Art, Beauty, Emotions, Human Emotions, Self Image, Writing

When Life Gives You Lemons, EAT THEM!They are good for your immune system

Lately I’ve really been into Colbie Caillat! Well, actually, just the song Bubbly… It’s just so girly.  That sort of squirrely-girly, happy-sappy feely song with a subtle taboo undercurrent of what the song is really about. A woman’s orgasm. It’s amazing! And it resonates. I don’t care.  We are all here because someone orgasmed.

Orgasms are important.  Hey.  Derek told me that one way to protect yourself from the Coronavirus is stress relief.  He’s such a thoughtful lover.  We were healing each other earlier when he said that.  Happily married.  Happily healthy.  We like each other.  I don’t feel bad about admitting it.  Marital sex is too taboo or slandered as nonexistent, which has created an onslaught of negative, unhealthy, dysfunctional ideas about what marriage looks like as the years go on.  Longevity is beautiful.  Fine wine, people.  Fine wine.  This whole post is a beautiful exposure of false generalizations about marriage, parenthood, seasons of waiting, staying home and life simplified.  Boredom and apathy don’t stand a chance here.

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My husband and I were Juno MacGuff and Paulie Bleeker from the movie Juno for Halloween this year.  Every year we do a couple’s coordinating theme.  It’s just playfully bonding and even sexy.  I won’t pretend like we do it for the kids.  We do it for us.  In 2018, I was Janet Snakehole, a very rich widow with a terrible secret, and Derek was Burt Macklin, FBI, from Parks and Rec.

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Another thing I do is keep notes on my phone of cute-dumb things my husband says so I can look at them later.  After a few of our biggest fights, my husband got out our wedding video and had us sit and watch it together.  Yeah.  He is it.

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I can write this confidently and unapologetically for several reasons.  One, I’m very willing to be responsible for my internal stuff, but I am not responsible for everyone else’s.  I can write from a place of vulnerable purity and fully be okay that my intent may be so completely misunderstood.  I have nothing to prove.  I’m honest and trusting.  I trust people.  I know there are hungry, teachable people who are open to feel the presence behind my confessions.  I try to be a safe place.  Whenever people are in my presence, I would much rather they feel at ease to be real over being correct.  I’m all for keeping things real.  Tell me what’s really going on inside.

There’s s a trickiness with allowing people to be human but not cheerleading their dysfunctional behavior.  I’m walking that out with Holy Spirit.  I really love how even though we are spirits, we still have all the permission to be human.  I love being a human and feeling like I can connect with other humans.  I love savoring and celebrating the weird “isms” of being a human.  The only thing that keeps my heart in check when I share things or agree with things is the conviction that: far be it from me to misrepresent hope in order to relate to people.  That’s hard.  Especially when there’s a fear of what other people think.  Will they suspect that I think I’m better than them if I can’t pretend like I’m as miserable as they are, when actually, I’m super jazzed about my life lately?  Dear people, being authentic sometimes, most of the time, is not relatable to the environmental determinism around you.  I’ve heard it said that there are two kinds of people, thermometers and thermostats.  Most people feel pressured to match the climate of the culture around them.  Even if that means misery.  They will start reciprocating the same negativity vibes so they can relate.  Have you noticed that in yourself?  When have you actually felt that pressure to stoop to a neutralizing place, but instead stopped to check in with your own heart and found the energy to actually be resilient and hopeful in light of a hard situation?  Did you heed it and dare to be countercultural?

Friend, true authenticity is showing up with all of you and punching fear in the face!  For me, my most authentic self is manifested whenever I untangle from anxiety and find my hope!  I like what that looks like on me.  That girl is awesome!  And I want to be her more often.  There’s a confidence and miracle-working power on my life when my soul finds that clarity.  Clarity always shows up when you rise above discouragement.  I would much rather be hopeful than relatable.  Even if it’s offensive.  Even if it makes people feel uncomfortable.

