. I have vainly mentioned to my husband how awesome my hair looks at least ten times so far this week. Thankfully, he’s agreed. I don’t think he’s lying…
  6.  {Day FIVE} (pictured above) There are a few spots around my hairline that feel a bit greasy but nothing major. The main thing I miss is the curl that fizzles out by now. From what I’ve read, this seems to be common for curly haired ladies going through the early on transition to no shampoo. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little bit of curling iron, but I’d like to also be free of that most days. I guess we’ll see.

This is my journey thus far. All the products pictured above with hopefully be shelved for the below pictured ones:

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Oh yes, Coconut Oil. I forgot to mention that above. Each time I washed my hair, I made sure to brush my hair with a dense bristled brush (Most people say to use a boar bristled brush. I don’t know if that’s what I have, but like the shorts mentioned above, it works.) and then used a tiny bit of coconut oil on my ends before showering. The brushing of the hair beforehand is meant to help distribute your hair’s natural oils from root to tip.

Almost all the tutorials/testimonials I read had a spiel about the harsh chemicals in all hair products and the beauty of being all natural and free of them. I’ll be upfront and honest to say, I mostly skimmed all that stuff. I wish I cared more about all of that, because I really do think it’s good to be knowledgeable about it and to steer clear whenever possible. I’m doing this mainly to officially detox my hair from its current dry, static-y, over processed, product junkie state of helplessness; to save money and time in the long run, and to embrace/love my hair for once.

little monsters

I’m not sure what age it happens. It may sneak in the window at age one while you’re sleeping, completely unaware. Maybe later on in life, it grasps your no.2 pencil when you’re in a classroom full of other children your age, all collectively working towards the same grade. Maybe it was always there, right from the start. It’s not a new thing. In fact, it’s a recorded reaction that happened with the first two birthed kids on earth, Cain and Abel.

I woke up this morning thinking about this ugly self eating monster. Comparison.

It’s lurking everywhere and its blackened heart is beating beneath almost everything, threatening to paralyze movement altogether. It finds its way to sneak into cracks of whatever I love and threatens to freeze on the spot, busting anything beautiful to bits.

Like most things, there’s probably a balance of it that’s actually good. A lighter side that should never be flipped on its head. One that motivates an individual to be “better” than what they are in whatever spectrum it pops up. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it rarely stays heads up at the light motivation level. And where it doesn’t stay, it turns into a thick, dark and deep forest where objects, which in the light are just the dirt beneath my feet and the bark etched into the trees and the leaves offering their shades of green canopies, all turn into haunted shapes of what they were actually created to be. This monster, Comparison, ushers me in and then leaves me to wander frightened of my own shadow, to wonder, “is that me or someone else?!”.

It sounds like some sort of mental sickness worthy of medicants. Yet the shocking thing is, it roams around as a perfectly socially acceptable disease. There are industries of marketing built on it and the exploitation of it and how to make people hungrier for it. Are we all craving to be a superhumanherodemigod that not one person can be or is? For a moment in time, I convince myself that one human being or multiple someone elses have found that niche to be so. And where Comparison lies, Jealousy consumes.

This morning as I felt acutely aware of the silliness of this monster and her friend (Jealousy), I decided maybe it was a good time for reading and meditating (or trying to) on some Words that are anchored, far more so than anything that first my fingertips then mind tend to run to. The very first thing I read was this:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1THESS5:11

That last part, “just as you are doing” felt like a slap in the face. You mean, just as i am internally not doing right now, right God? It’s good to be humbled (aka) put in my place (aka) dragged out of the  forest.

Even though they can be awful little monsters, there just might be a reason for Comparison and Jealousy to roam freely about. Not for me to stay there like a drugged prisoner at a tea party tied to what I’m not, chained to what I perceive others to be, but to realize the pursuit of something greater than myself. Something greater than all of us really. The creative talents and intrinsic beauty that I’m awakened to craving at 730 am were not born simply of human strength and ability. They were dished out by the Divine who holds them all. Isn’t it strange that as I find myself jealous for the attributes He dished out, He is jealous for me?

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GRACE

  1. a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b: a virtue coming from God c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
  2. a: APPROVAL, FAVOR b: MERCY, PARDON c: PRIVELEGE d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency e: REPRIEVE

REVERENCE

  1. :honor or respect felt or shown : DEFERENCE; especially : profound adoring awed respect
  2.  :a gesture of respect (as a bow)

I know that God is no more or less near to a the grandeur of one of these cathedrals than to a cardboard box of a beggar:

“Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?'” ACTS 7:48-50

and yet I can’t help but feel a different state of being nearer to tying these two concepts of “reverence” + “grace” together standing small in front of one. It may be complete naïveté. I’m not marred by anything associated with them. That probably helps. I’m drawn to heavy stone and what I’m guessing was numerous sets of hands patiently lifting years of work, all striving for what I’m hoping was solely the worship of God. It didn’t happen overnight. Cathedrals seem to have been dreamt up ideas impregnated with a gestation period begging for dedication that far exceeds anything I’ve ever known. Am I over-romanticizing these beautiful beasts? Maybe. I’m in search for any that could welcome me in without some formal program prying its old creaky doors open. Downtown Rochester on a sunny Saturday afternoon didn’t usher me in to any of them.

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“All this pain. I wonder if I’ll ever find my way. I wonder if my life could really change at all. All this earth. Could all that is lost ever be found? Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us.

