Tag Archives: teens

NEW! Affirmation Cards: Encouragement for the Heart

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Hey everyone!

I’m so excited about this. My mom is a fantastic artist over at Sparrow’s Journey by Heather Santos (first link is her blog, second link is her Facebook). She’s a self-taught artist, which is even cooler. She uses her art as an outlet for her thoughts and emotions…and it shows through powerfully in each piece she does.

She recently (January) made Truth Cards for the Brave Girls Club, which were sent to the Philippines as little notes of encouragement to women who were rebuilding their lives after being trapped by poverty (or force) into human trafficking. (They teamed up with Full Circle Exchange to help these women get into lifestyles and careers that would support their families and take them out of the sex trafficking industry for good.)

But as more and more of her customers in the U.S. started asking for these cards, she realized something…

Women and men EVERYWHERE need words of encouragement, just like these.

And that’s where I come in to the story…

She asked me to create some encouraging words to put on cards that she would paint the backgrounds for.

So I wrote down things that I need to hear, things that I’ve been told in the past, things that I tell myself every day to keep me going, whispers from my Creator that comfort me…and this is the product.

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There are several more designs (and sayings) available in her etsy shop (including some more suited for men). They are only $5.50 (free shipping!) and they make a great gift. My mom and her coworkers even handed these out to girls on campus on Valentine’s Day. She said they seemed happy and touched–and I’m convinced that they are keeping these cards close by, for reference. 😉

So if you know anyone who needs encouragement, or if you know that you need one of these around to encourage you (like I do), then consider stopping by.

Because everyone deserves to know that they are loved. That’s what we humans were made for, anyways!

 

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Au Contraire, Rose

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Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?
Is it your too fragile joy
That caused you to become
This armed thing?

But from whom does it protect you,
This exaggerated defense?
How many enemies have I
Lifted from you that did not fear it at all?
On the contrary, from summer to autumn
You wound the affection that is given you.

Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?

I’m supposed to be writing a paper about this piece. Instead, I’m writing this.

If tears didn’t accompany you to the end of this piece, go back and listen again. And this time, let yourself feel.

 

Au contraire!

 

You see, I cannot write at this moment, because I cannot stop listening. Cannot stop feeling.

Not just because the music is beautiful. No, if it were just that, I wouldn’t have been so terrified to play it back in November. (My stage fright only comes when I don’t have adequate emotions to express.)

No, not that–but because I have finally understood what it means.

 

Au contraire!

 

Of all the moments in my life, these are perhaps the most beautiful.

 

Au contraire, Rose! No longer must you hold up your thorns to the outside world! I hold you now. Your thorns do nothing but hurt me…and hurt yourself.

No, my own defenses never protect me from that which I defend myself.

They only defend me from that which can protect me the most.

 

Au contraire! You are so wrong, my dear Rose…you are worth everything to me, please wound me no longer!

I am yours. And you are mine.

I am yours, and you are Mine.

 

What a Saviour I have, indeed–One who makes everything beautiful when I am so wrong.

And what a husband I have, indeed–one who reminds me of my beauty as I heal.

The Search for Identity

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Since I can really consciously remember (since middle school or so), I feel that I’ve been on this quest to understand who I am and how I fit in with the world. I know, that’s not at all unusual for such an age–but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Throughout high school, I wore the clothes my youth group wore. (I tried to make my boyfriends wear them, too. That was weird.) I dyed some of my hair purple. And later, I started dying it more natural colors, and I tried all kinds of lengths and styles. I hiked through some trails and tried taking pictures, thinking I could be a photographer if only I tried. I ate vegetarian because I wanted to be a health nut, like my dad. I played in the marching band, jazz band, concert band, church worship band…I played saxophone, and trombone, and guitar, keys, bass, and even tried drums. I was in honor societies and other clubs that I can’t even remember. All I remember is that I was busy, doing everything.

Some of that stayed. Some of it didn’t. That is normal–in fact, it’s what Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, calls that age from 12-18 years old the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage. This is the part of our lives where we form our identities, decide who we’re gonna be.

And yet…I had forgotten all of that stuff I did when we had started talking about the stages of Identity in one of my Psychology classes in college. I feared that I had been a case of Identity Foreclosure–where no exploration happens, a person simply accepts the beliefs of his/her parents without questioning, altering, or choosing. I mean, the people who do engage in identity foreclosure do tend to be very successful, happy, and have good self-esteem. But that is so frowned upon by our society–and I tried not to think about how “bad” I would be if that were true of me.

But, after more examination, it’s not–all of those things are typical of the stage of Identity Moratorium, the precursor to Identity Achievement. Moratorium is the period of searching and exploration before one decides on an identity; Achievement is the decision for that particular identity.

I do think that this stage extends into the college age–why else would people be hard partiers, experiment with substances, and try on different religions in college, only to turn out to be someone completely different after five or ten years? I mean, those are drastic examples–but this period is the time when we’re learning about what the world really is and how we’re gonna fit into it. Who we are, in terms of the rest of the world. The factors of finances, being away from family, doing stuff for yourself, and generally being alone weren’t previously there. And now they are, and you’re navigating them and trying to figure out who you are with them.