With that being said… Memes:

So I’m cool with memes.  However, when I see our generation settling into a very pathetic, self-absorbed, miserable mindset and subtly admit it through melodramatized memes, I can’t partake.  It’s just a crippling spirit to own.  I can’t condone that for myself.  It truly just grieves me seeing young people act so old… Truly.  I’ve had enough therapy done to know and recognize unhealthy bugs when I see them. (“bugs” is a term my best friend and I coined for the strongholds, surviving mechanisms, demons, perversions, iches, split-personalities, coping mechanisms or things like such that hang on people’s unhealed trauma.)  And I’ve definitely had to squash that bug in myself.  That: I-don’t-expect-you-to-take-me-seriously-as-an-adult-unless-if-I-hint-about-how-much-I-am-suffering-to-do-all-the-right-things-and-project-onto-you-how-oppressive-it-is bug.

It’s so gross.  I don’t even think we realize we are doing it.  But it looks like this:  Someone will say something like, “I’m just tired; I didn’t get to sleep until midnight last night.”  And in this triggered urgency, I might respond something like, “Hmm. Yeah, I only got 2 hours of sleep last night.”  Just, WHY?! Uhg.  It’s gross. Why do we do that?  People try to make their misery into a generalized joke to relate with other people’s misery, but there’s also this underlying hint of morbid competition to see who is most miserable because that somehow makes you more deserving of pity… Which is a very perverted, passive-aggressive way to seek attention… Y’all know what I’m talking about.

Now I can easily recognize when someone is using this method of projecting their self-pity, trying to convince me that he/she is important.  Which in my spirit, I confess to God, “God I already know this person is important.  Self-pity only convinces me that they don’t believe they are important. I can’t empower that lie.  Help me set a boundary so I don’t violate the design of who they are to You.  Give me graceful words to speak the truth that imparts life and ambushes them in love.”  God believes in us way too much to stoop to our self-pity.  He cannot condone something that violates the way He designed us.   Hear me, friend.  He is a comforter and is near to the broken-hearted.  We will experience trials and heartache in this life, but there is grace specially assigned to those seasons.  I’m talking about miserable attitudes and victim mindsets.  Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.  Some people opt out of doing the right thing, which is almost always the hard thing, because somewhere along the way they bought the lie that they “can’t.”  We truly are resilient at our core.  We are creatures of hopeful expectancy.  We shoot out of the hole that way; fear is what slowly steals that beautiful childlike faith.

Wow.  Who am I?  Orgasms.  Memes.  Then boom!  Philosophical atom bomb.  Please don’t take me as one who spiritually bypasses real life crap that hurts.  It hurts.  And I’ll cry about it.  I’ll whine and complain about it.  I’m a type 4 on the enneagram, I am stimulated by the romantic melancholy and am extra willing to feel all that there is to feel from it.  Hold my clothes! I’m gonna strip down naked and dive deep down into the sadness and fully permit Holy Ghost to comfort me in the painful confusion.  I’ve learned to actually grieve without losing hope.  It’s a thing.  There’s a paradigm for it.  The Blood of Jesus.  Even Jesus let Himself feel all the agony of bearing the full weight of sin.  So much that He sweat blood.  But He could do that because of the joy set before Him.  Love is SO much stronger than fear.  The resilient hope of joy coming to say “Good morning” is always on the other side of darkness.  Always.

Beloved, when you let yourself feel all of it.  Like, plunge deep.  Letting yourself feel sadness but refusing to despair, that sort of self-trust and hopeful surrender actually carves out a well inside of us to feel joy in all its fullness.  It takes my suffering and makes me tender and compassionate.  However, when you suffer without hope, it just makes you irritable and resentful.  Seriously, what an amazing life!  I can’t believe how much God trusts that we really are capable of true authenticity.  So much that He keeps allowing life to unfold so we are presented with moments that expose our junk.  Then He is there, in midst of all our mess, with grace and an invitation to be vulnerable and honest about it.  Just waiting for us to invite Him into our mess.