All around, hope is springing up from this old ground. Out of chaos life is being found in You. You make me new. You are making me new.”    {GUNGOR}

 

Yesterday, on a playground with a group of one, two and three year old children, a bright red cardinal landed on a tree branch nearby and proceeded to happily chirp. I pointed the bird out to two of the little girls and told them the birdie was singing a song to them. “What song do you think she’s singing to you?” I asked. Abby, a three year old, announced in a matter of fact sort of way, “Jesus love me!” I don’t know how many songs can shuffle through a three year olds repertoire, but of all the ones to suddenly hit play through a little red bird on a wind danced branch yesterday afternoon, that was a beautiful choice. She then proceeded to tell me about an elephant that touched her foot while she was swinging.

Nowadays, three out of five of my weekdays are spent with children having ridiculous and profound little conversations. Outbursts of emotions that would classify any adult as severely bipolar, are an  everyday occurrence of their current state of being. Some days it’s exhausting. Some days it’s laughable. Not that long ago, a little boy in our classroom would not stop crying. After a half hour to forty-five minutes of trying to console him and ask him “what’s wrong???” and making guesses at what it could be, on a whim he was asked, “Do you just want attention?” He stopped crying and with water soaked cheeks and eyes threatening to overflow all over again, he nodded his head, yes. Frustrating, but strangely enough funny. I couldn’t help but laugh a little. It’s left me wondering, how the heck do we grow out of this behavior as adults? Do we ever completely shake ourselves free of it? Are remnants of it still lying beneath sneaky covers of what’s deemed as socially acceptable? 

Children are fascinating. They will call each other friends but if one of their friends has something that they want, they’ll literally just walk up and take or try to take that thing through force out of the others hands. And then there’s the retaliation to try to get that thing back. If we (the adults in the room) weren’t there, there would be all out war… against friends. So much of our day is spent raising up white flags and drafting peace treaties. Reminders are spoken ten, fifteen, twenty plus times a day to help them understand what is and isn’t okay; what is and isn’t the end of the world as friends playing and existing in the same space together. For the record, it’s never really been the end of the world yet. 

Y’know how some people say, that adults over a certain age should really have to take the DMV test all over again for the sake of safety? Maybe it would profit us all to have to go through a daycare refresher course. Who would be the “adult” in the room to oversee the wars? Who would shape us? Who would take us out of the chaotic perspective we’re in to bring us into what is new? How would they do it?

I’ve been desiring it lately. It being God, really. I would like to sign myself up for this daycare, fully believing that God is the only one who could possibly reshape whatever wars reside in me. I can’t even see them fully. I’ve just felt them in the periphery. 

Chris and I had a conversation recently about how to encourage one another towards good things without being judgmental. Likewise, how to take well meaning criticism as encouragement towards that good. Neither one of us had the solvent to make the other less judgmental or more well receiving. The most we had was to remember to love one another and enter into each conversation under the assumption {truth, really} that we are loved. This is not easy. Assuming the worst may be one of my periphery wars in desperate need of reshaping.

How can it be done?

While I believe that God is everywhere, I still can’t see Him physically present standing in front me with His overarching perspective filling the room. I can’t feel His grasp picking me up and sitting me down when I need a time out. I certainly have imagination and creativity to “see” and “feel” Him but it’s not the exact same as God physically kneeling before me when I’m upset to repeatedly ask me “What’s wrong???”

Over the last few weeks, I’ve kept returning to the same question. How can we do this for one another? How do we encourage and admonish one another? Maybe we don’t.

Last night a group of us met together to talk about what’s going on in our own lives and to talk about a book we have been reading: “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In a book about community and living with one another, Dietrich writes in the second chapter about the importance of reading and praying the scriptures. Relying on God’s word, not our own. So far, he’s not writing about techniques of how to have the best conversations with each other or how to best call one another out on bad behavior. He’s writing about techniques of remembering who God is. I’m reading another book called “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero. So much of what he writes echoes Bonhoeffer. Take time to pause and reflect and acknowledge who God is. And not just once but multiple times in a day.

Maybe what we need the most are reminders spoken to us ten, fifteen, twenty plus times a day to help us understand what is and isn’t okay; what is and isn’t the end of the world. And those words are the ones that shape us. And those words are the ones sinking in, taking root from the beginning that end up refining our interactions with others, the things we think about and the things we say.

A question was asked last night. What sort of things did our parents do that we felt was encouraging or good to carry forward in our current or would be maybe someday families? A few of things mentioned had nothing to do with actual instruction given but more so it was witnessing patterns of behavior, ways of living that we found to be noteworthy. It made me think of the people in general who have inspired, encouraged, admonished me the most. With only a few exceptions, because someone calling you out on your crap from time to time really can be necessary and beneficial, the most influential people have inspired me by how they lived and not necessarily by what they said to me. Those radical lives have had a common denominator of time spent with God. I like to read books about how they live and feel inspired. The words that are spoken or written by their hands wreak of something bigger, something greater and it started by them investing in God’s word. 

Now this is challenging.

Given a day off, I don’t wake up humming, “the B I B L E, yes that’s the book for me!” It’s not a natural inclination for me to set aside time to pause and pray or read or meditate on God, even though something inside of me cries out in desperate need for it. Some days are better than others, but more often than not, I fail. But I want to be one of those people I look up to. I want to be encouraging and admonishing. It’s evident I first need to be encouraged and admonished myself and remember it’s not me that can be that for someone else. Likewise, while it may come through others periodically, I should not be waiting and hoping for that from another human being always. Some of this is a discipline of remembering who I am, a child and who God is, the only adult in the room.