Maybe I’ve foreclosed on some things. I’ve certainly achieved some things. And…I think I’m still doing some searching on some things, too. I don’t think those stages are an all-or-nothing deal–one can only be “mostly true” for a given person…some are closer to those extremes than others.

So I’m not so sure that the quest for identity ever truly ends. Or maybe, I’m not ready for it to end right now. I’ve chosen some things and am dedicated to them, but I haven’t chosen on some other things. And that’s okay.

I don’t think it’s ever to late to discover.

My Love Story, Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

I was elated by Matt’s decision to get baptized. The testimony he gave at the baptism was quite touching. All I could do was be incredibly happy for him and encourage him despite his fears.

But I still couldn’t help but believe the wise advice that everyone had always given me. “He still can’t be your spiritual leader.” And I talked to God about it. Talked at Him. Let’s be honest: when He brought it up, I always cut Him off before He could say anything—“I know, I know, I’m wrong. He can’t be my spiritual leader. I’m taking care of it. Don’t worry about me.” How silly of me–to tell Him not to worry about me. HELLO. God of the universe up there. He loves me where I am! (These are things I wish I could tell myself back then.)

Well, I was really just avoiding the feelings of failure that I thought God would speak down towards me. How foolish! What He was really trying to say was, “I see you. I know your heart, and I love it. I love you. I want to give you everything—you don’t have to do anything else (and I could imagine Him shaking me at this point), just accept what I want to give you!” Now, what he could have meant by “I know your heart” could be any number of things; I think it is a mixture of “I know you love me and want to please me” and “I know you’re stubborn, so I just made your non-Christian into a Christian for you. And what’s more, he’s gonna be your spiritual leader.”

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My Love Story, Part 3: Love at Second Sight

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If you haven’t already, you should definitely read Part 1: The Hang-Ups and Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior.

So, when we were all sitting in Taco Bell late one night after a jazz band gig, after all the instruments were put away and we were spending our spoils on the cheapest food around, Die-Hard Atheist and his agnostic and open-minded (read: indecisive) friends sitting around him had some questions for me.

I had tried to stay out of it…unsolicited Christian input (not any OTHER religious input) is typically pushed away in those conversations. Nevertheless, I found myself sitting in front of a panel of non-believers, being grilled with all the classic questions. “What about the starving kids in Africa? How can a God of love let them suffer?” “What about the people who have never heard about your religion? Why are they condemned to hell?” And all the common criticisms and misconceptions that go along with it. The Crusades. Legalism. Hatred of homosexuals.

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My Love Story, Part 1: The Hang-Ups

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My favorite story to tell is that of my love life. For some reason, I love to recount the story of the different guys I’ve dated and what I’ve learned. Perhaps because the greatest life lessons come from your closest relationships.

This is just a story. I’m going out on a limb even posting this, because I often get terrified of what people think of me, or how people might perceive those who are mentioned in my posts (even if no names are given). And I want to say before we jump in…these guys that I dated had tons of good qualities and it wasn’t that “they weren’t good enough”. I simply want to show you what happens to me when I allow someone so close who does not have the same worldview as me.

But if you’re a single Christian man or woman, looking for a spouse one day…please, please take heed of all this. I’m not writing to teach a lesson. I’m writing to show you my heart, and what happens to it when you give it to a human to twist and turn it, and not to a God who knows what He’s doing when he twists and turns it. This is my journey of figuring out that He comes first, because no human can ever do everything He does for me.

I had always been told to never date a non-Christian man. I had been told (and oh, I learned) that non-Christian men couldn’t love me to their or my fullest potential, that they couldn’t be a spiritual leader, and that our differing worldviews would clash and it would never work. Furthermore, I had been told (and oh, I learned) that a man would never truly change his heart and mind to follow Jesus by being with me…if he did, it would only be for me; and if it was truly for himself, he still could not be my spiritual leader. We must be at the same place spiritually in order for him to lead me. (Refer back to my last post for some links to some even better reasons that I didn’t know then.)

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30Rock and Relationships

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My fiance and I have been watching a lot of 30Rock lately. Well…”a lot” is an understatement. We had a marathon of the entire second season on Thursday. I don’t even want to know how many hours that is.

And I started thinking last night, as he drove me home…that maybe the reason I love 30Rock so much is because I AM LIZ LEMON. But my personal life was definitely not as screwed up as hers. Or so I thought.

Until…

(Yes. There must always be an “until”.)

I was nosing around on the Good Women Project last night (FANTASTIC website. So encouraging and helpful) and came across this post about playing the God card in dating situations. You know…”I can’t date you because you’re not a Christian.” It’s not exactly the most helpful thing in the world. And…I totally relate to that, because that’s what I did…in my head, and to other guys. The result? I always gave in to those guys. The ones who weren’t Christians…because I couldn’t stand to cause them the confusion that comes with “the God Card”.

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