Phew. With all that being said, I can chuckle at a good meme that strikes so true.  I can even laugh uproariously at some that are eerie accurate.  Let’s talk about this one in light of my opening paragraph!

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…………….. Okay let’s not talk about it.  Let’s just look at it. LOL.

But even still, I have to check back in with my conviction to represent hope more than be able to relate.  Hope is sometimes irritating like that, especially to self-pity.  I love living in this paradigm.  It is the best antidote to cure anxiety.  Anxiety is the demon that tries to make your soul forget that it’s a soul.  And you know I’m not about to lose my soul.  I can’t afford to miss my love-notes from the universe.   I am wide-eyed and awake for appreciating the fine details.  The unspoken.  The micro.  The embarrassing.  The bypassed.

Serendipity is such sneaky friend of mine.  She’ll surprise me in some really weird moments.  I think she does that for all of us, but we don’t really acknowledge it.  Like when you go pee and all of a sudden, it’s one of those good pees that makes your spine tingle a little bit.  Yeah?  You know.

I personally love being aware of my body.  I like being aware of myself in all the oddities that occur.  There’s an enjoyment of being perplexed by some of the freaky little things about our body.  I think the human body is amazing.  It feels so much.  It processes so much.  The ecosystem of carbon, spirit and soul— a micro universe within the macro universe.  A world within a world.  So much is constantly happening, we just miss it because of shame or anxiety.  Man, anxiety is really such a punk.  Shame and self-loathing.  When people disassociate from their own bodies, they can hardly connect with the life happening around them.  I have fought hard to untangle from that ugly spirit.  Apathy, anxiety, boredom, shame.  In all honesty, I am grateful for this result of the COVID19 forcing people into self-imposed quarantine: it’s requiring people to be still.  Being still and slacken in their anxiety.  You have to.  If you don’t want to lose your mind; you must make it your responsibility to stay inspired.

I have always had a sense of responsibility to creatively look for hope and inspiration.  It’s hard.  Especially when you have this big “bug” of apathy and discouragement sitting on you.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked around my house, beating my chest as a prophetic act, yelling out declarations, “I AM STRONG AND FULL OF LIFE! I AM STEADFAST! NO COMPROMISE! I’M GONNA CATCH THE WIND!” So thankful for Melissa Helser for teaching me that.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this, so I didn’t lose my heart to apathy.  God always meets me in that.  It may take a while, but once I shake anxiety and apathy off my soul, it’s like this weight literally falls off my body.  And I begin to weep when Holy Spirit rushes in and pulls the plug.  Feeling floods in again.  My heart physically feels like it’s being defibrillated back to life.  The electric warmth of God’s love suddenly saturates my soul with fresh blood.  I will turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.  And suddenly, everything that was dull is suddenly animated and stimulating.  Suddenly, everything is inspiring.  Everything is full of color and speaking.

With all that in mind, in the midst of this time where everyone is camped out in their homes, boredom and apathy are bugs looking to settle on hearts.  I feel it.  I sense it.  Personally, I was wrestling with it this morning.  I finally came to my senses enough to ask, “God, I’m bored; what are You doing?”  And immediately I thought of the verse in the Bible where it says that in Heaven, the Living Creatures are constantly falling down all over themselves in worship before the Throne of God.  They look upon the face of the same Man, over and over and over again, forever!  And not only do they not grow tired of it, but it literally takes their breath away every-single-time.  The beauty of God is so much that they can’t even look at it for too long.  They have to look away.  Wow.  And it pierced me.  God is far from boring.  There are so many sides of His face.  He is constantly creating.  New life is continually flowing out of Him.  He takes beauty so seriously.  It’s all around, we just fall asleep.

So, I looked out my window and a sense of wonder came over me.  There was life happening.  Not anything obnoxious or demanding my attention.  (Our neighborhood has a big Forth of July Parade every year where hundreds and hundreds of people come to watch.)  Nothing like that.  It’s a rainy day.  Gray.  Ominous.  Cold.  Wet.  But my spirit was wide awake to the subtle details that were romantically lulling my senses to savor and consider.  I have a shrub outside my living room window that is covered in orange berries.  Cardinals, finches and robins congregating inside of it, picking at the berries.  The dead leaves (that my husband has been meaning to rake) all bunched up around the base of the bush, they started prophesying to me: Don’t you love how the dead things yield their life in such a humble, obscure way?  How they just let go, full of ease, to become fertilizer for the new life in the next season?  Holy…. Spirit… Folks! I CAN’T EVEN!  Holy Ghost can be the telescope into the macro things of Heaven and deep spiritual realities, but I especially love how He is the magnifying glass for the micro things!  I love how I get to snuggle up with my (almost seven month old) son and marvel at his body’s natural, yet miraculous, process of accelerated shaping and growing.  I love experiencing his heart and the purity of his affections.  How I can stick my face a few inches away from his face, with my mouth gaping open, full of chewed up Pad Thai, make a stupid-silly face, and he stares at me like I’m a beautiful sea nymph rising from turquoise ocean foam.  I love that he can fart, and it sounds like a grown man ripping one, and not think a thing about it.  Just tooting and playing and giggling through life.

What’s amazing is being aware of myself in the eyes of God the way I’m lovingly aware of my own child.  I’m wrecked and ruined realizing how I’m that adorable to God.  Friend, you are that intoxicating newborn baby smell to Jesus.  Being aware of His gaze seriously changes everything.  Boredom doesn’t exist.  Loneliness is swallowed up forever.  It just opens you up to see and feel seen.  Like I’ve said, serendipity is just love-notes in the universe from God.  And serendipity begins to capture you more often in this place.

Around the time I gave birth to my son, little playful things happened that allowed me to feel lighthearted and navigate my labor with a cheerful confidence.  I literally smiled and glowed with so much trust during that time.  God’s smile was warm and pressing on all the moments.  A few weeks before I had Bowie, my husband and I were walking out of the OBGYN,  just learning that I was already dilated to a 2, and I look down in the rock bed and there’s this freaky-looking rock that looks a lot like a dilated vagina.  Just.  It mattered.  God’s fun.  He made a woman’s body and when you can trust that He knows it, it brings about a confidence that you can trust your body.

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I don’t really plan on going into my birth story today, let’s save that for another time…. But it was beautiful and full of peace.  My husband and best friend were the only ones in the delivery room besides the doctor, nurses and angels.  My best friend is in nursing school, and she also shares an affinity for gross humany-human “isms” like I do.  She got some good pictures of my placenta.  It was really pretty.  My body made it!  Later on in the day while at the hospital, I was looking at the picture of my placenta and began to notice it was in stark resemblance to my heart tattoo on my arm.  Pictures are worth all the words so here you go!

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God is fun.  God is weird.  God knows me.

Celebrating the things that are going right.  Being beautiful and not apologizing for it.  Having a sense of responsibility to stay inspired.  These things are healing in nature.  I’ve given some very raw, real, gallantly gross examples.  In light of the times, I feel like this is an imperative practice.  It’s even a calling.  Look at yourself.  See yourself.  God is in it.  God is in the details.  They matter.  In the limited space, there are subtle mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered.  Wonder is such a key attribute.  Childlikeness.  Tiny ecosystems in your backyard.  Fresh, flavorful meals await in the hordes of ingredients sitting in your kitchen pantry.  An unspoken poem that’s been cultivated in the life you’ve lived but haven’t had the time to unpack what it taught you.  Consider what’s at hand instead of growing discouraged with the events you were looking forward to but got canceled.  There’s a lot of “woe is me” dialogue and morbid memes to “like” and relate to… Don’t.  Just don’t.  This may sound however.  But resist that pressure to let misery be a common denominator.  Misery really does like its company.  Connect with the hope-filled ones.  The joy chasers.  The ones who make staying inspired their own responsibility.  Find your tribe.  Be creative, make a meal, write a short story, start a livestream, connect and attract what’s healthy.  I salute you humans.  You’re all so amazing.  Wash your hands.

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JRH

Art, Beauty, Emotions, Human Emotions, Painting, Poetry, Self Image, Uncategorized, Writing

The Glory of Process, Beauty in Progress and its Gardener

Have you ever been so enamored with the vibe of another person that you can’t help but obsessively wonder about the kindred connection you might have if you ever had the chance to sit down and talk?  Well, your vibe definitely does attract your tribe because that’s exactly what transpired in the session I had with this certain person I am showcasing.

I cannot explain the honor and pleasure I feel in treasuring this person’s heart.  This exceptionally special person desires to remain anonymous in this showcasing, but the crux of her beauty is no less powerful detached from a name.  She has agreed to everything I am about to share with you about her, and has endorsed this project as a dedication to any woman who has ever felt “less-than” and struggled to know her own worth.  Though I cannot publicly praise her name, I would like to adamantly express my deepest, deepest affection in who she is a woman, dreamer, lover of people, and “gardener of souls.”  In a span of 10 days, over 24 hours of painting, I had the most exhilarating privilege of intrusively peering into her innermost self, staring at the details, while listening to God express His heart in the exposure:

“See this, see that, I made it…  And here is why…  Her design is for this purpose.  This detail is for this reason.”

Oh my stars, the love He has for her is outrageous, AND I got to feel every violent wave of its intensity each time I scraped colors and blended shades just to get the right tone for her skin, hair and each allusive symbol of this painting that prophesies who she is. Every fiber of who she is in on purpose.  Every nitty-gritty thing and every intricate complexity is intentional and wrapped up in so much grace.  Her gala-smart giftedness to magnify the beauty around her is impressive, but it’s in how she beautifies the overlooked and obscure that’s truly moving.  It is innately God-given.  Her eyes are wide-open with wonder.  You know the kind I’m talking about?  They have that mystifying twinkle in them.  She’s a quiet listener and she can afford to be, because her eyes do all the talking.  She explores the silence of savoring people, but those sparkling eyes give away the secrets of the beauty she’s collecting in her heart.  She’s a lingerer and a listener, a modern-mystic who ministers through gentle musing.  (SO many M‘s in that sentence.  Wow…)

I pray with all my heart that she feels the weighty warmth of Love pressing against each detail of her being.  I also wish this for every single person reading this, may you feel the loving hands of the gentlest Artist adoringly and intentionally pressing against each detail of who you are.  May His love ambush every insecurity and kiss what’s been cursed and turn it into gold.  May your curse becomes your cure, just drop the s, shame.

Shame is a liar and we can’t afford to hide from Love anymore.  We are so amazing.  We are made to be loved so outrageously.

So let’s begin here.  With all the wildest, purest affection in my heart, I present to you this piece.  May this conglomerate of prophetic poetry and illuminative oil painting minister beauty to you and impart new vision to see and appreciate your own.

 

The Beauty Gardener

“So above all, guard the affections of your heart,
    for they affect all that you are.
    Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
    for from there flows the wellspring of life..”
                                                Proverbs 4:23 The Passion Translation

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To the woman who pays attention to the details.

You are a seer who sees, but also a lover who loves to listen.

As you see, you sow seeds.

As you listen, you labor in love.

You grow gardens.  You grow gardens inside of people.

It’s not that you’re an overbearing waterer.

It’s not that you’re notoriously picking at the weeds.

It’s not that you’re tying the feeblest plants to the tightest stake.

You’re not out to hurry along the process.

You see that it’s the baby-steps and small beginnings,

Patiently lingering in the beauty of progress.

That is what grows gardens in people.

You don’t listen to respond, but rather to understand.

And that’s the greenhouse-atmosphere you host: the adamant desire to understand.

Your heart to understand why some flowers are shy to bloom,

So you lovingly stoop and listen to their murmurs of progress.

No worry, no hurry,

Your soil is the softest and richest because you’ve guarded it by gardening it this way.

Your patience is a prairie all its own.  Wide open and safe.

 

 

 

To the woman who stewards beauty

In wisdom and trust, holding it loosely.

What wisdom to see that success

Is measured in the day to day progress.

You qualify the weakest “yes” as the very best,

And count that latest-bloom as an extravagant harvest.

You are fascinated with the growing stages, just as much as the final bloom.

A lonely seed, buried in the darkest tomb,

Dies, comes back to life; the grave now an earthy-womb.

The straining roots and struggling shoots.

Tediously fighting for sunlight,

Tethered to stakes just to grow upright,

But there you are, Gardener, adoring the process.

And when the blossom finally unfolds, it’s majestically effortless.

You learned this from your Father, who lingered in love for you, Daughter.

Because you were indeed His Flower, and He was your Gardener.

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Your life has become poetry in motion.

A song on a cellular level— feeling, thought, emotion.

Humming hybrid-chords,

Tears being your liquid-words.

Unable to communicate the heavy matters;

All along, the groans are the prayers your heart utters,

Giving language to your soul

The Spirit translates, making whole.

Giving praise to what’s been a mystery.

Desperately wanting to have history,

Of you and Him— You and Him completely.

Oh, adoring what it cost to know you deeply.

The breaking down,

Turning inside-out,

Unimaginable depths,

Hopes dashed, dreams swept.

Oceans you swam, people you held, affections you’ve felt

The intricate, complex ecosystem of self:

Of crisis leading to clarity,

Of grief leading to glory.

Of bitter turning into sweet.

Of winter turning into spring.

Learning to dance with the opposing winds,

Strengthening your core so it won’t break when it bends.

 

 

What has died, falling off and become the fertilizer for your new season.

What’s been taken away was never a punishment, but for the sake of mercy’s lesson;

Learning all along it was always for your protection.

Healing your eyes, removing the filters of your own self-perception.

Protecting you from settling for what you thought you deserved,

Stripping you down, back to the basics, so Love could redefine your worth.

Learning there’s grace in the moment,

That there’s never a “no,” just a “not-yet.”

Or God simply just has a better “Yes!”

There’s Hope in the “not-yet.”

He really has predestined you for the absolute, very best.

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And here you are, being loved.

There is no doubt, no more plucking off your own petals:

“He loves me, He loves me not.”

No need to knit-pick, no need to meddle.

He has laid you down in green pastures.

He has restored your soul.

Though you wilted in the dirt,

He got down on his hands and knees,

Seeing you crushed, He pressed His lips to each insecurity.

Kissed each wilted, crumpled, rumbled petal,

Like a loving Gardener would.

He loved you back to life.

And here you are, loving life back.

 

 

And here you are,

Kissing all the flowers in the garden.

Kissing, collecting pollen,

Re-pollenating— spreading it all around.

Tenderly savoring each smell,

Giving praise to each one’s own significant beauty.

Dear Miss Gardener, look at your garden!

Notice and see, how each row of the field turns to follow your light.

Notice and see, how every breath you breathe is inhaled like a sweet fragrance.

Notice and see, how many hybrids have re-pollinated in the softness of your soil.

You are the safest garden for so many shy flowers.

You are the softest soil for the most timid of seeds.

You’ve been so tenderly held, so you inherited the most gentle of arms.

You love well because you have guarded your heart well.

All you are flows from the innermost greenhouse of your soul.

You have stewarded your affections in the secret garden of His Love.

You have walked with Him in the cool of your daydreams.

You have conversed with Him in the morning mist.

You have gotten close and seek to be closer still.

And that’s why you are trustworthy with such a purpose.

You have a garden of smiles to tend.

You have thousands of hills to explore.

 

 

You gifted, glory-Gardener.

I hear the Father singing over you.

My heart responds in praise.

Your life makes me want to give praise.

JRH